4.23.2014

I have a dilemma. Will I go out tomorrow and buy a GH4?

photographer wracked by gear addiction and indecision.
don't tell me you've never been there.

I got the call that I love and dread. It always comes from Ian at Precision Camera. It begins like this: "I put an order in on a Panasonic GH4 for you. I knew you would want one. The camera came in today and I'm holding it for you." And like the guy who always thinks that just because someone throws you a ball you have to catch it, I start planning the acquisition. Usually I just off load some other camera gear to make the math come out right but I've whittled down pretty spectacularly lately and I'm almost down to the cameras I don't want to sell. 

I could get rid of the little G6 I picked up last Fall but I won't get much for it and, well, it is adorable. I'll keep it around for it's combination of a surprisingly good finder and well done focus peaking. That and the fact that it takes great images and weighs next to nothing. Okay. That one is safe....

Well, that makes the logical next choice one of the two GH3's I bought just at the turn of the year. But again, I like them so much and now am wracked with the realization that for most of the uses I have for these cameras the image quality (in photographs) might not be much better between the GH3 and the GH4. I love having a perfectly matched pair of cameras when I'm shooting in a documentary style. Wide zoom on one and a fast zoom on the other. Magic. Will the GH4 throw my brain out of balance? Will I want two GH4's instead? Or will the cascading method of acquisition actually work for me?

My guess at the moment, to be solidified by tomorrow morning, is that one of the GH3's will get boxed up and sent off as a sacrifice to the financial sanity gods that seem to be inhabiting the studio these days. The other choice is to just not pull the trigger. To get off the "new gear" merry-go-round but I think we all know that's probably a non-starter. How could I bear to be left behind in the great Panasonic 4K revolution?

I've still got the full frame Sony but it's my safety camera for those times when I get overly nostalgic for the full frame look and need to spend a few days separating fact from emotion. Then the Sony will go back in the drawer until I see some older black and white image with no depth of field whatsoever and we'll go through the whole exercise again....

I don't have a pressing use for the new camera. I have some video projects but I'm certainly not ready to step up the ante and hit the "4k club" on actual productions any time soon. Editing is a slow enough process for me as it is. 

I think I know how to handle this. I'll just get up in the morning and swim and have coffee. Then, when everyone is off at school and work I'll just take a casual drive up to the camera store just to look at the camera in the flesh. What could that hurt? I'll have Ian pull it out of the box and we'll look at all the new menu settings and features. I'm sure I'll have an objective appraisal and I'm sure the lure of the new camera won't overwhelm me. Of course I could take the check book along, just in case. 



Random Portrait.


A few years ago Noellia helped me experiment with an Alien Bees ring light.  I ran across this a few days ago and decided to re-post it because, checking me decade calendar we're due for a resurgence of ring lights, followed a year later by a resurgence of beauty dishes, followed by more "small flash" enthusiasm. In the rearview mirror? Massive megapixelage. At least that's what a reading of the entrails tells us...

Kirk Tuck. Texas Landscape Photographer? Maybe not...

Sony RX10 with polarizing filter.
Converted from color in Lightroom 5.x

I'm more interested in faces but occasionally I'll stop my car on a road trip and snap a tree that has personality. The luxurious curve of the bottom branch on the left side makes it all so nice.

4.22.2014

Out of the city with a fun camera in tow.


I had a fun job today. I was working for a shelter magazine. I was assigned to photograph a house in Fredericksburg, Texas that's more like a museum dedicated to early American art and craft. I took along some big flashes (which I didn't use) and a small flash (which I did use) and a selection of small sensor cameras. The house was well done and big windows ushered in ample soft light. I used some judicious in camera HDR (I know, I know...) and fine-tuned the files later in Lightroom.

It was refreshing to do an assignment that was straightforward and simple. No endless hours of post production and no budget so big that it makes everyone's adrenaline zing.

