Friday, May 29, 2009


To finish off the series of new stuff on the Riverwalk:

Under IH35 at Camden there are giant sunfish hanging over the river.
It's really cool.
I can't wait to get down there again and pick some better angles from which to shoot, now that the public is allowed access.
Unlike some people I don't cross barriers put up to prevent unauthorized access.
Unless I think I can get away with it.

A close-up of the fish in all their internally-lit goodness.

People driving overhead have no idea what's below.
Did I mention that it's really cool?

Monday, May 25, 2009

...Who Answered The Call

"Shimmer Field"

The Lexington Ave overpass is where the new northward expansion of the Riverwalk starts, just behind the Municipal Auditorium.
Before, the sidewalks and lighting abruptly ended here so beyond this point it just looked like your average creek.

Here is the new view:
What I like is that instead of being a mixture of old and very old ideas and materials with sporadic band-aids and improvements, the new section is all new and therefore designed from scratch (with a nod to the past) and so completely modern in execution.
It retains the flavor, but is all new and looks like it was done right.

This is what lurks below the Lexington bridge.
'Shimmer Field' definitely shimmers over your head while riverwalking or riding a tourist barge.
Wire, string, colored glass, and some lights.
But the effect can't be appreciated from a still photo--and I really tried.

It's subtle and cool in color.
Artist Martin Richman did a great job.

How did an artist from across the pond get this gig?
We don't have someone local who can add interest to the underside of a bridge?
But now that we know his trick, don't be surprised if the entrance to the impound lot shimmers when you try to reclaim your towed car.

I look forward to shimmering rifle and guitar racks at the pawn shop.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Stuff On The Riverwalk 1--Locks!

Never thought I would live to see the day when the San Antonio River would get locks!
I only found out about this a few weeks ago, and was shocked yet intrigued.

I'll try to explain this: To keep a river navigable for ships (in SA's case, tourist barges that will now be able to reach Brackenridge Park) you have to eliminate rapids and shallow areas. To do this, you build a series of locks that effectively control the flow to keep things deep enough.
On the far right, river water flows at it's normal rate over a spillway.
On the far left, doors are open so the lock is ready to accept a barge.
It will motor into the lock, then the operator closes the doors.
Water from upstream is allowed to fill that section, raising the boat 8-9 feet to the level of the river on the other side of the lock.
Doors on the other side open, and the barge is free to motor away.
To go the other way, reverse the process.
You can see the closed doors of the other chamber just to the right of center.
There are no pumps needed when you have gravity and flowing water--something the newspaper got wrong.

A view of a gazebo from which you can watch the lock action.
While taking these pictures a steady stream of curious people were run off the property by a security guard since this area isn't yet open to the public, but yellow warning tape is no barrier to most jackasses.

Around 1978-82 I spent a lot of my free time watching cargo ships, barges, and sailing vessels go through the locks on the Erie Canal/Mohawk River area in upstate New York.
These were a hundred times bigger than the cute little things pictured here.
Then there's the Panama Canal.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Crummy Photo

A couple of weeks ago I made the trip across town to my brother's house so as to shoot a bunch of photos for his new website ZZakk's Lab as well as various online discussions he might be involved in.
This caboose is the first one I worked on, and I liked it enough to show here before he even got a chance to use it.

It's G scale (Garden?) so it's the biggest size of model train you can't ride upon--around a foot long, I think.
Ken put working red and green LEDs in the marker lamp on the left side as well as interior lighting.
He added the chain (used for dragging stuff) as well as the leaf springs in the trucks.
And he scratch-built the grade crossing from wood.
Oh--and the roofwalk because he lost the original.

For my part, I used two flashes--umbrella'd main from the front/left and a splash of light from above on the background.
But the photo didn't really do it for me until I added an LED flashlight to the mix coming from far right--this opened up the shadowed end as well as throwing a shadow of the smokestack on the cupola and a bit of blue to the window frames.
Made all the difference for me--now it's a favorite.

Crummy is railroad slang for caboose.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Imitation = Flattery?

If imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery, where does bad imitation rank?

I did NOT take this picture:
Someone in my camera club developed the habit of copying my locations, often getting within a foot or two of where I took my shot.
I would post a photo to our Flickr group and within a week there would be a close enough approximation to catch my eye.
This went on for a few months during 2008, and as each example happened I would cycle to a new opinion about the whole thing:
Another coincidence.
Wait--it's the same dude.
Oh come on--find your own shots.
Again? Jeez.

Whenever I posted a new photo I would wonder how well my stalker would treat the subject.
Usually it would be very similar to mine but with a few rookie mistakes, especially at night because the night belongs to me.

This was my favorite example, because he didn't bother copying any of the many shots I've taken here at 410/I10 directly, and the result clearly suffers from a weak and hasty composition.
Anyone who has seen my night highway pics would never mistake this for the real thing.
The putrid color is as obvious of a defect as the filthy lens covered in raindrops.
Rain or dust on the lens doesn't happen in my world--it's too easy to make that crap go away.

The photo above was also the last time he tried this game.
I would like to think he quit in utter defeat.

This post isn't about bashing the guy, or I would have posted more examples and included his name.
It also isn't about raising myself up by knocking others down.

I have tried to copy more advanced photographers for years--it's a great way to improve your skills in many areas.
But not locally, standing in their very footsteps then posting the results to the same group of people who have already seen the original.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Fertile Mind

Sprouting new ideas?

I love this little skull pot that I found at WalMart for $2, including a jade plant.
A leftover from Halloween, hidden in a corner of the garden dept in January.
The original idea was to grow thin turf that simulates hair, but my grass seed was old and didn't sprout at all.
Plan B kind of worked with some leftover banana pepper seeds.

I'm still going to do the grass someday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Skeese Greets Women's Trialthlon

Sylvia's 2nd triathlon, May 3, 2009.

Goggles on.


In transition.

Cruz selling his good lemonade.

I think this was the youngest competitor.

Sylvia at the end of 11 miles.

I was shooting everyone in a blue Texas Tri-Dogs jersey.

Sylvia about to finish.

Meredith's not far behind.

Tri-Dog trainer Mel (left) finishes third in her age group.

Most of the group.

Time to go...

Syl beat her time from last year by 5 minutes or so.
I'm very proud of her.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Global Warming

All those reputable scientists (who aren't on the alarmist payroll) must be wrong.