SoCo Crosswalk

SoCo

I found myself gravitating to crosswalks in my street photography for some reason. Perhaps, they are easy targets much like street buskers? I hope not. It helps to find a good combination of scene, architecture, light, and people. Maybe I am drawn to crosswalks because for a moment in time people stand together & pass each other as life happens. With commonalities and diversity present people from all walks of life (no pun intended) wait and walk together on their journey. Wherever that may be. Maybe I think about this too much?

As I strolled down SoCo on a Saturday afternoon stood for a moment on the corner at Elizabeth Street & Congress. The smell from Guero’s taco bar kept me lingering for a moment along with the live salsa music playing from their outdoor patio. I liked the pop of colors on the Tesoros Trading Company building. The lady with the blue dress catches my eye along with the bustling of foot traffic, and so I take the shot. Sometimes magic happens, and other times it’s just the everyday aspects of people crossing the street. This time it’s just a moment in time on an overcast Saturday afternoon.

Details:

 

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF23mmF1.4 R
  • ƒ/2.8
  • 23.0 mm
  • 1/250
  • ISO 400
  • Edited in LR 6

 

McNeil General Store & Post Office

 

McNeil Store

 

This is one of those places you wouldn’t know exists if you didn’t hear about it somehow. My coworker recently needed to make a trip to the post office, and Google maps sent her off the beaten path to this gem near our office building in Northwest Austin. As she described her trip and the location it seemed very interesting so I decided to drive by after work to check it out. It’s off McNeil road next to the Austin White Lime Company. Historically, both the limestone company & the general store date back to the 1860’s. Inside there is also a U.S. Post Office that has been there since 1888. There are several railroad crossings in front of and next to the store operated by Union Pacific and Capital Metro. Union Pacific carrying freight & materials and Capital Metro carrying commuters from Leander to Downtown Austin and back.

When I arrived in the evening the light had faded too much, and the building itself is not well lit from the outside. It didn’t grab me so I managed to go by the next morning and get this shot as the sun was coming up. After a few Lightroom edits I decided to process the image with a vintage feel so I used Nik Collection’s Analog Efex Pro 2. It takes some playing around with using the different various presets and adjustments. There was a Wet Plate black & white preset that was pretty cool, but I wanted to maintain the color so I settled on this one.  I was only able to capture the outside shot, but maybe I will stop back by sometime and check out the inside of the store. There are still hidden gems out there which I can appreciate. One’s that still exist and have not been replaced by a new office building or condo.

For now.

Details:

 

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF23mmF1.4 R
  • ƒ/16.0
  • 23.0 mm
  • 1/125
  • 200
  • Edited in LR6 & Nik Analog Efex Pro2

 

Picture Time

Howdy Austin

Austin has a growing number of well known picture spots around town that have a street art or mural background. I came across one of the newest murals on side of the Parlor & Yard located at the corner of Neuces St. and W 6th St. The mural was painted by Mila Sketch who won the Ride Austin Mural contest.  The mural has vibrant color with many details that reflect Austin & it’s culture. It’s one of those spots that many tourists, and some locals, will no doubt mark as a destination spot to visit in our city.

I happened to be walking by the mural at night as a group went over to take a picture. It’s one of those right time, right place moments. I like the scene here at night with a mix of light and shadow. The artwork is beautiful and the people posing complete the shot for me. I am trying to improve on my night photography, and learning my camera. This was handheld and the X-PRO2 has no built image stabilization so I am trying to balance the shutter speed to keep the ISO as low as possible. It’s a work in progress for me.

Perhaps, I can showcase some of the other Austin murals, but I feel that some of them are possibly overdone. This one is a keeper for me.

Details:

 

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF23mmF1.4 R
  • ƒ/1.4
  • 23.0 mm
  • 1/125
  • ISO 1250
  • Edited in LR6

 

Austin Rising

Austin Rising

I had the chance to go downtown for an evening walk, and ending up by the Lavaca Street Bar located between 4th & 5th streets. Looking across the street I saw a construction site wrapping up for the day. The various cranes stood silhouetted by the setting sun. The downtown construction boom continues as an average of 100 people a day move to Austin.

I was born in Austin, and have seen it transition over the past 40+ years. We lived just east of IH-35 off E. 15th street and I went through downtown each week to get to & from school until junior high. I can recall taking a picture of downtown with my Kodak Disc camera in the late 70’s from the IH-35 frontage road off 11th & 12th streets. Not sure what happened to the photo, but maybe it will resurface someday.  Austin was simpler to live in back then. Yes, we were (maybe still are?) the Live Music Capital of the World which is something that I couldn’t appreciate as a kid and young teen. Other cities in Texas seemed have more attractions than Austin. Dallas had Six Flags, Houston had Astroworld (Now closed), and New Braunfels had Schlitterbahn for example. We had Zilker Park, Barton Springs Pool, Town Lake (Now Lady Bird Lake) and AquaFest.

Yes, much has changed!

