Category Archives: Austin

Marcia Ball at The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

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Well, it has been quite a while since I put up my last post here – over 6 weeks, actually. A lot has happened, but I am not interested in writing a 2000 word blog post filling in that 6 week gap….  However, something happened in the last day that has brought me back to my keyboard, where I finally feel that I have something meaningful to say, and to show you. (But you have to read to the end to know what that is.)

Since this web site is dedicated to “Gregg’s Adventures in Learning Photography”, I must mention that after weeks of debating in my own head, I took the plunge and on December 14th, Barb and I headed on down to Precision Camera here in Austin, and bought the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera along with two new Olympus lenses: the 12-40mm f/2.8 and the 75mm f/1.8.

After a full week of evenings sitting around reading the manual and trying out all of the settings and (way too many) menu options, it was time to take this new camera out and start shooting with it! Every December, for the past 7 years, we have met some of our good friends at a local restaurant for a meal and then afterwards we head over to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and enjoy seeing a local Austin band perform in a rather intimate setting.

This year we met our friends at Threadgill’s Restaurant on Riverside Drive for brunch/lunch on Sunday morning, December 22, 2013. We then drove drove the 2 blocks over to the Palmer Events Center, where the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has been held for the last 4 or 5 years.

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is one of those things that helps “keep Austin weird“. It is a place where all sorts of artists come together to sell their wares to those who are shopping for different or unusual Christmas presents.

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As a means to help draw in more shoppers, they have local musicians perform 2 or 3 times a day. The talent that they bring in is great! In the photo above, you can see the colored backdrop of the small stage where the musicians play. (That photo was handheld with a shutter speed of 1/13th of a second!)

We came specifically to see Marcia Ball play.

When we arrived, the band named Sons of Fathers was still performing their set, so I wandered over toward the stage just to have a look.

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I had set the ISO to 800 and the aperture to f/2.8, and since I was shooting in aperture priority mode, the camera would choose the shutter speed, while I just had to change the exposure compensation setting – which is very easy to do with the EVF (electronic view finder) and Olympus’s Highlight and Shadow information display.

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Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

The camera was choosing a shutter speed of 1/30th or 1/40th of a second, and I knew that the 5-axis image stabilization would allow me to shoot even slower, so I never saw the need to increase the ISO above 800.

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I enjoyed the Sons of Fathers enough that I bought their most recent CD, “Burning Days”!  After Sons of Fathers left the stage, there was nearly an hour before Marcia Ball’s show was to begin. Even so, the best that we could do to get 5 seats together was on the 4th row. Thankfully, I got a seat on the center aisle.

David Carroll, the bass player, was the first musician to get setup and work with the sound board guy.

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Marcia Ball is an outstanding piano and keyboard player. I have seen her several times over the past 25 years or so, and she always delivers a lively, energetic performance.

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For the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar performances though, she does not bring her regular band for the show, but always invites other musicians to perform with her. (I distinctly remember a “Pianorama” show a few years back.) This year she had invited not only David Carroll, but Chris Gage and Christine Albert (aka Albert and Gage), and Sarah Elizabeth Campbell. We did now know this before we saw them come out onto the stage, but we were thrilled! We have been to 4 or 5 Albert and Gage shows over the years, and have ALWAYS enjoyed them immensely.

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That’s Chris Gage with the electric guitar, and his wife (I’m pretty sure…) Christine Albert on the acoustic guitar.

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I only brought the 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, but I was wishing I had also brought my new 75mm f/1.8 lens. The photo above was made by a very tight crop of a much larger field of view photo.

Here’s the entire band, including Sarah Elizabeth Campbell (in the center).

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I understand that Christine Albert, David Carroll, and Sarah Elizabeth Campbell had a regular gig playing together at El Mercado restaurant on Monday evenings.

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My last sentence was correct in using the past tense. I took these photos on Sunday, December 22nd. Christine, David, Elizabeth, with guests Slaid Cleaves, and Butch Hancock (who was in my 32 year old slide at the Armadillo World Headquarters blog post) played at El Mercado on Monday evening. Sadly, yesterday morning, the day after Christmas, Sarah Elizabeth Campbell passed away after a battle with liver cancer (obituary is here).

