I’m still trying to get into the new rhythm of how we will operate going forward at the office, but my weekends have been just fine. This past Saturday, on December 15th, before the sun came up, I was in my car headed toward downtown Austin. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was headed, but I was eager to do some of what Robin Wong calls “Shutter Therapy”.
Now Robin lives in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia – which is a densely populated city. As a result, Robin has become an outstanding “street photographer”. I am anything but that. At any rate, I was hearing the siren’s song to go out and photograph whatever seemed interesting to me at the time.
Although it had not rained in Austin since October 26th, it was drizzling enough that I had to use my windshield wipers while heading south on U.S. Interstate 35 just as the skies began to light up from the quickly approaching sunrise. The temperature was unseasonably warm – it was 66 degrees (18.9 C), so even though it was drizzling intermittently, I knew that I wouldn’t need my jacket. I decided that instead of heading to downtown Austin, I would check out The University of Texas campus.
I was glad that I had my weatherproof Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, and the equally weatherproof 12-50mm f/3.5 -6.3 lens. That’s a “dark” lens, and the sky was dark with clouds, so I knew that even though the image stabilization of this camera is outstanding, I was going to use my small Gitzo GT1542T Traveller tripod.
I got out of the car at the Joe C. Thompson conference center parking lot right at 7:15 AM, which was 5 minutes before the official time of the sunrise.
Since I was going to be using a tripod, I set the ISO to 200, which is the lowest sensitivity that the E-M5 allows, and turned off the fabulous image stabilization. I set the mode dial to Aperture Priority, set the focus mode to Single AF, and turned on the self-timer for 2 seconds. I put the White Balance on Auto, and started walking toward the LBJ Library and Museum. I took the photo above at the official time of sunrise, which was 7:20 AM.
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I had no plan for a route. I was just going to go where my feet followed my attention.
This is from the southwest corner of the LBJ Library.
Stairs heading down.
Reflection of UT Tower
There was nobody around. I literally mean nobody. The street beside the Performing Arts Center was like something out of a post apocalypse movie.
This is where the Texas Longhorn play football. It is the Darrel K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. This is the view of the northwest corner of the stadium.
Across the street, out front of the Performing Arts Center is the interesting arrangement of bells.
The official name of the stadium.
At this point, I decided to do a custom white balance in the camera. I use a simple WhiBal card to do that.
This photo was taken just after I set the custom white balance in the camera. I might just need such a photo to see how closely the camera and Adobe Lightroom agree. I also used this photo to set the white balance for the photos that I had already taken (but I didn’t do it for the opening photo).
High on the east side of the stadium.
To take the photo above, I had climbed up to the top floor of a parking garage across the stadium. I had never been up there before, so I walked to the south while still on top of the garage. As I approached the south end of the stadium I got a pretty nice view of downtown Austin, which is about 15 blocks from where I was.
Going just a little further, I could now see the Texas State Capitol Building, which is about 8 blocks away.
Another 1/2 block took me to the east side of Littlefield Fountain, which is a monument by Italian-born sculptor Pompeo Coppini.
The bright gray sky and the light stone tower, with the dark live oak trees, seemed like I good opportunity to play around with the camera a bit. The photo above is an HDR photo.
From the East Mall Fountain, which is under renovation, I saw this view of the northwest corner of the stadium. It was 10:15 AM, so I had been out for exactly 3 hours – and my camera battery had finally ran out. After I changed the battery, I decided to try and get a better photo of the stadium from this position, but I was shooting almost directly into the direction of the sun, and the sky above the stadium was very bright, while this side of the stadium was in the shade (well, as shady as it gets on a very overcast day). The result was the rather unartistic HDR photo.
Here there is a statue of a World War I soldier, and on the wall behind him is a metal plaque (bronze ?) that has etched into it all of the names of the American soldiers that were Texans that died in World War I.
This was certainly not my usual aerobic Saturday morning walk, but it was a fun one. I like being a tourist in my own town.
Later that same evening, the Lady Longhorn volleyball team won the National Championship, by beating the lady Oregon Ducks in 3 straight sets. Congratulations!
Whenever a team wins a national championship, The University of Texas will light the entire UT Tower top-to-bottom with orange colored flood lights.
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