Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Municipal Auditorium Zone

It was almost solid overcast that night, but I had some stuff I needed to shoot and the spare time was there so we made a quick trek downtown.

The Municipal Auditorium has been featured here a few times, but for whatever reason I never climbed the steps and looked up before.

This is the flag flying over San Antonio's Korean War Memorial--there wasn't enough light to shoot the memorial itself.

Our VietNam War memorial.
I always get a little misty-eyed here.
My new favorite view of this spot, but I'm convinced I can do better.

Someday I hope to shoot these overhead lanes of IH10 correctly.
Camera-balanced-on-steeringwheel @ 65mph doesn't really cut it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spurs/Mavs Part 2

Tim Duncan controls the tip-off just as the Spurs controlled the entire game.
Somehow we were behind 1 to 0 at the start, but never trailed again.

A couple of Tony Parker's 38 points.
He was a super stud all night.

Newest Spur Drew Gooden completes an and-1.
A bad fall soon afterwards had him spitting up blood, but he came back to play in the 4th quarter.
Personally, I think he just bit his tongue and was trying to make it seem worse than it was, but what do I know? He's kicking ass and scoring inside so I like him now. When he was on the Cavaliers? Not so much.
And he has brought his alarming grooming choices under control--it was just a matter of time before peer pressure in our locker room worked it's magic.
2 months ago--NBA Thug.
Today--Cultured Gentleman.
In tonight's loss he ditched the sweatband and I think even the sleeve.

The final score plus our hero.

From this shot you can tell how high up we were.
You can still see everything perfectly--better than on TV in fact.
But the crowd was so loud we never heard any referee whistles or shoe squeak, which was strange.

The people around us were a lot of fun.
The nachos were good enough.
Lot 9 is worth the extra money.
They have live bands and drinks (plus a huge screen showing the game) outside the ATT Center, and the bands play before and long after the game to help you get your party on.
The same setup is in place for away games so for the price of parking or bus fare you can still have a lot of fun with other fans in a game-like atmosphere.

Tonight's blowout loss sucked, and now we're behind a game with one more to play in Dallas.
Without Manu Ginobili we're probably toast, so I'm trying to savor every remaining game.
It's always the damned ankles with this bunch.

NBA Playoff Time--Oh Hell Yeah!

As usual, the most successful sports franchise in the USA over the last ten years has made it into the post-season.
Monday Night's Spurs/Mavericks Bloodbath was only the 2nd game I've managed to attend this season, but I couldn't have wished for a better one.
Game 2 of the bitter "I35" rivalry was one that will be remembered for a long time.

Since "pro" cameras (detachable lenses) are banned from the ATT Center, I took the Sony H1 which happens to have more zoom than my Alpha plus a wider aperture and IS.
It did a better job from our nose-bleed seats than the big and heavy bag full of black camera gear.

I hope this shot conveys my excitement as we took the escalator up to our level. By steadying the H1 on the handrail I took a chance that the result would match my wide-eyed anticipation of the game to come.
My Favorite Photo so it's all downhill from here.

Every sporting event has it's weirdos.

Who's that getting ready to sing the national anthem?
Looks awful familiar.

Oh yeah, from American Idol--the local girl with the tiny shorts so the world could see her legs.
She looks a little more top-heavy here than I remembered from TV, but this only confirms some intel received from a patient at the same doctor's office so I wasn't surprised.

If you think it was disrespectful of me to take a picture during the Star Spangled Banner, what about the 3 video guys who are ruining my shot?
My hand was on my heart for most of the song, which BTW got sung within an inch of it's life--she did a fantastic job.

Next Up--The Game

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rose-Bellied Lizards

We walked down a dirt trail into Salado Creek to look at a more natural version of nature.
Walker Ranch Park is great, but joggers, rollerbladers, kids and dogs tend to scare the critters away.

Before too long I was rewarded by several sightings of the Rose-Bellied Lizard.
They are plentiful, so I always see this tiny reptile skittering around whenever I'm in it's preferred habitat. But I've never managed to score any pictures, and in fact have found that photos are somewhat rare. A website that I use to ID various animals didn't have any pics until I submitted these.

Both of these females are showing their 'breeding colors'. The bright red splotches signal to the males that they are looking for some action.

This male is interested.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Walk In The Park

This is the first time I have taken pictures at Walker Ranch Park (West & Nakoma) when the sun has been shining.

Went off the trails down to the Salado Creek.
Found a tree that had barbed-wire embedded within it's trunk.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Browning Nomad

Based on the 1917 Colt Woodsman pistol designed by the legendary John Browning himself, then simplified by one of his grandsons for easier manufacture in 1962, the Browning Nomad led to the Challenger and today's BuckMark series.
It's a finely crafted all-steel .22 made in Belgium.
They don't make them like this anymore.

It's proof that even after jacking-up a man's truck I'm still able to borrow his toys.
Of course, I also got razzed with stuff like "You gonna kill a deer with it?", which is to be expected.

Got to test some lighting techniques--they worked about like I had imagined.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Sunday 2009

Hope yours was swell.

A game I started a few years ago at family feasts is "What's your first bite?"
Now we even talk about it while waiting for dinner to be served.

Some people are stuffing 1st no matter what.
Others are into the mixed forkful, to get the essence of the meal all at once.
I'm all over the place, sometimes it's the corn but by the next Thanksgiving I might be needing some ham or turkey first.
What about you?

