Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Was YOUR Christmas?

Ours was great, and is almost over.

I'm still trying to figure out why my prints come out exactly like they look on my monitor unless people are the subject, which results in too much red and much darker than they should be.
I got to use the IR remote my brother ordered from Hong Kong in July again.

Tried to buy another slave flash today using a gift card but it was sold-out everywhere due to a major price reduction because it's being discontinued.
Crap!! At the listed price I could have bought a bunch of them to sell for profit every time I taught someone how this clever flash stuff works.

As much as I want/need a specific lens for my camera system, getting a bass amp rig assembled is more important right now.
It's ironic that we'll be ordering a tube preamp/DI from B&H Photo in NYC, which is where I have gotten some essential camera stuff in the past during the holidays.

Hoping to find a decent used pickup truck this week while the sun is shining, and shooting next year's Christmas Card photo a few minutes later.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

This is our Christmas Card photo for 2009.
It was our first choice for last year until I went back to Main Plaza and got this one, which not only sold a lot of prints for me in '09 but is now impossible to obtain due to new trees and other stuff that's in the way.

This situation also confirms my goal of shooting our card photo a year ahead of time from now on.
I'll be out looking for 2010's picture next week when there's more spare time, yet all the lights and stuff are still up.

Those of us at Views Of Texas hope YOU have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

If you didn't get a card, we ran out of stamps or cards or time or lost your address. It's been very difficult to get things done with only one car, and I've been sick. We still love you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Shopping

We went looking for a new car and found one that we really liked, but Google-ing the dashboard error lights killed the deal.
Damn--I might have been mistaken for Matt Bonner of the SA Spurs driving a white Grand Am!

Coming out of the dreaded WalMart I noticed that the clouds were high wispy cirrus and that they were drifting into a favorable position relative to a singularly striking orange-leaved tree doing it's best to survive amid the bedrock of Leon Creek.
This tree caught my eye a week or 2 ago due to it's awesome color and location and I had a feeling that today's sky would be perfect for shooting it, so I declared a shopping break for the photo-op.

Parked at Tio's on Bandera Road and hiked down to the creekbed with my camera bag and monopod. The rocky terrain was a bit of a challenge in my nice new shoes, but nothing I couldn't handle.
This is what passes for "Fall Colors" here in San Antonio.

I know you won't believe me, but while packing up my gear before leaving the house a little voice told me to take the Sony F828 that can shoot in infrared instead of my main DSLR camera, and then I took the whispered plan further and grabbed my monopod that gives me enough stability for shots in the 1/10 to 1/30 shutter speed range that IR requires.

Infrared was totally the best choice for this scene.
And within a few seconds of packing up my gear to head out, the sun dropped below the clouds on the horizon and confirmed my perfect timing--I turned around for a last look and saw a dark tree that would have been worthless.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Project Ornament

The fine-ass John Lennon Rickenbacker guitar ornament from my last post got me thinking, and there's lots of time for that since I've not been sleeping worth a damn this week.
Swine Flu? Allergies? Rock&Roll Fever? Food Poisoning?
Doesn't matter--my mutant healing powers are back so all is well again.

Anyway, I decided that it might be cool to make my own ornament to honor 2009 as the year when I not only got back on-stage again but also bought myself a new instrument for the first time in over 20 years.
So last night I took a suitable photo of my 8-string bass and got it printed a few hours ago.
Used Krylon photo spray adhesive to mount it to some quality cardboard then hand-cut the outline with an ExActo knife. Sandpapered to taste.

Almost looks like a real bass got hit with a shrink-ray.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Feeling Foggy

My chills and fever seem to be over, but my brain is still a little foggy.
Much like a few nights ago:

While at the Quarry Shopping Center I got a new guitar ornament from Restoration Hardware--they are already 30% off.
RH is featuring the Beatles this year, so the only choices were a Ringo drumkit, a Hofner violin bass, a big Gretsch hollowbody electric, and John Lennon's Rickenbacker pictured above.
The quality and accuracy of these guitar ornaments gets better and better every year, and at under $10 before markdowns I find them hard to resist.

We got the Viewmaster at Hallmark last January when they were at 75%-off.
It really works (if your eyes are close enough together) and included a 2nd ornament with the extra discs.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Work = Play

I got called onstage to play with Bliss again tonight, and it's always a fun surprise.
Glad I have a friend who knew where my camera was hidden and also knew that I would like a shot of this.

I have great affection for Rikk's Ibanez bass.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Quick Detour

The night before Loud Nine's last show I dropped a carload of equipment off at our practice facility so it could be loaded into the trailer, saving me from making 2 trips the next day.
Luckily, I realized before leaving home that this quick mission would leave plenty of time to shoot a new church on Loop 1604 that had caught my eye, so I packed my tripod but forgot my jacket.

