5.29.2020

Austin, Texas Street Photographer. Circa 2020.

In mid-2020 the authentic street photographer is seen with his trusty
Panasonic GX8, the natty 12-32mm kit lens (which has awesome distortion!!!)
and his face mask. The bandana, worn loosely around the neck, serves as a 
"back-up" face mask should the need arise.

Note to self: purchase less baggy clothing.

What a perfect morning! It's amazing what there is to see before the sun rises...

Exuberance. 

5:30 a.m. is an interesting time to be awake. Everything is still and quiet. And dark. I try to get out of bed gently so I don't wake up Belinda. I walk down the long, dim hallway to the bathroom I've taken over as my own and I find my swim suit, goggles and a dry towel. We come to the swimming pool in our swim suits now since the locker rooms are closed. 

Once I've got the important stuff in hand I pad out to the kitchen and make a quick coffee with lots of milk in it. I browse through e-mail while I drink my coffee and, sometimes, eat a handful of the amazing granola that my friend, Emmett, makes while he's taking time off from his restaurant. 
It's so delicious I want to eat it all but I resist because I know Belinda likes it too. 

After I finish with coffee I brush my teeth. I like Tom's natural toothpaste in the peppermint flavor. No one wants to swim next to a person with coffee breath. 

I'm always extra careful backing out of the driveway because we have baby fawns nearby and then there's the occasional grey fox and, of course, the early joggers and walkers. The back-up camera in my car is one of the miracles of modern life...

The trip to the pool takes about a minute and 45 seconds at 5:50 a.m. There's no traffic and the lights are still set to blinking red. I turn into the pool and I'm on familiar turf as I've swum here most days for the last 25 years. You'd think I'd be a better swimmer by now but there's always one more thing to learn. 

Today's coach, Will, was already on the deck and ready for us. He's an amazing coach and a part owner of a craft distillery that makes whiskey. At 25 he seems to have his path figured out well. He starts us out with a 400 yard swim. The workout progresses through different sets and the person in the next lane over from me remarks about the beautiful first blush of the sunrise. I swim the set of 200s doing backstroke instead of freestyle so I can see the magenta clouds flow across the deep, rich, blue sky. 

I am at peace in a way that's hard to explain. To be an age that is considered by some to be "old" but to have total confidence in my body's abilities to swim, run and exist without pain or fatigue is a priceless gift. To swim a stroke for which you have a degree of speed and mastery while watching the sky shift from subtle to beautiful to regal is an amazing mix. For the better part of the workout my mind seemed to exist perfectly in the present. As I brought each arm down to complete the backstroke I could feel the pressure of the cool water resist and flow. 

When we ended our workout I felt so truly alive that I had to just stand still for a few moments to smell the morning and to enjoy the painted sky. I wish I had brought my camera to the pool deck. I'm glad I didn't bring my camera to the pool deck. There is something about the directness of some experiences that makes all accessories to the moment seem shallow and dilute. 

I got home, made tea, ate pancakes and then put on my favorite walking shoes. Belinda and I headed out the door around 7:45 for our walk over the hills and through our neighborhood. The sun was shining but there was a cool breeze and the temperature was just right. Cool enough to keep sweat at bay but warm enough to preclude the need for a jacket or sweater. We talked about how lucky we have been and how we have so much to be thankful for. Neither of us looks backward. We're always ready to see what the future holds and to see what our place in it will be. 

At the moment it seems like a life without fear; without want. Now I'm off to make some equipment donations. Later I'll pick up a camera and head downtown. My friend, Andy, wrote about a new art installation at Republic Park. His photos were intriguing. I want to see for myself.

I wonder if we'll have an equally beautiful sunset tonight...

Tranquility. 

companionship. 
Hope.

Sparkle. 

History. 

Landscape. Roots. 

The sunset looks good even over the waste facility.



always ready to swim. Anywhere.




Change.

My wish for everyone.





5.28.2020

Keeping Your Head in the Game. Keeping Your Hands on the Gear.


I'm noticing a sad trend in photo blogs. A lot of people are writing about regrets for things they never got around to doing. Reminiscing about some past "golden age" in photography or settling into their bunkers to rehash the Photo Secession or to re-re-re-appreciate some style (Walker Evans? Eugene Smith? Hopalong Cassidy?) from the days of film and prosperity. What all this depressed introspection seems to tell me is that people are marking this pandemic as the endpoint to their careers in photography and are now settling into the ritual telling of tales from the past. Sitting in a fucking armchair and staring out the window at...nothing. 