While I took two GH3s along intending to use them and the new X lenses for my primary shooting cameras I just couldn't keep my hands off their case-mate, the Sony RX10.  That little camera continues to impress me with sharp files and nearly straight lines (at 24mm eq. it needs a +1 correction in Lightroom to get lines perfectly straight..).

I'd been feeling beat up lately with complications from complicated jobs so it was nice to get out of town, away from the phone (yes, you can leave your iPhone in the trunk of your car), away from e-mail and away from the Austin traffic. I drove out on highway 290 through Johnson City (hometown of president Lyndon B. Johnson) and I stuck to the right lane with the farm vehicles and pokey drivers so I could go slow and just enjoy the drive.

We wrapped up our house shooting around 1pm and I headed into Whataburger on my way out of town to have a good ole jalapeƱo burger. Yummy. Just splurging today I also added guacamole. I took the same leisurely pace heading back to Austin. Now it's a little after 5pm and I've already got my 100+ tiff images corrected and ready to go.

The art director for the magazine is in Ohio and asked if I could send along a few images of Texas wildflowers. I was just planning to hit the stock file at the studio when I came across a wildflower resource just off the highway about 20 miles out of Fredericksburg. A giant outdoor store that specializes in native flowers.  Acres of beautiful wildflowers in red, yellow, blue and purple. I pulled in and walked around for while with the little RX10, just clicking away.

The sun was bright, the clouds soft and puffy and the sky washed blue from rain the night before. It was 85 degrees and the warm weather felt good. Soon enough it will be too hot. But I'm enjoying what we've got right now.

Keeping that RX10 in the bag, in the car, in the swim bag, in the bike bags and most especially, right over my left shoulder. That's how to spend a fun and productive day in central Texas. 

4.21.2014

Thinking about how much more complicated photography has become.


The actual act of taking images has become easier and more complex. On one hand we've got digital cameras that interpret the scenes in front of them instantly. But getting to that point means making choices about how your camera is set. If you have a camera with a complex menu, like the Olympus OMD EM-1 you may have hundreds of possible settings that you can make ranging from noise reduction to color characteristics, the method of focusing, the method of dealing with tonal slopes and so much more. Will you use art filters? Are you looking ahead to making HDRs? How will you set the camera to bracket? Then you have the standard issues of color profiles, color temperature, contrast, saturation and basic exposure. Will you save the images as Jpegs? If so, at what compression and how large? Will you save them as raw files? If so which program will give you the best conversions? Have you tried all the raw converters that are out there? Are you sure you selected the right one? Just because Capture One worked best for your Nikon D800 doesn't mean it's the right one for, say, your new Canon 5Dmk3....

Oh, but wait! What lens will you use? Or more precisely, what focal length will you use? And will it be with a prime lens or a zoom?  And which aperture clearly expresses what you had in mind vis-a-vis the foreground and background sharpness relations? And, if you select a certain aperture and you are working at your camera's optimum ISO will you need to introduce a tripod to assist you in creating the sharpness your original vision required? If so, how big a tripod will you need in order to carry it around with you for those moments when it seems crucial to the quality of the image? But what if subject motion pushes your exposure predilections outside your comfort zone? What if you have to go to a higher ISO to get a higher shutter speed. Will the smooth, grainless quality you lusted after leave you in the lurch in the pursuit of the crispy sharp subject? If you choose to use a more sensitive ISO will you need to use noise reduction in post processing? Which method works best for your overall system?

Presuming the sheer momentum of choice didn't paralyze you have you taken all the steps you need to in order to post process successfully? Is your monitor of sufficient gamut to even show you what you have wrought in the shooting and editing processes? Has it been methodically and recently calibrated? Have you neutralized any color cast in your post processing area? Are the walls really neutral white? Do they have a subtle coloration that may impinge on the accuracy of your viewing system? Are you wearing a lime green golf shirt while you process your work? Will you switch to a black or neutral gray shirt? Can you really find an actual, neutral gray shirt?

