Urban Landscape + Lifestyle Photography

Austin

Street Photography at Hopdoddy’s

Burgers, Hopdoddy's - Austin, Texas

Burgers, Hopdoddy’s – Austin, Texas

I’m sorta on a street photography kick, as this is the third posting in the row about this genre. While people may have different definitions, I think most would agree that street photography doesn’t have to involve the street. It can be on a beach or your backyard or inside a restaurant.

Several weeks ago, after a photography meeting at Precision Camera, we headed to over to the ever crowded Hopdoddy’s for dinner. It’s one of my favorite places for burgers. Unfortunately, there’s always a line. As you probably guessed, I’m constantly shooting and documenting my surroundings. The following series show my progression through the ordering line.

Blue Hour at Hopdoddy's - Austin, Texas

Blue hour in the suburbs is not the most exciting but it’s the starting place for the wait, outside the door. I shot this at 8:55pm. Time appeared to go quickly though, with my photography friends nearby talking shop. I conveniently had my Olympus E-M5 Mark II with a 17mm f1.8 for a nice compact setup.

Bar Glow, Hopdoddy's - Austin, Texas
Mirrorless Nerds, Hopdoddy's - Austin, Texas
Ordering Counter, Hopdoddy's - Austin, Texas

While I’m obviously not downtown, all my favorite urban elements are here. The warm glow of lights, the deep blue sky and the people. I’m especially a sucker for the warm glow around bars which resemble the festive string lights that I love so much.

I was one of several “mirrorless nerds”. I had my Olympus, Rudy had his Sony a6000 and Steven his Nikon 1 J3. I’ve noticed that the popularity of DSLRs have decreased somewhat, even at these enthusiast photographer events.

As I made steady progress through the line, I surgically focused at the front of the line. Though not extreme, I still get a nice sense of depth even with a less than full size, micro 4/3 sensor. Shooting at f1.8 helps while the 35mm equivalent is versatile for street photography.

Friendly Customer on Line, Hopdoddy's - Austin, Texas

As I neared the head of the line, I framed and a customer posed. A friendly interaction with an unknown stranger. I showed her the photograph and she like it. The timestamp indicates 9:25pm. Waiting 30 minutes or so is par for the course. Actually, it’s probably shorter than normal. It’s worth it though. Hopdoddy does a great job.

Citrus, Hopdoddy's - Austin, Texas

If you don’t want to wait, try sitting at the bar. Or perhaps enjoy a drink while waiting on line. Me, I just liked the color of the citrus.

Closing Time, Hopdoddy's - Austin, Texas

We sat outside and until closing. The temperature wasn’t oppressively hot. All quiet inside as I shot this scene through the exterior window. I live for the glow. It’s one of the reasons I love shooting so much at night.

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I took all photographs with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens.

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Street photography in my backyard

Backyard Construction - Austin, Texas

Backyard Construction – Austin, Texas

You don’t have to go to exotic locales or to gritty, urban downtowns to do street photography. I snapped this in my backyard the other day.

I’m photographing my backyard project. Most are boring shots — the same angles to show the changes from week to week. But on that day, I had fun shooting the construction workers in action.

Back 13 years ago, I made the switch to digital to document the construction of my current house. I figured that if I shot about 1,300 photos with my modest 2.1 megapixel Canon S300, I would break even relative to the development cost of film. Over a decade later, with well over 200,000 shots (not with the same camera), I would have never guessed that I would be so enamored with photography.

Building the Foundation - Austin, Texas

This is my favorite photograph from my house construction back in 2002. I guess I shot “street photography” before I knew what is was. Back then, I took images more by luck than with pre-planning. I’m a bit better at pre-visualizing images now — or at least I hope so.

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I took the first photograph with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens.

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Another Drink and Click, the Pentax Q7 again with more black and whites

Kasey, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

Kasey, Drink and Click 2015 – Austin, Texas

Remember the Pentax Q7 I bought back in Japan? I haven’t talked about it recently but I’ve been silently shooting it ever since I picked it up last December. It’s a very versatile camera, the smallest mirrorless interchangeable system around. I still go to Drink and Clicks and I thought I would cover last week’s with the Q7 since it was sorta sponsored by Pentax.

The challenge I have these days is that I shoot with so many cameras and I’ve fallen way behind in the blogging department so I don’t get to talk about all the fun gear. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II tends to get the most coverage since it’s my newest digital camera. But I’ll need to circle back to all the neat cameras I’m using, including a slew of film ones.

The center of attention, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

I originally got the Pentax Q7 for doing my urban HDRs. It works great for that but it’s the black and whites that I really like. I shot these photos with the Q7 in JPEG using a custom in-camera black and white preset. I’ve tweaked a few of the photos, ever so slightly, in post — all I did was brighten the shadows a tad. I used the 01 Prime Lens which gives me f1.9 at a 40mm equivalent.

You may recall back in February, I also shot a Drink and Click with this camera. Last week’s performance didn’t disappoint. While I also shot my Olympus E-M5 Mark II, today it’s all about the Pentax. Perhaps I’ll sneak in some Olympus photos in a future post.

Pentax 645Zs, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

Jessica from Pentax brought the entire line but it was the medium format digital 645Z that was the most popular. I opted not to shoot it. I figured I might be able to borrow one in the future, when I was in the mood and I wanted others to get their chance. I had my own Pentax for the night anyway and many were curious about my small Q7.