This summer, while on our cruise to The Bahamas, I read Zack Arias’s excellent book “Photography Q&A”. On page 62 Zach writes “This may sound weird – every time I photograph someone I think about their funeral. It is my goal to get a great photo of whoever is in front of my camera, one that is worthy of being enlarged and placed next to their casket. Everyone needs a great portrait. Everyone is going to leave it behind. The portrait that gets left behind needs to be the best that it can be. I’m serious; I think about this on every shoot.”

I think about those words often. I thought about them as I took our usual family photos during Christmas. I didn’t think about such wise words as I played with my new camera at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. I had no idea that I was photographing someone who would no longer be with us less than 90 hours later. That is a haunting thought.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth. Rest in peace.

Thank you for visiting my (infrequent) blog.

Spinning the State Flag of Texas

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On Saturday, November 2, 2012, Barb and I attended the (American) college football game between the University of Kansas and the University of Texas. It was a home game for the Texas Longhorns, and was the first daytime game of the season, so I thought it would be fun to take my camera with us.

The University of Texas athletic department has a policy of “no professional cameras with interchangeable lenses”, but I didn’t have any trouble getting into the stadium with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera. I had the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 “kit” lens on the camera, which was hanging around my neck. In Barb’s bag, I had stashed my Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens.

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Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

I took about 140 photos that afternoon before, during, and after the game. When I was culling through them to see which ones that I wanted to include in my next blog post, I still had way too many photos to show. I couldn’t help but to notice this little “story within a story”.

Before the game actually begins, and right before the national anthem is played, they bring out this huge flag for the State of Texas onto the football field.

That is one very impressive (in size) flag. But wait, there’s more!

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The students holding that flag begin to bunch it up from two opposite ends.

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Eventually, when the two groups meet in the middle, the flag naturally takes on a circular shape.

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They then begin to rotate, or spin, the flag on the field. Notice where the blue section is now, and follow it as it changes position!

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It doesn’t take them very long to get it around.

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I would guess maybe 30 seconds to do the full revolution.

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And once it’s made the full revolution, there isn’t much else left to do, but to turn it back into a rectangle.

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All of these photos were taken with the 12-50mm kit lens zoomed to 45mm (which is 90mm equivalent on a full frame camera).

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Photos of Two Concerts from 32 Years Ago

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Since the Austin Shutterbug Club’s still-life photography workshop, it’s just been blazing hot here in Austin, and I so I have not been out taking any photos since then.

Recently, I told the story about finding my long-lost shoe box containing a dozen smaller boxes of photographic slides. Since it’s been so hot outside, I spent some time during a couple of evenings scanning a few more of these slides into my computer. What I have here to show you in this post are photos that I took during two rock concerts, which occurred in 1981. That’s 32 years ago!

On Thursday, September 24, 1981 my first wife and I went to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Frank Erwin Center here in Austin.

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In 1981 my 35mm camera was a Canon AE-1, and I had three prime lenses: a Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens, a Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, and a Canon FD 200mm f/2.8 lens. The slide film that I was using was Kodak Ektachrome, and I believe that it was ASA (ISO) 64.

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Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

I am not sure which lens that I used for the photos that I am showing to you here, but I’m pretty sure that I only brought one lens with me to each of these two concerts. I doubt that it was the 50mm lens.

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Back in 1981, nobody seemed concerned at all when I would show up at the entrance door, with ticket in hand, and my camera and lens hanging from my neck strap. I did not have any special “photographer’s pass” for these shows. I was located at the seat indicated on the ticket shown above. In the previous photo, you can tell that the heads of the people in front of me blacked out the lower right corner of the photo, which would be due to my reluctance to just stand up and take a photo while everyone behind me was sitting down.

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Since I was 16 rows from the stage, I can only assume today that I was using my 200mm f/2.8 lens to get the musicians to appear this large within my photo.

Tom Petty has always been one of my favorite musicians over the years, so I was very glad to find these slides of this concert!

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The first photo that I took at the concert was frame number 29 on the roll, and I managed to get 37 photos from that roll of Ektachrome. I just showed you the best 4 of the 9 photos that I took at the Tom Petty concert. I can only imagine how many photos that I would have taken today with a digital camera. I’m sure that it would be at least 100 photos during a 90 minute concert. Oh yea, I forgot… today you can’t get into a concert with a camera, …. unless of course it is built into your cell phone.

