Key West Pub Crawl

Last week, Barb and I were on vacation. To escape the August heat in Texas, we took a 1 week cruise from Galveston, TX to the Bahamas and back. We got on the ship in Galveston about noon on Sunday, August 11th, spent that afternoon and the entire day on Monday at sea. On Tuesday morning, we docked in Key West, Florida. We got off of the ship about 10:25 AM.

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This was our 3rd time to be on a cruise ship that docked in Key West. The previous two times, we took a romantic sailboat ride out to enjoy the sunset, and the other time to take the Conch Train and do the typical touristy sightseeing stuff. This time, we signed up for something rather silly for a couple of old folks our age…

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Even though I had already walked 4 miles earlier that morning on the walking path aboard the ship, we were going to be vigilant and get our physical exercise in…. ;-)

Our excursion was supposed to start at 11:00 AM, but we stood around on the stark concrete dock until 11:20 (50 minutes) waiting for everyone to show up.

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Our tour guide led us across the pier to land, where we had a pretty nice view looking back at our ship, the Carnival Magic. Here’s a photo of the front half of our ship.

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About a block later our tour guide, Robert, stopped the group of about 25 people (we had split into 3 groups), and told us what we needed to know to have a fun time on this shore excursion.

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That’s not his real hair. He’s as bald as Kojack was, but he’s wearing this very funny Guy Fieri visor & wig thingy. (Guy has a show called “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on The Food Network). Robert said it would make it easier for us “pub crawlers” to not lose him after we had been to a few bars…

I had my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera with my “usual” Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens mounted onto it.

Our first stop was Rick’s Tree Bar, where I had a drink called Caribbean Breeze.

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I rarely drink fruity, sweet alcoholic drinks, but this was very yummy. Besides, did I mention that I was on vacation? :-)

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We had about 20 minutes to spend at Rick’s Tree Bar, so I walked out to the street and took several photos of all sorts of goofy stuff. Here’s a photos of our bartender hamming it up for me.

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Pretty soon, it’s time to leave. Robert gathers us all up and leads us into an alley, where he was giving us some information about the next place that we were headed.

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Our next stop was Fogarty’s Flying Monkeys Saloon.

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I don’t remember what I ordered there, but it was what Robert recommended and it was delicious!

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Here are about 1/3 of the frozen drink dispensers that this bar had.

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I guess if you tried one of each flavor, that you certainly could see flying monkeys!

While we spent our 20 minutes here, I popped my little Olympus FL-600R flash onto my camera and played around with using the flash in daylight, including this photo of our tour guide.

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Head ‘em up and move ‘em out! We made our way to the end of William Street, which is at the water.

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It was a very short walk to the Schooner Wharf Bar, where the bartender was ready with jugs of pre-made rum-based drinks.

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The cup didn’t have the establishment’s name on it, so I just propped this coaster up to it for my photo.

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We were in an outdoor patio area, and there was a musician playing in a shelter at one edge of the patio. I walked over, put $5 in his tip jar, pointed to my camera, and he gave me a friendly, positive nod. I took 4 photos of this guy. I wish I knew his name, as he was very entertaining.

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Shortly after this, Robert gathered us all up and herded us over to the Lazy Gecko, back on Duval Street.

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This was the only bar that would serve a Margarita, so that’s what I had.

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After about 15 minutes, Robert had us all go into an air conditioned room in the back, where we had a conch blowing contest! I blew it for a pretty long time, but never really got it to resonate in a melodic tone.

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Now that photo was severely underexposed as I took it. I tried bouncing my flash off of the ceiling, but it was just too far away for my little FL-600R flash. I was amazed at how much detail came back by adding +2.75 stops of exposure using Lightroom 5 (and I didn’t do anything for “noise reduction”).

Our next, and last, stop was right across the street. Rick’s Bar.

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While I was waiting for the bartender to serve everyone else, I wandered over and tipped the musician, and he hammed it up long enough for me to get 3 pretty decent photos of him.

