Women’s Fund, Players, & downtown walk

Had a nice walk up San Jacinto from the Four Seasons hotel up to 10th Street this afternoon. I had been taking pictures of the members of the Women’s Fund, at their annual Power of the Purse luncheon. Saw a familiar face (hi Eva!) and touched base with the good folks from the Austin Classical Guitar Society as well. On the way out, just as everyone was getting ready to eat, I pointed out to the editor whom I was shooting for, that a woman was seated all alone at a table for 10 in the back of the room. I had asked her earlier where her friends were, and she said this was what you get when you RSVP at the last minute . . . but my editor felt bad for her, and told me to sit down in the chair to her left while she sat on her right. Who am I to turn down a free meal at the Four Seasons? Plus, I made off with two cute little schwag bags from Saks Fifth Avenue with Lancôme, Chanel, Elie Saab, and Laura Mercier stuff in them (which I will promptly turn over to my sister and niece). And a custom-made “Women’s Fund” purse cookie. (Cookies were made by Loretta Holland, www.cowgirltreatery.com.)

Why would I park at 10th Street if my job is at 1st Street? a) free parking in my church’s garage (not free for the general public); b) exercise in prep for an upcoming trip to Yellowstone; c) it looks cooler at the end of the event to walk off into the horizon than to take the elevator down to the hotel’s underground parking garage. I need all the help I can get.

Can’t post any Women’s Fund pix here—those are for my employer. (Yes, it is possible to be technically unemployed and yet make reference to an employer . . .) But I can share a few snapshots from the nice walk back to my car. High in the 60s today. Nobody will care about these photos unless they spark some memory in the viewer. They show a couple of recent downtown skyscrapers (the Austonian and the Frost Bank tower), and show that the construction boom continues . . . the construction shots were taken from 3rd and San Jacinto. The city has changed a lot since I got here in 2000, and keeps changing. Just learned today that UT Austin has authorized itself to buy the land under Players, a hamburger joint long loved by UT undergrads (and grad students alike, as I can personally attest). I’ve been watching for UT to swallow up Players for years now. The bottom line (apart from the indignation felt by many at the ever-expanding behemoth that is the university) is that the city is changing all the time, and eventually photos are all we’ll have of the past. (Unless we manage to score the Players neon sign to hang in our apartment.) Here’s Players in 2008, with the UT Tower looming in the background like an administrative Minas Morgul:

photo of Player's restaurantActually, this would be brooding-er with a heavy vignette and some desaturation:

Player's restaurant version 2Maybe . . .

Players with lightningAnyway, Players will be history relatively soon, as far as world history goes.

Now for the snapshots . . . enjoy, or just close the tab . . . These are meant as throwaways, but I always welcome all kinds of criticism from those who want to take the time to offer it. How I can make a better shot next time.

On the Meaning of Sex

Had a great time last month doing some photos for my friend J. Budziszewski in my home studio. I am delighted with how they turned out. They look just like him!

J. BudziszewskiWhat I mean is that in my opinion, they faithfully communicate the spirit of the person I know—a scholar and a gentleman, with a quick wit and love of good humor.

Don’t look for any of these photos on his next book jacket: that book’s author photo was taken with a cell phone, because I was on vacation in California and the publisher needed a pic ASAP. And in the hierarchy of photographic preference, the cell phone is the logical next choice down from having one’s picture taken by me . . .

The photo on white has been Photoshopped to give it greater contrast and an all-around cooler aesthetic. The one on the black background is essentially SOOC, with the standard Lightroom 3 adjustments. The one thing I used Photoshop for on that photo was to lighten up the black sweater a little bit, without lightening his face as well. Can’t wait for Lightroom 4, since I understand that it will greatly expand the ability to do this kind of localized adjustment. Yes, LR3 lets one do gradient filters, but only on a few parameters. I wanted a lower Blacks level on the sweater than on the face, but LR3 doesn’t let one do a gradient with Blacks . . . so I had to layer two images in Photoshop.

Now head over and buy that book! It’s called On the Meaning of Sex, and is published by ISI Books.

Publisher’s link
Amazon.com link