Austin Shutterbug Club at The University of Texas


A week ago, on Saturday, March 16, 2013, the Austin Shutterbug Club had an outing where we met at 8:30 AM at the base of the Main Tower on The University of Texas at Austin campus. The outing was being lead by John Patterson.

As John was handing out maps of the campus, and filling us in on what we were to be looking for, I snapped a couple of photos of the club members. I was the only person without a DSLR camera. I brought my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, with the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens mounted on it. Even though I had three great prime lenses in my camera bag, since I had also brought my little Gitzo GT1542T tripod, I never bothered changing lenses that morning.


I had an Olympus camera, two people had Canon DSLRs, and everyone else was shooting Nikon. Many of these people are very accomplished photographers, and really know what they are doing…. Some of them asked about my camera, but I don’t think that any of them actually viewed it as a “real” camera. I realize that my photography skills are going to sway any of them to think otherwise. 🙂 One of the ladies had a Canon 5D Mark II, and when I told her that I also had that same camera, she looked at me in disbelief as if to wonder why I would leave that at home.


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We met at the base of the steps to the main administration building, generally referred to as “The UT Tower”. Here is a photo looking up towards the tower. Note the inscription “Ye Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Set You Free”. Well, at least you can see the beginning of it.


Although this event was not a scavenger hunt, we were asked to take photos of patterns, windows, doors, perspective, architectural detail, textures, and extreme/unusual views. In a few weeks we will be asked to submit what we felt were our best photos in each of those categories, and some committee will select the best 3 or 4 from each, and then the entire club will vote for their favorites. As a result, I will not be showing what I consider the best photo that I took in toward each category – not at this time, anyway. Never fear, when I have participated in such events in the past, none of my photos have ever been chosen as one of the best 3 or 4 from any category.


I decided just to have fun, and mingle as best an engineer is capable of mingling. 🙂

Since it wasn’t even 9:00 AM yet, I decided to head over to the east side of the tower to see how well it was being lit by the morning sun, even though it was very overcast. (The clouds were predicted to go away by mid-morning, and they did.)


These were my very first sighting this year of any Bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas.


Just to the left of the Bluebonnets, I liked the textures of the rounded rocks, and the lone weed looked kind of like it was struggling for its space among them.


At 9:15 AM, we were to meet outside of Calhoun Hall. On the south side of this building is a rather interesting walkway.


We hung around here for several minutes. Brian Loflin, the founder and president of the Austin Shutterbug Club gave a little talk and demonstration of different perspectives of the same scene. This is Brian on the left.


We walked to the end of that “tunnel” you see in the photo above, which brought us out into a large courtyard behind the building, and next to the Harry Ransom Center and Sutton Hall.

Sutton Hall is a rather colorful building, quite unlike any other building on campus.


Going under the archway above the main door, and looking straight up, you can see some of the elaborate artwork that decorated the ceiling.


It can be a bit surprising when you realize that in the center of the photo above, that there are three “curly-Q” fluorescent light bulbs installed in the hanging light fixture.

Just outside of that same doorway I thought this huge tree limb looked rather unusual. My camera was pointed almost directly into the direction of the sun, so that’s why the photo appears to be somewhat hazy.


I walked over toward the Harry Ransom Center to get a few photos of Dobie Mall, and when I turned around I saw this photo of the UT Tower, framed by the tree limbs. The clock says that it is now 10:25 AM.


We started heading north, and outside of the West Mall Office Building, the patterns of this modern bicycle rack in front of the elaborate ironwork covering the window seemed like it might be good for one of the things that we were supposed to be looking for.


Directly east of there is Goldsmith Hall, which is built to surround an inner courtyard that contains 4 very large palm trees.


That’s Kathy McCall at the base of one of the trees. She’s a damn good photographer, and so I thought I’d wander in there and see if I could learn something by watching her!

I got close to one of the palm trees. looked up, and took this photo. Maybe I’ll use that one for the “textures” category.


We then headed over to the east side of the Student Union Building. I played around with various shutter speeds and depth of field while resting my camera on the limestone shelf. I must have taken 6 or 7 photos, but in the end, this is the only one that I kept.


I then wandered into the building, and went up a stairwell that had lots of daylight coming in through the windows. I setup my camera on my tripod and played around in this stairwell for 5 or 6 minutes.


