The Wheel of Time


The Wheel of Time keeps rolling along. It’s been nearly 5 months since my last blog post. I’m not sure why I have lost interest in keeping this blog updated. Maybe that desire will rekindle itself someday. I certainly have not lost any interest in photography! I still get out and shoot just as much as  I used to. I even like the improvements that I believe that I am achieving.

I do spend far less time on the internet now, and I am much happier because of it. Oh I still get on the internet, it’s just that I don’t use it much as a source of entertainment any more (but that could change at any time).

Anyway, I don’t really have anything meaningful to say, but I did want to update my blog, just to see if I remember how to do it. And I’m sure that you are sick and tired of seeing Marcia Ball as my most recent blog post photo!

Marcia Ball at The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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).


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


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


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.


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!


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


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


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!


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


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


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


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!

Fun Photos from Fredericksburg


Last Saturday morning, October 19th, the Austin Shutterbug Club had an outing to the lovely little town of Fredericksburg in central Texas, near the Hill Country.


Only 5 people showed up. Not sure why. Don’t really care. Those of us that did make it, had a really fun time!


All of these photos were taken with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, and the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 “kit lens”.  I also had 4 excellent prime lenses in my camera bag, but I never used any of them.


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 did not take any “street photography” photos of people doing interesting things in their environment.


That morning, I was only interested in taking photos of whatever color, pattern, or object that caught my attention.


Snapshots? Sure. Why not?


There are only a couple of photos that the viewer would recognize as someplace in Fredericksburg. The majority of them could have been taken anywhere.


It is late October, and Halloween is near.


I believe that these two steeples belong to St. Mary’s Catholic Church.


That was as far west as we walked. On the way back, I noticed that there seemed to be lots of places for people to sit along the sidewalk.


Some seating was pretty rustic.


And some was rather unusual.


I wonder how comfortable that seat would have been for the framer sitting on his tractor years ago!

Here’s a photo that even says “Fredericksburg” in the photo. This is the 2nd story of the building. I even used Lightroom 5’s new healing brush feature to remove the power line that crossed in front of it.


The 5 of us had a great German lunch at a place near the west end of town, named Friedhelm’s Bavarian Inn. I had the Jager Schntizel. It was great!

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

My Favorite Photos from Our Summer Cruise Vacation


It’s been a while since I put up my posting showing the hardware build of my new computer. All of that hardware worked just fine, so the only snags that I hit along the way were software related. Getting my HP LaserJet printer networked was pure joy, as was the discovery that some software installed by default from the Epson scanner installation disk (ABBYY Fine Reader) will interfere with Microsoft Office 365 in such a horrific manner that you cannot even open Outlook to read your email.

Anyway, all of those issues are now behind me, and I am very happy with my new computer! In the end, I set it to max out at 4.4 GHz, even though I could get it to run at 4.5 GHz long enough through a torture test of software to put me at #32 on the ASUS ROG RealBench LeaderBoard for the Intel quad-core systems (on October 5th).

After I got my new computer up, I had to get Barb setup on my old computer, and then prepare her old computer to give to Goodwill. All of that “computer cascading” takes time. So it wasn’t really until yesterday that I really had time to sit down and enjoy using my new computer, instead of working on some computer issue.

So yesterday I went back through the photos that I had taken on our cruise vacation in mid-August, and just selected my favorite 20 photos to share with you for this blog post. (I didn’t say my “best”, but rather my “favorite”.) You have already seen one of them.)


All of these photos were taken with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, and the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 “kit lens”.


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.

All of these photos are shown in the chronological order that I took them in. I do not have a story to tell that links them all together.


All of the photo up to this point were taken on the ship, which was the Carnival Magic. The next few photos were taken in Key West, Florida.


Even though you’ve seen this next photo before, I still wanted to include it in this “favorite 20 photos” blog post.


This next photo was taken while we were in the middle of our Key West Pub Crawl.


No, the guy on the ground isn’t real… he’s part of the artwork.


The next day was spent in Freeport, The Bahamas.


These were all taken in the tourist marketplace next to where our ship had docked.




This guy was chopping off the top of coconuts to make alcoholic drinks. It took me several attempts to capture the action the way that I wanted to.


The shore excursion that we enjoyed that afternoon was a ride on a glass bottomed boat.


Later that afternoon, I went out on our balcony and watched a couple of tug boats bring in a cargo ship into the harbor.


The next morning it was raining in Nassau, The Bahamas.


Fortunately it stopped in time for us to go on our Segway tour of the beach!


We got back to our ship by mid-afternoon.


By then the skies had cleared enough that I was able to get a pretty good photo of Atlantis.


The next two days were spent at sea.


I love days at sea. I love to read a good book and to enjoy playing around with my camera!


Here’s a good example of what I mean by “playing around with my camera”.


No, that’s not a mistake… that was my best of 6 attempts to do that.

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today!

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