My teeth were starting to chatter and it would have been a long walk to get close enough for some creative angles, so I settled for this basic view before turning around and heading back to the car:

As often happens, turning around changes more than your direction of travel:
This little tower pre-dates the church by several years, and has been on my list of subjects since it was brand-new.
But without it's own lighting, I always felt it would be too much trouble to shoot at night.

The new church's parking lot lights changed all that--unfortunately at the price of having to make much longer exposures and not being able to get reliable focus-lock 3/4ths of the time.
Even though it was probably in the mid-50s I froze my ass and quit after 1 keeper, although I really like it.

It's below freezing right now and I'm sure I won't go out un-prepared again.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What's In My Alley?

I was standing in our back yard as the sun was going down.
(Nov 17th)
Heard some noises coming from the alley, then saw some movement through the gaps in our wood fence.
Went inside for a camera.

I spooked the deer as I rose up over the fence, and only got a picture of the buck's flag as they ran away.
But less than a minute later I heard them coming back, so I got into position again.
The doe jumped the chainlink fence across the alley from us, where the drummer who likes Black Sabbath lives.

The buck posed for a photo or four, and decided that the noises my camera was making were less important than what he had on his mind.

So over he went, after the doe.
He chased her around the yard, so she hopped the fence into the next yard up the hill.

He followed, chased her around a bit, then they both came back to the first yard.
Repeat again.
And again.

In all I got 14 photos of these two jumping fences in just four minutes, and I missed quite a few. I would guess I saw 30+ jumps.
It was wild!
I could hardly believe what I was seeing, and started laughing out loud halfway through, which is no way to take good photos. Had I known they were going to put on a show, I would have grabbed a camera that shoots video.

The 10-point buck wanted some, and the doe was having none of that.
I saw them together again last night, so maybe things worked out.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's Been A Long Time...

...Since I've had internet access.

And it's been quite awhile since the silos at Big Tex haven't been surrounded by hazmat crews.

These were taken Thanksgiving Night, and thanks to my brother for pulling down the top of a chain-link fence so I could shoot the 2nd photo.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More Marathon

The people on the far side of the metal barricade are about to finish the half-marathon. The guy with wheels on this side just rolled for over 26 miles!

A familiar face in the crowd. Yay, Meredith!

I was a little surprised that Sylvia spotted me in the crowd, but we've been together for so long that our ESP is synched-up very well.
We even finish each other's sandwiches.

We're all very proud of Sylvia, but a bunch of fake Elvii make for a more interesting picture than one of Selma trying to get her to eat a banana and some chips at the same time.

The medal is much nicer this year, if you can overlook the font size error.

Syl's recovery was much better this year--a short nap and we made it to the concert, unlike last year.
Always wanted to see Grand Funk Railroad, and even without Mark Farner they were solid and fun. Drummer Don Brewer was amazing--I guess all the years he's played with Bob Seger haven't turned him into a pussy.
Bruce Kulik, who usually wears Ace Frehley's makeup in KISS these days, played lead guitar.
Mel Shacher was as cool as could be on bass.

Los Lonely Boys were terrific until they started taking long jams with some random harmonica player, then trotted out cover tunes.
The best moment of the show was during a long intro to their 3rd song.
The drummer turned to the local crew's monitor mixer and asked for some bass guitar--his request was clearly audible out front.
I guess he didn't get any bass, because 20 seconds later we all heard "You ever done this before?!?!"

I feel bad for monitor mixers because it's the hardest job in rock.
They get a lot of abuse, including beer bottles thrown at them by weak lead singers.
(Cough cough Don Dokken cough!)
Whenever I've been on a big show I always play dumb and "confess" to having no clue how to run a monitor board, which bumps me up to the main house mix.
It works out for the best, since I usually have the best ears on the crew.

Sylvia is a running machine!
13.1 miles would kill me.
And so would the dirty looks from the other runners when I stopped for a smoke break.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SA R&R Marathon '09

Sylvia did the half-marathon again this year.
Running 13.1 miles through downtown San Antonio seems insane to me, let alone the full 26.2 of the full marathon.
Before training to do such a thing, I would want to know where I'm running to, or what I'm running from.
A million dollars?
Opera singers are behind me?

It was an overcast morning, with mild temps.
Humid, but better than running in the summer.

Many of the signs people held up were clever and funny.
Some were dorky.
Made the day more interesting.

I finally found a spot along the barricades at the final turn before the finish line. Practiced shooting some of the more interesting faces.

This is a copy of a shot from last year, only that little girl was crying.
I like how this one is so serene and comfy on papa's shoulder.

