Feb. 15, 2012

Photos from SXSW 2011

Next Week Out Skinny

I’ve been going to SXSW—a music, film, and interactive conference—for a long time. But I look forward to it every year and this coming year (2012) with be the 10th Southby for me.

It’s not lost on me that I’m posting my shots from SXSW 2011 when we’re only about three weeks out from SXSW 2012. I don’t have much of an excuse other than to say that I guess I had a lot going on last year. But they’re posted. Of the 303 shots I took over those six days in March, I’ve posted 19 of them.

July 13, 2010

Photos from SXSW 2010

Andrew Huff Enjoying a Shiner

SXSW Interactive apparently had over 12,000 attendees this year, more than this year’s SXSW Music. And I still had just as much fun this year as I’ve had any year. It was great.

Once again, Grant Hutchinson helped organize a “Found Type Photowalk” around Austin. Ostensibly, it’s about typography—and there is quite a bit of typography talk—but it’s also a fantastic mid-conference respite where photographers of all types can enjoy a leisurely walk around Austin while taking shots along the way.

I brought along my trusty Canon 40D and it held up pretty well. If anything, the one thing I noticed is that even an image-stabilized lens (like the 17–55mm f/2.8 IS that I was mostly using) can’t save every shot—several of my shots during panels ended up around 1/13sec (at ISO 400) and shots that slow just don’t have a great chance of coming out sharp. (I could have theoretically bumped up the ISO to 800 or 1600, but my 2007-era doesn’t do that well at high ISOs.) Maybe I’ll consider Canon’s rumored 60D if that comes out in time for next year?

I wouldn’t be surprised if there might be even more attendees next year. And that’s okay. I’ve made so many great friends at SXSW over the years and I wouldn’t miss the chance to hang out with them again.

March 26, 2009

Photos from SXSW 2009

Kevin Lawver and Alex Bischoff

I look forward to SXSW every year—it’s heaps of fun. Sure, there’s the web-stuff learning (which is good), but it’s also nice to be able to see friends again that I’ve made over the years. (For instance, that shot above is with Kevin and I—I can’t even remember how many years ago he and I had met, but it’s always good to chat with him again.)

In all, I think I took around three hundred fifty photos and I believe I’ve posted around twenty five. Last year, I had rented Canon’ 17–55 f/2.8 lens and I was really pleased with how it worked out. I just happen to have bought one a couple months ago, though, so I didn't need to rent one this time around.

My new photography gadget, though, was a Lumiquest Softbox. Unlike a traditional softbox that one might have off-camera on a light stand or the like, Lumiquest’s Softbox is designed to attach right to one’s flash. Granted, there’re about a bajillion flash diffusers/bouncers on the market (and many an online discussion thread on which one is “best”), but the reason I went with this particular product is that I was pretty sure I wouldn't have much in the way of ceilings of which to bounce off.

I’m still getting a feel for flash photography and the nuances of manual exposure toward balancing one’s ambient light with the light from one’s strobe, but I think I’m getting closer. On the other hand, I’m sometimes unsure about metering modes (evaluative/matrix, center-weighted, spot, and so on) and which ones may be most suited for flash photography.

Part of me wants to lean toward spot-metering, but on my Canon 40D, the spot metering is always done off the center focal-point (as opposed to the active focal point). I’m sure that’s messed up my exposure more than once, but I haven't quite decided if maybe I just need to learn how to use spot-metering better or if another metering mode would be more worthwhile.

In all, though, SXSW was awesome. Part of me was a little worried that it could have been even more crowded than last year, but whether through room rejiggeration or maybe scheduling tweaks, the organizers seemed to have largely taken care of some of the crowding issues that had crept in last year. Plus, this year, my brother and I had a chance to get dinner together on the Tuesday night as I was heading out (from Interactive) and he was heading in (for Music). What a great way to round things out.

March 30, 2008

Photos from SXSW 2008

Alex Russell Enjoying a Beer

As I do every March, headed down to Austin earlier this month for SXSW. I also brought my new camera along, a Canon 40D which I’ve had since around February. To go along with that, I rented Canon’s 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens from lensrentals.com (an awesome online lens rental shop, if you ever need that kind of thing).

I had always heard generally good things about image-stabilization including some reports of being able to hand-hold shots down to 1/8 sec or even 1/4 sec. Given that I seem to encounter a fairly average amount of camera shake (as opposed to an extraordinarily low amount of it), I was cautiously optimistic about how much the image stabilization system might be able to help me.

In short, I couldn’t be more pleased. If the phrasing wasn’t so religiously-exclusive, I might even be tempted to call this the Jesuslens (see also: Jesusnoun.) Or, put another way, if this lens wasn’t around $1,000, I probably would have bought it by now. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I knew that I’d be hand-holding shots at SXSW and I was hoping that this lens would come through for me — it sure did. I managed several keepers at 1/8 sec. and even down to 1/6 sec.

With the aid of the back of a chair in my hotel room for additional sturdiness, I was also able to work through a set of four 1/2-second exposures of the Austin skyline which I then was able to stitch together to form a panoramic. (Incidentally, Photoshop CS3 is more intuitive than I thought it’d be for making panoramas. They’ve really improved that functionality over CS2.) I may have to try that panorama-thing more often — that was kinda fun.