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Although I had already had 4 drinks in the previous 2 hours, I certainly wanted to say that I had survived the Key West Pub Crawl… I wasn’t going to be the sissy who couldn’t go the entire distance!

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If that cup looks familiar, it should! Remember our first stop? That was Rick’s Tree Bar. This was Rick’s Bar, which was right next door. Rick seems to have 8 bars in Key West…. (I thought Austin had a lot of bars… but Key West must have more bars per capita than any place on earth.)

OK, that concluded our official Key West Pub Crawl shore excursion. Barb needed a safety pin for a broken strap on one of her dresses, and I needed some AAA batteries for our alarm clock. Robert told us where the nearest CVS drugstore was, and we headed over there to get the items that we needed.

After purchasing our needed items, we had to walk about 5 or 6 blocks to get back to our ship. Just a couple of blocks into our walk, we came upon the “Smallest Bar in Key West”.

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Here’s a photo of the entire interior of this “saloon”.

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All of their drinks are served in your choice of either a coconut or a pineapple. Barb just had to have one. What the hey? Didn’t you just have 4 drinks already? OK… just let me take a photo of it. Besides, we weren’t driving anywhere, and did I mention that we were on vacation?

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You can walk down the streets of Key West with a drink in your hand, but we thought it best that we take a few sips first… we really didn’t want to spill any of it. :-)

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We took at least 45 minutes to make it those 5 blocks back to the ship. Not because we were incapacitated, but I kept stopping to take photos. When you are on vacation, everything is new and interesting, and must be photographed!

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Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog!

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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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.

Austin Shutterbug Club Still-Life Workshop

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Last Saturday, August 3, 2013, the Austin Shutterbug Club had a still-life and tabletop photography workshop at the Northwest Austin Recreation Center. This was a welcome outing for the month of August, as it was something that we could do indoors, in an air conditioned room!

The workshop was presented by the club’s president, Brian Loflin. Brian had brought along several interesting items that could be arranged on a tabletop and that we could use to photograph, while observing the effects of different lighting techniques.

Brian set-up 4 different still life sets and he emphasized that he was going to light them with very simple setups. The first scene was a bowl of apples in top of a lacey old tablecloth. The light source was a north-facing window to the right of the camera, and a white foam core board was just to the left of the bowl of apples.

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I was using my Canon 5D Mark II camera and my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens for all of these photos. In the photo above, I had set the aperture to f/5.6 to get a relatively shallow depth of field. Later on, I came back to this bowl of apples and shot it with my aperture set to f/25, and as you can see, the table cloth behind the apples is now in focus, too.

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In between the two “bowl of apples” shots, Brian had set up an interesting arrangement of old photography books, a pen, and some reading glasses. He used the light from a window, but used to small foam core boards to block the light into a very pleasing “slit of light” across the objects.

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Next, he set up a collection of sewing tools and supplies on a black piece of Plexiglass. He then used one of my Fotodiox 312AS LED lights placed behind the objects (backlight) and used two small white foam core boards on either side to bounce some light back onto the fronts of these objects.

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Even though Brian had cleaned that sheet of Plexiglass right before he set this scenario up, when I brought this photo up onto my computer monitor, I was very surprised at all of the dust and scratches that the camera had captured. I spent at least 45 minutes in Photoshop cleaning all of that up….

For the last still life setup, Brian had placed a vase of yellow flowers in front of a dark green velvet backdrop. We all set our cameras to capture some ambient light, while we used a snoot on a speedlite to put a circle of light right onto the flowers themselves.

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I was very pleased to get the opportunity to participate in this little workshop. It was a fun thing to do inside, away from the Texas summer heat. I could easily see myself doing much more of this type of photography in the future! Maybe I can convert one of our spare bedrooms (sometimes) into a miniature little product and still life photography studio. Honey?

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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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.

Austin, Texas USA

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