Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Last Katydids

Haven't shot anything new in weeks--too busy getting ready for today.

But that all changes now--there are several photo outtings planned for the next few days.

These have been saved for when I ran out of new stuff.
Just a couple of different poses of three katydids.
It was a crittery night on the porch--a stinkbug, a cricket, the toad shown below, a gecko, and six katydids all at the same time.
Now that the weather is cooler there's hardly anything wild to be found.

Happy Halloween, and see you soon.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Trick or Treat

The tiny toad costume is very good, but he's a couple of days early.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Katydids On Wires

I give you a choice of colors, and for the techies a choice of AC cables.

It must have been the wet spring and summer that caused these things to be so abundant.
I can spot half-a-dozen whenever I walk outside, and if they were so common in years past I would have posted a ton of pictures of them before now.

There are a few more katydid photos in the future, but if you're lucky I'll shoot something new to spare you having to see them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Corkscrew Clouds

There were three of these, nearly identical corkscrew clouds.
They were just ahead of a weak front that preceded the acrtic cold front that blew into town twelve hours later.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Moon Shine

The Guadalupe River in Kerrville Texas at 12:41am today.

I didn't know the club we were playing at had the river right behind it, otherwise I would have brought the tripod and been able to select the best location instead of relying on a convenient wood gazebo's shelf. Not an excuse--I still like it and might not have done any better. I'll be prepared next time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


The following photos were taken at Chalk It Up! a week ago.
What they have in common is that they were inspired by an educational assignment given to an online group of photographers by Matthew Robertson that encouraged us to set limits on our equipment or techniques and work within those limits to help us find new ways to see or to enhance our problem solving skills.
At least that's the way I read the assignment.

What I chose to do was to stop getting caught up in always having level horizons and carefully framed photos--to just click the shutter with my camera aimed in the general direction of my target and see what happened later.
No 2nd or third takes, no adjusting any settings beforehand, barely even point&shooting.

I didn't even look through the viewfinder or squint at my LCD screen.
All three of these were taken with the camera at my side, resting against my right leg as I walked along Houston Street. When I would see something interesting, only a careless aiming in the general direction would be made before pressing the shutter button.
Whatever settings I had been using previously were what I was stuck with.
Worse than any kind of amateur snapshot, it was almost torture for me to do this haphazard thing.
I only tried it these three times so you're seeing what happens when I'm carefree--warts and all.

Without Matthew's assignment I wouldn't have gotten this photo that seemed to capture the essence of Chalk It Up this year for me:
Dirty bare feet, random fallen leaves on a brick city street, and the event's program discarded on the ground.

I think I like this last photo more than anyone else who has seen it, and that's fine with me.
Sometimes I shoot for other people, sometimes I shoot for you, and sometimes I shoot for myself whether I know it at the time or not.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Vanishing Point


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chalk It Up Some More

For some reason the artists were a lot dirtier this year. Feet and faces and clothes were very chalky, but they seemed to enjoy it so more power to 'em.

Overall the murals by invited artists weren't as impressive as a group, but there were plenty of exceptions like this.

This chick's huge funky shades caught my eye. They're almost in the goggles category, right?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chalk It Up! 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Comanche Lookout Park

The 4th highest elevation in the city, and with a stone tower, leads to all sorts of speculation.
The prevailing wisdom is that it's from the 1800s, and was a lookout post for spotting marauding Comanche Indians. They were a constant threat to early white settlers and have a reputation as being among the very meanest and bloodthirsty of all Native Americans.
But the BS story of this tower comes from those who never bothered to climb the hill it sits upon--it's a 10%+ grade in it's newly paved form and was a dangerous rocky climb not ten years ago.

If you actually get up next to the tower you'll see a prominent date of 1928 on it.
And if you had the luck I enjoy, you might run into a chatty woman who claims to have done her research in addition to actually having known the man who built it.
She said it was a water storage tank for his ranch.
Open at the top, I guess it could be best described as a decorative castle-inspired cistern.
This version doesn't exactly explain what look like rifle firing slots on every side, or the three boarded up windows on the north face.
I suppose I should do a little research of my own?

Now it's fenced-off to keep the dopers out, and there's a fine park with numerous walking and hiking trails all over and around the hill, and some picnic tables on the hilltop.
You can see the most of the city's northeast side--all the way to downtown a good 15+ miles away.

I wish I still lived nearby whenever there's a good thunderstorm.
A great place to shoot lightning photos if you're brave and/or crazy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New Braunfels Afternoon

Monday was a nice enough day for travelling so we went upstate a little ways to New Braunfels.
Here's a train that had perfect timing--just as I got within spitting distance of the tracks across San Antonio Street I heard the horn.
It's passing in front of the Missouri Pacific Museum in the old International & Great Northern depot. If it looks like I'm dangerously close to the train it's because I was. I'm still a bit out-of-practice at train photography but this time I was able to knock out 4-5 good exposures as it approached, which is a skill I thought I had lost.

