Swamp Bats at Fado

Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated with my wife in downtown Austin. We got to catch my good friends in The Swamp Bats at Fado. Because it was a date night I opted to leave my cameras at home. Of course, since I'm a photographer and I have an iPhone...well, you know. A few photos got taken. This is actually unusual for me though. As much as phone photography has been all the rage for several years now, I have resisted. I've got this love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with smart phones. At best I've thought of them as a necessary evil these days. My pessimistic view of these prolific gadgets has not been conducive to using them for creative pursuits. 

Several months back I got iPhone 6s Plus phones for my wife and I on a buy one get one free deal. Honestly, I haven't taken many pictures with it. I'd read that the camera in it is supposed to be crazy good but I still couldn't get used to idea of using it as a "serious" camera. One day recently I decided to play around with it and compared its images to my compact camera at the time, a Fujifilm X30. Now, I love Fujifilm's film simulations in their cameras and the X-T2 is my main digital camera workhorse. However, I was surprised to see how well the iPhone's images compared. In a lot of cases they exceeded the image quality (in my subjective view) of the X30! Suffice to say I no longer own a dedicated compact digital camera. 

The neat thing about phone photography is that there are some really cool camera apps out there - apps that produce looks I like with minimal to no additional post processing. If you read my blog regularly you know I HATE post processing. I'm only just beginning to explore photography apps. Last night I used one called Blackie. This app produces some beautiful noir looking black and whites. I like that it functions as a camera app as well as post processing tool. I shot with it in camera mode last night and got some neat stuff. 

Yes, there are some substantial limitations to photographing something like a live music performance in low light with a smart phone. You're not going to get the dynamic range and low light performance of much larger sensors in today's mirrorless and DSLR cameras. You need to be OK with some grain and motion blur. Those things are perfectly fine if the tool you are shooting with enables you to capture the moment. I shot differently with the phone than I typically do with my "real" cameras. I think the different perspective was a good thing. Here are some favorite snaps from the show. As always click the images for larger versions.

Blaggards at Fado

I got to catch a set by the Blaggards at Fado Irish Pub in Austin recently. This Houston based band plays a high energy style of music that they call "stout Irish rock." I first saw them late last year by chance while wandering around Austin's Warehouse District with some friends. When I saw that they were back in town for a Friday show I was pumped to have a chance to see them again. Stout Irish rock and a Guinness? Uh, yeah!

Of course, I'm going to have a camera with me at a live music show. This time I took my recently acquired Olympus OM-4 Ti and loaded it with a roll of Kodak P3200 black and white film that I'd forgotten about in a drawer. This high speed film (sadly discontinued) is a good choice for low light photography if you aren't afraid of a little (OK, a lot) of film grain. I knew it would work well for the dimly lit outdoor stage at Fado. Here are a few of my favorites from the roll.

A few more photos are on my gallery site. All photos taken with an Olympus OM-4 Ti with OM 50mm f/1.8 lens and Kodak P3200 black and white film rated at 1600 ISO. Film processing and scanning by Austin Camera.

Acoustic Swamp Rock at Fado

My good friends in The Swamp Bats performed an excellent acoustic set at Fado Irish Pub in Austin last Friday. There is just something extra special about a performance with primarily acoustic instruments. The standup bass, cajon drum, acoustic guitar, and mouth harp all combine for a more simple yet deep and sophisticated sound. The intimate atmosphere at Fado contributes to a wonderful experience with the band and their music.

I usually photograph concerts with a 50mm equivalent lens on my Fujifilm camera. This time I decided to try something a little different. I knew I'd be able to move around the band up close and freely so I took my 24mm equivalent lens for a more wide angle view than I typically use. Here are some of my favorite shots of the night.

Swamp Bats at Fado

My good friends in The Swamp Bats played a great acoustic set at Fado Irish Pub in downtown Austin last Friday night. I made the trip into town by way of bus since I'm not crazy about driving into the downtown area on weekend nights. Since I was on the bus schedule, I only got to catch about an hour of the guys' set. It would have been nice to stay all night. A Swamp Bats show is always a fun yet passionate performance by some of the most talented guys I know. In addition to the core band you never know who you'll see come up on stage as band leader Steve Klotz is fond of calling up other musicians he sees in the crowd to join in or lead a number. A love of music and sharing it with friends is how they do it in the swamp.


The Austin Drink and Click group had an event at Fado in downtown Austin recently. I'd never been to a meeting of this group before and this particular event was interesting because Fujifilm reps were there with a bunch of gear that folks could try out. I braved the heavy rush hour traffic in a light drizzle to see if I could maybe get some hands-on time with a couple of lenses I'm interested in. The gathering was much larger than I expected and since I'm not really at home in a packed crowd I ended up just wandering around the bar. The inside of Fado was oddly quiet in comparison to the bustling patio where the group had congregated. The ambience of the warmly lit bar ended up being more alluring than the latest gear to demo from Fujifilm and Westcott.  I enjoyed the warmth and relative calmness of Fado on an otherwise quiet weekday evening.  

Images were taken with a Fujifilm X-T1 and XF 23mm f/1.4 lens.