If you follow my blog, you know that I go on a lot of photowalks. Some by myself, others with a couple of friends and once in a while, with a huge group. Many of these walks happen in Austin, my home town. The problem is, there’s not a lot of places to shoot urban landscapes in Austin.
For all the national attention Austin seems to get these days, it is a medium-sized city at best. Sure it has 1 million plus people in the 5 country area but the central core is pretty small. The good news is that the downtown is growing and the fabric and texture of the city continues to improve. Never the less, this is no New York, San Francisco or Tokyo, nor does it have the wonderful old details of even a smaller European town. The result, if you shoot urban landscapes and architecture like I do, Austin poses a big challenge.
But like most challenges, taken positively, it strengths you. It hones your skills. I believe the dearth of interesting subjects in this city allows me to dig deeper, see differently and try new things. I try to discover new shapes and angles. I’m constantly in search of unique situations that may give a new perspective to an overshot scene. I also change-up lenses or cameras that give me new capabilities.
What this means is when I get to a big city, the visual possibilities are almost overwhelming. My brain seems like it’s going to explode with the 1000s of frames that I see around me. Trained for sparse visual conditions, the mind becomes drunk with overstimulation. In a place like New York City, I think I could shoot 8 hours a day, everyday for a year and not exhaust the urban material. Perhaps, some day I will get that opportunity.
I went on yet another photowalk this past Friday. A different group of people from a week ago but in the same general area. I almost didn’t go — I’ve been to this place so many times. But I wanted to meet my friends, which is a big part of the fun of these things. I’ve been on a HDR kick lately, enjoying my new-found freedom with my new, light weight Olympus setup. I saw color. I saw reflections. I created this festive shot in Austin’s famous entertainment district, 6th street. The image for me represents the sometimes wild, party atmosphere of this place.
It’s a new angle, one that I’ve never seen before.