And when you've created your masterpiece of photography where will you go from the computer file? Will you share it on the web? Are all the people you are sharing with sitting in front of color corrected screens? Is the infrastructure of the web and the bandwidth limits of your sharing supplier compressing the image you worked so hard on? Did they shift your colors and tonalities to wedge your image into a tighter and tighter box? Or maybe you'll print the image....

Is your printer profiled to your post processing software? Can your printer's gamut match your original vision? Do the inks have different responses to different lighting spectra? Will the viewing area undo your careful color corrections by introducing color casts and glare? Will you frame the work? If so will the glass be neutral or will it have (as most glass does) a greenish UV filtration meant to keep furniture from fading when used in buildings? Will you place a mark on the floor in front of your print so people can see it from the point of view that you intended? Will they wear a black shirt or smock so their own clothes don't minimize the "enjoyment" of your art by introducing reflections?

And once your work through all the above do you have a plan for archival keeping of the digital image? Will it be placed on some magnetic media or will you use optical media? How often will you migrate the images to new media in order to offset the perils of degradation over time? Will you have multiple racks of hard drives that you rotate? Will you spend months each year re-burning new DVDs? Will you make prints of the frames you like in a series of sizes that you might want to use in the future as a hedge against the ravages of time?

And none of the above presupposes that you've come to grips with finding visually interesting stuff to immortalize...

Oh well. It's all become more complicated. I should have tried for an easier career, like brain surgeon or president. A few quick cuts, a few grand decisions and a ribbon cutting and then I'd be on easy street.

Must be monday again. Sorry. 

Michael Reichmann at Luminous Landscape posts first review of the Panasonic GH4...

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/panasonic_gh4_report.shtml

I've followed Michael Reichmann's website, the Luminous Landscape, for many years. I've read as he's waxed euphoric over ever more powerful cameras. Starting with Canon's first full framer right on through to his Phase One Phascination--- with enormous numbers of megapixels and all things medium format. But I have to give it to him. The man is mentally flexible and willing to change with the times. And the introduction of new and useful technology.

He wrote a couple of years ago about the Sony Nex-7 (which he liked very much) and recently he's been writing about his video love affair with the Panasonic GH3. Only a few months ago he got himself an Olympus OMD EM-1 and found lovely things to say about that camera as well. But now it looks like there is some sort of camera harmonic convergence going on and the mantra I keep hearing (from myself and others who taste and expertise I trust) is GH4. GH4. GH4.

Michael has one in his hands and it's got the final firmware so no weasel words or beating around the bush need take place in his first, preliminary assessment. And the word is: Good. "As good as anything out there..."

He goes on to say that if you can work with the limitations of 16 megapixels (and he says he can!) then this camera is as good as it gets. Not just from a video point of view but from a still photography point of view as well.

I'm saving up for my GH4. I'm not often accused of being "strategic" but I started selling off other camera systems and other lenses months ago. Around the time I first heard solid rumors of the GH4 specs. I've pretty much exited the Sony system (both Nex and Alpha) and I'm not overly nostalgic about the transition. I've winnowed down other systems and I've been preemptively buying up lenses I know I'll want for use with the GH4 and, for now, the GH3.

I figured that the reviews would start coming out before the end of April and there would be a mad rush on all the surrounding eco-system for the new camera. Maybe shortages or Amazon's famous ever changing (upward) pricing algorithm for stuff like the 12-35mm X lens and the 35-100mm X lens. A run on the 7-14mm and even a shortage of the two wonderfully cheap and happy Sigma lenses, the 30mm and the 60mm.  When I found out that the GH4 shared the same battery with the current GH3 I was overjoyed. But I cut the celebration short to go and buy an extra pair of batteries before the run on essentials built up steam.

The GH4s are starting to ship. MR has his. Samy's is shipping a quantity and Amazon counsels us that it will ship end of month but I expect waiting list cameras to start out the doors of the warehouses this week.

