Following up on the Graffiti Park.

Is the magic gone?

I'm hoping that public art goes through cycles. When I first discovered the place (just off Lamar Blvd.) I saw a lot of large works that were done with a great deal of talent and no small amount of technical skill. The painters did bit works and the use of colors and textures could be very complex and nuanced. There are still remnants of some of the works I saw early on but it seems that the great, unwashed public has made a go of "discovering their inner artist" and this seems mostly to involve haphazardly spray-painting words over the more figurative art. "Fu$#" seems to be a favorite word of the new breed of players but various women's names, as a category, are a close second. 

This seems to be one indication that the spot is a little less magic than it had been while the other clue is that there is now a trailer on the site that sells graffiti themed gift items.  These gift items include the omnipresent t-shirt as well as mini-poster of the wall from its glory days as a fresh art piece. 

I'm interesting in both the intersection of art and the public as well as the evolution of publicly accessible art so I made it a point to drop by last weekend as I was road testing my Buff camera wrapper. I'm happy to report that the camera and lens I was using did a great job of rendering the wall's sunshine lit areas as well as the areas in shade. I am less happy to report that a decent camera and lens doesn't make the slow but seemingly relentless degradation of the art any better.

Musician's Dog on Sixth St.

 Dog in a guitar case.

I don't remember exactly when I took this shot. I know which camera I used but it really doesn't matter because the exif info tells me I shot the image at f7.1 with a modern kit lens and I doubt a better (or worse) camera or a better lens would have made any difference at all. I was at loose ends and I was walking around with a camera in my hands looking for interesting stuff to photograph. 

I smiled at the owner, dropped a buck into his case and asked him if I could photograph his dog. "Sure."

I was happy to see that the dog had a fresh cup of kibble just to the left of his (or her) head and a collapsible bowl of clean water just outside the guitar case. I also was happy to see that the owner was using a harness instead of a collar. Studio Dog says that's her preferred rig because if they make a fast break for a squirrel and come up short on the leash it doesn't put stress on their necks. 

I wish I'd made a few different photography decisions but I'm happy to have the photograph. 

The camera I used to take this is long gone but the image, and its attendant memory for me is still right here.


Reading the Austin Chronicle on a sunny afternoon.

Jaston Williams (of Greater Tuna fame) in costume for his upcoming one man play: Maid Marian in a Stolen Car.

Jaston Williams as "Maid Marian"
Camera: Samsung Galaxy NX

Zach Theatre will be presenting Jaston Williams' one person play, Maid Marian in a Stolen Car, at the end of August. I spent a couple hours with Jaston shooting promotional photographs for print collateral, the web and the transilluminated posters that front the theatre on Lamar Blvd. and I can ensure you that it will be absolutely funny. When we did the shoot that yielded this particular shot and several hundred others I was in a big experimental phase with new cameras. I'd been bringing two or three bodies, sometimes from two or three different manufacturers and shooting the all to see how they were different and how they were alike. 

We had fun shooting with the relatively bizarre Samsung Galaxy NX because we were able to compose on a five inch LCD screen on the back of the camera. The art director and I were standing side by side in low light while Jaston performed in the high light levels of the modeling lights on the flashes I was using. This allowed us to see the rear screen with no glares or reflections. Nice feedback loop between photographer/trusted art director/animated talent. 

It was also great to be able to move the focusing point around with a finger. Something I also like to do on the Panasonic GH4. The Galaxy NX camera had some operational quirks and I stopped using it much after getting the newer and more streamlined NX 30.

Recently I've been going though thousands of shots from hundreds of shoots and trying to find fun new stuff to stick into a portfolio. I came across this one and, after playing with it for a while in PS I realized that while the camera and I didn't make a happy couple from a UI perspective the sensor and lenses were very, very good. It will probably be lost to the small file size on the web but the sharpness is high, the noise low and the colors are great. Always interesting to discover attributes in a camera that you didn't appreciate the first time around.

Fun stuff. 

The Photo Fiction/Action Adventure Novel 
of Summer 2014.

The frames between the frames.

Samsung Galaxy NX camera. 60 mm macro lens. 

Photography, as we practice it at the Visual Science Lab, is hardly ever deadly serious business. For the most part I chose this career because when I was working at an ad agency back in the 1980's the people in the ad business who seemed to be having the most fun were the photographers. They'd show up with a retinue of assistants, set up magical lights and fill the room with glorious energy. Once they got the perfect frame they played around some more, until they got bored or ran out of time. 

The fun thing; the wonderful thing is that the images we all loved and wanted to use in the ads were mostly the ones that came in the moments after the serious shooting. Those were the moment where everyone involved felt free to just play. Like kids. 

I'm all for photographers getting their technical ducks in a row but in a business like this, with all the budget cutting, uncertainty and competition, there's no reason to be in it unless you are actively having fun with the actual process of taking the pictures and making your art. 

I shot this for Samsung. Gloria was a wonderful model. We have tons of frames of her looking seriously alluring but the ones were we break away from the expected seriousness and play around with no seriousness involved are the most fun. A photo with the joy of the experience showing through is the target we're aiming at. You get there by letting go. You get there by sharing the fun.