2013 Chinese New Year Celebration in Austin

Girl with Parasol, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Girl with Parasol, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

The Chinatown Center in North Austin had their annual Chinese New Year celebration yesterday. I wanted to do something different from last year, photographically, not creating the same type of photojournalistic pictures. I took a different set of cameras and lenses and forced myself to see details instead. It’s easy to take snapshots of the event but I struggled to make more artistic images. There are so many distractions, people, poles, and fences what take away from the photograph. My tactic, get closer or zoom in to reduce clutter. I don’t think I was entirely successful but it forced me to see things differently.

Red Flags, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Red Flags, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Lion Closeup, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Lion Closeup, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Neon Characters, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Neon Characters, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Color Clash, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Color Clash, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

I took 3 compact cameras with me, leaving at home the Canon 7D that I used last year. I brought my Olympus E-P3 with the 25mm f1.4, the Olympus XZ-1 point and shoot and the 40-150mm zoom on the Olympus E-PM2. I mentioned on a recent post that the Olympus 40-150mm lens was on sale for $100 but I didn’t use the lens very often. I decided to give it a try yesterday, taking advantage of the 80mm to 300mm equivalent zoom, to get close. The lens performed a lot better than expected. And since I’m not typically a telephoto guy, it taxed my brain to create different kind of compositions. I ended up using this lens the most.

Shades of Red, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Shades of Red, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Lantern Dance, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Lantern Dance, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Dancing with Parasols, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Dancing with Parasols, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Alternating Colors, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Alternating Colors, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

The XZ-1 worked well enough but I used it the least. There are several reasons for this. Switching between two cameras isn’t too bad but things get rather confusing for me when I added a third. The XZ-1 focuses moderately fast but both Olympus Pen cameras are faster so I tended to use them for action. With up to 300mm of zoom, I got more range than the maximum 112mm on the XZ-1. Finally, I noticed that the XZ-1’s LCD was not quite as bright as the Pens so shooting in bright sunlight was less ideal. So while to the XZ-1 might make a handy all around, one camera solution, given the choice, I still rather use my Pens.

Lion's Eye, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Lion’s Eye, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Lion's Fur, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Lion’s Fur, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Of course the highlight of the celebration was the Lion Dance and the firecrackers. With all the smoke and commotion, I found capturing images were a bit hit or miss. The 40-150mm lens did allow me to step back just a little to get out-of-the-way of the exploding firecrackers. I’m not sure I totally succeeded in my photographic goals but the big surprise was the performance of my infrequently used long zoom. The image quality of course does not match my Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4, but it’s surprisingly good. The lens is not very big or heavy considering is long telephoto range. Perhaps I need to take it out some more and play with its capabilities.

Lion Dance #1, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Lion Dance #1, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Lion Dance #2, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Lion Dance #2, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Lion Dance #3, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration - Austin, Texas

Lion Dance #3, 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration – Austin, Texas

Click on the photographs to see a larger image and hover over the photos to see the exposure detail.

13 thoughts on “2013 Chinese New Year Celebration in Austin

  1. Gorgeous pictures as usual. But isn’t it interesting how the lens we use changes not only our visual field, but the way we think. That is a better lens that one expects for the money. Kind of a nice surprise.

  2. Andy, your photos are fantastic! I saw this event covered on the local TV news, and saw the crowds of people, and the direct harsh sunlight from the cloudless sky. In your photos, I see no evidence of crowds of people, and you did a great job of turning that direct sunlight into a tool to make the colors really explode in your photos.

    With all of the vegetation still in drab “winter mode”, an event like this would have been a great opportunity get some very colorful photos. It’s an opportunity that I passed on, and now regret, and one that you seized and did an outstanding job with. Congrats!

    1. Thank you, Gregg. Indeed it was a challenge to get rid of all that was distracting. I was thinking it would be amazing to get these Lion dancers with a simple white seamless.

      Perhaps next year, you may want to shoot the festivities.

  3. After I went through all the pictures I thought only “Color Clash” was marked taken with the Leica 25 1.4 and the rest taken with the Olympus 40-150. I was thinking how beautiful the colors and micro contrast was with the Leica and how it made the Olympus zoom look weak in comparison. Then I started staring at “Alternating Colors” and wondered why it looked so much better than the other images taken with the zoom. Doh! It’s the Leica again.

    I bought the Olympus for $100 on your recommendation and I don’t regret it considering I won’t use it often but now I just have to have a Leica 25 1.4.

    1. Tom, the Panasonic Leica 25mm is indeed a fantastic lens. The best quality lens I have for micro 4/3. There is something about its quality, perhaps it’s micro contrast, that renders that special look.

      But for the price the 40-150mm isn’t that bad. At $100, I think you certainly got a bargain. Please let me what you think, when you get it.

  4. Ha, you made it! 😉

    I like the way the festive action is captured. Amazing colours and a great job on isolating the event without the crowd. Another successful shoot, I expected nothing less ^_^

    1. Thanks, Timmy. Yup, I made it. I didn’t mention it in my post but I was feeling a bit under the weather. Forced myself out of bed but I’m glad I went.

  5. I found the 40-150mm shots very encouraging — and now that mine has arrived find the lens capable of resolving fine detail even at full telephoto. Thanks for the tip.

    By the way, do you find the image stabilization in the later Pens significantly better than the EPL1? My problem with shakiness is my own, not the camera’s, but with only the EPL1 for comparison it seems the Olympus in-body stabilization falls quite short of the Nikon VR optical approach.

    1. Mike, yes, the EPL-1 in-body stabilization is probably not as good as Nikon’s or Canon’s. I found that make E-P3 was a bit better than the E-PL1. I found that the E-PM2 is not as good as the E-P3 but maybe better than the E-PL1, but I have not tested this.

      From what I’ve heard and played with the OM-D’s IS is really good, perhaps as good or better than Nikon.

      I’m glad the 40-150mm is working out for you. I’ll try to mention any future deals that might be of interest to my readers.

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