Softness in the City

Last night I joined my friends Tony and Andy for dinner and a short photo walk around downtown Austin. It had been quite some time since I'd walked around downtown. While I love a lot of things about the Austin area, I find myself avoiding the heart of the city lately. The thought of dealing with traffic, crowds, parking, and legions of panhandlers makes it tough for me to choose downtown as a destination for a leisurely dinner and a stroll.

Nevertheless, I was happy to have a chance to meet up with the guys and Sunday isn't so bad for getting into town. As luck would have it, I even found a parking spot on Congress Ave just a block from the restaurant we were meeting at. That never happens! I arrived a bit early and spent a little time walking around while waiting for the others. "Dirty 6th" still lived up to its unfortunate nickname with us locals. The smell of old beer and urine wafted from the alleyways. A panhandler hit me up for "spare" change every 20 feet. I decided to venture back to Congress.

My attitude toward downtown Austin was not improving. It was time to try something fun and maybe give myself a fresh outlook on the city. Before leaving the house I dropped a few soft filters in my bag. I don't think many photographers use them anymore. They were once a common method of softening a subject's skin for a portrait - you know, before we had Photoshop actions for that sort of thing. I thought it would be interesting to try them out on the urban landscape. After playing with different combinations, I settled on a couple of them stacked on my lens. The effect was a dreamy blur with glowing highlights and blooming lights at night. 

Autofocus was sketchy so I switched to manual focus. Even that was a bit tricky but I quickly adapted. I was loving the look I was getting. The way the filters scattered the light made it difficult to get the deep contrast that I prefer so I did touch these up a bit in Lightroom. The look is 90% there from camera. In these days of filters and presets it is easy to forget that there are ways to achieve interesting results optically.  

Daylight Wandering

Night Life

All images were captured with a Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 35mm f/1.4 or XF 18mm f/2 lenses using optical soft filters and Acros film simulation in camera.