March 4, 2008

Sched.org is a Pretty Nice SXSW Calendar

Sched.org — Pretty Nice SXSW Calendar

I’m going to SXSW this year (in fact, this weekend) and I was looking around for an online calendar that might help me plan which panels I was going to. (South by Southwest, in case you might not be familiar with it, is a music, film, and interactive festival/conference in Austin, Texas.) The sxsw.com website usually has a semi-usable calendar, but I just couldn’t get it to work this year.

Some friends of mine mentioned a third-party calendaring option, Sched.org, and I thought I’d give that a shot. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, it’s great — it’s easy to use, intuitive, and uses just enough Ajax to be helpful without getting in the way. Anyhow, I’ve worked out my calendar and I think I’ve figured out most of the panels that I’d like to go to. As you might guess, if you see two panels listed for the same time slot, it means that I like both of them and just haven’t yet figured out which to go to. For instance, like these:

Of course, I’m open to ideas if you have any suggestions on resolving those stalemates. One way or another, I’ll figure things out :).

March 19, 2007

Photos from SXSW 2007

Aaron Gustafson makes an effort to listen as he plays with Lego bricks

I had a great time at SXSW and I was able to take a bunch more pictures. I’ve finished processing those and I’ve posted those photos on Flickr. For those who may be curious, I took 43 photos, chose to process 20 of those, and posted 8 shots.

For what it’s worth, I made use of raw mode this time (well, RAW + JPEG Fine) and I my shots seemed to have a better resistance to having their highlights getting blown out (a reoccurring problem that I was running into as I was taking shots during my trip to South Africa in February). Then again, the lighting was almost completely different between those shots and these; in South Africa, I was mostly dealing with either bright sunlight or incandescent light, while in Austin I mostly had cloudy days (not that I'm complaining — cloudy days can be very handy for their diffuse light!).

Standard photo-entry text: All my photos are released under a Creative Commons license which roughly states that you’re free to “copy, distribute, display, and perform the work”. One exception, however, is this shot of the Q & A session after Helvetica — Andrew Dupont was trying my camera to get a feel for it; that’s one of his shots and he mentioned to me ahead of time that he’d like to place that under CC-Attribution license.

March 9, 2007

SXSW 2007 Panels I’m Going To

It’s early March and that can only mean that it's time for SXSW, a multi-part film / music / interactive festival. I’m only going for the interactive part, myself, which focuses on design, web coding, and such. Anyhow, if you’ll be down in Austin, here’re some of the panels I’ll be going to:





March 8, 2006

Some Tough SXSW Decisions

SXSW is loads of fun, but, invariably, there’re some tough decisions on which panels to go to — this year is no different. I've managed to figure most of them out, but there’re some for which I’m still a bit torn. So, for these guys, I’m open to suggestions :).

Saturday, March 11th — 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

The DOM panel would normally be a shoo-in for me, but I remember hearing from a few people last year that the similarly-titled panel “How to Bluff Your Way Through CSS” wasn’t merely a snarky title, but literally a panel on how to pretend that you’re knowledgeable about CSS. If that’s the case with this DOM iteration, I’m not so sure I’d be as interested.

Monday, March 13th — 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Eric Meyer or Tantek Çelik? That’s a tough one. On one hand, I dig web standards; on the other hand, I always end up missing Çelik’s panels on microformats (due to conflicts like this one) and people tell me that they’re very good.

Monday, March 13th — 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

And, in this case, Morville’s presentation sounds really interesting, but I don’t really want to miss out on the accessibility bits either :-/.

March 8, 2006

Kickball at SXSW This Year?

Anil Dash’s kickball game is somewhat of an institution at this point — he organizes an informal kickball game on the Saturday of SXSW before panels. No one really takes the game very seriously, but it’s great fun.

Having said that, his Kick! website still has the info up for 2005 :-/. Has anyone heard whether the game is still on for this year?

March 10, 2005

SXSW 2005 Panels I’m Going to

It’s mid-March, and that can only mean one thing — it's time for another fun trip to Austin for SXSW 2005. For those not aware, South by Southwest (more commonly known by its initials, SXSW) is a music, film and interactive festival in Austin, Texas; I’ll be attending the Interactive conference.

The interactive conference runs this Friday through Tuesday (March 11th-16th) and their schedule of panels is online. Here’re some of the panels which I’ll be attending:

Saturday March 12th

Sunday March 13th

Monday March 14th

Tuesday March 15th

  • 11:30 am — Notes From the Underground: The Rise of Remix Culture. I get a kick out of mashups — an art form where someone superimposes one song on top of another to form a brand new song — and I’m looking forward to seeing what they cover in this panel.

  • 2:30 pm — Accessibility Shoot-Out. In this panel, URLs are thrown into a hat and then accessibility experts look over the site and give advice. I’m concerned that I may not learn much new out of this one, but you never know.

So, those are the panels which I’ve penciled-in so far. SXSW is a great time every year and I can't wait to get to Austin!