Friday, March 30, 2007


Anyone remember Mark Burnett's reality show where the object was to find a new lead singer for the band INXS?
A man who placed right near the top (and who I always said had the best voice of the entire group of contestants) was in town tonight.

He was playing the last date on a world tour of all the Hard Rock Cafe's to promote his upcoming debut CD on Decca, as well as to raise money for Music Rising, the organization founded by The Edge of U2 to raise money to replace instruments lost in Hurricane Katrina and to benefit other worthy musical causes like providing support for impoverished school systems who need help to keep their music classes running.

Mig Ayesa didn't disappoint my expectations.
This young man from Australia had an amazing voice, with power and control and an effortless ability to inject just the right amount of emotion to help the listener connect with the lyrics without being too sappy.
Years spent in starring roles on both the Sydney and London theatre circuits have served him well.

I was the sound engineer at the show tonight, and Mig and his wife Simone couldn't have been more gracious to the crew and fans.
After performing, anyone who wanted an autographed promo CD and/or a photo taken with Mig were cheerfully accommodated, despite a 7am flight to LA tomorrow.
Guitarist/electric violinist Darion was a talented sideman who's accompaniment enhanced MiG's singing and electric piano work.

I have worked with hundreds of musicians during my 27 years in the business, some of them household names, and Mig will always be remembered fondly as a consummate professional who was humble and funny and friendly and charming, even at the end of a long tour all over the world.
He came across as just a regular guy who happened to have a ton of talent.
I wish him well as his career is about to take off to another level.

Hopefully Magni from ROCKSTAR: SUPERNOVA® will come to town some day.
He's another singer who has all the talent in the world and seems like a cool guy to hang out with.

The photos above and four others are on exclusive display in the gallery at MiG Nation, the top website for MiG fans.

Flowers And Bugs

Click on photos to enlarge
Springtime has given me a definite boost in morale, photography-wise.
I love color and life.
Having done bugs and then flowers, I thought it was time to combine them.

This little butterfly was enjoying our 2-foot-tall valley lemon tree's blossoms, but he only allowed photographs while having a rest on a leaf.
They smell incredible, so I can't blame him.
Cool antennae, huh?

A few seconds later this bumblebee showed up. I like the motion-blur of her wings and thorax since it helps impart a feeling of busy.
This is today's lucky shot because the bee flew away as soon as I took it, so one chance was all I had.
Several bumbles live in holes in the roof support of our patio. I had a lizard friend (a male green anole) who lived in a hanging plant nearby and one afternoon he caught and killed 2 of them while I watched--not to eat, I think he just got annoyed with them buzzing around him all the time.

Considering I'm allergic to bees and wasps, taking this photo was very brave of me (if I do say so myself) since this particular valley lemon tree at the in-law's has thousands of blossoms and thousands of honeybees.

I've been waiting for the storms and clouds to clear for a time-lapse project that's ready-to-go if the sun would just stay out. The frequent rain has been a blessing, but enough already! I'm trying to take a photo every day or two of a big sycamore tree filling up with leaves, and each photo will be a single frame in a short movie. The tree's starting without me and I want sunlight for all the photos so they'll be consistent and pretty.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Another Shameless Self-Promotion

Click to enlarge the photo
Just a reminder that I shoot club/concert photos, mainly for the band I run sound for: String Theory.
This shot of bassist David Rey is a recent favorite of mine.
I used the lens flare filter in Photoshop to add some spice, pretending to get a crazy reflection off his wedding ring.

I'll be posting some photos very soon of MiG Ayesa (a finalist on Rockstar: INXS®) from his show at the Hard Rock Cafe on Monday night.
I'm letting the webmaster of his main fansite have them first, so we're waiting for my pics to debut over there.

Speaking of Reality TV, Nakomis from Big Brother works at SA's Hard Rock and was at MiG's show.
The model mom from San Antonio just got kicked off Survivor, and the local girl on American Idol was in the bottom two this week but managed to escape elimination, probably by showing plenty of leg for the past few weeks.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Flowers On A Dismal Day

Please left-click all images on Views Of Texas
Sunday the weather was strange--low dark clouds and threats of rain all day but nothing happened.
The forecasters were wrong as usual but it sure looked like a rainy day.