Mike and Kelly, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas
Kelly Shoots Olympus, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

Just by chance I ended up at a table with a whole bunch of Olympus shooters. Jerry, the owner of Precision Camera was playing with the E-M5 Mark II, I had mine, Kelly, pictured above, was shooting hers. A bit later, Brett and Charles from Olympus also showed up. All told we had like 5 OM-Ds around. Not that it mattered. I think you know that I like and shoot a lot of different brands.

Behind the Scenes, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas
Kasey Portrait, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

Pentax hired Kasey, a professional model for the event. She probably thought it was weird that I was shooting with such a small camera. I’m sure she did’t take me seriously but who cares. I rather enjoy flying under the radar, especially with the Q7. Look that these moody black and whites, I’m really loving it.

Bungalow Art, Drunk and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

The Q7 also has in-body image stabilization like the E-M5 Mark II but not nearly as effective as 5 stop variety in the Olympus. I do get lucky at times as shot this at 1/10 of a second. It was dark inside this bar on Rainy Street. Even at 1/10 of second, I needed ISO 2000 at f1.9. It’s the first time I’ve been to the Bungalow. It had a nice feel to it.

Bungalow Reflections #1, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas
Bungalow Reflections #2, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas
Bungalow Reflections #3, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

At the back of that bar, there was a giant plate-glass window that made for nice reflections. The Q7 managed to hold its own and I think I captured the feel of the place.

Sally Portrait, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

In addition to the official models, patrons also enjoyed posing. Much of the clicking that goes on at these Drink and Click events are portraits. Sally had a nice look that worked great here.

Street Photography #1, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas
Street Photography #2, Drink and Click 2015 - Austin, Texas

I stayed later than usual and wrapped it up with some candid, street photography style photos. In addition to the black and whites, I really like this camera for unimposing street photography. It’s so small that most are not intimidated by it. But unlike a normal point and shoots, it has capabilities that match the larger enthusiast cameras.

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I took all the photographs with the Pentax Q7 in JPEG.

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My evolving criteria for camera selection and consideration of an old Leica

Revolutionary Olympus - Austin, Texas

Revolutionary Olympus – Austin, Texas

In lieu of photographing fireworks this 4th of July, I invited a couple of close friends over to the house. We had a relaxing get together over drinks, kitchen table philosophy and showing off our latest cameras. We came to realize that our photography has evolved over the years and that we’ve changed how we select our cameras.

Tony brought his newly acquired Leica X1, a well-regarded high-end compact from 2009. It’s the kind of camera that I would have never considered years ago. But with my evolving criteria and used prices dragging even digital Leicas lower, the X1 is beginning to look interesting.

Olympus Reflections - Austin, Texas

For me, color and camera feel are now the most important. Sure there are many secondary considerations. Image quality which include sharpness, contrast and low noise are factors but it’s color which first attracts my attention. Likewise, regardless of the technical specs, it’s the feel of the camera, which includes design, interface and build quality, which ultimately sways me.

It hasn’t aways been this way. When I first got started, high ISO, low noise capability was paramount. I judged cameras by their technical specifications than more subjective considerations. But the reality is today’s technology is so good, most cameras are sufficient. Indeed, for most people, digital cameras have reached adequacy a number of years ago.

All cameras have limitations and I am more apt to work around them if they produce good color and feel right. Perhaps that’s why I’ve ventured into shooting film along side digital. I’ve also realized that the limitations of old film technology is starting to influence my considerations for digital cameras.

Lucky Stares - Austin, Texas

The Leica X1 focuses excruciatingly slow, making the Fujifim X100 seem like a speed demon. But it allows for manual distance based focusing which could work well for street photography. That’s the way I like to shoot my film cameras, by the way.

The X1 colors looks very interesting. Unlike most cameras, the RAW DNG file is actually more colorful than the JPEG. I prefer the RAW. The X1’s colors reminded me of the ones from the Leica M that I shot last year. Unlike the M, which has a modern full frame sensor, the X1 has a smaller APS-C from 6 years ago. But even then, I found that ISO 1600 looked great and even ISO 3200 looked decent. The digital grain and processing on the X1 also resembles the M. Makes sense, they’re both from the same company.

While not inexpensive at $500 – $700, it’s not bad for a German-made Leica, albeit one that’s 6 years old. It’s certainly more accessible than the just announced Leica Q — while compelling — is beyond what I want to spend.

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All photographs shot with a Leica X1. Tony shot the second image with his trademark reflections.

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Have a relaxing 4th of July

Kayaks by the creek - Austin, Texas

Kayaks by the creek – Austin, Texas

It’s going to a quieter than usual 4th of July — there’s no 360 Bridge fireworks this year. The Austin Country Club, who puts on the show, is holding off due to construction. I’m having a relaxing weekend shooting a mellow, old but satisfying digital camera.

A year ago, I experimented with an ancient Olympus E-1, the first purposefully build DSLR with a 5MP CCD sensor. I love it for the rich colors, especially the reds. That camera started me down a path of exploring color, which eventually got me shooting film.

Some people say CCD sensors are more film-like, especially compared to the now dominant CMOS technology. After experimenting with film, I disagree, however there’s no question CCDs look different from CMOS. They seem less clinical though they still have the clean look of digital. I like CCD, but found the resolution of the 5MP E-1 limiting.

Cue the Olympus E-300 with a 8MP CCD, in a prosumer body. This was Olympus’ second DSLR, released about a year after the E-1, in 2004. The colors look similar but with an extra 3MP of resolution, which should be enough for decent 13″ x 19″ prints. I recently added this ancient digital tech to my collection for a mere $50.

Have a great 4th of July.

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I took the photograph with the Olympus E-300 in RAW and post processed with Aperture 3.

Make sure to click on the photograph to a see larger version. Hover over the photo to see the picture details.