Horseshoes and Handgrenades in Round Rock

The dynamic duo of Horseshoes and Handgrenades played a gig in Round Rock last night and I jumped at the chance to catch them while they were in my neighborhood, relatively speaking. It's always nice to be able see a favorite band without having to deal with the traffic and parking nightmare in Austin. It was ugly sweater night apparently (no, Nate doesn't always dress like that as far as I know.) The guys put on a fun show, which greatly helped lift my bah-humbug mood. The Christmas spirit hasn't really hit me yet. The 70 degree damp weather up from last weekend's freezing temperatures doesn't help. Seeing the Christmas lights in downtown Round Rock, getting to enjoy some tacos and a cold beer at The Alcove, and hearing some of H&H's set improved my mental state. 

Normally I take my "real" camera, a Fujifilm X-T2, to concerts. Last night I just wanted to chill out and enjoy the show. Of course, being a photographer the urge to snap photos is always there and inevitably the iPhone came out. I used to hate taking pictures with phones. Lately though I've had a change of heart. I had my iPhone 6S Plus for months before I experimented with the camera and once I seriously gave it fair try it actually started to impress me. With the help of couple of apps I was getting images that I liked better than my compact camera at the time, a Fujifilm X30. The X30 is gone and the iPhone is now my camera of choice when I don't want to carry anything more specialized. That's a good thing since it's always with me. For a guy who works in the technology industry, I'm kind of slow to adopt new things (new to me, anyway) like iPhone photography. Something that I have long felt to be an inferior photographic tool is finally getting my attention and respect.

There has to be acceptance of less than technical perfection when shooting live music with an iPhone, especially in a dimly lit situation like this. Getting sharp images is tricky because slower shutter speeds are necessary since the ISO sensitivity of the tiny phone sensors is no where near what you get with the latest sensors in good mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Then again, sharpness isn't everything. A bit of motion blur can be a good thing. I think sometimes we get spoiled by modern camera technology and get all wrapped around the axle over technical details like sharpness, low noise, and high dynamic range. Sometimes we need to step back and consider what is really important in an image - things like emotion, passion, stories, gestures. The gear doesn't help you with those things. One of my favorite images in this set is one of the blurriest ones because it captures the moment as I remember it with all the energy that was there on the stage.

All the photos in this post were taken with the Blackie app on my iPhone using a TRI-X film simulation. TRI-X is a favorite B&W film that I still shoot from time to time. I tweaked the images only slightly with a contrast curve and added a bit of grain in Lightroom. I also cropped to a 3:2 aspect ratio because I dislike the native 4:3 ratio of the iPhone's sensor. As I've gotten a little more serious about iPhone photography, I think I may have found a way to use that unfavorable native aspect ratio to my advantage. I'll talk more about that in a future post.

It's Christmas Eve as I post this. I want to wish all my followers a wonderful Christmas. May you all get to spend some time with the ones you love. Peace, joy, and love - that's what Christmas should be about.