All I shot were flowers everywhere I went, and since I've been playing with off-camera flash lately I thought I would try it on the various spring blooms I found.
There wasn't enough light to shoot them any other way, especially with the wind.

I rather like the way these look, with dark clouds for a background.
The ambient light was set to -2EV and I moved the flash around (on it's too-short cable) with my free hand.

First is a "valley" lemon tree's sweet-smelling flowers, a big hit with the honeybees who were all over the thousands of blossoms. There's going to be a surplus of fruit this year so stock up on the tequila, since a valley lemon is a cross between an orange and a lime. Sweet!

Next is the Texas State Flower, the Bluebonnet. Obviously it's a lupin.
Last year's drought meant there were but a handful of these in the area. This year there are untold billions in fields and especially along highways where the state has been seeding them for 40+ years.

Many other wildflowers are added to the mix, so there's an ever-changing variety of color as the season progresses. I don't know what this is called, but a splash of yellow is nice amid all the bluebonnets.

2007 will be remembered for the wildflowers this spring.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Junebugs In March

Left-click photos to enlarge
I guess they're called junebugs because whoever named them lived a thousand miles north of Texas.

Already dying on porches by the dozens (because they end up on their backs and can't turn over, just like some tortoises and Bender) the junebug is a springtime delight when they crunch underfoot.

Google's image storage never worked for me using Opera 7.54, so I had to use Firefox whenever I wanted to blog. Now that I have the new computer, I downloaded Opera version 9 and have one less hassle in my life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Spider And The Guestbook

I've been sitting on this one for a long time, to use during dry spells when I haven't had a chance to shoot anything new.
Like now, when working on my new computer takes all my time.

I was at the wedding of two dear friends, and on the way into the reception we stopped to sign the guestbook.
Being observant at all times by nature, I spotted the cool looking spider creeping around on the table behind the book.
The happy couple got a laugh out of it.

The weather in the near future looks rainy, so I might have to pull out some more old stuff for y'all.
It's actually been nice not taking (and processing) anything new, but I'm starting to get that familiar itch to grab the tripod and head out the door after dark.
There's a long list of fountains and rivers and lakes I want to shoot at night.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

No Photo Today

Just wanted to thank my friend Buz for the awesome new computer he built for me.
Processor is twice as fast
Win 2K versus 98se
20 gig HD vs a 6 and a 3
DVD player

Other stuff, but pizza's ready.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Water Water Everywhere

Two weeks ago I was watering the grass, trying to start us towards a greener year than we had in drought-stricken 2006.
Since I'm working on a "Fountains At Night" series of prints and want to have a handful of radically different lighting techniques ready-to-use for different situations, it seemed like a good idea to use my sprinkler for practice.

This photo was lit with a spotlight only, moving it rapidly across the water from the left side. This "froze" more drops during the long exposure than a flash could have and thus fattened-up the amount of water in the picture.

There's a bit too much light spilling onto the ground for my tastes, but a "snoot" on the spotlight will constrict the beam and make all the difference. It's already been built and tested.

Thunderstorms, often severe, hit the area Sunday through Tuesday, so practice is on hold until things dry out a little. I just fertilized so the rain came at the perfect time. I wasn't expecting so much, though.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Red Over Green

Don't know how I forgot to include this in the last post.

