Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas Party 2006

Sara flew in from Yuma Arizona. She ended up on the floor drunk-texting her ex.

Kids young and old enjoy my fire.

The neighbor's pecan tree, "painted" with a 2 million candlepower rechargeable spotlight during a long exposure.

Fire is cool.

Trying out my new flash combined with a long exposure, to balance the ambient light.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Rare Item Spotted At BestBuy

Not an easy camera to find these days. If I had $600 to spend I would have bought it as a spare.
I checked the date of manufacture and saw that it was built in Nov 2002, making it a year older than mine.
Must have been buried deeeep in the warehouse.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Thanks, Chris!

The mailman brought me something very nice today.
The flash unit is the one designed for my camera, and it works beautifully.
Thanks a million, Chris!

Christmas Day Tricks

Steven jumps over Aaron while his board passes underneath.

Friday, December 22, 2006

DPOTD At Steve's Digicams

My photo "Waiting To Cross Over" is today's Digital Photo Of The Day at Steve's Digicams, a popular site for camera reviews.
I now have a 1 in 31 chance at winning a nice Samsung/Pentax DSLR with a fine Schneider-Kreuznach 50-200mm zoom lens, or a Samsung point and shoot for Sylvia in the monthly contest.
And to think I was angry when the guy walked into my shot.


Update: This photo just won a different contest at my railroad forum.
See it here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Alamo At Christmastime

(Click on all photos to enlarge)
This is a horizontal-format version of our Christmas card this year.
The couple taking a photo is unique to this exposure, and I'm sorry but you can't see the top of the 55' tall HEB tree unless you're on our list and got a print in the mail.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Riverwalk Christmas Lights

This view from the Commerce Street bridge is one you'll see everywhere. Tourists and locals alike always seem to shoot from here, but I was the only one bothering to use a tripod and long exposure on Friday night that I saw.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Tree In The Window

Friday, December 15, 2006

A San Antonio Christmas

(Click on the photos to enlarge)
Something I have always wanted to do but never managed to fit into the busy Holiday schedule before tonight is to capture the beauty of my city's downtown Christmas lights. Both of these were shot from the same area across the street from Alamo Plaza, using the white lights in the trees to frame some important landmarks.

On our last trip to the beach in July I finally 'got' the night-photography lesson illustrated here: Between 15 and 45 minutes or so after sunset, long exposures benefit from a rich blue sky. This 'perfect' time fades quicker in the winter I think, because it sure went away fast tonight!
The main thing is to plan your shot(s) so that you're in position with a few minutes to spare when everything starts to come together.

I can't explain it as well as this article at The Strobist, which served as a timely reminder that made these photos possible.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


This electric jazz/blues guitar is the newest addition to our tree.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Two Leaves

At this time of year it seems like everyone posts photos of dead leaves. Some on the ground or floating on a lake, others clinging to the tree in a defiant gesture against the coming winter.

This was part of a test series of a plastic reflector that bounces some of the light from the pop-up flash down in front of the lens, where normally there's just a big shadow.
Night close-ups of bugs and toads and cicadas are too difficult using flashlights (despite my successes) so I'm trying everything I can to get more light right in front of my lens.
Without the reflector the bottom 2/3rds of this photo would be dark, so I'm on the right track.
I liked the simplicity and composition, but it's an accident because I was just stumbling around my yard in the dark shooting everything in (dim) sight.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Witte Museum Part 2

(Click to enlarge, as always)

Here's a few more night photos from the grounds of the Witte Museum.

I'm not sure I want to go down this road...

Two of the photos above were taken with my new camera-phone.
My thoughts have been all over the place as far as posting camera-phone photos here at all, and if I do, what is my approach?
On the one hand, I could stay low-tech and not use Photoshop on them at all.
Or I could try every trick in the book to get them to look halfway decent, as I tried with these.

If I had a third hand, what choice would it be holding?

Personally, the whole camera-phone thing has me torn.
When I see people pulling them out in situations where they should have known they were going to want photos and could have brought a so-called "real camera", I tend to dismiss them as fools. Holding one up and taking snaps from the 45th row of a concert is an exercise in futility, yet it happens every day.
After all, 80% of the US population owns at least one "real camera" and uses it regularly.
But now that I have one of these tiny toys, and always have it with me unlike my much larger F717, I find that it's a fun way to stay in touch with people and share my life with them as it's happening.
As a serious student of photography, they seem like little more than hightech toys, and yet mine has 1.3 megapixels and the full range of white-balance settings, so it almost matches the state of the art digital cameras from a dozen years ago (if you ignore the little bitty shitty lens and lack of all other controls).
Mine even has a (Micro) SD memory card slot just like it's big brothers.

My dilemma is that I know that in a few years these toys will pack some serious features, and while I'm getting into the game at a nice point in their evolution I also don't take them or the resulting photos very seriously. Yet.