Of course, if you are financially able, you can certain call it game over and pull up the drawbridges and spend the rest of your life watching your favorite movies re-run on TV and leafing through your stamp collections, or your old photo albums, and regretting all the things you didn't do. Or...you could just suck it up and get back to work on more photography. More art. More of everything. Sure, we've had a two month+ break in which we could sit with ourselves and assess. But the longer we go on with the presumption of having hit the end of the road the rustier we are going to be when we shake off the depression and get our hands back on the cameras and do our work. For pleasure or money. 

I'm trying every day to keep my head in the game and my hands on a camera. You'll notice I miss very few days of writing new content for the blog. I also have let all my friends know that now is the time to hit me with all those "can you do me a favor?" projects that tend to pile up. This doesn't mean I'm ready to put safety on the line, and I'm not rushing back to work to make money, but it does mean that I think photographing, like swimming, is something that requires daily or almost daily practice if you are going to be at all good. But more daunting than swimming is that the cultural vision that we all share and add to in our photographs is very much a moving target and even if we think our work doesn't change a daily practice and review would show that most of us incorporate, little by little, the changing textures of society in general and our environments specifically. But we have to experience life to incorporate, in an honest way, these textures and nuances of changing life. We have to get outside our own lethargy.

Yesterday was fun. A friend had asked if I would photograph the exterior of his house over in Dripping Springs, Texas. I was happy to oblige. We do stuff for each other all the time.

I packed a small collection of lenses and a camera, put on my hiking shoes, and headed over (about 28 miles due West) to his house. It's in a neighborhood gifted with marvelous (and challenging) hills for walking, and the majority of the houses sit back on five acre lots. The roads are mostly bereft of any traffic and you could walk down the middle of them, eyes closed, with impunity. After a pleasant walk and a break for ritual coffee I broke out the photo gear and started to explore the exterior of his house. I've visited more than a few times lately and have always loved the way he and his wife have integrated the exterior Texas Hill Country into their home. Big screen porch with a giant dining table. A cozy patio. BBQ smokers and outside cookers galore. Even an outside shower to wash off after a hot run in the sun. 

I brought along the Lumix S1R, a Lumix 24-70mm f2.8 S-Pro and a Sigma Art Series 20mm f1.4. The camera has great image stabilization so I left the two car tripods in the car. I made big time use of the in finder levels and shot the files a little dark with the idea of preserving the highlights in the raw files while intending to lift the shadows and midtowns during post production. 

For me the fun thing was to have a project that came from outside my own head. I shot a bunch of images and processed nearly 80 of them for my friend's future use. The project focused me on photography, gave me ample hand/eye practice and let me take chances with composition and shooting style. I set the in-camera profile to "flat" and was amazed at how much dynamic range the camera captured. 

A client called today from a favorite law firm and needed to track down an image I'd done a couple of years ago of one of their key attorneys. He'd won an award and needed an image of himself for several magazines and journals. I called him directly to see exactly what he needed and we actually settled on a different image he'd come to like better than the one we originally retouched for the law firm. 'Would I mind processing this one?' Of course not. Glad to do it. I spent a while making tweaks in PhotoShop, just to see if I still had the touch, and made the best portrait image I possibly could. He was delighted. I was thrilled to have a "real" reason to jump back into PhotoShop and practice my skills. 

I'm putting together a donation package of video gear for Zach Theatre today and will spend a bit of tomorrow delivering the stuff and then getting online with the in-house content producer (who desperately needs some decent tools with which to shoot during the shut down --- for every marketing thing you can imagine) to walk him through all the little tips for using the gear. It's a camera that does wicked good 1080p and very good 4K video as well as a microphone, a mixer, some batteries, two LED light panels and a video tripod. It feels good to know that my gift will be going to a non-profit that I love and also to a producer whose work will really benefit. And it's a way to keep thinking about craft.

