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.