I started wondering if I had become separated from the group, so I went more into the interior of the building to see if anyone else was inside.


I ran into one of the ladies in the club, and she was looking into this meeting room, acting like she’d like to check it out. I suggested that we go for it! She was getting down low for an “artsy” shot of a row of the backs of the chairs, but I was first interested in a “whole room” kind of photo. Even though there was a lot of light coming in through the windows, I had to keep my shutter open for 8 seconds to take this photo (but I had closed my aperture to a tiny f/22 to get maximum depth of field).


Right after I took that photo, an employee of The University came into the room and told us that we were not allowed to take photographs inside the building without first acquiring prior approval. We apologized and folded up our tripods and left. (At least she didn’t insist that we delete the photos from our memory cards!)

Back outside, we met up with John Patterson and John Sutton. Our group had dwindled to only 5 people. (We knew that we would meet up with many of the “drop-outs” at the designate lunch spot at 12:30 PM.) John suggested that we head up to 24th Street and take a few photos of the Littlefield House.


The home was built in 1893, and later bequeathed to The University in 1935. This home has many ornamental architectural features. I liked the lines of the multi colored shingles on the roof. This architectural style is not often seen here in Austin.


It was now noon, we were on the far north edge of the campus, and our designated lunch spot was at 12:30 on the southwest corner of the campus. On our walk to Schlotzsky’s, we passed by the south side of the UT Tower.


After we got to the Schlotzsky’s sandwich shop, there were about 10 of us sitting at a long table. We enjoyed lively conversations about photography, the drought, where one can find wildflowers already, and one of Brian’s upcoming Wildlife Photography Seminars. After about an hour, I decided to head back to the house and get ready for the Saturday evening that I had planned with Barb.

I almost didn’t make this blog post. 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 don’t really inspire me. They are pleasing enough, I suppose, but something is lacking. Maybe it is the absence of color? I’m not sure….

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

13 thoughts on “Austin Shutterbug Club at The University of Texas”

  1. Gregg, I think your impressions of the photography are somehow clouded by the feelings you have for the camera you used during the shoot. You should consider joining another group if they are going to so judgemental about equipment. I like the images you posted.

    1. Frank, OK, maybe you are right, but maybe I also didn’t describe the situation very well. I thought that they were simply more disinterested than being downright judgmental. Nobody made me feel unwelcome – and it was quite the opposite, actually. I think it is simply a matter of all of their friends and photographers that they respect use DSLRs, so in their minds, that’s part of what it takes to make great photos. I like the photos that I get out of this camera, but I doubt that my photos will convince anyone who isn’t willing to be convinced that there is “another way”. I don’t care if they want to carry around all that heavy gear – I just know that my days of doing that are very near the end!

      1. I can definitely understand what you’re saying.

        I’ve been a working professional for 11 years and if people see me without my Mamiya 645DF (massive SLR camera that kills my back using it for too long), they have a hard time seeing me as a professional. Unfortunately, size matters in photography, too.

        But, hey, photography ain’t about gear! It’s about capturing light. Give me a coke can and a sheet of film and I’ll take a picture 🙂

  2. I think you got some pretty good shots, Greg. I especially liked the one of the UT Tower with the bluebonnets and cacti in the foreground as well as the one of the Calhoun Hall walkway. I had planned to attend but had a change of plans at the last minute. After seeing your shots, I’m really sorry I had to beg off. Architectural photography comes with its own unique challenges, I think.

    1. Well, thank you for the kind words, Teresa. I remember meeting you on a Shutterbug Club outing (was it in Luling?) a few years ago. I hope to see you again on another outing sometime later this year. Thanks for stopping by and looking at my photos!

  3. “Some of them asked about my camera, but I don’t think that any of them actually viewed it as a “real” camera.”

    Yes, it’s time to get away from those people. Heck I don’t care if someone shows up with a 110 film camera. And I’m a Leica snob. There is more to the value of a shooter than the piece of hardware he or she holds.

    Love the Bluenonnets – wish I was there to see them.