It’s also worth noting that the camera equipment that I was using didn’t have any autofocus. There wasn’t any image stabilization. I didn’t have an LCD on the back of the camera to tell me if I needed to add or subtract any exposure compensation (there wasn’t any histogram or any “blinkies”). No, I simply had 8 or 9 frames left on the roll of slide film, and I really didn’t have any idea of how well the photos were exposed until I received them back, after sending them in the mail to Kodak for processing.

Next up are some photos that I took at a Christopher Cross concert, which was also on a Thursday. This was earlier that same year, on March 26, 1981 and it was also at the Frank Erwin Center here in Austin.

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Christopher Cross, who lived in Austin at the time (and still does?), had his self-titled first album come out in 1979 and won 5 Grammy awards (including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist)! This concert in the spring of 1981 was during his meteoric rise to the top of the music world.

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Kodak Ektachome slide film was intended to be used in daylight, and not with ever-changing colors of theatrical stage lights, like those used at rock concerts. Even so, it did a good job of capturing, and preserving, the colors in the scene. This next photo clearly had the musicians illuminated by different colors of lights.

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What I thought was interesting as I first viewed these slides in my little Pana-Vue 1 slide viewer, was the varied backdrops that were used behind the band during this concert.

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Here’s a photo of Christopher playing a “double-necked” guitar.

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This next photo is my favorite of this entire post, and that is also why I used it as the opening photo in this post.

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While the smoke still filled the stage, I managed to get another shot of the band.

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This next photo must have been taken during their encore. I believe that is the case because Christopher has changed his shirt to be the Houston Oilers jersey of Earl Campbell. Earl won the Heisman Trophy playing football at The University of Texas here in Austin, 3 and 1/2 years earlier in 1977. Earl was a local favorite, and Christopher was showing his support of another “local legend”.

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In the opening paragraph I stated that I haven’t been out taking any photographs lately. Well, maybe, maybe not… I am writing this blog post on Saturday morning. It will go live early Wednesday morning. On Sunday morning, Barb and I will have driven down to Galveston, gotten on a cruise ship, spent Monday at sea, and Tuesday in Key West, Florida. When this blog post goes live, we will be nearing The Bahamas. I will not be anywhere near a computer, or the internet. If you leave a comment, I will not be responding simply because I am ignoring you. Instead, I’ll be out taking tons of vacation photos, and drinking margaritas!

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

The Armadillo World Headquarters – December 27, 1980

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In my previous post, I told the story about finding my long-lost shoe box containing a dozen smaller boxes of photographic slides. Over the years, I have kept wondering what happened to that shoe box. There was only one small box of slides that I really wanted to find, as I really had no memory of what any of the other boxes of slides contained.

The box that I really wanted to find contained photos that I took inside of the Armadillo World Headquarters on December 27, 1980, which was just 4 nights before they closed their doors forever. That box of slides was plainly marked “AWHQ 12-27-80″.

This place has played a legendary role during the 1970′s for helping to put Austin, Texas on the map as a prominent center of music – behind only Los Angeles, California and Nashville, Tennessee. Wikipedia has an excellent history of the place, as well as a pretty decent list of the bands that played there, and the albums that were recorded there over the years. Here is a link to the site that declares itself the official web site for this place that closed its doors more than 32 1/2 years ago. Under the lower left corner of the photo, click the link to “Enter The Site” and then on the left side, click on the photo that says “Performances”. The list is truly staggering in length!

I have been busy this week learning how to scan these slides on my Epson V500 scanner and using the Epson scan software that came with it. There is no metadata that I can look at to tell me anything about the settings that I used.

All I know for sure is that in late 1980 my camera was a Canon AE-1, and I had three prime lenses: a Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens, a Canon FD 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, and a Canon 200mm f/2.8 lens. I am not sure which lens that I used for which photo that I am about to show you. I also had a Canon Speedlite 199A external flash, and you can tell that I used it (in the hot shoe) to illuminate several of the photos of the artwork (but certainly did NOT use it to photograph the bands). The slide film was Kodak Ektachrome, and I am guessing that it was ASA (ISO) 64.

The ticket stub shown at the top of this post says that the show started at 9:00 PM, and my first wife and I arrived well before that. We were probably one of the very first people in through the door, and nobody said anything about me bringing in a camera with a large lens attached. It never occurred to me that they might not allow that, either.

