Moody Trees in Austin Ice Storm

Icy Trees - Austin, Texas

Icy Trees – Austin, Texas

In stark contrast to the color and upbeat Lunar New Year coverage, we’re back in Austin in early February. Unfortunately, a historic ice storm hit the Austin metro area two weeks before my trip to Las Vegas. As a result, we lost power for the second time in two years for an extended period.

This year’s ice storm didn’t make the national news like two years ago when a freak snowstorm paralyzed most of Texas. Confined to Austin, the nasty weather spared the rest of Texas this year. We lost power for about three days during the snowstorm — this year, it was about 2 1/2 days.

While the power failure had a similar effect at atmtx headquarters, the reason behind the outage was utterly different. Two years ago, extreme cold disabled multiple power sources in Texas, forcing the power companies to shut down parts of the grid to prevent a complete collapse. That affected about 40% of Austin. This year, the ice storm brought down tree limbs and power lines, which cut service to about 30% of the area. Luckily, we were better prepared with some gadgets I brought since the last power failure.

While we didn’t have a blanket of snow, the icy tree limbs created an unusual (in Austin) opportunity for photography. I used the Fujifilm X-S10 with the Fuji 50mm f1.0 to create moody, monochromatic, shallow depth-of-field images of neighborhood trees.

Icy Tree Abstract - Austin, Texas

I also experimented with a more abstract representation by getting closer.

The internet connection via cell phone was iffy this time, though I continued to work the best I could. During a conversation with a business colleague in India, I mentioned my power predicament. He was surprised that a major city in the United States was power-challenged for so long. “Yes,” I said, “We are slowly descending into third-world status.” He replied, “I don’t remember the last time we had a power outage in India.”

There you have it — power reliability worse than in India. Thanks, Austin Energy.

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