The first photo below is of a Houston street vendor I meet while there this past weekend. He wanted his photograph made, mainly so he could negotiate a few bucks out of me. We each walked away with something, and maybe some of you Houston locals might have some additional back-story on him. The second photo I came across by chance, but when I realized the possibility I spent some time looking for the right composition. I posted a similar image earlier this week, but the one below struck me as more powerful and interesting.
I was in Houston this past weekend with my wife Sarah. She was there for Cecchetti training and to work on her Grade VI accreditation. This provided me a great opportunity to explore downtown Houston and photograph the great architecture.
The first photograph below of downtown Houston, is an image I made in April of 2010, on my way back to San Antonio from Chicago. I thought it would be a neat image to post in relation to the photographs I made this past weekend.
One of the premier attractions in downtown San Antonio is Hemisfair Park. Built in 1968 the park hosted the Worlds Fair that year, and commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio. Most famous of the attractions is the Tower of Americas seen in the photo below.
Darren and I only “scratched the surface” on our photo-walk a several weeks ago. Getting to Hemisfair Park from the car was a stretch, and the 2 hour photo excursion was quickly mushrooming into 4. We each captured a few good shots of the area, but we knew it was only a start. There are so many opportunities for great shots within the area that the prospect was overwhelming. We could have spent 2-3 hours just in Hemisfair Park itself.
Enjoy the photo below, and set aside some time to visit the area and capture some great images.
Darren and his wife Jessica, recently returned from a hiking trip to Arkansas. Being a fellow photographer, and having a keen eye for landscape photographer, it was exciting to see the images Darren captured while there. It was in the Ozarks of Arkansas, when I was 14, that I first saw true mountains. The only thing I could think about as we drove through, was how fun it would be to ride a road bike up and down the long stretches of road winding through the range. While later on I did pursue bicycle racing, I never did realize that dream of riding and racing in the mountains.
Darren’s photography of the Arkansas mountains captures all the beauty and magnificence that I remember as a young kid, but on a much grander scale. He has the ability to locate amazing scenes and the patience to wait for the opportune time to capture his images. Take a moment to hop over to his blog post on the recent trip, and then browse his galleries for some incredible images.
I previously posted about our trip up Goose Creek Lake Mountain. the view from the previous post was certainly breathtaking for us, but the view that met us as we walked up from the parking area was absolutely gorgeous. There is no way to convey in photos just how awesome it was. The only thought I had was “do we really only have an hour here, before we have to head back and return the rental jeep”. I realize the kids would probably get bored, but I am sure Sarah and I could have stayed up there all day. I would even consider camping there…and I hate cold weather.
I couldn’t believe the ice caps along the mountain ridge so late in the year. It was pretty chilly up there, but still I would have thought they would have long since been completely melted. I can’t imagine what it is like to go through a winter there. Of course they were melting and numerous streams coming down the side were feeding the lake. Off to the left of the image was the opening for the lake fed creek that flowed all the way down and into the Red River. Oh how I dream of going back. Maybe I need to focus on destination wedding photography!
With everything going on the past few weeks I completely forgot to post this panorama of Goose Creek Lake in Red River, NM. The 4-wheel drive to the top on a narrow mountain trail was one of the most intense things I have experienced. Very reminiscent of holding my line in a pack of cyclist for 2 hours straight; pretty much non stop intensity. Most of the drive up had the drop off on the left side of the jeep…don’t look down, don’t look down.
Once there it was certainly one of the most fantastic experiences we have had as a family. The entire scene was incredible. the water was crystal clear, the temperature cool and crisp, the scenery completely unbelievable. The lake sat in a small valley with another foot trail leading up to the highest point of the mountain. The goal was to get to the top, but with 4 kids, one being 6, Sarah and I knew it would be a challenge.
A little more than half way up the trail we were challenged. The trail got much steeper with very loose rock we pretty much knew we had gone as far as we could. It was far enough. Here is the view that we encountered when we turned around and looked back.
If there is one photo on the blog to view in full size it is this one. Clearly one of the most spectacular views I have ever encountered. Wow, what a photo it would be at sunset or sunrise. I am not a strong landscape photographer, and I really struggle with how to compose a great looking landscape photograph. This shot was taken at noon, not the best time to be shooting anything outdoors in terms of landscape, but still it holds a captivating look.
With a little bit of down time between weddings I thought I would try to select a few more shots from our vacation and post them up for yall to see. I am sure we will return to Red River, and with so much to see and do I don’t know that we will make it back to Goose Creek Lake, but I would certainly love to. By the way the trip down….almost twice as intense as the trip up. We wouldn’t trade it for anything though.