The weird stuff some runners wear is amusing and also functional.
At the Nike Human Race in Austin (Aug. '08) nearly all of the runners wore the same red shirt and I was only able to recognize and locate the girls with kitty ears and Lance Armstrong's yellow shirt.
There were twice as many people in this marathon--30 thousand or so--so a purple wig makes it easy for friends and family to spot you.

Lessons learned last year went a long way towards making this event easier for all concerned. I appreciated that, having worked late the night before.
2 hours of sleep is better than nothing, I guess.

More Views Coming Soon

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Love Part 2

Update to my post on Saturday, November 7: Photos made using remote flash and a shoot-through umbrella.

Since then, I haven't found anything that diminishes my feelings for this bass.
"She still hasn't pissed me off!" is a huge compliment that means more as time passes, earning a new exclamation point every 2 weeks.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poor Little Dude

This post's title could refer to the damage inflicted tonight upon my zippy little red Honda, if the Prelude wasn't a her instead of a him.
The dude in question was a 16 year old with a brand new license (he looked 12) who pulled the family SUV out of a Shell station and crossed four lanes of Fredericksburg (@ Huebner) in order to collide with me.
Last second gas pedal mashing saved me from serious damage and a trip to the ER, according to the super-friendly cop behind me who heard the impact and then witnessed my heroic recovery techniques.

After the paperwork I was still able to drive across town for band practice so I could show off my new bass and write/record a new song, so it could have been much worse.

I'm glad the little dude's first accident was so minor, and that his mommy was able to arrive within minutes to comfort him.
When I had my first wreck 30 years ago it was a horrific head-on and our moms were either drunk or insane at the time--no damned help at all.

I'm going to need some body work but on the plus side my trunk lid, tail light, and gas door still work.
And the new bass survived!

But I might want to re-think driving red vehicles for the rest of 2009.
Between deer and kids I seem to have a target on my left side.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You, Veterans

Taken in 2004 at the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Love Is In The Air

Brought my 8-string bass home today!
She's SO pretty, and like I suspected is brand spanking new.
This was the score of the century--no shit.
Whoever bought this bass and then pawned it soon after is either an idiot or just didn't know what to do with it.
His loss is my gain, because stringed instruments hold no mysteries for me.

I got a cramp in my left hand from the first 10 minutes of playing, but after several hours of careful adjustments to the neck's truss rod she's playing smooth and sweet.
It'll probably take 3-4 days before I get everything perfect because a pro-level instrument setup needs to be done slowly to allow the wood and steel to become accustomed to what you've done. Like a big meal with meat and onion rings, everything needs time to settle down and play nice.
Hopefully it'll rain soon so I can also account for extra humidity.
Instruments are like living things in that they can react to their environment in unusual ways.
When I lived in Upstate New York, taking my 6/12-string Ibanez Doubleneck guitar into a heated nightclub after driving through a blizzard was the ultimate tuning nightmare. 18 strings on 2 necks that were all freaked-out by sudden temp and humidity changes was the worst-case scenario, but I learned a LOT.
At least here in Texas most rooms are between 68 and 78 degrees farenheit year-round.

Sorry, but there aren't any pictures yet.
See this post for my first impressions and some sneaky photos taken while making the down payment in September.

I'll probably take a few pics tomorrow, and might even shoot some video so y'all can see and hear the difference between a regular 4-string bass and this sexy beast.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Where Was I?

Oh yeah--at San Pedro Springs Park, waiting for the sun to go down.

This spring-fed pool is enormous, but only 3 feet deep.
No swimming allowed anymore, but it's a nice place to just sit and enjoy the fine weather we're having.

Photos like this remind me of why I like shooting at night.
Need to get off my butt and get back in the game.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009

We had less kids than 2007 (65 vs 100+) but it was a successful night.
My new witch Selma did a great job!
One time she whipped open the door and barked "What!?!" at the punkasses, which left them speechless.
The magic words "Trick or Treat" totally left their brains.
After some "Uhhh....Mmmm..." action, witch Josie said "Well??? Are you going to say Trick or Treat, or don't you know what you're doing?"
We laughed our asses off!

Only one or 2 kids got TacoBell sauce instead of a handful of candy this year, which is an improvement.
Hey--if your costume blows or you don't say the 3 simple words, you get tricked instead of treated.
I didn't write the rules, I just enforce them.

When they come near our house, scary noises coming from a speaker behind the headstone attract them rather nicely unless they are with one of those parents who's small mind is locked into only ringing doorbells if the porchlight is on.
I mean, don't they think the spinning light on the mailbox (not to mention flames) mean we might be playing Halloween? Yet numerous morons walk right past our house every year.

