I remember how good an older camera can be when I look at this image from "A Midsummer's Night Dream" performed by the Austin Shakespeare Company outdoors at the Zilker Hillside Theater.

I was deep into my first micro four thirds romance when I took dress rehearsal images for this play. The lighting was primitive compared to the stage lighting we had at Zach Theatre and the light levels were uniformly low. My camera of choice at the time was the EP-3 and it was "backed up" by an EP-2. But what made it work was the lens, or the lenses. At the time I had adapters for all of my older Pen FT half frame lenses and was determined to make them shine.

This shot was done at 1/30th of a second, at f2.0 or f2.5 with the ancient 60mm f1.5 lens. I focused carefully and held my breath while caressing the shutter button. The old sensor in that camera did its job very well and, it seems, twelve megapixels was more than enough for the marketing people who were helping to sell the play.

It's really not the camera but what you get to point it at. Opportunities abound but you have to stop reading the camera and lens reviews long enough to show up and shoot.

What makes this shot special for me? You already know the answer... It's the awesome, third order, nano acuity of this special lens. I couldn't have expressed this with a lens possessed of lesser nano acuity. I would have known every time I looked at it that it wouldn't measure up to my critical eye....

Penny's Pastries. An old favorite from an assignment for Entrepreneur Magazine.

It's fun to look back at assignments that generated images I really like and try to understand what commonalities that exist with the work I am doing today. This was shot on location for an article about "failing" and getting up and trying again.

I'd never met Penny before we got the assignment to shoot and I walked into her small, commercial kitchen in central Austin cold. The first thing I did was to put the gear down and ask for a tour. We walked through and while Penny pointed out things that would be of interest to a chef or baker I was busy looking at the angles and "props" that might tell the story we needed to share in one image. Part of taking a tour is that process of looking for common touchstones. Austin was a smallish town then. Who might we know that intersects both of us? It was Patricia Bauer Slate who started the first real European style bakery in all of Texas.

These were the film days and we worked with big lights and big cameras. As Penny and I chatted and shared connections my wonderful assistant, Anne, set up lights and a medium softbox which would be out main light for Penny. We used several other lights with reflectors fitted with grids to put sufficient light on the background areas.

By the time I started setting up the shot and positioning Penny we were chatting like old friends. I chose a 100mm f3.5 Zeiss Planar for my Hasselblad 501, took a few black and white Polaroids and started shooting. Penny's look is absolutely perfect. The magazine loved the shot. We made a new friend. We got paid. Almost two decades later the shot looks fresh to me and I remember the afternoon as being fun and productive. I also left with a bag of outrageously good cookies.

When I look at the picture now I realize that I've let life speed up the process of taking images and I'm not reaching as deeply into the process as I once did. I'll start working on regaining that sense of engagement and depth first thing Monday morning.  We think it's about gear but it might really be about spending more time working with people and sharing the joy of making art together. Pretty cool.

A Portrait to commemorate the last day at Ben's first, college, Summer job.

We have this kid named, Ben. He went off to college in New York state last year and did well. Learned stuff. Made the Dean's List. When the Spring semester ended he came back home to Texas. He wanted a Summer job and a friend of mine offered him one at a well established, international software company. Ben has spent the last two+  months helping the marketing department make videos, proof press releases and even do some writing. He looked so grown up leaving each morning in a nice shirt and clean pants, computer bag over one shoulder and a travel mug with coffee in his hand.

Gleaning information from both sides (my friend and my kid) I've pieced together the idea that it was a successful engagement for everyone involved. Ben signed an NDA and he took it seriously so I know little more about the company and its products than I did before. My friend met me for coffee and told me the boy did well.

Since this was his last day I decided to take some portraits of him in the studio when he came home. I set up some lights and dragged him away from his laptop long enough to photograph him looking serious and very focused.

We have loved having Ben here this Summer and it's so much fun around the dinner table nearly every night. We all work in advertising now in some capacity and we understand each other's shared stories in a deeper, better way than before. When he and his mom talk about infographics it's because they are both working on different aspects of infographic design or content creation. When Ben and I talk about technical writing we both see the same markets and issues. I troubleshoot Ben's computer and he gives me sage advice about Final Cut Pro X and the mysteries of editing.

Ben's boss (and my friend) is one of the few consummate professional sales people I have met. I think Ben has learned so much from him by ongoing, direct observation. From osmosis. He's learned to take care of clients and to deliver what you promise.

The kid made good money and I was stunned to see him "brown bag" his lunch each day in order to save a good portion of what he earned. His discipline and frugality are a good example for his own father.

I've had a fun Summer with the kid. I've got two more weeks before he hops on a plane and reconnects with college. I can hardly wait to hear his plans for next Summer.... 

Muted Portrait from film. 2011.

Camera: Rolleiflex SL 8008. 150mm Sonnar.