A Reunion with Flickr Friends

360 Bridge Light Trails - Austin, Texas

360 Bridge Light Trails – Austin, Texas

I was standing on a bluff overlooking one of Austin’s most recognizable landmarks, last Friday. In hand, my light weight tripod along with my usual pair of Olympus cameras. I was there to shoot the 360 Bridge, but more importantly I was there to meet my Flickr friends.

There was Dave, Jim and Evan, who I initially met through Flickr, along with a pro photographer John, who I met years ago. We all know each other, all living in the Austin area. But that Friday, we had a special treat. Michael, who we know on Flickr as “Theaterwiz” was in town from Ohio. He had come to visit us in the Lone Star State.

Flickr bound us together, but we all had a shared interest in HDR photography. And while many of us have moderated our use of HDR, the ties remain. I admit, while I still have my Pro account on Flickr, I’ve long stopped posting there. This blog and other shiny things had diverted my attention. But my early years on Flickr were the most enjoyable, social media wise. Back years ago, photographers around the world got to know each other. It was a special time that Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram can’t match.

It was only natural to take Michael to the famous Austin places. Despite its increasing popularity, it’s been many years since I’ve been up there, shooting the bridge. During the day, the regular spectators come with their modest cameras which also make phone calls. It’s in the evening when the serious photographers come to play — where you need some techniques or at least a tripod to make decent shots. The blue hour, along with the colorful light trails is my favorite scene.

I fumbled around slightly, surprised how quickly tripod photography, low light landscapes and HDR have begun to eluded me. After all, this is the only kind of photography I’ve done for years. Now, as I shoot the streets and rely increasingly on in-body image stabilization, I found a certain quaintness using a tripod.

I used my Olympus PEN-F, which I hadn’t yet setup for HDRs. I soon settled into my old routine, attached my 9-18mm super wide-angle and shot a few brackets. To my amazement, I opted not to do any HDR blending in post.

This is a single photograph that was exposed 2 stops brighter. A combination of modern sensor technology, even the smaller micro 4/3 variety, and my new Capture One image processing software was able to tame the image. Considering that it’s a 60 second exposure, overexposed, I’m happy with the way it turned out.

We all stumbled down the side of the cliff, in pitch black, aided by our smartphones LEDs. We met over beers and connected through our love of photography. The years and many miles that separated us, melted away.


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