Why am I so happy about all of this? Well, this is the first camera that is equally good at both disciplines in which I am currently interested (stills and video), as well as being the most affordable professional system I've ever bought into. You can actually buy this company's top of the line camera without busting the bank. Amazing. To add some icing to the cake the GH series is actually quite fun to shoot...

And with the kind of enthusiasm Mr. Reichmann is expressing I expect that this particular offering will go over well without the recent caveats we've heard in conjunction with half-baked Sony products recently. No lens adapter required. Plenty of good lenses in the market. No tiny battery syndrome. No Bang-Bang-Pow shutter noise, Etc.

Ah. A nice, happy, productive camera launch. Just what we all needed after the doldrums of the recent lackluster product unveils.....

While I am saving up for my GH4 I am painfully, keenly, aware that my child just got accepted at his first choice of college. A private university in the Northeastern U.S. Much to the amazement of my European readers we parents will be required to scrape up the equivalent, in cash, of a nice, average American three bedroom house and send it to this fine institution over the course of the next four years. Will this slow down my thirst for new cameras? I guess we're about to find out....

4.20.2014

A non-conclusive test of the Samsung NX30 video. No investigation (yet) into sound or HDMI output...

Grafitti Park Samsung Video from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.
This video shows handheld, non-graded, non-corrected video from the Samsung NX30 using an image stabilized 50-200mm f4-5.6 lens. Saturday is a day when many, many people seem to come to wall and worship with their cameras.


First, just a little bit of background for new readers: This is not a technical review site. I do write about cameras that I use and sometimes I'll write a review but it's always from my point of view as a user instead of a definitive exploration of a camera's specifications and an exhaustive cataloging of various features. In order to do a video test in a way that's really valuable to advanced, technically savvy video users we would lock the camera on a tripod, optimize all the setting, shoot and edit at the highest quality settings and then upload 4 or 5 gigabyte ProRes final files for people to download. 

Well, that's not going to happen and it's especially not going to happen here with a sub $1,000 camera aimed at still photography enthusiasts. Instead, I went over to one of my favorite haunts, the Graffiti Wall (Hope Outdoor Park) in central Austin, an rambled around shooting handheld video with only the 50-200mm f4-5.6 zoom lens. I uploaded the video to Vimeo as a 720pm file and you can go over there with the link provided and watch the video in HD. It won't be 1080 HD but those are the breaks. 

I'll post more tests as I use the camera more and more for video. I promise. 

Here's what I learned in a couple hours of shooting: The NX30 is a strange duck. The essential camera is very good but there is one "gotcha" for me:  I've struggled to figure out the relationship between the image I see in the finder (bright and thin) with the image I see on the back screen of the camera (thick and rich). I found the controls to adjust both and, after comparing the rear screen image to my images in Final Cut Pro X I've opted to leave the rear screen untouched. It's really close in color and density to my reference points. The EVF is another matter. The image looks too bright, the colors a bit desaturated and the overall sense is that the EVF could use a bit more contrast. Samsung may have been aiming to provide a screen that could help photographers "see" into the shadows better but it comes at the expense of a pleasant viewfinder image. I have tried both a minus one and a minus two click setting but it's not a big enough adjustment and that adjustment does nothing to increase the overall contrast and saturation of the EVF screen. I wonder if, in a future firmware upgrade, Samsung couldn't add a gamma setting to the EVF controls.

Like many DSLRs and "mirror-free" cameras the NX30 doesn't allow one to change exposure compensation on the fly when shooting video. I used the camera mostly in the A mode and allowed the shutter speed to wander so some of the footage will look a bit choppy as the shutter speeds climbed. The camera did a good job on general exposure and on white balance as well.

This was the first time I tried out the manual focusing capabilities of the camera and I am very happy with Samsung's implementation. Like a number of newer cameras the NX30 gives users a good focus peaking feature and allows one to pick various strengths and colors for the indications on the back screen or on the EVF. I found the medium setting to be perfect for this longer lens. The focus peaking worked in a very small plane of focus and that made sharp focusing at the longest focus settings very accurate.