When kids run up our driveway, the blast of a 500 watt shoplight through my garage window always freezes their asses in place.
That's when we sometimes hear such gems as "Is that real fire?" or "I better not touch that or I'll get burned".

Then they see a biker zombie pushing his skeleton victim into the flames of hell.
Strobe on zombie and a red bulb + amber strobe + smoke machine in the black box of doom under the skeleton.
This is my new scene for this year, and it looked pretty cool in action.

If they are brave enough to make it onto our porch, the simple yet effective trick of hiding sheets of big bubble wrap under a rug gives the little weiners a final scare.

For the future: More automation so I can actually see the kids instead of spending all my time pushing buttons to activate everything. And if I could be in a scary costume wandering around our yard, there's no limit to the mayhem.

I'm designing a mechanical Jack'O'Lantern that's chewing on Elmo.

From bands past I have some experience building and using dry ice fog effects on the cheap, so there's some more ideas floating around.

But as long as one new thing gets added each year, I'm happy.
The leftover candy is good, too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

San Pedro Springs Park 2

A couple of months ago I couldn't even imagine spring water gushing out of the ground like this.
But after September and October delivered almost an entire year's worth of rain, I'm confident that the drought of 2007-9 can be considered over.
Sadly, our farmers and river outfitters took a big financial hit, as did the fireworks vendors.

What's been weird is seeing the vegetation act like it's Springtime this late in the year.
Flowers and peppers and vines are exploding all over the place.
Usually I'm done with the lawnmower by now, but cutting grass was something I've really missed so weekly sessions are most welcome.
Good exercise!

Tomorrow is Halloween!
I had to work last year (and needed a break anyway) so I'm rested and fired-up to put on a good show for '09.
As I was gathering up my stuff for inventory/inspection, the accidental placement of 2 items sparked an idea for a new centerpiece element.
Three days of sawing and drilling and electrical work later, it's ready to go.
Benefitting from aquisitions/modifications made for the band, I've combined several pieces into a single scene that's pretty cool, with the bonus of eliminating all cables from the porch and through an open window.
Remotes rule!

A bunch of new people are coming over thinking "party", but it's all work.
The goal (as always) is to hear someone confess that they pissed their pants.

Monday, October 26, 2009

San Pedro Springs Park

Some of us in my photography club had a meet and shoot yesterday at the title location.
Those of us with flashes and umbrellas/softboxes were passing along our knowledge and techniques to the others, while shooting the breeze and meeting new folks and just plain having fun taking pictures.
Chrissy had to work, and Sylvia wasn't interested in modeling, so I spent the last hour of daylight shooting infrared with my F828 (The Toronto Special).

Should have shot this one 5 minutes sooner--the shadows were creeping upwards fast.

This photo is growing on me. At first I didn't like the shadows but now I think they enhance a mood.
Professional photographer and all-around fun guy Chris Pichado said of these:"Keith - your infrared shots never fail to amaze me. You've got such a wicked eye for great compositions already, throwing a curveball to what the nekkid eye can see just adds so dang much to it. :-) LOVE em!"
Chris's energy and talent helped push our little party into high gear, once he finally got there. I was a guest at a wedding he was shooting and got jealous of his skills at directing models as well as his excellent results.

For example, this photo of me is a Pichado:
Within seconds of seeing what my hand was doing he got Sylvia to shoot me from the left and Juan (the organizer of the event and owner of the gallery where I have shows) to do the same from the right.
Boom, done, next! And he managed to make it fun for me, which is amazing.

Speaking of Juan, he suggested we meet at La Tuna afterwards and within 30 minutes we had stopped allowing the staff to pick up our empties so he could take this pic for fun, using my flash.

We had a great time all day!

And I nailed down some wall space for my next gallery show.
The First Friday of December, 7-10+pm, 121 Blue Star #5.
Preview Thursday Night and Post-View Saturday not yet confirmed.
My theme will be "Christmas In San Antonio" so you've already seen some of the prints I'll be hanging.
This is my first showing since May '08, and I'm excited to be doing it again.

More from the shoot coming soon

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Around The Web

I find it interesting that the owner of Daily Gun Pictures blog asks for contributions but doesn't give credit or provide a link to his source's website.
Just "These were emailed to me...."
(FYI the text above those photos is mine, too).

I have access to many more interesting and rare guns for his site plus the skills to create nice photos and descriptions, but will have to gently remind him of Netiquette when I send the next ones.

Nobody should get blog content handed to them without a little consideration these days.
Am I right?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mas Chalk

Event staff put the red stickers on everyone they can catch. It's an easy way to get an approximate headcount at a free event where people (and dogs) wander in from every direction.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Chalk

More sleep would have been nice but I never miss Chalk It Up!

People + dog-watching at it's finest, with bonus art.