Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wet Katydid

Click on the thumbnail photo for a big (1024x768) juicy tasty bug
I was watering the plants and this katydid jumped to a new one to avoid the spray, so I went for the camera and flash.
Just like the last time, it posed calmly for two photo sessions even with a big flash popping mere inches away.
Don't know why some are green and some are like this--anyone have an answer?

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Last Caterpillar Photos

I promise--this is the end.

Click to enlarge--these are both 1024x768 pixels.

A pair of studio portraits for all you bug-lovers. This is what I see when looking at my photos on the computer.
Sometimes I fell the need to ignore the size of most people's browser windows and go big. These make nice wallpapers provided you don't have the same glitch I'm afflicted with--for some reason I'm unable to save images from my own websites, or any other sites on Blogger.
Google needs to pull their heads out and fix this, and while they're at it they can do something about all the perverted photo-thieves on Orkut.
Remember that you heard it here first once the lawsuits begin.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Caterpillar In Action

After spending the night in our garage, the caterpillar finally woke up this afternoon.
I shot a few movies then let it go.

Down One Hill And Up The Next

Not really hills, but that's what it reminds me of.
It's head is on the left, by the way.
The horn is for defense.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hanging Around

Click on photo to enlarge
A caterpillar on the front porch, probably one of the many species of Sphinx moth.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Post #403: Sugar's Visit & Site Makeover

This is Sugar.
She and Prissy came over to visit for the weekend, and we had fun.

When I realized that Views Of Texas had passed 400 posts I decided it was time for a makeover. New title header up on top, new profile photo, and a more advanced archive system are the changes I've made so far. I also turned the page from black to blue.
The header will get changed fairly often, because making them is fun and it keeps the look new and different.
If you click on the little symbols next to the years and months in the archive, more info appears so you can find favorite photos quickly.
There's also an 'Older Posts' button on the bottom of the page for even easier site navigation--it's great if you're a new visitor or haven't stopped-by lately because you can keep going back in time until you see something you recognize.

To make these changes I had to update the template to Blogger's new system, and I found the change to be easy and painless, so if you use Blogger I recommend giving it a shot. Just download your old template (there's a button for that) so you can always change back.
How do you like the new look?

Friday, September 21, 2007


The title is how my phone-camera named the file this picture came from, month/day/year/time.

It's been a long wait but tomorrow I get my car out of the shop and can go back to taking my camera wherever/whenever instead of relying on luck or carefully scheduled trips.
Who schedules inspiration?
It doesn't work like that--I've just been very lucky and had some loving support over the past five and a half weeks to get the photos I've managed to find.
(And thanks to Josie and Jesus for making repair possible. I'm a lucky guy, and y'all are the best!)

The big question is: Do I take the chance that everything is going to work dependably and go out shooting with a vengeance, or do I follow my instincts and only make short trips close to home for a few days to get a feel for whether my car can be trusted?
Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Serrano Peppers

In late winter I germinated some seeds and planted the seedlings a week later. Two plants ended up surviving, one is kind of weak but the other is thriving.

Last month there was a single blossom which turned into a pepper. I let it grow to full size, then we sliced it up and put it on a pizza.

Now there are 30+ flowers turning into serrano peppers. These are half an inch long and growing fast.
There's nothing like fresh homemade salsa, and we also have a pair of chili piquin plants that are fruiting furiously for when more heat is required.

I haven't shot anything decent for two weeks, and it's amazing how much a lack of new photos affects my mood.
I woke up depressed again today, but now I feel pretty good.
As usual, these macros were taken using off-camera flash--I can't recommend this technique enough.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Club Shoot Continued

Some shimmer.

Some shadows.

Some depth.

Those rocks really stand out in stark contrast to the very blurry water.
I need to work this location again, and maybe bring some added lighting to the mix.
There are underwater lights in the area that aren't working for whatever reason, so who knows what the conditions will be like when I return?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

First Club Shoot

The first club shoot I went to that people actually showed up for, to be exact.
Ten of us from Flickr Club SA locked up our gallery on Thursday and ventured into the night, tripods new and old at the ready.
After nobody could come up with an idea for a destination I suggested we try my favorite night location, Hemisfair Park.

It's a "target-rich environment" with something for everyone, from architecture and all kinds of moving water to public art and people.
I was even asked to point&shoot a couple with their camera--but as a "professional" with a smidgen of OCD I noticed their lens was dirty so I threw in a free lens cleaning clinic.

Many members were night "virgins" so I made suggestions and got them going enough to push them out of the nest. Fly, my baby birds!

I've seen some of their results, and it looks good to me.
Next time I'll recommend that they take a fast trot around a new location first, to see what it has to offer before returning to the spots that interest them.
Nobody made it as far into the park as I did, so nobody got the shot that'll end this series in the next installment.