Once I hit a stopping point today I'm grabbing a camera and heading out for a long walk. Part of the desire to head out the door is to get some additional exercise (head clearing tonic of the gods...) but also to get my hands all over a camera and work with it like a sculptor works a chisel or a painter works a brush. It's only when you stop; hard stop, and start looking backwards into the scrapbook that the rust starts to creep in. Keep the photographic joints moving and you'll stay in the game. It's only when you surrender to endless reminisces and regret that you kill the spirit and end your engagement with your art. And that would be too sad to contemplate. 

Today's camera will be the Panasonic GX8 and I'll be sporting the little 12-32mm, collapsible kit lens when I head out. The choices of how to use your time are stark; you can give up and watch endless tutorials on YouTube (or "research" other crap on the web) or you can remember what drove you into this passion-filled hobby when you were young and fresh and go out the door to see what might be keeping you in the hobby now that you're experienced and crafty. Easy choice for me.

But I get that it's like swimming early in the morning. There's always a rationale for not getting out of bed at 5:30, not putting on your swim gear, not backing out of the driveway, not jumping into the cold water, and not breaking a sweat or breathing hard. But every day you rationalize your retreat is one step further from ever coming back. And back is, generally, where we want to be. 

There is an old Zen story about the past, the present and the future. I can't remember it exactly but the gist of it is that if you always ride at the stern of a boat all you will ever see are the places you have been, along with the wake of the boat but if you ride at the bow you see the beautiful, still water in front of you and the places you may yet go. And if you shut your eyes, calm your mind, and breathe you'll experience being in the present. The past is done. Written. That book is closed. The present is where the action is. If you let go of the past you get to live in the exhilarating moment of now. As to the future? One foot forward and all is blackness. You can't know. You can plan but you can't know. That's why amplifying the moment are in now is the strategy that will satisfy you the most. 

As my kid always reminds me: No one outside of your own house cares about the awards you won in the past. They're only interested in what you'll do now. 

I stopped and thought about that when I was photographing my friend's house. And I thought to myself: How lucky I am to have this camera, this friend and...this day. Make the most of it.





The pool seems like a harsh mistress in the cool chill of early morning
But an hour later the pool seems like a cherished lover.
The water and the motion have enriched you.

5.27.2020

I guess yesterday was self portrait day. That's what you get when downtown has been de-populated by the pandemic...


Panasonic G9 hidden behind the 12-60mm zoom. I was shooting into one of those round, convex mirrors that they put up at the exits of parking garages to try and prevent accidents. I love em. 

the ongoing exploration of self portraits with cameras and reflections.

An odd attempt at humor in front of a crappy bar.

5.26.2020

So, I picked up a new camera on Sunday and took it out for a spin yesterday afternoon and this morning. Learning curve? Naw...


Let's consider this a short, mini-review of the Panasonic G9 with the 12-60mm Leica zoom. This particular one is the third G9 I've owned. I have experience shooting with these cameras in the theater, out on road trips, and touring around glaciers and natural wonders in Iceland. I've used this model extensively for location work commissioned by large companies. The one time in my life that I really, really regret selling out a system and moving on was when I bailed on a really nice micro four thirds system built around two G9s and a GH5 (or two...). I traded the cameras and some of the best lenses I've ever used for some new Fuji stuff. And while I liked the images coming out of the Fuji cameras just fine I never made the really deep; almost visceral connection I unwittingly made with the Lumix gear. 

When the G9 first came out the idiot savants of the web pissed and moaned about how big and heavy the camera was. They seemed to think that the only rationale for using cameras in this format was to provide the smallest and lightest possible package possible for photography. They could not be more wrong. 

The thing about the two professional Panasonic cameras (G9 and GH5) is that they were designed to fit just right in a human hand and to provide an advanced platform for a combination of high end video and photographing imaging capabilities. The size of the body was dictated by haptics, ergonomics, professional usability (full sized HDMI port!!!) and not by some wet dream about ultra-miniaturization. 

After using the GH5, the GH5S and the G9s side by side for a good while I gravitated to the G9 for its handling and also for it's really nice color rendering in Jpeg. I was spoiled by four really wonderful lenses as well as a handful of just really good lenses. The four stellar ones were the Panasonic/Leica 8-18mm, the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm, the Olympus 12-100mm Pro and the (absolutely delicious) Olympus 40-150mm f2.8. The two Olympus lenses were larger and heavier but I count them among the very, very best lenses I have ever used; regardless of format. 

