3 on the Sidewalk

The hard light of midday cast deep shadows and a few things caught my eye on a particular corner near downtown Austin last weekend. Just 3 quick shots while waiting for a crossing light to change. The deep shadows were interesting and I could have walked around for much longer were it not for the oppressive heat right now. After a wet June we didn't see any breaks from the scorching sun in July. I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures. We have many weeks before we get there.

The Mooks!

I got to see The Mooks at Strange Brew again recently. My wife and I got there early and managed to snag a table at center stage. Seating is hard to come by at most Austin club shows so this was a treat. I didn't bring my Fuji X-T1 out this time since we were out to just have fun and hang out with friends. That's not to say I wasn't prepared for a little photography. My little Fuji XF1 was in my pocket and I brought it out for a couple of songs. This compact point and shoot isn't a great choice for low light photography. It gets real noisy at the ISOs necessary for concert shooting. Still, I was able to get a few decent shots of the boys rocking out.

When using the XF1 I tend to treat it like a full auto point and shoot even though it does offer full manual control. I usually set it to the appropriate EXR mode and fire away. This mode creates 6MP JPEGs with a bit of expanded dynamic range from the data captured with the 12MP sensor. I shoot in an EXR mode in black and white almost exclusively.  The extra course grain from shooting at ISO 3200 doesn't bother me at all in black and white. In fact, I usually add some grain in post processing. 

Anyway...enough jibber jabber about the damn camera. Here are some snaps of The Mooks.

Old Crawford Mill

I went for a motorcycle ride around some of the backroads of Williamson County with my good friend Mark this past weekend. It was a nice day for that sort of thing. Warm, but not the full oppressive heat of a Texas summer quite yet. We explored a couple of small towns while winding through some roads off the beaten path. Nearing Walburg, I remembered the Old Crawford Mill and knew Mark would love this place. He's a bit of an urban explorer and I think old abandoned buildings are pretty cool myself. We made a stop by the mill and looked around a bit. I chose to mostly linger outside. The dust is thick in here and with all the recent rains mold is high right now. My asthmatic lungs actually had trouble breathing the thick musty air in this place that afternoon. You could taste the dust, mold, and who knows what else. Mmm...asbestos, anyone?

This place was one of the sets in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake years back. It still looks the part. It's creepy as hell and with the gusty winds things were creaking around quite a bit. Hard to tell whether it was tree limbs rubbing on the metal roof, raccoons scurrying in the dark, or maybe a chainsaw wielding maniac lurking in a dark corner. 

East Side Classic 2015

Last weekend I stopped by the annual East Side Classic Vintage Motorcycle Show with my friend and fellow bike enthusiast, Wes. It was another one of those weird weather days in Austin. We drove down there in Wes' truck since we weren't participating in the show (and because we're total wusses and didn't want to ride in the rain.) On the way down there we got caught in a crazy torrential downpour. It was coming down so hard the windshield wipers couldn't keep up. We were wondering if anybody would even ride out to the show at that point. Thankfully, the storm passed quickly and the overcast skies just produced some off and on drizzle while we were at the show. Bikes slowly streamed in through a small moat and folks were so eager to show off their restorations and custom rides that they didn't mind parking in the pond of a parking lot at the Yellow Jacket Social Club.

I love shows like this one. It is so interesting to see how people have made faithful restorations or creative one-of-a-kind builds from vintage motorcycles. Many of these are what you might call rat bikes - rusty bikes rescued from old barns or salvage yards, pieced together with whatever parts that can be found or fabricated - function over form. These are bikes with character, built by passionate and creative people. These aren't flashy chromed everything sort of motorcycles and that's what I like about them. Here are a few that caught my eye.

There are some really interesting details on the bikes and I enjoy getting in for a closer look. The builders of these bikes are always more than happy to talk about their creations. There are all sorts of unique personal touches from the creative to the just plain odd.

One of these days I may have to pick up an old neglected bike and try my hand at putting something together. I don't consider myself very mechanically inclined but I did manage to get my lawn tractor with a faulty carburetor working a couple of weeks ago. It's a start, right? Maybe Wes will sell me one - he has a few in his garage in various states of (dis?)repair. Speaking of Wes, be sure to check out his insightful and aptly named blog, The Inebriated Engineer. He always has some sort of really interesting project going on over there. Most of it is over my head but I admire his passion and sense of adventure as he pushes the boundaries learning new things and making some cool stuff.

There are a bunch more photos in my full gallery from the event here.  For the benefit of my fellow Fuji enthusiasts I used my li'l XF1 at this event, mainly so I could easily pocket it in a zip lock bag in case the skies opened up again. I kind of regretted that because the bright sunlight peeking through the thick cloud cover made it really difficult to see the LCD screen. I usually just use the XF1 at night when I'm out with friends or in town to catch a movie with my wife or something like that where photography isn't the main purpose. I was reminded how much I hate cameras with no viewfinder in daylight!  I really should just spring for one of the weather resistant lenses for my XT-1. 

Until next time...keep the rubber side down and the oil on the inside.

Windows on SoCo

The view through windows, from either side, can be intriguing late at night. My wife and I had just finished dinner at a little Japanese restaurant in the trendy SoCo area of S. Congress in Austin. Our window seat at the restaurant inspired me to to linger at some of the storefront windows on our walk back to the car. I captured these images in black and white with my pocketable Fujifilm XF1, a neat little camera for those nights when photography isn't the main purpose of the outing.

The Ominous Road Home

It was a dark and gloomy ride home from work. Isolated rain showers and thunderstorms lazily drifted about in the distance. The last sunlight of the day struggled to tear through the darkness, ultimately smothered by the thick blanket of rain clouds. The rain didn't amount to much. The skies only threatened a downpour and released very little water to the earth. We'll take what we can get in these parched, drought stricken parts. As long as there isn't hail or damaging winds, we'll take the occasional thunderstorms. Spring is an interesting time around here. It may bring welcome gentle rain to replenish our lakes and wells. The skies can just as easily unleash a violent and destructive fury. We may not get a drop of water and the drought may plague us another year. It's hard to say in these parts of Texas. There is measure of both fear and hope in Texas storm clouds. There is also profound beauty in these charcoal painted skies.

Images were captured in black and white with a Fujifilm XF1.

Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?

No, I'm not asking a question. That's really the name of one of the food trucks parked at The Picnic trailer food court in Austin. I was downtown running errands recently and decided to check out the Hey! You Gonna Eat or What? bus that I'd heard good things about. With a reputation for rudeness and a short menu of artery clogging fried cuisine, I wasn't sure about this at first. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I'd heard the Monte Cristo is amazing so I ordered that from a surprisingly friendly and chatty guy at the window. If the warnings on the bus were any indication, I was expecting to be yelled at by an disgruntled musician running on 3 hours sleep after a dive bar gig on 6th. Maybe they only yell at tourists and hipsters. 

Another surprise was that owner and chef Eric personally delivers your food to your picnic table, dressed in kitchen attire like you'd expect to see in a ritzy steak house. Between the line and the queue of orders ahead of me, it took over half an hour for Eric to deliver my plate of fried goodness. He explained the details of my order's ingredients and preparation like a waiter serving a fine wine. Was it worth the wait? Heck yeah it was! Sorry, I didn't take a photo of my lunch. I'm not that guy. Go get your own. You gonna eat it or take pictures of it?