Last night was "First Friday", when all the arty types descend on South Alamo Street and the Blue Star Galleries in particular.
Traffic through our gallery got intense at times and many of us made a few sales.
My total for the week was 5 prints, my break-even point.
This means that I now have six frames/mats that I really like plus 14 very high quality 8x10" prints that'll make a big dent in creating a portfolio.
I guess that means I have a net profit measured in tangible assets.
(The 'Huge Thank You' list for the frames is Julie & Eddie, Ken & Deri, and Lisa. You guys really came through for me on my birthday with the gift cards! Love you guys!)

When a total stranger bought two prints early yesterday afternoon I was overwhelmed. I don't mean to suggest that I wasn't thrilled when friends and family (Holly and Selma--Love You!!!) bought prints, it's just that I already know who my fans are and what they like.
When it's some young rocker dude walking in off the street who sees my work and is suddenly compelled to part with his money and take it home...that just blew me away.
Watching and listening to random folks of all ages as they looked at my pictures was also mucho fun. The most heard comment was "These are beautiful" followed by "Oh, my!".

Show is over, it's all torn down.
Things will never be the same.
I'm an artist again.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Exit Ramp

The huge and complicated new interchange being built at Loop410 and IH10 has been tempting me for quite some time.
I finally found a parking lot that allows me to take pictures of a few completed sections.

I looked through all my photos from last night and decided that I like this one a little better. It's more colorful and makes a nice wallpaper so clicking on it will present you with a 1024x768 version you can save.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Gallery Part 2, And The "Clouds" Confession

Now that everyone has finished putting their stuff up, here's a look at the layout that gives you an idea of the shabby room and low-tech lighting that's within any group's budget.
I used my phone's camera because it has an ultra-wide-angle lens and my main camera doesn't.

Since I was playing with my phone's camera, I kept at it.
I also played around with Photoshop, stretching and distorting the image.

Anyone who cruises around looking at pictures on Flickr will have seen the photographers who upload photos of clouds. No main subject that benefits from a pretty sky as a background, no planes or birds or lightning or water towers or people or even a sunset....just clouds.
I never understood it, especially since these photos are usually bland and pretty lame instead of just pretty.
My recent cloud photo was intended as a joke or a dig at their expense, but it didn't work out that way. As the screen-grab below shows, my clouds are now the third most popular photo I have put on my Flickr pages, and in record time.

The popularity of my katydid picture still confuses me--it's good but it's still just a bug. "Waiting To Cross Over" makes sense. I'm happy that the waterwheel photo climbed rapidly to #6--I really like it. The sunset is striking and unusual.
But clouds at #3? Sure, I Photoshopped the hell out of it to get a wide range of tones that makes them just about the prettiest clouds I've ever seen, but it's still only clouds.
I may not 'get it', but whatever the people want I'll be sure to give them.
Expect more clouds from me, but to really tip the scales I think I'll add cats.
With funny misspelled captions.

Part 2: Sept. 5 Confession
Here's what my clouds actually looked like straight from the camera--I only re-sized it to be the same as the posted version so you can save them both and compare details. I recognized a nice formation in bad light, and tried a few camera techniques that didn't help at all under prevailing conditions then gave up until I got bored at home while Photoshop was running.
I thought the result was funny until people started loving it.

Anyone can do this with Photoshop when only clouds and sky are in the frame, just like anyone who has a crappy point and shoot camera can capture a beautiful sky when the light is just exactly right.
Here, the light wasn't 'right' at all--I just knew what to do with it after I got home. The narrow dynamic range of the original lends itself well to dramatic processing. By expanding what's there I can push the highs and lows further without anything blowing-out or blocking-up--the detail is all there in the original even though it looks like crap. This is also why IR shooters like me can get some awesome B&W results.
Under- and over-exposing by just 1/3rd stop didn't help the Photoshop work, it made it worse. There's a tip you can use. Trust your camera's exposure meter when capturing bland clouds.
Also, I was shooting through a dirty car windshield with an inexpensive polarizing filter on my lens--two more huge sins according to the multitude of "photographers" who spend way more time on the internet bragging about their expensive camera equipment (and slagging whomever admits to owning anything but their choice) than they do taking and processing actual pictures that don't suck.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Gallery Is Open

We set-up the gallery show today and it was fun hard work.
The cooperation and sharing of supplies and tools among club members was nice to see--mostly I shared with other people but Jim came through with some nice screws when mine proved to be a bad choice.
I remembered windex, and loaned my cordless drill and nicer light bulbs.

Many thanks to the family and friends who came to my first show.
I was touched, and almost shed a tear.
And huge hugs for Selma and Holly, who bought prints and didn't even haggle on the price.
I guess I'm officially "pro" now, having sold my art and vision for $$$.
When I'm famous I'll sign your prints, and mark them as the first two ever sold.

(They were "Waiting To Cross Over" and one of my South Padre Island shots from 2006.)

It's been hectic and there's a little more work to do, but at last I can relax and maybe get some better sleep.