So, what does the G9 have going for it that makes it so desirable to me? What can this camera (and system) do that my two full frame S1 and S1R Panasonics can't? 

There are obvious differences between the formats. The S1s and S1Rs offer, in the former, an insanely good high ISO sensor and, in the later, an extremely high resolution sensor. And both offer beautiful files with rich and accurate colors. But those cameras and their lenses are big, heavy and pricey. I love them when I use them for my paid work but I started chaffing at carrying them around as "casual, all day" cameras. 

The first reason I like the G9 is that, along with the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens, it's a package that I can carry around on a shoulder strap for a long day and barely notice that it's there. If I don't need to shoot in the dark or make gigantic prints, or try to impress the hell out of a client by delivering enormous files, the G9 is the camera I prefer. 

The three buttons just behind the shutter button are identical in placement and function across the G9 and both of the S1 variants. That makes for fluid operation and the ability to switch between formats with no need to re-learn....anything. Ditto for most of the rest of the controls and function buttons. 

I like the "night mode" on the G9 because it's perfect for shooting in a theatre with an audience all around me. I can see the menu items but the subdued reddish orange light of the screen isn't distracting or obnoxious to people adjacent to my shooting position. 

The finder on the G9 has a higher magnification than the GH cameras and it's a pleasure to compose through. It's also a higher res EVF than is available on many other cameras--- at much higher prices. 

The ability to now do 10 bit, 4:2:2 video in 4K, and write the files directly to one of the two SD cards in camera, is the feature that gave me the final nudge to re-buy the G9. I shot video with it yesterday and today and did some test editing in Final Cut Pro X. The camera delivers beautiful files! Really beautiful. And when I use the 4K, 30 fps setting the AF in continuous locks in on my face (I was my "test" subject) and stays there. I wish the camera was able to be used with the GH5 and S1 microphone interface/adapter for XLR microphones but that's a small ding to an otherwise really brilliant, little and adaptable video camera. 

Plus, if I want to shoot in a way that might damage a camera during a video project (mounted on the front bumper of a Ferrari driving 120 mph?) I'd rather do it with this smaller, lighter and much cheaper package than to sacrifice a full frame camera and lens at double or triple the price....

The "larger" camera body means fewer issues with overheating while shooting 4K video which is something even the much, much more expensive ( and non-10 bit) Sony full frame cameras have yet to master. Imagine, they have to have a menu item the "allows" you to toast your camera. A "heat" setting that lets the camera disregard its high internal temperature as a sacrifice to your video vision. Better maybe just to make the camera with the intention to actually work for high data rate video. Sony is way, way behind Panasonic and Sigma in this respect. 

The final reason to own a G9 (for me) is to have a light(er) weight street shooting/travel camera that offers world class performance when it comes to Image Stabilization. When using a compatible lens that also offers I.S. you get "dual-I.S." performance which can be as much as six and a half stops on stability improvement. The "tripod" mode is just science fiction scary

To sum up: Great hand feel and operational sanity. Sensible and easy to understand menus. Great color and tonality in the files, from both video and photos. High-res mode to give you medium format resolution. Weatherproof lens and camera (took them both out in a thunderstorm this morning...). Operational buttons and menus aligned through the whole family of cameras, from the G9 all the way through to the S1R. A great selection of available lenses; some of which are downright mouthwatering. A great viewfinder. Best in class video which is only rivaled by the GH5 and the S1H. A current body purchase price under $1,000. A bundle with the very well respected Pana/Leica 12-60mm for under $1600. 

I'll stop here to take a breath. I shot about 100 frames in the last couple of days and I'm back in the fold. Those who know me well predict that it's just a matter of time before I start looking with serious intent at the 8-18mm Pana/Leica and especially the 40-150mm f2.8 Olympus lens. The Pro version. Then I'll be right back in the mess.  I'd give you a link but you really should find your camera and lens on your own...that's part of the thrill...


I was heading back in from swim practice and I looked through the double doors into the side garden this morning. It was cool and breezy and coffee actually tasted better while I sat in one of the red chairs and watched the sun come up. I guess staying home for most of the day isn't all bad.


After coffee I walked around to the other side and shot out through the dining room doors. 
I was able to handhold the camera for this image at 1/5th of a second. 