Don't worry--this plate may look sparse but I just prefer having some room to work.
Another slab of ham, more turkey and stuffing, and two flaky biscuits found their way into my belly before too long, plus two brownies with Cool Whip and sliced strawberries on top.

After our fabulous home cooked meal, the only true adult left the room and within 3 minutes the rest of us were in trouble.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Life Is Spared Yet Again

Around 4AM Saturday April 11, 2009: I was driving the band's trailer home from Kerrville, and just before hitting Boerne I hit a deer.
Steve was riding shotgun, and he didn't see them until one's head was two or 3 feet in front of the headlight either so they must have been hauling ass across IH10, which was the same impression I got.
We had terrific visibility and were on red-alert for deer the whole way home both from experience and having seen at least a dozen before the accident.

One second all was clear, then Flash Pow Pow!!!

No time to swerve or brake or even yell "Shit!"
Not that I would have swerved much, or braked--that's a sure way to end up in even worse shape, especially when towing a trailer.

I took my foot off the accelerator and coasted down from 60mph to around 40 as I considered what our condition was--alive, no funny noises, the truck and trailer hadn't jumped so we didn't run over anything, still tracking straight, no flat tires, both headlights working...except for the adrenaline dump and the shaking we seemed to be okay.

Took the next exit and pulled into a parking lot with good lighting to check the damage: Amazingly, the deer's face only took out the driver's-side turn signal.
The entire plastic housing was wrecked and the bulbs were gone, but the headlight, grill and bumper were fine. Wow.

Unfortunately, when you hit a deer in the head it tends to spin.
The second thump we felt was the pickup's rear door getting a serious case of venison ass.
That door doesn't open anymore, and might have to be replaced.

Here's some of Bambi's butt hairs.

The truck belongs to Sylvia's father, so I spent most of today dreading having to tell (and show) him what I did to his beautiful GMC Texas Edition.
Didn't want to break the news over the phone--felt it was best to look him in the eye and say "I hit a deer on the way home last night. Your truck got fucked-up".

True to Mr. C's awesome nature, his reply was along the lines of:
"Really? I always wanted to hit a deer. You guys are okay? Shit happens. I've got great insurance--don't worry about it. Let's take a look".

I was at my lowest and he let me off the hook so smoothly it was incredible.
Then he served us some killer gorditas!

I'm going to find or make a sticker of a deer silhouette that we can put on his truck just like fighter pilots put on their planes for every enemy kill.
I spent almost my entire life without a father, until I met Mr. C--He's truly the best thing since USAF toast dipped in a vat of melted butter, and I love him dearly.

Stumbling into this family has made me the luckiest guy on earth.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jazz Candy

Tonight I was just going about my business--learning songs for band practice on Thursday, cooking some pizza for us to eat during the Spurs game, surfing the interwaves, watering the brown grass, stuff like that.
Happened to notice that Candy (our albino corn snake) was cruising around her tank in 'hunting' mode and remembered that I had a mouse in the freezer, so I took the micicle out to thaw and forgot all about it.
The snake's actions eventually reminded me to check on the mouse's temperature and set-up the feeding tank.
Mere seconds before that process was too far along to interrupt, it occurred to me that snakes and electric basses might be a nice combination for photographic purposes.
A few months ago I already had a squirming handful of hungry slither before deciding to set-up lights and camera--what a mistake! You need two free hands.

What's interesting to me is how repeated usage of my lighting tools speeds-up the process.
Three or 4 minutes to place a white foamcore background on a rocking chair behind the bass, connect my main flash to it's radio-remote triggers and gel/grid/position the 2nd slave flash, aim them both using guesswork that turned out to be good, then add my newest light modifier--a white Chinese paper lantern globe from IKEA that Sylvia remembered I wanted.
We don't have any IKEA stores in SA, so it was a delightful surprise when she grabbed me one on the way home from her trip to Galveston.

This is how I shot it--as a vertical which represented the reality of a bass on it's stand + snake.

The beauty of having a bajillion pixels to work with lets you make desktop wallpapers of your favorite parts within an image.

But going back to how things first appeared onscreen, I kinda like this version.

It's still too early to decide where I'm going to go with this one.
Only spent 6 minutes shooting, and this exposure with both a good snake presentation and visible forked tongue was within the first two.

Good photography isn't supposed to be about how quickly you can set your shit up, it's about capturing what you intended.
But the reality is that when anything becomes a pain-in-the-ass to accomplish, you might be less likely to continue.
Right now, I'm jazzed by the fact that whenever I try something complicated like this it takes half as much time as the previous attempt.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

New Band Practice #2

A few peeks into the huge new thing going on in my life.
It feels great to finally play music again after who knows how many years, instead of just running the sound and saying to myself "I could have played that song better".

Shot some cool videos, but the editing/upload thing is a bitch.
Wait for the finished product.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bass Portraits

A lot of work went into getting her cleaned-up.
I didn't remove the neck, but all else was fair game down to screws and springs.
Boiled the strings with a little baking soda to get the gunk out of the windings and bring back some brightness and sustain.
Adjusted the neck's truss-rod to get it straight and at the same time lower the action.
After that you have to re-do the intonation unless you like to play out of tune.

Installed StrapLocks so she doesn't ever leave me before I decide to let her go...

After all that work I spent only a few minutes gazing at her with lust before pulling out the camera gear and going to work capturing how I felt--while she was still fresh and clean.

Before I got my hand around that slender neck and used her.

It's a shame we can't stay together forever.
But she isn't truly mine, except in my heart.