The camera is well thought out for manual focusing in that one touch of the focus ring magnifies the image in the finder by at least five times and goes a long way to ensuring precise focus. The camera combines the magnified focus with focus peaking and the result is a quick way to get sharp focus that will hold throughout a video take. With a little practice I think I could use the peaking to do fairly good focus pulling in a pinch. Which is good since there are no hard stops and no infinity stops on the lens focus rings.

I did hand hold the camera for all of the shots and I was happy with the image stabilization built into the lens. While it should be obvious that a shorter set of lengths would have gone a long way to minimizing movement I felt like this approach (and often shooting at the 3oo mm equiv. focal length) would be a good worst case scenario/torture test of the system. Did I mention that I chugged down a very good cup of Mexican Zaragosa coffee on my walk over to the park?

None of the footage presented here has been graded or color corrected in any way. It is straight out of camera, I edited the footage together in FCP and uploaded it directly to Vimeo where it is presumed to undergo quite a bit of compression. So, no color correction, no added sharpness, no contrast controls, etc. The footage you see (minus the compression of Vimeo) is what you'll get out the camera at its "Standard" color profile.

If I use the camera for professional work (and I probably will as a second or third POV camera) I will experiment with shooting in flatter color profile and turn down the sharpening just a bit. The camera tends to "crush" the blacks which enhances the appearance of contrast but I can make that more controllable with a more gentle profile.

I can see a few jaggies on telephone wires but nothing worse than what I used to see on the Canon 5D2. While the footage straight out of camera isn't quite as good as the Panasonic GH3 or the Sony RX10 it's pretty good to my eye and I wouldn't hesitate to use it if the story we are telling is compelling enough.

I spent two hours shooting with the camera on all the time. As I was walking home I checked the battery and was pleased to find that it still had 70% of its charge left.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Samsung line the NX30 is the current top of the heap for Samsung. As a big cellphone maker they tend to be a bit (too) obsessed with wedging connectivity "features" into all of their cameras and I think that they would benefit in stepping back and fine tuning the camera side of the overall package instead of trying to ace something as mundane as tossing images up immediately onto the web.

The camera uses a 20.3 megapixel sensor with phase detection AF built onto the sensor. My take is that the sensor is, in good light and up to ISO 1600, competitive with anything out on the market in the APS-C category. The sensor has really nice color and though I haven't pushed the camera in near darkness I think it controls noise well up to at least 1600.

There's one feature that's nice but I haven't gotten any use out of it. That would be the fact that the EVF can tilt up 90 degrees to give one waist level composing. I'm sure I'll get around to using it for something but in the studio I've started to defrost my feelings about using LCD screens for composition and I would probably default to the tilting, rotating screen for most comp checks under controlled lighting.

If the EVF finder were better implemented I would say that the NX30 would be a good competitor for the Olympus and Panasonic cameras on many levels. If you don't really care about the eye level finder then you might not care as much as I do. But the fact of the matter is that Olympus (and now Panasonic in their G6 and GX7 cameras) is setting the bar for EVF performance and one must give demerits for lesser performance.

The plus to the camera when compared to the Olympus OMD series is in the way it feels. The rounded body and the way the controls are placed makes the camera a joy to hold and work with for long periods of time.

But the thing that will ultimately make Samsung a strong competitor (if they ever get that EVF thing right) is the line of lenses they are putting out on the market. The 85mm 1.4 is very impressive. I'll keep this body around just to be able to use that 85mm for extremely narrow DOF in video. The pancake 30mm f2.0 is also a good performer and makes the camera a small and light street shooting camera. The biggest surprise for me has been the 50-200mm 4-5.6. It's not an expensive lens but everything I've shot with it has turned out very well. The lens is sharp in the center where I want it to be and the contrast is moderately high which works well with the sensor.

You'll have be your own judge when it comes to video. I've put up my first volley and I'll keep trying the camera under more and more rigorous circumstances. I am enjoying beating this camera into submission and subverting it to my will. We'll see at which point it strikes back.