    1. Libby, I don’t think that I’ll be quitting the club anytime soon. I didn’t think that they were looking down on me personally, but they certainly all “knew” that they had a better camera than I did. There is no doubting that several of them are much better photographers than I am, so it will be interesting to see if/when any of them eventually transition to one of the current generation mirrorless, electronic viewfinder types of cameras.

      Not many Bluebonnets around – they grow well when it rains in December and January, and we are still in a terrible drought here.

  4. Greg,
    You are a talented photographer as your perfect score photo last year proved. I support your digital diversity, Olympus equipment, and asked a lot of questions about it because I am considering buying one. A prime question is whether to buy this current version or wait until the rumored update is available late this year. I suggest you blog in more detail about the reasons for your decision to change camera systems. The primary disadvantage seems to be Sony’s awesomely high prices and separating components for individual sale.
    John S.

    1. John, thank you for the kind words! I’m not sure what to say about the “buy now or wait for the new model”. There is a web site that I don’t go to very often, but it deals specifically with rumors of when the new stuff might be coming around. You can check it out here:

      I think that I did explain about my decision to change camera systems, in a blog post that I did last August where I simply compared the physical size of my Canon 5D Mark II system to my Olympus OM-D E-M5 system. But here is the short version of how this came about: I wasn’t really looking to change my main camera system. I was only looking for a better “travel” system than my Canon G12 camera. I bought the Olympus, based mainly upon comments that I had read in Kirk Tuck’s blog posts about a year ago. I placed an order for the camera and waited, and waited almost a month to get it. Precision Camera called me less than a week before Barb and I went on a week long vacation to Ruidoso, NM and told me that it had arrived. After using this camera only 1 time while walking around my neighborhood, I decided that it would be the only camera that I would take on that trip. That leisurely trip gave me plenty of time to read and study the manual fully (as we discussed, this took many, many hours). What I found out was that I really enjoyed using the camera, and even after we got back to Austin, I found that I wanted to use this camera over my Canon 5D Mark II. The Canon will take a better quality photo, so I still use it when image quality must be as good as I can possibly make it – but that only seems to be the few times a year when I do photography for pay. All other times, I now use my “travel camera” as my main camera.

      I too am tempted by the Sony cameras. The Olympus is very good, and very fun, but I often wish it had better resolution. The Olympus only creates a 12-bit RAW file, and I remember how impressed I was when I switched from the Canon 5D with 12-bit RAW to the 5D Mark II with 14-bit RAW files. The Olympus also seems to underexpose every image by 1/3 to 1/2 of a stop, so I constantly have to add exposure compensation – and when I forget to do it in the camera, I can only push it so far in Lightroom before it starts to look like it’s been pushed.

      If I do eventually switch over to the Sony NEX system, it would be the Canon gear that I would trade in, not my Olympus micro four-thirds system.

  5. Hey, I am an engineer too, and I like to think I am good at minggling!!

    Anyway, in case if you have not figured out yet, I too, like many Olympus users, was being looked at differently, and somewhat treated as “non-serious” photographer. Mind you, that happened even before micro 4/3 system came about, I was using the old Olympus E-520. But I did not care and decided to just conitnue shooting and shooting and years passed, and suddenly now people started telling me they bought Olympus because of me (that is actually a scary thought!)

    Like a few commentors have mentioned earlier, you have some very good shots in this blog entry. Don’t let others tell you otherwise. The first few photographs appeared flat probably due to that cloudy weather (not your fault) but as the sky cleared up, gosh, those images with the clear blue sky were gorgeous!!

    1. Robin, thank you for your very kind words. Yes, I know that you are an engineer and you are probably very good at mingling! Your blog posts show that you frequently do “group photography” events (just like this past weekend!), but we both know that’s the standard joke about engineers….. 🙂

      I started following your blog right after I bought my Olympus camera, so you didn’t influence my purchase, but your photography has certainly influenced mine in many ways! You have influenced my lens selection, too (even though I seem to use the “kit” lens the most – whenever there is ample light).

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my infrequent blog posts and checking out my photos – it means a lot to me.

  6. I think you’re right! We ended up in Luling after taking photos of wildflowers but I think we started at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos. Met you dad there, too.

  7. Greg,

    You’re very modest! I think your photography is amazing! I could definitely learn from you as my technical/engineering genes seem to have been given to my other siblings.

    Enjoying your photography. Keep up the good work!

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