I took my first photo of the stage, while the first band was still checking out their sound settings, and before any other customers parked themselves in my field of view.

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I remember that the first time I came to The ‘Dillo was in the spring of 1974. I remember that, because I remember the 3 other guys who I came with – we all lived next to each other in the dormatory at UT. I do not remember which band that we saw, however. I do know that we were all very impressed with the whole “experience” that we had that evening. I knew that I would be back!

The artwork on the walls was somewhat “iconic”, and that was the main reason that I wanted to bring my camera into The ‘Dillo.

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This large canvas painting was hung high and to the right of the stage. My memory says that someone once told me that was Freddy Fender in the photo above, but I must admit that I really don’t know who it is. I just thought it was pretty cool! That canvas is probably 10 or 12 feet across.

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The photo above was high and to the left of the stage. This is the legendary blues man, Freddy King. I guess he represented the heart and the soul of the Armadillo.

The women’s restroom was located to the left of the stage, and the door was in plain view of everyone in attendance. That door is in the lower right corner of this huge painting on the wall.

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I walked to the back of the “concert hall”, where one of the two bars was located. This photo is exposed for the neon signs, but you can still see the pitchers all stacked up and ready to be filled with beer. On a “good night”, you had to hang onto your pitcher, as they would run out at the bar and then you could only order by the bottle (oh no!).

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OK, so that’s all of the photos that I took before the first band came out on stage. I really do not remember who they were.

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I do remember that the photo above was taken from our seats, which were the first row of metal folding chairs. Everyone in front of us was sitting on old beer stained carpet remnants scattered all over the floor. You can see that in the next photo, which I took during the intermission.

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The 20 or 30 minutes between the two bands was usually enough time to get your pitcher refilled, and to go to the restroom. After the men had “done their business” in the trough, and they turned to exit the restroom, here is the larger than life-size artwork that they would see.

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The main event of the evening was billed as “Joe Ely – Lubbock Reunion”. I had seen Joe at least 3 or 4 times before this show and always really liked what I saw and heard. I know that even today I still have a couple of his vinyl records and at least a half a dozen of his CD.

Lubbock, TX is the home of Texas Tech University, and is located exactly 400 miles northwest of Austin. Lubbock has been, and still is, the home of several highly respected musicians. Buddy Holly (and The Crickets) was from there. Later on Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore formed a band they called The Flatlanders.

Lloyd Maines, was also born and raised in Lubbock, and supposedly has appeared more times than any other musician on the Austin City Limits television show. He’s the master musician playing the pedal steel guitar!

OK, so it’s time for the main act, and here’s one of two photos that I took of them from my seat.

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That’s Joe Ely playing guitar in the center, and Lloyd Maines is seated just to Joe’s left (your right). I guess I knew that if I was going to get any decent photos, I was just going to have to get up out of my chair and work my way into the crowd.

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That’s Butch Hancock sharing the microphone with Joe Ely. The next photo shows them together, as well as a better shot of Lloyd Maines on the pedal steel guitar.

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I’m going to stop typing now, and just show the best 6 of the last 9 photos that I took while they played.

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Wow, what a show! Being that close to the stage, the wall of speakers to either side of you just resonant right through to your sole.

After the show, and the lights were turned back on, I realized that there was another piece of artwork that I had missed.

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The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers were always watching over the crowd at The Armadillo World Headquarters!

Last night after I had finished scanning this box of slides, I was really in a nostalgic mood. I got out my box of ticket stubs that I have saved over the years. I think I found all of the ticket stubs that I have from The ‘Dillo. This is certainly not all of the shows that I saw there – these are just the ticket stubs that I saved.

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The Armadillo World Headquarters wasn’t the only honky-tonk that I would go to in the 1970′s. But The ‘Dillo was where you could go and drink your pitcher of beer right in front of the stage with all of the other cosmic cowboys. And in the 1970′s there wasn’t any other honky-tonk that I was aware of that everyone was welcome: hippies, cowboys, UT students, working people. In all the times that I went there, not once did I ever see, or even hear about, a fight. Not once did I ever feel unsafe or threatened. With all of beer that was consumed there, that  just doesn’t seem possible today!

