Yesterday, I dedicated a post to black and white photos of downtown Austin, taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Here are more photographs I shot on the same day, this time in glorious color. I take all my photographs in color and decide during post processing whether to convert some to black and white. I have a taste for crispness and dynamic images. For photos that have mediocre or uncertain color, I opt for black and white and increase the contrast and texture. But when the sun goes down and the lights come up, and you are in the right place, the color becomes lively.
6th street is definitely one of those lively places.
Beyond all the grunge, colorful characters and the unpredictable nature of city life, I’m most amazed by the capitalism on 6th street. In many ways, the U.S. has become a two entity system. Certainly, we have a two-party political system but this extends into business too. Consider Home Depot and Lowe’s. Office Max and Office Depot. FedEx and UPS. Walmart and Target. Costco and Sam’s. And finally Coke and Pepsi.
But on 6th street, there are a multitude of bars and restaurants completing together in a vivid marketplace. An efficient marketplace to supply drinks and entertainment to college kids and tourists.
The businesses on 6th street uses various weapons to snare their customers. Music is a big tool of course, with almost every genre represented. There are cheap drinks and junk food. Attractive hosts and hostesses. And of course, lots of color and character to visually attract with both gaudy as well as cool minimalist designs. There are old favorites that are around for years, others die quickly and get resurrected even quicker.
It’s best to visit 6th street at night when the darkness hides the shabby feel of most of these venues. In the stark reality of daylight, these places don’t add up to much. But mix in some darkness, colorful lights and throngs of people in various states of inebriation and it makes for a visually rich target.
The E-M1 handled the blue lights and the performance at the Bat Bar very nicely. This place has windows that open to the street, where you can shoot the performers from the rear. Here are some images of this unusual guitar and cello combo that piqued my interest. I even shot a video which came out great — gotta love the cello player puffing away.
Esther’s Follies has been around forever and I’m glad to see them going strong. Home of comedy and political satire, their performance is both visible from the street and the stage and props are extended on to the sidewalk.
Pedicabs are fairly new to Austin but they seem to get more elaborate, undoubtedly to attract customers. Finally, there is always an interesting mix of people, some groups celebrating special events such as bachelor and bachelorette parties. I’m not sure what these boa ladies are celebrating but they look like they’re enjoying themselves.
And while your idea of a good time may not be shooting 6th street, just imagine, you can substitute it for any place in the world. It could be the big city lights in Tokyo, the cobblestone streets of Europe or the dynamic street life in India.
The E-M1 with the 12-40mm f2.8 makes a potent combo. With comparably small size, weather proofing and a versatile large aperture lens it may be a perfect all in one solution for travel photography. The body and lens are ideally suited for each other. I also have no complaints about the image quality, I’m sure you will agree.
For most people, the E-M1 and the 12-40mm might be all you need. However, micro 4/3 has the largest selection of lenses in the mirrorless world. For people who want to stop action in dark places, like me, carrying a second lens, a fast prime works great. There are a lot to choose from such as the Olympus 17mm f1.8, the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 and the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4, which is what I used that night. Olympus and Panasonic together now offer a lens selection that is approaching Canon’s and Nikon’s. If you are considering an E-M1, keep in mind that you’re not just getting a camera body, you are buying into an ecosystem, a very diverse one.
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