Thursday, April 25, 2013

Trout Creek

While uploading a pic to Flickr I decided to play with their map feature, and ended up discovering that these next photos are from Trout Creek, not Cold Creek as I originally thought. Cold Creek crosses the main road nearby so I just assumed...

It's right across the street from our rental house (and down a steep pine needley hill) and I discovered it the very first day in Tahoe.
The next afternoon while the girls napped after snowmobiling I put on my tactical boots and grabbed the Sony F828 infrared camera and a monopod. This was an excellent choice, although it just occurred to me that I never went back with the Alpha 200 and a selection of lenses to shoot it in color.
Oh well, never going back so it's water under the bridge.

Just now I've been experimenting here with PhotoShop infrared to black & white conversion techniques, so results may be a little scattered.

This was one I edited on the laptop right after shooting it. Don't remember why I allowed some false color to remain.

Like anywhere you go, there was plenty of boring, uninspiring, and downright ugly views in the Lake Tahoe area.
Right near downtown there was a nasty old van in the corner of a parking lot trapped by berms of dirty snow that I meant to shoot at some point, but now I'm glad I didn't.
It was an incredibly beautiful place for the most part and I hope some of my pictures did it justice.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Iceman On Location

On Sunday, Televators went east of Austin (Yay Toll Road 130!) to visit Austin Music Ranch for a photo shoot.
We're working with a promoter up there and the shoot pulled together several of their artists, models, and the ranch itself.

It was an interesting afternoon.
When I got bored and my bass got heavy it seemed like a good idea to put it down, so I did.
A lot.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Two Views

When we got off the gondola at the observation deck before heading up to one of the ski lodges higher on Heavenly (for some reason this mountain always goes by the one-word) I grabbed this look back down at the western half of S. Lake Tahoe:

From the top we have clouds, snowy mountains, tall trees, then water + civilization which was a ritzy neighborhood and attached marina.
Quite by accident the next day I wandered into that 'hood and marina and found a delicious nature preserve, which would be the brown grass with reddish foliage right below.
In the arrowhead-shaped field there's a prominant tree, and if you're a little OCD like me that green spot jumps right out at you.
(At the time I noticed none of this--just living in the moment and only editing/blogging pictures that enhanced whatever narrative struck me when my companions started drifting off).

Going through what I shot, my visit to the nature preserve has some of my favorites.
Here's one--a look back in the other direction:

Turns out it was a small stand of pines instead of a single, but then it's hard to tell from 5 miles away.
You can see one of Heavenly's lower ski trails on the far left--in the first photo I was probably on the edge of the frame and 1200 feet higher.
It's funny that while I was enjoying the low clouds, cold temps, and sporadic ground fog, my girls were above the murk stashing their coats in lockers and skiing in the warm sun--and yet none of us could see the lake!

Anyone remember "NetBooks"?
Those small and cheap laptops with reduced specs were all the rage for about 18 months, and I was sure it was a brilliant solution for travellers who wanted to update their MySpace and check email.
Then came tablets and serious smartphones, a flood of apps, and finally Facebook's desire to stuff your RAM to the brim and encourage your processor to heat up enough to make Cup O Soup.

Glad I decided on a laptop.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Snowmobiles Rock!

Up early on our first morning in South Lake Tahoe California, we drove just a few miles to Lake Tahoe Adventures and paid money, signed forms, fitted helmets, and grabbed goggles for our snowmobile tour.
Other groups soon arrived, and before long we loaded up the bus and hit the road for Hope Valley in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is the biggest in the USA outside Alaska.

I only brought my phone for pics because I didn't want to deal with anything bigger--my cameras are very large and heavy. In hindsight, adding Sylvia's Sony T70 would have been the smartest move, giving me a zoom lens and more pixels for printing. Oh well...what I got certainly tells the story, and the quality is better than I expected.

The bus stopped here while the gate to Hope Valley is opened:

So far sightings of snow are confined to small patches in the shade, with almost none at lower elevations. I'm a little concerned at this point as we've been driving uphill for awhile.
Then we drove uphill a bunch more, and conditions start to look better.