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

Discovering My Long-Lost Time Capsule

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Last Sunday, I was rummaging around in one of our storage closets, where I had remembered seeing a box of old shorts that had become too big to wear. I was now tired of my size 36″ waist shorts being too tight, so I had succumbed to the disgusting reality that I now needed to get out those old size 38″ shorts again. After I got onto our short step ladder, I saw that there was a small box on top of the box labeled “Shorts – 38″, so I took that box down and opened the lid to see what the heck other useless junk we’d been saving around here.

What I found made me immediately start to tremble with excitement! This wasn’t a box of junk. This was a box I had been looking for for years. This was my box of 35mm slides!

After I put all of the “big boy” shorts into the washing machine, I sat down at the kitchen table and sorted out my new found treasure. Fortunately, inside the box I also had a GAF Pana-Vue 1 Lighted 2×2 Slide Viewer. Today, I am absolutely shocked to see that B&H still sells the exact same model that I have!

I was thankful that I never installed the size C batteries, as I was certain that they would have been corroded and ruin the electrical contacts. Instead, I just plugged in the AC adapter into the wall, pushed down on the light bar, and instant glow! The light bulb still worked, but man, was it ever dusty inside of this thing. A few blasts of air from my Rocket Blower, and I was all set to find out what sort of photos that I would find.

There was only one specific box of slides that I had been looking for, and it contained photos that I had taken inside of a famous local nightclub / concert hall just a few nights before it closed its doors forever. Those photos will definitely be used sometime soon for a blog post, as I am sure that they will be of interest to many other longtime Austinites!

That box of photos was plainly marked “AWHQ 12-27-80″, but only a few of the other 11 boxes were labeled in any way whatsoever. One said “Cats Jan. 1982″, one said “Fireworks Fujichrome 50″, and the others said “Zilker Gardens”, “Foreigner 4  1-17-1982, Cars 1-24-82″, “Lake Travis 3-81″, “Good Shots 1″ and “Good Shots 2″.

Obviously, I didn’t know anything about proper library management of photos 30 years ago! Even after I went fully digital in 2004, and right up until sometime in mid-2008, everything, and I mean everything that was worth keeping, ended up in a photo album. There are about 20 of these behemoths on a couple of bookshelves in one of our spare bedrooms. I listed the range of dates inside the front cover for the time span that was contained within that album, but rarely did I write any descriptions about who was in the photo, or where it was taken.

I got my first “real camera” in 1980. It was a Canon AE-1, and I got it with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. A year or so later I bought two more used Canon FD lenses from and advertisement in the newspaper. One was a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens that came with an extension tube. The other was a 200mm f/2.8 that came with a 2x extender.

I mention that because I know for certain that this is all of the camera equipment that I had when all of the slides in this box were taken. Well, yes, I also had a Canon flash and an inexpensive Manfrotto tripod… And about 1987 or 1988 I replaced my camera body with a used Canon A-1 and also bought a 28mm lens. There wasn’t any Image Stabilzation back then – that’s what a tripod was for. The lenses were all manual focus back then, too. There weren’t any High ISO sensors, either. I am rather certain that the highest sensitivity slide film that I ever used was ASA (ISO) 64. (Now I also shot a lot of ASA 400 print film, but slides were slow. Very slow.)

So I sat at the kitchen table for nearly 3 hours last Sunday trying to figure out what I had. I got through 10 of the 12 boxes. I took yesterday off of work as a vacation day and used that time to go back through, from the beginning, and document what was in each box. 5 hours later, I had finished that task.

The photo above was the first slide in the box labeled “Zilker Park”, and so I can only say that this view of downtown Austin was taken from Zilker Park, or somewhere very near to there, like Barton Hills Dr. What I do know, is that this photo was taken in the spring of 1981, and I was using Ektachrome slide film, which I mailed to Kodak for development. I’d guess that it was ASA 64 film.

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Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

The photo below was also taken during the spring or summer of 1981, also on Ektachrome. This was a few months after the Armadillo World Headquarters had closed its doors.

Yesterday evening was the very first time in my life that I have ever scanned a slide into my computer. I am using an Epson V500 scanner, with the Epson Scan software. I played around with the settings in the histogram area for several attempts before I got something close to what I could work with. I’m not sure exactly what Digital ICE does, but it does seem to remove most of the smaller dust spots. (I have cleaned the glass surfaces with a lens cleaner, and blown the dust away from the scanner and the slide using my Rocket Blower.) I can get a pretty decent TIFF file from the Epson software, but thank God that Lightroom 5 can take it from there. Add a little Exposure, a little Clarity, bring down the Blacks, and it’s pretty much done.

