Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NBA Playoffs

Quarter-Finals Game 5 between the SA Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks is looming over the city, much like this building.

Sorry, that was lame.
But my mind can't focus on anything but tonight's game, which actually proves my point.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mission Accomplished

The grain mill building:
If you're lucky they'll actually be grinding corn when you visit.
It's fascinating, intricate, primitive, and beautiful.

A first for me: Restroom window in infrared.

This is why many people stop using the lens that came with their fancy big cameras.
The curving walls give this lovely church a fun-house feel that I find very distracting.
Makes me a little nauseous, even.

There are wide angle lenses that don't do this, but you have to pay a lot for the extra complexity. If you sell your photos, it's often worth it.
If there's room, simply backing away from your subject and using some zoom will usually straighten things up again.

Ahhh, that's better!
Not only did I back up, I also switched to my infrared Sony F828.
A version of this shot from a few years ago is hanging on many walls around town, so I thought I would give it another go.
That one has a stormy feel to it that really works, but I like this, too.

That's all from my most recent Missions visits.
There is nothing in the pipeline until I get a chance to shoot something new.
Maybe by the weekend.
Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mission San Jose

Following the Mission Trail, San Jose is next.
This is the most complete and impressive of them all, so if you have visitors from out of town and limited time, bring them here.

On my fourth or 5th visit I finally noticed the similarity between the visitor's center....

...and this.
All of the doors on the right lead to little 2-room living areas built into the outer perimeter walls. The wood poles supported whatever they used for shade.

Most people miss this unless they're on a guided tour.
As primitive and crusty as all the Missions look today, 250 years ago they looked a bit better.
When San Jose was completely plastered and painted like the fragment seen here it must have been the most beautiful building in all of south Texas.
I can imagine the indigenous locals thinking "Wow, these people who worship the man on the tree must know what they're talking about!"

With all of the church interiors restored we have an idea of what they must have looked like, but this last surviving section of exterior somehow gets overlooked.

Imagine if this part of the church was still in original condition?
BTW, I take this same photo every visit and have yet to beat my very first attempt.
That was over 5 years ago, and I made so many technical errors that it took a lot of PhotoShop to get a decent 5x7 print--an 8x10 was out of the question.
But the light and shadows were perfect.

Beginner's Luck.

More to come...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Mission Concepcion

Took some Missions virgins on a tour last weekend.
We managed to hit 2 of the 4 not named Alamo before I had to go home and get ready for work. The rest of our crew stopped to eat and before they knew it, 5pm had arrived and the doors got locked by the National Park Service.

I took two cameras and wished I had thought to put a strap on one of them so I could do without carrying a bag.

First up is an infrared shot using the F828:
It took just about all of my patience but I got this shot without any people in it, and they were all over the place. I think I had 2 seconds before someone walked into the frame again.
Sometimes I wonder if y'all think I go shooting at weird times on days when the whole world is busy to keep random folk out of my pics, but the truth is that I just stand in my spot and focus my powers on the weak minds of every other person around me, compelling them to move out of the frame.
Much like Obi-Wan Kenobi's Jedi mind tricks, but with more liberal use of swear words. "You need to seek shade right now, or your sweaty ass will betray you to the Empire".

The recent restoration of the interior looks fantastic, and again I had to "influence" a lot of people to leave in order to get these photos.

The pic from my "Happy Easter" post on Sunday was also taken here at this time.
It was my favorite for many reasons, and while it was supposed to be the highlight of this post I'm not sorry that I ran it early.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Easter Lizard

We were at Syl's parent's house (near Security Hill) for a wonderful Easter dinner of burgers, dogs, 'tater salad and whatnot.
While out on the patio listening to the Spurs whup the Lakers and discussing the state of our lawns after the drought, I spotted a green anole hiding behind the chiltepin plant by the AC unit.
"Must really be Spring" I thought, then went in search of more.
There's usually one on the side of the house by the boat, and sure enough there was.
And hey!--here's a tiny one on the back wall hiding behind that plant.
3 is about average, but I was hoping to spot a big one.

During the next time-out I walked the back fence and spotted a Prairie Racerunner, which is a first for me in this part of town.
They are in the whiptail family which are the fastest lizards in the USA at 18mph, which is astonishing considering how short their legs are and how much drag those long tails must cause.

Anyway, during the next commercial break I went back to where the smallest Anole was, and found King Daddy Alpha Male himself instead.
He was on the wall, head pointing down, ambush hunting--waiting for a bug to wander by so he could swoop down from above and score some Easter Dinner.

I went inside for my camera, and changed lenses to my 55-200mm.
When I returned, Mr. Lizard had moved to a perch on top of a concrete mushroom (as seen above) which suited me just fine! Much more interesting pose than on the wall.
At this time I noticed not only the tiny one from before, but a fifth anole of medium size not too far away.
And so did my subject!

As I started shooting pictures and slowly creeping forward, the signs of agitated territorialism started to show themselves--first he turned broadside to the smaller lizard, then puffed-up his body to look bigger and more dangerous.
Then the push-ups started and I took a chance on getting just the last bit closer hoping he would be so busy with his ritual as to ignore me, because I knew what was next.
After 5+ years I finally got a photo of a male green anole with his throat-fan in full extension, and with backlight from the sun giving it some glow for bonus points!
What a treat!

I mean, family and good food are more than enough to make it a great day.
Add the Easter Sunday aspect, and it just gets so much better.
The Spurs CRUSHING the mighty Lakers was almost too much for me to handle in such a short time.
But throw in a photo I've been trying to get for years and I was in a state of grace that lasted far longer than the stomach ache I got from eating too much.

An incredible day.

When he turned around like this I knew the show was almost over--the other lizard had run away.

This was a complete surprise I found after uploading the CF card to my computer.
It only works as part of a series of photos with text, but I love it.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

This door stays open

Mission Concepcion
San Antonio Texas
April 3, 2010