We meet Danny, our instructor/guide, and learn about our machines.
He proves to be funny, quick-witted, and super nice.
All four of my girls have a crush on him already, and to be honest I'm a bit smitten myself since he's one of the few men I've ever met who might actually be cooler and more interesting than me.
After about five minutes of instruction we're ready for a quick run up the road so Danny can get a feel for our abilities and establish a logical order so we'd have the best chance of staying together without anyone running up someone else's rear.
At this point we've stopped for a quick shuffle of the lineup, a peptalk, and a little more instruction:

After running on some recently added snow and a few bare patches of asphalt the trail ahead is looking much better.

Time to open them up and start having fun!
Wish I had some action shots.

This first leg of the tour was a blur for me due to extreme concentration on mastering the snowmobile, but the beauty of our surroundings still gets through as we blast up steep mountain roads covered in snow. After I don't know how long, we finally come to the first break in a most scenic location:

Danny gets the photo credit on both of these, with style points for dropping onto his side and shooting this next one from the ground like some kind of pro-with-a-phonecam:

(I had to rotate them 180* in Photoshop cuz he had my phone upside-down--not so cool now, are ya?)

We've reached a pretty serious elevation by now, and this is the view ahead:

I made yellow snow behind the trees on the right. Been over 30 years since I've done that.

Looking back from here, this caught my eye:

Obviously the snow is freaking DEEP up here!
And these signs are 3 feet taller than the ones here in Texas.

From the next rest stop:

Sylvia and I have agreed that we want to play like this again.
Texas being what it is, probably jet-skies and ATVs are next.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Coming Home

Last night we thought about going to watch some professional skiers compete followed by a concert and fireworks, but decided to be practical and stay at the rental house to do laundry, pack our mountains of stuff into our platoon of luggage, and finish off as much of our food and alcohol as possible. We had a buffet and an open bar kinda night.
We all agreed today that the people we were yesterday made the smart choice.

By midnight I was the last soldier standing and had finally killed the jug of Jim Beam while blogging (minus a flask or two in suitcases):

The girls were worried that we wouldn't be able to fit everything and everyone in the rental SUV, but with decades of experience cramming band gear into cars, trucks, and trailers I managed it on the first try:

It helped that one member of our party flew out a day early, but I brought a bunch of bungee cords just in case we needed to lash some of our crap to the ski rack on top.

Took this (and the previous two + a bunch of others posted in this series) with my Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate phone in the parking lot of a McDonald's in Carson City Nevada:

Might be the first cellphone pic I get printed.

When the light is good it takes decent 5MP photos with selectable autofocus points, but I've been looking forward to the improvements in the Galaxy S3 that we were going to get in May when our 2-years are up.
Sadly, one member of our party has a brand new S3 and it quit sending or receiving calls and texts.
I rooted around in it (seeing as how I'm in the cellphone biz now) and couldn 't find any incorrect settings, and the phone insisted that it was connected and working. Basically a camera and gameboy now.
Googled a bit and discovered that this is a widespread issue that probably isn't Verizon's fault and that Samsung isn't being helpful at all. Possibly a shit-ton of lemons, and also lots of complaints that reception indoors is terrible. Another member of our group has the same phone and it was fine.
Avoid the S3 until this is resolved.

My readers have all travelled and know how it is--we had to be out of the rental house by a certain time, and return the rental Tahoe at another time, then make our flights on Southwest's schedule.
Ended up spending several hours camped in the outside corner table of a restaurant in the Reno airport eating cheese fries with bacon.
Resisted at Harrah's Casino in Lake Tahoe, so this was the first and last time I played a slot machine.
Just a dumb way to burn $10.
IF I ever go to a casino again it'll have to be blackjack.
As a younger man I always did well betting horses at Saratoga in August, but that was probably just luck.

Flying into Las Vegas from Reno I pulled out Sylvia's Sony T70 camera to try and get some stuff that was better than my phone could produce:

Through the gritty and foggy window it was pretty bland but photoshop can handle such things.

The Las Vegas Strip looks like the northside of Loop 410 around Broadway from up here:

Sylvia still needed a "Sunset" pic to complete a scavenger hunt photo thing proposed by a coworker, so I worked hard to get this one of the plane behind us as we taxied to takeoff position for the final Las Vegas to San Antonio flight:

With mountains surrounding us all week it was hard to get what most Texans consider a sunset photo.

Mountains--Hell Yeah!