This next photo was the very next photo in Box #9 after the Armadillo sign photo. I must have gone about 1 block over to Auditorium shores and taken this photo of downtown Austin.

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I hope that these photos look decent enough when you view them from my blog post. I scanned them at 4800 dpi, and honestly, when I zoomed in for my first 100% pixel-peeping view, I was very surprised, and disappointed by all of the graininess that I saw. These photos are in some serious need of sharpening, but so far my attempts to do that only bring out the graininess even more. I have played around with the Luminance Noise Reduction slider, and that helps. I have also used the Masking slider for the Sharpening amount, and that helps some too. My inspection of these 1200 pixel wide JPGs that I am putting here look surprisingly good, considering what I saw on the full resolution versions. I’ve been at this for less than 24 hours so far, so hopefully I will get a better with some more practice!

This next photo should interest a few of you. This was taken on July 4th of 1981 (I think). I was on the north shore of Auditorium Shores along Town Lake (as it was known then), and the rounded top building behind the crowd on the south shore is the no-longer-existing Palmer Auditorium. This is the facility that my high school graduation took place in. That building was demolished years ago, and this is where the Long Center is located today!

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Even though I still have to use this very low-tech Pana-Vue slide viewer to see what “treasures” I have uncovered, I am very glad that I have a modern scanner, attached to a modern computer, running modern software that allows me to bring these photo to an acceptable digital state.

Contrast that to a photo that I took some time in late 1981 or very early 1982. I was still in electrical engineering school at The University of Texas here in Austin. This was my desk where I spent countless hours doing my studies. On the left was my “computer”.

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Oh, it was a real computer, alright. A Radio Shack Color Computer 2. The monitor was a 19″ Motorola Quasar TV. To the right of my monitor sits a little tape deck that was used for storage. That was before the 3.5″ floppy disk was widely accepted. This was about 3 years before I spent $2000 on the very first Apple Macintosh computer (in 1984)!

Maybe now you can realize what I realized as I viewed these 12 boxes of slides. It was like opening up a time capsule that I had buried more than half of my lifetime ago. Austin had changed. Technology has changed. I have changed!

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

Austin Shutterbug Club Picnic at Emma Long Park

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Last Saturday, July 13, 2013, the Austin Shutterbug Club had a picnic at the Emma Long Park in west Austin.

You get to the Emma Long Park by going west on RM 2222, for about a 1/2 of a mile west of Loop 360, and then turning south on City Park Road. Stay on this windy, scenic road for about 7 miles to get to the park, which is on the north shores of Lake Austin. Now Lake Austin isn’t really a lake, it’s really the Colorado River immediately downstream of Mansfield Dam (which creates Lake Travis) and the Tom Miller Dam in west Austin (West Lake Hills) near the Hula Hut restaurant.

This was not an actual club “photography outing”, but rather an actual, old-fashioned picnic, as seen in the opening photo. (Only half of the members even brought a camera with them.)

I got there right at 9:00 AM, and after spending about 45 minutes socializing with the other club members who had also arrived, I grabbed my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, with my “usual” Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, headed across the street and over to the water.

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Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

The photo above is the root of a bald cypress tree. They grow right along the shores of the rivers here in central Texas, and extend their roots right into the water at the shore. Here’s a photo of the leaves and branch structure of this tree.

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Here’s a photo looking across Lake Austin to the south shore.

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With drought-stricken Lake Travis so low, there are no longer any public boat ramps still open (they don’t go down low enough to get to the current water level), many weekend boat owners have taken to using Lake Austin instead.

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As this is a dammed-up river, there really aren’t any waves, except for the ones created by the ski boats!

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While standing around talking to a few other club members who had brought their cameras and had come down to join me at the water, this tree seemed to catch my attention.

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A couple of the ladies in had even waded into the water, looking for interesting and different photographic opportunities.

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Linda, the lady on the left, had a Canon 5D Mark II, with the EF 70 – 200mm f/2.8 L II lens on it. She was not happy with the focusing of her camera, even after Canon had examined it.

After less than 10 minutes at the water’s edge, I decided to head back up to the rest of the group under the large oak shade tree. On the way, I passed this unused cooking grill.