Do I post phone-camera photos on Views Of Texas once in a while, in the spirit of sharing what I see and do?
Or just when they come out really well, or there's no other way to get the shot?
Or do I explore all of my options with no attitude or preconceptions?

A little help, people?
There's no wrong answers, so please comment freely.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Witte Museum After Hours

The Witte is my favorite museum in San Antonio. The emphasis is on natural history and education.
Last night my band played a private party in the HEB Treehouse, which is an interactive science and fun zone for kids, and during my breaks I was able to take some photos.
These two are all that I have edited so far.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dead Tree

This is the same tree seen here a few nights later.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Caliente Harley Davidson

A new Harley dealership recently opened in San Antonio.
I was working there on friday, and as usual was taking pictures every spare moment.

New buildings are a favorite of mine because the paint and details are crisp and clean, and this place had some unique architectural features like the metal shades with cutout designs and the tensioned canvas awnings that cover the cycle parking areas.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sunset Station Christmas Decor

Sunset Station was one of the finest passenger depots on the Southern Pacific Railroad.
It's privately owned now and houses several bars, restaurants and a concert pavillion, but as a condition of the sale the new owners had to restore the place to it's former glory.
This is what it looks like for the Christmas Season.
You can see what the stained glass window above the tree looks like here.

Here's a view of the outside featuring an old Texas & New Orleans/Southern Pacific steam engine on display.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Walking At Night

We have been walking a lot lately, so naturally I want to walk to weird places so I can add some photography to the mix.
Just down the closest main street from our neighborhood there's this bridge over a wide drainage ditch. I have a bunch of previous photos from here, but I kinda like these newest ones better.

This concrete drain pipe feeds into the ditch underneath the bridge. The bluish light is from my flashlight, trying to see as far as possible up the pipe.

If it's possible to have a favorite tree, this one is mine. I have watched it die, get big sections cut down by a firewood thief, and then come back with new growth over the last three years.
I like it so much I walked there by myself a few nights after the other two photos were taken just to do it justice with a better picture.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

That Time Of Year

Just so everyone knows where I stand:
It's not "The Holidays", it's Christmas and I love it.
But I do not approve of Christmas junk going on sale in September for crying out loud, and anyone who puts up their lights and decorations before Thanksgiving is a nut.

In this case, I'm making an exception.
The Christmas lights went up on the Tower Of The Americas sometime before I took this photo on Nov. 16, and that's okay with me for some reason.

To my American visitors, I hope your Thanksgiving went well.
Mine did.
Next year: Stuffin' Muffins, thanks to Rachel Ray.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just A Bee

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Library At Night

This was an attempt to recreate a photo from February 2005 which just barely topped the popular voting in the very first contest I entered, only to lose after the judges made their picks.
Of course, this time I did it at night.
You can see the original here.

Another side of our main library. The big balls are dual-purpose.
Besides looking cool they also discourage people from climbing up the incline and falling off.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Waiting To Cross Over

While the shutter was open he walked into the shot to ask me the time, then stood waiting for the train to pass so he could cross the tracks and head for home after a long day's work.
But now I wonder if it happened at all...

Today marks the 2-year anniversary of getting my camera.
I have taken 17,226 photos with it in that time, posting well over a thousand on the internet in various places.
Hopefully I will keep getting better at bringing my visitors photos and stories worthy of their time.

Update 1: The photo above has just been selected for the Editor's Choice section of the Railroad Forums Photo Gallery. It shares this honor with 302 other photos out of 26,661 total pictures from over 2000 photographers.
That's quite an anniversary present, and very flattering.

Update 2: Another bit of recognition, as the Houston Photobloggers website has put this picture in their Spotlight on November 30.
I have entered it in two contests so far, one of which has a Samsung/Pentax DSLR with a Schneider-Kreuznach 50-200mm lens as first prize. Cross your fingers for me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Botanical Garden Part 2

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

SA Botanical Garden Part 1

Traffic due to highway construction cut a lot of time off our visit Sunday, so after paying the $6/each admission I kind of rushed through the sprawling complex of gardens, sculpture and historic buildings.
These are two of the cone-shaped greenhouses that can be seen above the trees from all over this part of town.

This is a scenic overlook in the middle of the property.

The roof of the main entrance building, the Daniel Sullivan Carriage House, which was built in 1896 and later moved stone by stone from it's original location downtown. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The next post will feature some of the plants etc found within the gardens and greenhouses.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Praying Mantis

This is a young mantis that was on the hunt for tasty bugs under our porch light one night. Little did he realize, there were six adult Turkish Geckos closing in from all sides.
The hunter had become the hunted.

When I came out to take his picture I busted up the raiding party, but they probably came back for him after I left.
A full-grown mantis could have put up a good fight, but this one was on the small side.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veteran's Day 2006

Saturday November 11, 2006
Today we honor those who have served their country in the armed forces.

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

Airshow 2

This one required a lot more processing time to get right, but I kept at it until reaching the 'acceptable' level I hope.