Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Computer Failure!

I'm in the middle of trying to get my old and crappy tower to work with this modern internetty thing you kids are so fond of these days...

Thanks to my tech Buz, at least we're online again in time for the big party tonight so we can settle arguments like men with dueling Googles.

This 'pooter doesn't even have PhotoShop, so many of my presents are going to be even later than I had planned.
Massive Christmas Fail on my part.

Thanks for visiting Views Of Texas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Y'all

I went in a totally different direction for our card photo this year:
We LOVE our "Sneaky Santa" ornament.

Hope all of my readers have a delightful holiday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tired Of Waiting

In our search for this year's Christmas card photo, on Thursday we listened to the people who said that the 'Museum Reach' part of the Riverwalk now has pretty lights.
Didn't take a single picture, because it was actually the exact same lame decorations as last year, just seen by people who didn't even know about Museum Reach a year ago, I guess.

On Sunday evening we made one last attempt, heading down to St. Paul Square and Sunset Station. Sylvia had seen the lights all over the locomotive while I was failing to find parking on Thursday--it was too crowded and I gave up.
Our return visit was at the perfect time of night, giving me time to scout around before the sun went down all the way so as to be in-position with a few minutes to spare.

Southern Pacific (Texas & New Orleans) 2-8-2 #794 was fully decorated, and it's headlamp was lit:
This photo was taken about five minutes before the "perfect" time--stars are starting to be visible but the sky is still too-bright of a blue.
When are they going to light this thing up???

As usual, the tree inside the station is beautiful, with the star in the stained-glass acting as a tree-topper.

Back to the loco: Sylvia asked the security guards about the lights, and they said that different organizations are responsible for the lights on the grounds and those on the train, and were under orders to leave it alone.
They chuckled when she told them she was about to start flipping breakers if it doesn't get lit in the next few minutes.
Well, the Friends Of The SP 794 were either late or not coming down on Sunday at all, and I had already lost the sky light levels I wanted.

So we took matters into our own hands.
First, Sylvia threw a big master breaker, but nothing happened.
I was very proud of her balls.

After a while I got fed up (and cold) so I opened a steel box and looked inside with my flashlight.
A bunch of the breakers inside were labeled and I started flipping the likely suspects.
Lights started coming on!

The only breaker I didn't flip was labeled "Computer", and I was afraid of it.
Didn't want to accidentally enable the engine's smoke system, but in retrospect it might have been the one that powered all the rest of the lights--as you can see, I only got about half of the loco lit.

I was trying to keep track and return things to the way I found them, but within seconds the tourists started crowding around and "Ooh-Ahh-ing" so I decided to just leave the breaker box hanging open and get away while the getting was good.

Update: We finally put up the #1 tree tonight, and also decided to go in a different direction for the card photo.
I shot it in 5 minutes in the comfort of home, featuring our favorite ornament on the #2 silver tree that's in our front window.
Now we're both very happy with the results.

To be honest, there's only so many iconic SA locations that are decorated, and I've already used the best ones.
The new plan is to look for smaller "detail" scenes wherever and whenever they can be found, with me working hard to nail all the technical details.
My 50mm F1.8 lens is perfect for this approach, and really shined tonight.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Riverwalk Views

I'm back, and as promised here are some scenes I shot tonight while scouting around downtown for this year's Christmas card photo.
To tell the truth, it took me a long time to get back in the groove after so long away from night photography.
Camera settings and tripod handling is second nature, but actually seeing and feeling the scene in front of me, and finding my vision of it, didn't come easily.

Tower Life Building as seen from La Villita.

Back wall of The Little Church At La Villita.

Shot a very similar view from this spot 2 years ago, and our card last year was shot from street level behind me.

The old courthouse on the left, I don't know what's on the right.

Finally, something I like.
Sylvia and I both went "Oooh!" when it popped up on the computer screen.
Not really sure why it works for me yet, but I trust my gut.
Still, it won't be on our Christmas cards this year--I can do better.
I have to do better, because in years past the bar has been raised pretty darn high.

What was funny tonight was how many times people would watch me working a scene with my DSLR and tripod, then slide into my exact spot with their pocket cams as soon as we left.
Hopefully this doesn't come off as arrogant, but I could tell that they weren't going to get usable results just by glancing at their cameras and techniques.
Every copycat brought home pics that are dark and blurry because in all cases my shutter was open for 2 to 10 seconds or more and there's no way to get anything decent hand-held even if they crank up the iso speed. Not at night.
I was a little flattered, but Sylvia took it personally and seemed highly offended.
She scoffed twice, and one time said "Good luck!", which was also flattering.

The freak show of tourists and locals was interesting, too.
Inappropriate/impractical outfits and bad hygiene kept us amused.
We were cracking each other up the whole time with a running commentary that would have gotten us shanked if we didn't speak in code.

I had a wonderful time!
The best part is that I get to keep doing it until the card photo is found.

What's also nice is that I have two from last year and '08 that I'm fine with using, so there's no pressure.

BLISS Video from Friday night is streaming at: