Special August Vacation Offer for my Craftsy.com Studio Portrait Lighting Class!

I'm out on vacation until the first of September but I wanted to give you a link to my Studio Portrait Lighting class that is $25 off the regular price. It's a fun course and this link makes it so inexpensive. Try it. If you aren't happy they'll refund your purchase. See you on the 1st.

The course is fun and you can watch it as many times as you like.

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Vacation Time. Hey VSL Readers: I'm taking the rest of August off from blogging. I'll be back like clockwork on September 1st. Just a recharge, not a surrender. Not an exit.

Kicking back in the August. Back the first of September.

Noellia shot on 39 megapixel Mamiya MF digital camera. 150mm lens.

Early photographer.

Later photographer. 

hanging out with B&B
&Studio Dog.

Returning on Sept. 1, 2016

Enjoy what's left of Summer!

Young Renee Zellweger in Austin.

Summer vacations and heat kill blog traffic. Should we just take the rest of the month off?

Every once in a while I take a look at the numbers. How much traffic we get at the blog. Where it's coming from. How much feedback we're getting. For some reason as Summer drags on the numbers are trending toward a precipitous decline. A portion of the decline is part of a wide spread pattern or trend across the landscape of photography (as opposed to photography of landscapes...), as sales numbers for serious (interchangeable lens) cameras drop year over year so does interest in the nuts and bolts articles about photography.

Thom Hogan takes the month of August off and I'm beginning to think that's not such a bad idea. I'm coming off a very busy June and July and it seems like a waste of good nap time to write just for myself. I already know what I think about things like the Rio Olympics (go swimmers! NBC, stop showing me the stupid beach volley ball junk and stop supporting stupid ideas like air rifle marksmanship. What's next, Pokemon Go championships?) and I know what I think about some of the new product announcements from camera makers (incremental, incremental).

I'm going to leave it up to my readers. Should we keep rolling out blog posts for the rest of August or succumb to the inertia of the season and come back when there's more to write about and more people back from vacation to read it?


A chaotic assemblage of disconnected images. Just for fun. My fun.

Ben acts as lighting shepherd and white balance target custodian at a photoshoot for a law firm. 

Belinda baked a blueberry pie in the new range. We are all reflexively making quesadillas on the griddle on the stove top. I never knew new things other than cameras could be fun to buy and use....

The Asian style bowl with sticky rice. An unfulfilling dinner for a true Texan. 
But oh so healthy.

We're seeing red at the Hope Outdoor Gallery and capturing it with the Sony RX10iii. 

A shot from a couple hundred feet above. Made possible with the Sony RX10iii's magic lens.

Reclining Art Tourist.

When photographers get together they talk about cameras and lenses. 
Do graffiti artists talk about various brands of spray paint? 
Maybe. Krylon seems to be the Canon of painters...

The selfie within the frame.

Artist hard at work. 

Vigilant Dog monitors commotion in the hallway. 

Escaping up the ladder and into the sky.

The other (wider) end of the Sony RX10iii lens.

The collections of masks I choose from when going out to collect on overdue invoices.

Youthful enthusiasm at the Mercado in San Antonio. 

Cooking up comfort food at the Mercado in San Antonio. 

Hmmm. Get your Frida Kahlos here?

I'm beginning to understand. It's all about the frames.

Keeping watch over the Mercado.

Does this camera make me look fat???

Majestic Theater box office detail. San Antonio. 

Remind me to pick up a payday loan on my way back to the car....

It was a black and white afternoon. Toasty hot and monochrome.

I finished with my allotted chores, my studio loose ends, and the changing of the air conditioning filters. It's not as though I needed the additional exercise having swum several rapid miles this morning, along with a bout of resistance exercises; but I felt the need to go out and embrace the heat. I also wanted to give the Zeiss Tessar 45mm f2.8 lens a second chance before I wrapped it up and sent it back to the dealer. Was the lack of snap I noticed last week something endemic to the lens or had shortcomings in my technique dealt it a losing hand?

When last I wrote about the tiny C/Y optic I was leaning heavily on hyperfocal distance settings for sharp focus. Might have worked in the old days but in the days of adapters, etc. even being a fraction of a millimeter longer or shorter than the original computed flange distance might make all the difference in the world. I traded out adapters and reminded myself to use focus magnification to confirm the efficacy of my focusing. 

Ahhh. The foibles of the tester and the testing chain... The lens is really very nice when you take the time to ensure that the focus point is where the focus point is intended to be. Short version? The lens is better than I wrote it was. It is indeed sharp and yields detailed and high resolution images. It's still not "snappy" but it performs extremely well and the slight lack of zing, vis-a-vis the most modern of lens designs, is very easily remedied in post processing. Or by increasing the contrast setting, in camera, for your Jpegs. I'm keeping the lens. I have commuted its return sentence. 

My first mistake or misstep of the year as a blogger. Tragic. 

It was well over one hundred degrees at 2:30pm and the radio weatherman claimed that the "heat index" was hovering around one hundred seven. I had the wide brim hat but I left the house with a  short sleeved technical shirt. By the time I'd walked a couple of blocks I found myself wanting a long sleeve version. The less burned you get the cooler you are later in the day. No heat radiating from burned skin...

I ducked into REI (Outdoor and camping equipment store) and found a medium, long sleeve, REI Sahara technical shirt, with an SPF of 50, on the clearance rack. I also bought a bandana which I soaked in the store's water fountain and wrapped around my neck. Newly configured, I headed back out to resume the walk. The new combination was effective and I did not succumb to the heat, even though I spent a good amount of time in the blacktop heat sink of downtown. 

The images are secondary today to the walk. I wanted the camera in my hand and I wanted to re-test the lens but mostly I did not want to capitulate to the Texas weather. And I was not the only one. There were hardy souls all around, running, biking, shopping and even drinking outside on sun-drenched bar patios. 

We've had 15 or 20 days of temperatures over 100 but I stopped complaining about the weather after my recent trip to Baton Rouge. They had similar temperatures but the humidity seemed permanently stuck at a zillion. It was a nice afternoon for a walk.