Unexpected Skyline Photography

Downtown Skyline - Austin, Texas

Downtown Skyline – Austin, Texas

After a tasty and hardy barbecue dinner at Terry Black’s, we concluded that a post-dinner walk would do us good. Conveniently, there was a park across the street. I vaguely remember being here years ago — it’s a section of Austin I rarely visit. The kids’ amenities and the glowing fountain made for a pleasant stroll, and I discovered a fantastic vantage point to capture Austin’s growing skyline.

It’s called Butler Metro Park after consulting Google Maps. The mound beyond the fountains was our next destination.

Downtown Skyline - Austin, Texas

An artistic spiral walkway curved higher, magnifying the already terrific skyline view. I was glad I brought a camera — finding unexpected photographic opportunities shooting the skyline when just going out for dinner.

Given modern camera technology, a fast lens, and image stabilization, hand-held tripod-less pictures come out surprisingly well. I slowed the shutter to 1/6 second to reduce ISO sensitivity. Then, underexposing not to blow out the delicate skyscraper lights, I post-processed to lift the shadows.

Downtown Skyline - Austin, Texas

A limestone map of Texas was the reward for walking to the top of Doug Sahm Hill, plus the best view of the Austin skyline. The summit is unlit and dark, requiring post-processing to create an acceptable image. There are places where a tripod still is helpful. With a 1/6 second shutter speed at f2.8, the ISO was 1250 — not optimal for extensive shadow lifting. While not visible at these sizes, there is more noise in the clouds and shadows than I prefer. Still, a hand-held image of this quality would be unheard of a decade ago, particularly with such a small camera and lens.

I could do higher-quality photography with a big camera and a sturdy tripod. However, this was an unplanned snapshot during an after-dinner walk. Not bad. A small carry-everywhere camera like the Fujifilm X-S10 and 16mm f2.8 makes all the difference.

Blog readers, you’ll love my free monthly photography magazine. Signup for the free magazine to get articles and topics not discussed on the blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.