14 hours from San Antonio is a little blue house on Red River. Tucked in the Rocky Mountains of Northern New Mexico, Red River is host to a range of winter and summertime activities. Named for the tributaries that flow from Wheeler Peak to the Rio Grande, Red River is a mining town turned tourist hub. Known for skiing this is truly a photographers playground.
There is no lack of photo locations or opportunities in the Red River area. Every direction one turns is a breathtaking view and a backdrop that would turn any snapshot into a fantastic portrait. The summertime proved to be stunning most any time of day. Partly cloudy skies in the morning turned to ominous fronts as the warmer afternoon air helped build storm systems above the mountain peaks. By sundown the horizon was filled with fantastic color and amazing cloud formations that made for a picturesque end to the day.
For a vacation it was a beautiful week, with lots of activities and plenty of excitement. The little blue house along the river was a great home away from home, leaving us with the urge to sell everything and move to the quaint little town. In the end it seems like the perfect place for a yearly vacation.
One day while running errands with the family, we missed the turn and took a side street to turn around. That is when we were introduced to the “King of the Parc“; a 40 foot iron sculpture of a stag, overlooking the housing development we just entered. Large sculptures are not uncommon in San Antonio, but what was unusual about this one was the location. Out in the burbs, in a sparsely populated housing division seemed like an odd place for such a large centerpiece.
At the time I grabbed a quick photo on my cell phone and uploaded it to facebook. I made a mental note and over the next few months I thought about how to capture it in a compelling photo. My idea was to get out there at sunrise or sunset, and hopefully everything would line up for something good.
Fast forward to May and a lazy Saturday with the kids. The day had been overcast since dawn, not very conducive to my style of shooting, but still I had the urge to get out and shoot. As evening started to approach there were some small breaks in the clouds; an opportunity I could not resist. Using my 20mm 2.8 I bracketed my shots with the anticipation of creating HDR images.
The sculpture is made from scrap metal consisting of fenders, engine parts, bicycle components, license plates, and pipes. The artist spent 6 months designing and another 6 months building the colossal stag. Since it is lit at night I might have to make a trip out after sunset to get some night-time shots.
Second time to Chicago in a month, all on the company’s tab. Last trip was only 3 nights and I was in the burbs so there was not much of a chance to get out and see the town. This trip had me staying right in the heart of downtown, so I packed with just enough room to squeeze in a camera body and 50mm lens. I knew I would want something wider, but my wide zoom is a lot softer than the 50, and with no tripod I knew I would want the faster glass that my 50 offers.
While I didn’t have an abundant amount of time to get out, I made the most of my free time and got out 4 of the 5 nights I was there. My goal was to get some decent bracketed shots for converting to HDR. Getting good shots would prove a bit tougher than normal without a tripod at my disposal, but some steady holding, and well placed stationary objects helped accomplish the task. Even with some slight movement between frames the HDR software handles registering the images seamless.
One of the shots in my mind when I got there was to shoot the downtown skyline along the Chicago river. My initial thought was to shoot from one of the bridges over the river but my plans changed after finding how much the bridges move with the passing traffic, and how limited I was on angle of view with the 50mm lens. I finally came to a point at the corner of Clark and Whacker shooting back toward Lake Michigan. The river makes a jog at State St before continuing on, which allowed me to compose an interesting row of buildings.
Cloud Gate is one of my favorite art pieces in Chicago. I was completely unaware that the sculpture was completed in 2005, thinking it had been a centerpiece of Millennium Park for much longer. Weighing 110 tons and 66 feet long and 33 feet high, the polished mirror surface gives a brilliant reflection of the surrounding city skyline.
Crown Fountain offers another fantastic attraction. Two 50 foot glass block towers opposing one another stand amidst a shallow reflection pool. The towers display video images of local Chicago people while water pours over the top edge of the adjoining sides. At various times and synchronized with the video a water outlet spouts water from the persons mouth giving a very interesting illusion.
Sunrise and sunset images are among my favorites. Of course that is the ideal time to take photos due to the incredible directional light and tremendous colors. Add some clouds into the mix and some post process tweaking and you can come away with some extraordinary images.
The sunrise above was shot a number of years back and while I didn’t have easy access to the raw file, I did come across the jpg and decided to see how much tweaking I could do. To my surprise I was able to bring in some vibrant color and touch up the brightness in the foreground without much degradation to the detail.