I am taking it to San Antonio today to visit my parents. I've set it in the black and white mode and look forward to shooting images that way. I've also set the image aspect ratio to 16:9 as I suspect I'll be rotating in and out of video during the day and I want to be able to pull still images into video without the need to crop.

That's where we are today with the Samsung NX30 video. Hope you enjoyed seeing all the photo mania at the wall that I found sprinkled over the three acres. And I do want to shout out to the impromptu Dee-Jays that fired up some nice music around sunset. Well done.

4.19.2014

Fun times at the graffiti park. Shooting with the Samsung 30 NX.


I went to the Graffiti Park today to test out the Samsung NX30's video performance. Video takes a while longer to deal with because I want to edit something together that won't make people grind their teeth or reference fingernails on chalkboards. The camera's sensor is great. APS-C is great for depth of field control. Even with a pedestrian sounding 50-200mm f4-5.6. In all the camera does video well.

The image above is a still grab shot. Most of my afternoon was spent shooting handheld video (will I never learn?).

But this particular post has nothing to do with the camera or the lens or the sensor. It has to do with a funny thing that happened to me four times this afternoon. As I was walking through the park I had four different couples come up to me and ask me if I would take their photograph with their camera. Of course I obliged. What else would a civilized person do? But each time the person handing me the camera was very careful to (talk slowly and...) explain which button to push to make the exposure and how they wanted the shot framed. I listened carefully and tried to follow their instructions to the letter. Except for the couple who had their camera mis-set. It would have taken a silhouette. I fixed the exposure mode and took several versions just to make sure we had what they wanted.

One couple thanked me, looked at the images and then told me that they were very well done. I thanked them for saying so.

I can only imagine what we could have done if we'd flown a 12x12 foot silk over the couple, filled them in with 1100 watt seconds of flash from an Elinchrom Ranger flash pack and then used a camera that could sync a bit faster....

Anyway, I was pleased to be asked. When I came home I told my wife about my encounters. She laughed. She thought it was karmic-ly appropriate.

If you are at an Austin landmark look for the older person with the black rimmed glasses and the white, broadcloth, Julian Alexander button down. I'm sure he'll do a good job with your photograph....

4.18.2014

A "selfie" from a client request.


One of the agency people involved with Samsung asked me to send along a selfie with one of the Samsung cameras. At one time last year I was the most knowledgable user of the Samsung Galaxy NX camera anywhere. Since I am vain and constantly self-promoting I got on the assignment right away. I pulled out an ancient, non-connectivity Sony a850 and put on the cheesy 24-105mm Sony lens, grabbed the electronic cable release and fired away. I like the black mock turtleneck and the glasses with the black rim over the top.

Pulling out the Samsung Galaxy NX for the photograph got me investigating that camera anew. I think the gap in my thinking last year was my myopic concentration with the camera's still imaging and still photography handling capabilities. I overlooked the video capabilities of the camera entirely. So yesterday I spent a lot of the afternoon playing around with the Galaxy NX as a video camera.

Now I have an all new respect for the camera. I have always liked the sensor and I was always impressed with every Samsung lens I've shot but now I am a fan of the video capabilities as well.

But first one caveat: The camera is not well set up for recording professional quality sound along with the video. There is an all purpose 3.5mm plug on the side into which you can use EITHER a set of headphones to hear playback, or a microphone to record audio, but you obviously can't use them both at the same time. Another constraint is that the audio set up of the camera doesn't allow for control over the sound levels in the recording mode. You get automatic levels no matter what.

But I will say that they do some good software in the audio region that senses gaps between words and clamps down on levels instead of letting them spike up and create hiss and noise. You can still hear some anomalies but it's pretty workable.  I recorded myself with an inexpensive Olympus stereo lavaliere microphone and while it wasn't bad it also wasn't perfect.