But then I seemed to lose my touch again, as I was only able to get this single frame of the Landa Park train.
Must have been going too fast.
The engineer had a terrific grin for me, and the guy with the bored wife took my picture.
Kids waved at us.

Some Landa Park ducks.
I haven't shot ducks in a long time, either.

The whole day felt like 2005 to me.
My other photos from Monday are all throwbacks to previous interests and shooting styles, too.
It's kind of creepy.
I hope the same thing doesn't happen at Chalk It Up! tomorrow.
Having shot the same event two years running so far, I hope there's some improvement in how I approach things this time because I'm getting tired of flashing katydids and shooting fountains at night--not that I have stopped doing katydids or fountains, I'm just saving the latest ones for the next new-photo-drought.

Planned rut-breakers: A new set of chili pepper studio pictures for people's kitchens.
Also, finishing the Playground series now that the new playground is open.
And I have an idea for a fun cow photo.
You guys like cows, right?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Crossroads Mall Fountain

A mellow interlude of water features at a mall.
Nothing special, just a bit of cool wetness at night for your viewing pleasure.

It took great self-control to keep my shoes on.

I don't take a tripod to malls ("Professional" photography isn't allowed) but the concrete benches surrounding the pool were at a nice height so it wasn't a problem.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Peppers And Lizards

These are chiltepins, called the 'mother of all peppers' because it's believed all chili peppers descend from them.
They're also the smallest, very nearly the hottest, and are the only ones native to the USA.
Mockingbirds love them (birds don't have the receptors to taste 'hot') and poop the seeds along fences everywhere, so these pea-sized chilis grow wild all over the southwest.
I raised my plants from seeds and they're covered with hundreds of these little firebombs.

This tiny baby green anole lives in-and-around my serrano pepper plants. Like the fruit behind him, he's small but growing fast.

I spotted him asleep on top of a leaf the other night.
Using flash, I back-lit his bed while getting direct light on his face--a neat trick.
Never really woke up despite all of my bright and noisy activities.
Poops in his sleep, too--I have proof.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Private Passenger Cars

The four old and historic passenger cars owned by Cruising By Rail were parked at Sunset Station last friday night.
Imagine taking a group trip across America in your own private cars.
Friends and drinks and food hauling ass from town to town, watching these United States whooshing past the windows.
And probably getting better service than Amtrak provides, although you're stuck with the usual Amtrak delays because they're the only ones who can drag these cars around.

If you check out the link above you can read about the amazing history of these museum pieces.
I enjoyed shooting them, but I forgot to reach out and actually touch them.

The night train pulled into the station while we were there, so I walked to the head end to get this photo.
The thought of a weekend stay in Austin after taking the train sounds really good right now.

AutoRacks Blurring Past Me

It was such a close thing, knowing the train is coming, knowing the light is going to be perfect, knowing I have my camera and tripod within easy reach, knowing where to stop the car to get the exact shot that's in my head....and yelling at the light to turnfreakinggreen so I can beat the crossing gates by a few seconds and come home a winner instead of a chump.
Man, it was close but I made it.
Bailed out the door spreading tripod legs and mounting the camera (pulled from the bag for me by my lovely assistant--thanks, birthday girl!) powering-up and turning wheels and pushing buttons--the train is here already--one quick exposure test of my best estimate no time to extend the tripod's legs but checking the LCD I like the low angle okay go with it take a deep breath swivel a little for better composition lock everything down and POW here's the photo I was after.

Check the review--yes, that's what I wanted.
Now I can relax and play around, but this first shot is still the best one because my head was spinning with 15 things to get right and there was no time to spare and I work best under pressure sometimes.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Magic Carpet Ride

Click on the bug
I had no intention of shooting any more katydids.
Been there, done that, moving on...

Then I spotted this one that had gotten into the house somehow.
Hmmm, a lengthy and complicated photo session always goes better with air conditioning.
I was after a completely different pose, and only shot this one for a new banner as you can see on top of the page. (I like how it looks as if the white text is lighting the katydid.)

Well, I liked this picture enough to put it on my Flickr page, and it has shot right up to being my 3rd most popular photo in just 24 hours. And it's been Favorited way more times than any other photo of mine as well as making it into Explore. The Strobist himself faved it right away, and that has a lot to do with the explosive popularity of this shot I almost threw away.
The pose isn't even my style--I think that if Matthew shot bug macros this would be what they look like.

If you like green, stay tuned. I've been spending time with my various pepper plants this week.