Perfecting the Hand-Held Bar Portrait

The Blind Pig Pub Portrait - Austin, Texas

The Blind Pig Pub Portrait – Austin, Texas

Are portraits just for people? Perhaps by definition, yes. But I think buildings and bars can be portrait subjects too. In fact I did a series of Rainey Street Bar Portraits during the pandemic. Those black and whites were exacting. Made on a tripod, even during the day, with my Fujifilm GFX 50R. Things were slower then, and psychologically, I felt more compelled to fill time with a methodical approach.

For my last picture from my 6th Street test, I feature The Blind Pig Pub. There is nothing special about it. Other than the ridiculously large second-floor covered deck that overwhelms the old structure. I then remembered making a similar picture before. Almost exactly four years ago when I was testing a very different camera.

Early January 2018, I was out shooting my latest Christmas present, the Canon G7X Mark II. That high-end compact camera was going to be my take-everywhere photographic device. I used it extensively before it was superseded by more able technology. However, I did an extensive 9 photo writeup of my 6th Street test. After reading that blog post, I’ve come to some conclusions.

First, the subjects I shoot and how I shoot haven’t materially changed in four years. Perhaps I’m so happy with the in-body stabilized GFX 50S II because I can shoot it like that compact Canon camera. Although the Fuji is a significantly bulkier camera. The principle and technique remain the same.

I’ve noticed that I now frame more precisely and often perspective correct architecture photographs. My last two years of architectural tripod shooting and experiments with tilt-shift lenses might have played a part.

Finally, the struggle to create high-quality hand-held photographs at night has been overcome with new technology and at a high cost. Granted, I’m using a very different camera with a gigantic sensor. It’s a device that didn’t exist four years ago. But it enables a kind of picture taking that makes me happy with minimal fuss.

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