In re: the post before that, I printed the second photo of the church steeple and moon at 8x10" and it retains every nuance of the digital file.
My current print strategy has been very successful (for me--you're mileage may vary) so I thought I would mention it for those photogs who're interested.
I go to Kinko's, where they have a Sony Image Station machine.
It's self-serve with a touch-screen and takes credit cards or prepaid Kinko's cards available from the machine next to it or at the counter.
The paper is gloss and has "Print By Sony" on the back, so you know the correct paper profile is being used.
You can insert CDs or any of the camera memory cards--I use the 32mb Memory Stick that came with my camera, and put the Photoshopped files on it using my card reader/writer.
(This is why card readers aren't what you want. The ability to also write has advantages.)
It'll also burn a CD from your memory card for quick backup or storage of your photos. On vacation, this is a great solution if you run out of camera memory.
An 8x10" is $4.99, which isn't the cheapest in town but at the high quality the Sony machine puts out is a bargain. Smaller sizes cost much less--I think 4x6" were 29 cents each.
Every print I have made has been perfectly acceptable.
The colors almost match what I saw on my monitor (calibration pays off) and subtleties in shading and texture are rendered accurately.

The greenish hue of the original is now reddish on the print, but to be honest the print more closely matches what I saw at the time, as the green tint is a by-product of the mercury-vapor streetlights that is only rendered green by digital cameras, not film and not to the human eye.
Luck? I guess. The blues are correct.
I'll be examining future prints very closely.

Red Signals

The diagonal shadow is the rails. I had climbed the embankment at one end of a timber trestle (old type of train bridge) just south of downtown, resting my camera on one of the ties as I stood below ground level.
Not a very safe place--when I heard an approaching coal train I got the heck out of there!

This bridge was the site of a train wreck a few years ago.
Several locomotives and rail cars fell into the San Antonio River that day, but our haz-mat crews quickly contained the spilled diesel and kept it from doing any damage.

I'm starting to think I should change this blog's name to "Views Of Texas At Night". When was the last time I posted a photo taken outdoors during the day?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What's Better Than A Box Of Chocolates?

When the box itself is also chocolate.

(Hotshoe flash bounced off wall behind subject, above background, main flash from left side and low.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

I was at a wedding reception as the moon rose on Saturday night already fully shadowed by the earth. (2007 is a rare year that will feature another total lunar eclipse if you missed this one)
My tripod was in the trunk of car #1 so I slipped out of the reception hall and set it up in the parking lot as the eclipse finished up, fighting the low-level clouds that threatened to obscure.

As an added bonus just for the newlyweds, a while later I shot this photo of the now-free-from-shadow moon rising over the church where the ceremony took place.
Bracing my F717 against the tailgate of a typical big-ass Texas pickup truck I managed to hold it steady enough during the 2-second exposure to get this shot.
I'm going to print an 8x10" for the bride and groom to show them what was going on in the heavens during their wedding reception, featuring the church steeple under which they took their vows.
Hope they like it.

The distant ring around the moon is a subtle feature that had better show up in the print, or I'll be pissed.

Friday, March 02, 2007

HemisFair Plaza Fountains

Click on the photos, please. It's worth it.
Continuing from where I was last post, the water is flowing again at HemisFair Plaza, site of the 1968 World's Fair here in San Antonio. All of these photos were taken around the base of the Tower of the Americas.

These were all made using shutter speeds of 2-5 seconds, and a tripod is of course mandatory or you'll just get a blurry, shaky mess.

About now I'm getting the results I was after. I closed-down my aperture to allow less light (f8 @iso100) which allowed me to use a long enough shutter speed to blur the water the way I wanted.

This one is the most popular among local photographers, with a number of fans around the state and in other countries, too.

This photo is my personal favorite, and while it has it's share of votes from around the world, it might be a little too artificial-looking and lacking in a subject that connects for some people.
That's cool.
I still love it and plan to make a print or two because it represents what I enjoy most about photography, which is my tendency to push the envelope of my equipment's capabilities as well as my vision of how I wish the world could look to the naked eye.
Night photography in particular captures the passage of time, making photos that are somehow more than just a tiny slice of reality.
They seem to live and breathe a little more.

A big thanks to smarti77 of Adelaide Australia for doing an excellent processing job on the last photo.
His edit reminded me to use all of the tools already at my disposal and to let my photos sit for a time before deciding exactly how to approach them, instead of getting excited and rushing them into publication.