It was sunny about an hour after swim practice and I decided to go for a walk. 
It took me five minutes to drive to Zilker Park and when I arrived I felt the wind 
pick up and looked to the west to see big, black thunderclouds rolling in. 
The rain hit a minute or two later so I stayed in my parked car and watched it all roll through. 

Ten minutes later I was out on the trail and the morning looked like this: (above) 

Then it all cleared up and started to look like this: (below)








May 2020 Reprint #2. Getting approval to take someone's photograph in a public space.

https://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2011/05/approval-tacit-approval-implied.html


This was a very popular post when I wrote it back in May of 2011. I don't think much has changed but a lot more people are practicing "street photography" and I thought the content might be helpful for folks who are new to the genre. I tried to explain how I handle the balance between my right to do something and a subject's right not to participate.

Dani. At Medici Caffe. Austin, Texas

5.25.2020

Sokani LED. Power, Waterproof and fits in the Palm of your Hand. Really. Short review. No messing around.




I was ordering some batteries the other day on Amazon and while I was on their site I looked around at the current state of LED lighting. These tiny lights caught my eye and I dug a little deeper. They are amazingly simple. These lights are 8 Watt 200 lux capable at full power and advertiser as capable....oh what the hell? Here are the specs on the site:

Color temperature: 5600K(±100K),3200K(±100K) when using 3200K Diffuser
Color Rendering: Ra≥95, TLCL≥95
Built-in Lithium Battery Capacity: 1600mAh
COB Bulbs Quantity: 1
Maximum Power: 8W
Input Voltage and Current: 5V/1A(normal charge)5V/2.1A(quick charge or continuously working)
Beam Angle: 120°
Illuminance: 2400LUX/0.3M 1000LUX/0.5M 200LUX/1M
Battery working time: about 1 hour under 100% power output constantly; about 12 hours under 25% power output
Bottom Screw hole: 1/4"
Weight:: 80g
Dimensions:50mm*45mm*45mm
Waterproof:20M / 65ft

Package Including:
1 x LED Light
1 x USB charging cable
1 x Soft light diffuser
1 x 3200K Diffuser
12 x Color Gel
1 x Product Manual
So, they are actually super bright for their size and the big, fun thing is that they are waterproof to 65ft (that's 20 meters for our non-USA friends...). They charge their internal batteries from a USB connection that hides under a screw-in port on the opposite side of the unit from the COB (chip on a board) sensor. At the power levels we're talking about here you certainly aren't going to light up a set or slash a spotlight across a scene from 50 feet away but....

If you put two of these at full power, pushed the light through a layer of 1.5 stop silk, and used something like a Lumix S1 or a Sigma fp at 6400 or 8000 or 12,000 ISO I think you actually could film a very decent looking video clip with them. Alternately, you could add just the right amount of fill light to a low light photographic scene. There is a water proof on/off switch on the top that cycles through from off > 1/4 > 1/2 > 3/4 and full power and on the other three sides are quarter inch, threaded mounting points. You can mount these on a video cage, add a hot shoe mount and put them on your camera, use a stand adapter to put them on a light stand or just have your favorite super-model hold them and point them in the correct direction.

I bought two of them to have around. In a pinch they make great flashlights. I can think of a thousand uses for them. But the reason I think they are really great is that: I can use them in a pool, in the rain, in the sink, down the drain, I can use them in a flood, I can use them in the mud. I can use them in Scotch and water, I can use them to film an otter. I can use them covered with drool, I can break each lighting rule. 

And look!!! No magic cables to make things anti-science and oh so complicated!!!

Video with sound effects included just for fun. And now you've read this; we're all done.

Cost = $38 a piece. The cost of half a tuna sandwich at the Plaza. 


Revisiting one of my favorite cameras of all time. It's now rising like a Phoenix with a new firmware upgrade which makes this nearly 4 year old camera still perform near the top of the heap.

Panasonic Lumix G9 camera.

A friend asked me for a couple of prints from Iceland. He'd always wanted to go there and had planned a trip for this Spring. Plans were cancelled (hopefully just delayed) because of the pandemic but he felt like having a few color prints around would keep him focused on making the trip happen, eventually. I was happy to accommodate him and went to the folder on one of my hard drives that had all of my selects from the 2018, late Fall, trip to Iceland to put together an even smaller set from which to choose. 