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It will remain unused for the time being; due to the severe drought, there is a burn ban, even in the parks.

Even at 10:00 AM, in mid-July, the cloudless Texas sky is very hard and contrasty. There isn’t much you can do about it, other than just not take any photos for about 10 hours of the day….

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Or you can just try to make the best of it.

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Here’s a photo taken from the position of that rusty grill, looking back toward the water, and the other club members under the tree on the left.

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Looking for pretty much anything interesting to take a picture of, I spent a minute playing around with the colorful balloons that Brian had tied to the light stand that he had set up to let the arriving members that this was our spot.

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Not wanting to immediately sit down, I wandered around the picnic site for a few minutes, while listening in on the various conversations taking place around me. While doing that, I noticed this unusual axe head (someone had brought it to drive the stakes into the ground for the horseshoe game).

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And now to the point of being silly, here is the webbing on the back of the lawn chair that I had brought. :-)

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About 10:15 AM, I headed off to the restroom, which was a clean, but steaming hot outhouse. The temperature was certainly close to 90 degrees (32 C) by now. On the way back, I noticed this tiny little flower, so even though it was in direct, mid-day Texas summer sun, I put my lens into macro mode, flipped out my rear LCD panel, held my camera about a foot (30 cm) off the ground, and snapped this photo.

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Since we weren’t going to eat until about noon, I still had plenty of time to wander around and take some more photos before it really got hot.

I headed back down to the water’s edge and just waited for some “interesting” waves to roll in.

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Even in the summer sun, you can still slow down the shutter to 1/80th of a second (f/7.1 and ISO 200) to get some motion blur to make these tiny waves appear to be much more active than they really are….

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Even though my “kit lens” only zooms out to 100mm equivalent (on a full frame camera), it still had enough of a reach to get a few photos of the passing boats. This next photo was cropped to show about 2/3 of the original image’s length and height.

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It was now close to 10:30 AM, and the temperature was certainly above 90 degrees, so I decided to head back to the picnic area (again) and put away my little camera and be more social than I had been.

And I’ll let this photo be my closing photo (as the boat goes away into the distance).

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We had a very, very nice picnic lunch, and I enjoyed the conversations that flowed around the group. There was a gentle breeze blowing under our large shade tree, which made it surprisingly pleasant – as long as you didn’t move around too much. When we packed up the cars to leave at 1:00 PM, the temperature had already risen to 104 degrees (40 C).

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

Austin Shutterbug Club at Zilker Botanical Garden

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A couple of weeks ago, on Saturday, June 15, 2013, the Austin Shutterbug Club had an outing where we met at 8:30 AM at the entrance to the Zilker Botanical Garden here in Austin. This outing was organized by myself.

I brought my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, and the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens. Even though I had three other great prime lenses in my camera bag I never used them. I also brought my Olympus FL-600R flash and my little Gitzo GT1542T tripod.

After my last post where I seemed to have more “screen area” occupied by text, rather than photos, I thought I would try something new in how to present my photos – and keep the words to a minimum.

 

Helpful Hint: If you click on any of the photos in one of these “mini galleries”, you can then see all of the photos in that mini gallery at a much larger size. When you are finished looking at the larger photos, and wish to return to my blog post, click on the little “X” in the upper left corner of the mini gallery.

 

All of the photos above were taken in the parking lot or in the Rose Garden area.

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About 9:45 AM, I decided to head on over towards the Oriental Garden section.

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After spending quite some time in the Oriental Garden area, I got off of the main trail and walked westward, parallel to Barton Springs Road, back toward the main entrance. Since it was still only 10:35 AM, and we were not supposed to leave for lunch until about 11:15, I had some time to kill. While enjoying the shade, and since it was one of the rare times that I had my tripod with the little Olympus camera, I played around and took a few “self photos”.

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Near the entrance, but still off of the main path, I discovered a very nice little cactus garden.

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It was now 11:00 AM, so I headed back toward the entrance, where I found several of the Austin Shutterbug Club resting in the shade of some grand old trees. After 10 minutes or so of socializing, 15 of us went over to Schlotzsky’s near Zach Theater for lunch – where it was air conditioned!

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Although I had a fun time walking around with my camera and mingling with fellow photographers, this set of photos didn’t cry out to me that I really wanted to share them. They are pleasing enough, I suppose, but something is lacking. I’m not sure….

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.