Austin became the “perfect storm” for growth as the technology & creative industries began their presence in the city. Companies like IBM, Motorola, AMD, and Sematech were part of Austin years ago, and led to companies like Apple, Google, Facebook having operations here. In 1987, the SXSW Music Festival (which grew to include the Interactive & Film portions) had their 1st event, in 2002 Austin City Limits started their annual music festival, and in 2012 F1 Racing came to Austin at the Circuit of America’s track. People came to visit, fell in love with Austin, and began moved here. They haven’t stopped since.

It’s bittersweet for me.

As Austin explodes the cost of living has made the cost of living skyrocket, and the traffic during rush hour is a slow death at times. Thankfully, we still live in one of the safest cities to live in despite it’s growth.  So the cranes that dominate the skyline will transition into new buildings filled with new people. There are those who can live in these new towers, and those like myself who can only look up at them. Perhaps, at some point things will even out, but until then we appreciate the good over the bad. It could be worse! Detroit anyone?

As for the image. I am still trying to work on situations when light is stronger between background/foreground subjects. Trying to expose for the highlights but maintaining some detail in the shadows.  This is part of learning my gear, and how far I can go. Practice, Practice, Practice! That seems to be the key to growing in this passion. One thing for sure is the Austin skyline will change, and provide new Urban Landscape shots in the future. Just trying to grow with it.

Details:

 

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2,XF23mmF1.4 R
  • ƒ/8.0
  • 23.0 mm
  • 1/4000
  • ISO 200
  • Edited in LR6

 

 

Eying You

Eying You

I headed for a walk downtown late in the afternoon, and tried to get some street shots. Some areas of downtown are busy with people leaving work or heading to restaurants & bars, and other streets not so much. It’s Austin, and you can usually find interesting people, however, light at this hour can be tricky. As the sun begins to set past the buildings it creates various pockets of light that can change both in amount & quality from one street to another. In some locations the sun reflects off some of the taller buildings onto smaller buildings and street surface. This helps me to see and understand light better.

I came across this scene and began to evaluate the location. There wasn’t much going on here, but I like the light hitting the corner. The mural and the Angry Mojo food truck add some character to the environment. Unfortunately, the food truck along with others in this lot were closed at the time which left the tables empty. After a few minutes of standing there the man walking toward me and the bicyclist went past each other.

This is one of those shots that I like personally but make me question the end result.

Was this the best time of day? Would it be better with people sitting at the tables? Is this enough light on the people in the shot? Would the image have come out better if taken from the front or side? What’s the story? Is there a story? Then there is the post processing side of it. I am still trying to narrow down my style so I question using color vs. black & white. Do I make it high contrast? How much should I pull up the shadows? How much clarity? I’m a little OCD and have a desire to produce the best results so I think about these things quite a bit. Maybe too much?

Perhaps this ideally could have been a stronger image. But with so many elements to consider it is what it is. To me it’s a moment captured. A learning tool. And overall, I am pleased to share it.

Details:

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF23mmF1.4 R
  • ƒ/5.6
  • 23.0 mm
  • 1/2000
  • ISO 400
  • Edited in LR6, Classic Chrome Film Simulation

 

Checking out…?

Checking Out Jenga

This is another shot from the St. Patrick’s day festivities at The Domain. Kung Fu Saloon is a popular bar that features giant Jenga games on their patio. A game in progress was getting pretty intense, and a crowd gathered as the tower started to lean. The enthusiasm of the ladies standing outside along with the older lady drinking coconut water caught my attention. There appeared to be a mixture of excitement and curiosity for this group. I wondered if they had ever seen Jenga much less a giant version.

The location provided a good backdrop for me with the various lines, shapes, and shadows. I also think the people sitting on the ledge including the younger woman helps fill it in. I am working on taking better images and this includes what is around and/or behind my subject. When I am out doing street photography I might see someone that catches my eye but after viewing the image I captured there is something in the image that just ruins it for me. Maybe it’s the composition, a distraction, or something sticking out of the person’s head like another head. Being a little OCD doesn’t help!

Sometimes we just need to stop, and appreciate a game of giant Jenga. Or better yet grab some friends and play! Either way, there is a real world with real people outside of TV & the internet so get out, and go have some fun!  You will be glad that you did, and may even end up in someone’s photo.

 

Details:

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF23mmF1.4 R
  • ƒ/5.6
  • 23.0 mm
  • 1/500
  • ISO 200
  • Edited in LR6

 

Pipe & Drum Corps: St. Patrick’s Day

Pipe & Drum Corp

I headed over to Rock Rose at The Domain in Austin, Texas on St. Patrick’s Day to check out the festivities and get some shots. There was a section of the street closed by one of the Irish pubs located on Rock Rose. I happened to catch members of the Austin Police & EMS Pipe & Drum Corps waiting to make their grand entrance into the celebration. I have to admit there is something hauntingly beautiful about sound of bagpipes. Perhaps, it is because I am part Irish on my grandfather’s side?

While there were many interesting shots at the event this one stood out to me. I like the composition, and the mood of the moment. The anticipation for both for the band and the audience.

Details:

  • Fujifilm X-Pro2, XF23mmF1.4 R
  • ƒ/5.6
  • 23.0 mm
  • 1/500
  • ISO 200
  • Edited in LR6 and Luminar