As I looked through 2500 images shot over 8 eight days I remembered how much I loved the color and the general "look" of the files from the two cameras and assorted lenses I packed and carried through that little island country. There are no images in the set that I think, given the circumstances of group travel, could have been made any better with any different camera, and, I think the amazing image stabilization of the G9 provided me with shots I would not have been able to get otherwise. I made a conscious decision not to bring along a tripod because I was also instructing and it wasn't a trip dedicated to my personal shooting. 

Around that time I'd written a number of blog posts about how well I liked that camera and how much I appreciated the performance of two specific lenses; the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 and the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0. Both were as near to perfect as a zoom lens could be, in my estimation. The fact that I took both spoke to my inability to be decisive and leave one at home. I rationalized my inability to choose between the two lenses by claiming that I needed one as a back-up to the other. I mean I did bring two camera bodies, why would I not be equally careful to bring back-up lenses? Right?

When I got home from Iceland I played around with a lot of the files in post production and noticed several things about the G9s and the two lenses. First of all, they worked well together. While the Olympus offered a good bit more reach the Panasonic/Leica offered a comfortable range but also gifted the system with a second point of image stabilization that made the whole system so rock solid I felt like I could hand hold.....any exposure time. It was (and still seems) like magic. 

Recently a blog reader named, David, asked me my opinion about the G9. I went back into the VSL archive to see what I wrote contemporaneous to my shooting with that camera. The more I read the more I smiled. It was one of those cameras that just becomes your best friend. And I started wondering how I would feel about that camera now; especially since I've spent some time with its bigger siblings, the S1 and S1R cameras. And I've started to appreciate the size and weight advantages of the smaller format camera; at least for non-commercial work. Stuff like walking around the lake, or through downtown. 

After I came back from  Iceland I started reading about the Fuji XT-3 and I started hearing great reports from all over the place. I bought and tested an XT-3, shooting half a job with the G9 and the other half with the Fuji and comparing them. I worked on a tripod which cut out the need to use and evaluate the handling when using the dual I.S. system of the G9 versus the "lens only" image stabilization of the Fuji. I liked the Fuji so when I got back from a 16 day, madcap, maximum travel, commercial job I decided to further investigate the new Fuji system. The advantages of the Fuji XT-3 over the G9 were mostly in video. The XT-3 could shoot at a much higher data rate and could output 10 bit, 4:2:2 over HDMI. The G9 was capped at 8 bit, 4:2:0 and had a much lower maximum bit rate of 100 m/bs. The Fuji also offered a slightly bigger sensor with higher resolution.

I sold the Panasonic stuff and stocked up on Fuji equipment and that turned into a whole other story. I used the Fuji equipment quite happily for about a year until Panasonic launched their full frame, S1 and S1R cameras which made (and make) more sense for my commercial work. But one of the things I really liked about the S1 camera was the ability, with the new SFU firmware upgrade and feature unlock, to shoot video at great bit rates, with 10 bit 4:2:2 in camera. That, and the Panasonic dedicated audio adapter makes shooting video with great audio a breeze. And, for the last five months I've been happy with the full frame S1s and their super good but heavy lenses. The only thing that gives me pause is when it comes to using the cameras outside the boundaries of my commercial work. Those suckers are heavy!

When working commercially (for the client's hard won money!) I'm willing to use the cameras that give the best image quality ( in my estimation ) without much regard for size and weight. Anything I can do to ensure my success with clients is fair game. And, usually, we're transporting our gear on carts and with assistance. Especially so when shooting video. 

But looking back over my history of personal shooting recently I started pining for an adjunct, mythical system that would have the same menu structure as my commercial cameras, offer really good video specs, and weigh half as much. That combination would make the mythical camera my new "art" camera and I'd take it with me all the time to shoot all the stuff that I do just for myself. 

As I did cursory research to best answer David's question about the G9 I was a bit shocked that I'd ignored a critical firmware upgrade for the G9 (2.0) which came out last Fall. The fixes and feature upgrades make a three (plus) year old camera a head-to-head contender to all the latest and best micro four thirds cameras currently on the market. The biggest step up was unlocking 60fps, 4K video (full frame; no line skipping or crops) in 10 bit, 4:2:2, in camera. And the basic firmware upgrade was...free. You can spend $100 more to unlock V-Log and waveform monitors...but if you don't need V-Log you basically get a camera that can go head-to-head with the Olympus OMD EM1-3 at about half the price. 