But the video at the highest quality settings, and using the 1080p, 30fps is very good indeed. Unlike the big Sony a99 the video written to the memory card is very sharp and detailed. The color balance, even using the AWB setting is great and it's a lot of fun composing and shooting while using the almost 5 inch screen on the back. It's the production equivalent of having an outboard, large monitor.

A bonus is that the camera provides focus peaking in manual focus settings which worked well with the tests I did using the new 85mm 1.4 lens.

Funny that this is a camera I didn't really warm up to when shooting stills and yet I am very pleased and intrigued to use it as a video tool. I'm shooting some personal work with it over the weekend and I'll be using the Zoom H4n and a shotgun mic to do audio. In one of the recent upgrades to Final Cut Pro X Apple has basically incorporated the same kind of sound matching we used to need PluralEyes to get. Now it can all be done in the program by matching up the outboard audio with the camera scratch track. You really have to shoot live view with a 5 inch monitor to get the appeal but believe me, it's fun and highly productive.

The camera is currently selling for around $1200. We're getting into a more realistic price range. I'll have some footage to show next week. I'm not advising any one to run out and buy one right away. But if you have one sitting around fire up the video setting and do some work. I think you WILL be pleasantly surprised.

Yes, it's this camera:









I meant to get some work done today. I really did. So after my second cup of coffee and a quick read of the New York Times I grabbed the dog and headed out to the studio. I sent a bill to someone and then I sent along 18 enormous 100 megabyte Tiff files to a service in India to have them masked and retouched. I'm gonna say that part qualifies as real work, although I had uploaded the files yesterday....

I read the usual forums and websites (theonlinephotographer seemed strangely off-line today...).  I got all riled up by a crazy person over on the digital pro forum at DPReview (there's always someone stirring the pot over there).

And I sent off some correspondence to people I needed to, well, correspond with.

Then Studio Dog poked me on the leg with her paw and gave me that look that said, "Really? Sitting on your butt for two hours banging on the keyboard? We've got squirrels to corral and important communications with other dogs to perform.  And your butt isn't going to get any skinnier wiggling your paws on the keyboard." She is so right. She always is. So I grabbed a leash and a bag of treats and we set off to look at the neighborhood. We both growled at the lawn guys with the leaf blowers. We had a few moments of silence for the scrape-off houses that have been recently scrapped off to make space for much bigger houses that will dominate once gracious lots.

We practiced walking "steady" and we practiced giving and receiving treats. I gave many lamb treats and got only joyous hand licks in return. After passing an hour ambling through and checking the smell of every letter box and light pole we returned home.

I answered another e-mail. This one from a client who recently asked for a bid on a huge job. The  response and tentative "yes!" by the client was too quick and then, reading further I saw that I would have to sell myself with a dog and pony show to the final client of the ad agency and I would have to finance about $20,000 worth of hard cost for 30 to 60 days if I wanted the job. I like jobs but I don't like them that much. I sent back a note suggesting that if a dog and pony show and financing for agency and client were part of the mix I might not be signing on. We'll see what happens there but I don't really care how slow or hot the market is, 25 years in the business gives one a tingling spider sense for eminent train wrecks and career stoppers. Some business I can live without.

Well, that took us right up to 11:30 am and frankly not much got done. I took the Studio Dog back to the house, grabbed a towel and headed over to the pool for a crowded, kinetic, fast paced master's swim practice. I rarely remember workouts but this one was devious for it's 300 set that went: 50 butterfly, 50 backstroke, 50 butterfly, 50 breaststroke, 50 butterfly, 50 freestyle. Rinse and repeat a number of times. That's a lot of butterfly to repeat. I guess I'll sleep well tonight.

The reward for any hard, noon workout is a good lunch so I headed to Chipotle Grill for a bowl with beans, rice, carnitas, two different salsas and some cheese. Yummy. Now I'm back at the studio with Studio Dog and she's pretty insistent that it's nap time. Dog bed in place. Yoga mat in place.

Commence napping. It's all part of the rich life of the freelance photographer....