The firmware upgrade with all the new features, combined with a price drop to under $1,000 for the body, changes the camera buying calculus. It piqued my interest in a big way. When I checked in with my local dealer they told me that the camera, bundled with the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm lens was on sale right now for $1600. With the "good customer:thanks for shopping with us during the pandemic" coupon the price dropped another $50 to $1550. Now the body and a premium, wide-ranging zoom lens was priced at less than what I had paid for my first, original G9, body only. By several hundred dollars. Curiosity properly instilled and desire well fanned I drove out yesterday and picked up the brand new set. And here's the kicker: Unlike other camera makers who also offer firmware upgrades you don't have to bring your new camera body home with firmware 1.0, charge the batteries, and then upgrade it yourself. No. The G9 has a sticker on the box that tells you it has the upgraded firmware. And, when I charged the battery and checked the version # it showed as firmware 2.1. 

A nice touch. 

I said back in 2018 that the G9 was one of the most fun and most comfortable cameras I had used during my 40 years of experience with cameras and I meant it. Yes, I got sidetracked for a while but I decided that it was time to just disregard logic and re-own a camera that comes as close as any I've used to being perfect for the kind of work I do when clients aren't in tow. 

The owner of the camera store had just taken in a used (mint, almost new) Fuji X-100V and wanted to show it to me. Everyone was excited to have a used unit of the 100V to sell. I played with the camera for a few minutes and handed it back. It's very, very nice. Very well built. But with the straightjacket reality of a single, overly wide lens grafted on the front for all eternity by direct comparison the X100V  made the G9 an even more logical purchase. (If the buying of any camera during the business shut down of a pandemic can be said to make any sense at all...). 

So, now I'm almost completely overrun by Panasonic cameras, lenses and accessories. The one, lone non-Lumix camera in the house is the Sigma fp (not counting old point and shoot Canon G series cameras). The nice thing about being in a uniform eco-system is that all the menus make sense and work with a group logic. Don't know why I keep buying these cameras when I'm not even sure I'll still be doing commercial photography when the "stay-at-home" stuff ends. We'll see when we get there.

Now. On to yesterday's swim. I got to swim practice for three weekdays last week and it was a nice if somewhat painful re-entry to our swim program. But I took it easy on myself, which was convenient to do since attendance at the 6 a.m. workouts was a bit low. I had a lane to myself on all three days! Then Sunday rolled around and I had signed up for the popular 9-10 a.m. swim workout. That meant I'd be sharing a lane with another swimmer. That meant we'd have to agree on intervals and I'd have to actually perform instead of taking it easy on myself. 

Will was our coach and he instructed us about following the rules for aquatic social distancing and all the on-deck protocols we were required to observe. We started with a 400 yard swim followed by two 100 yard kicks. Then we rolled into a set of twelve x 50 yard swims, alternating strokes and drills. Once we were as warmed up as we were going to get we pushed forward into a daunting (for someone who has been absent from the pool for two months) set of nine x 100 yard freestyle swims on a 1:40 interval. We followed that with two 200 yard swims, working on stroke techniques. A shadow of our previous workout intensity, pre-Covid, but enough to wear me out. I woke up this morning sore and tired. I'm coming to grips with the realization that as I age I lose fitness more quickly than I used to and it takes me longer to recover than it used to. Or maybe it was the four mile run a couple of us did after practice that put the whipped cream on the sundae of exercise.... At any rate, it was hard to get out of bed today. 

Thank goodness we have the day off from swimming. All I have on the schedule today is some planking and a nice, long slow run. That, and playing around with a G9. 

Hope your Memorial Day is good and safe. 




meditating on the compulsion to always try something new, even if it's old.

I would never have imagined that barely 2400 yards of swimming would be enough to 
make me tired and sore. It's important to move past the mental resistance and remind myself that 
repetition will make everything easier over time...

Just day dreaming about sun blocking diffusers. Such a nice idea.

G9 in Iceland. Also, see below. 















Somewhere in rural North Carolina for a client. G9.


Need to work on flexibility today. My flip turns were rough yesterday...


G9 +diffuser.


My current favorite summertime goggles.


Just another day in paradise. S1R 45mm Sigma.