Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I just want to take this time to wish everyone out there who reads this little blog, "Merry Christmas!"  I hope you all have a wonderful and joyful holiday!  And, thanks for taking the time to come by here and checking out what I like to do.  I really appreciate it!  Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

My Faves of 2012

Well, 2012 wasn't as productive as I would have liked as far as getting out and taking pictures. However, I did get some nice ones from a few different places and I also tried some new things in 2012. So, since I didn't post a top 10 last year, I thought I would this year. But, I don't like to call them my "Top 10" per se, since that's hard for me to figure out. Not that they all could be "top tens".  I feel quite the opposite actually.  I like to think of them as my "Favorite 10" instead.  I know, it's really all semantics. So, here they are in no particular order:

(Also, if you want to check a really good top 10, check out Dave Wilson's here.  Blows mine away!)

1929 Duesenberg Model J Bohman & Schwartz Front

Here's another shot I took at Dick's Classic Garage.  It is a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Bohman & Schwartz.  It is a little different from other "Dueseys" because of the headlights.  This one has smaller headlights, but overall it's still a classy looking ride.  I really liked the front of it so I tried to capture it on an angle and make it dramatic, or at least a little different.  I hope it worked. (Click the photo for a larger view)



Garden of the Gods #2
The National Natural Landmark known as "Garden of the Gods" is a must see on any visit you may make to Colorado.  It's full of beautiful sandstone outcroppings and there are plenty of hiking paths and roads to see everything the park has to offer.  Located in Manitou Springs just outside of Colorado Springs, its a wonderful place to see nature at its best!

Th shot below shows what you can do with HDR...  The light was terrible.  I was shooting into the sun and the sky was very hazy at the time.  But, with 7 brackets, a little processing with Photomatix and some tweaking with Nik's Color Efex and Viveza, I was able to bring out some of the detail from the haze and the shadows to present something a little more interesting than just the original snapshot.  Do you think it was worth it?  I would love to hear your thoughts if this looks good, if it looks over done, or if it looks OK.  Either way, I can take it! ;-)



Peyton Manning (Oakland v Denver, Sept. 30th, 2012)
Here he is! Peyton Manning!  He's one of the big reasons we went to Denver.  He's a great quarterback and ever since he's had problems with his neck in recent years, we never really knew if we'd get a chance to see him play.  So, when the opportunity arose, we jumped on it.  We were even able to score some pretty decent seats... 6th row in one of the end zones!  Nice place to see a game and to take a few shots.  This one here is one of the better ones I was able to get.

According to things I've read about getting football shots, if you get a face and the ball in the shot, then it should be good.  Well most of the shots I got didn't have either.  I realized it's not easy to shoot football games, especially from the seats.  However, this is one of the few shots that had both a face and the ball in it.  It's not the greatest shot in the world because I would've preferred to see Peyton's number 18 as well, but overall it's not too bad.  Here, Peyton's throwing the ball to the running back, Lance Ball, number 35, for a touchdown.

The game was an awesome one!  Denver won 37 - 6!



Shooting Security on the Aransas Pass Ferry

Last weekend we went to visit friends down in Aransas Pass, TX.  They have a boat down there that they invited us to stay on.  Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate enough for us to be able to go out on it.  t was just too windy.  However, that's not to say we didn't get to ride on a boat at all.  We took the ferry from Aransas Pass to Port Aransas.  It was a short ride, but it was windy as well.  The funny thing was, as we started out across the channel, we decided to get out of the car and go to the front of the ferry to watch the dolphins.  There was a small pod of them swimming about.  Pretty cool!  However, the further out into the water we got, the bigger the waves became.  They started lapping over the front of the ferry.  I and my camera got a little wet on the first one, so I turned around to head back to the car.  As soon as I did a bigger wave crashed over the front and soaked my back.  Luckily the camera didn't get very wet as my back blocked most of the water.  But, my wife Eileen and her friend Sandy decided to stay and they got completely soaked!  It was hilarious!  Sandy says we got "baptized".  I should've tried to get a shot of them at that point, but alas, I wanted to make sure the camera was OK and get out of anymore possible soakings.  So, while in the car, the security guy came around to check everything and I thought that would be an opportunity to shoot SOMETHING.  I got more of the camera in focus than the security guy, but I still think the shot is kind of interesting.  Do you?



Siamese Twins

Hey, I didn't name it! ;-)  It may be politically incorrect, but who cares, right?  Anyway, this is one of the many different rock formations at the Garden of the Gods.  This one is kind of off the beaten path, but I think it is one of the more interesting formations to see there.  Also, just behind it lies Pike's Peak way off in the distance.  I should've tried to find an angle with both of them in the shot, but I'm happy with this one.



University of Michigan Band At Jerry's World

This it a shot I took a few minutes before Michigan-Alabama game at Cowboys Stadium as the University of Michigan Marching Band was on the field.  I took this with my new fisheye lens as you can see.  It's pretty fun to play with!  It's nice to get a whole panorama interior shot of a sports stadium without having to take 7-8 separate shots and try to blend them together.  I did notice that there is a little bit of purple fringing around some of the lights so I guess I'll need to be conscious of that in the future. 


Door Ringing at the University of Texas

Below is a picture of Alex Suarez's son that I took during one of Alex's photowalks at the University of Texas.


Cloud Shadows on Mountain Chute

This is an HDR that I converted to a monochrome.  I tried to "Ansel Adams" it up a little even though I think he did mostly black and whites.  Something about shooting mountains and clouds that just calls for either.



Hyper-drive

Wouldn't it be cool to be able to click a button in your car and move into "hyper-drive" or "warp-drive" to get to work if you were running late? I'm not usually late for work, but there are times when I would like to leave a few minutes later than usual, but yet get to work on time.  That was sort of the inspiration for this shot. 


Downtown Austin and Paddle Boat

I spent a few minutes on the 1st St bridge getting a shot or two of the Austin skyline and the lake.  Here it is...  Luckily, I think this one turned out nicely after a night of letting it cook.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Moon Over Courthouse

Better Christmas Video

OK, yesterday I put out a pretty bad video.  However, this one here is much better.  It's a video of someone's house that has been decorated with tons of lights and synced to music.  I'm sure you've seen many of these before, but this one seemed better to me.  Maybe it's because everything is covered in snow or something.  I don't know, but I like it.  Hope you do to...

 

Moon Over Courthouse

Williamson County decorates their courthouse on the square very nicely every year.  I have taken a few pics there in the past and last night I decided to get a few more.  Unfortunately there were quite a few people roaming the streets so it was a little difficult to get some shots.  One cool thing that happened was the moon peeked though the clouds a few times.  I thought it helped add to the shot a little...




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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Driskill Bar at Christmas

Politically Incorrect Christmas Video!!!

OK..  Just for the record, I love Christmas!  It's the best time of the year!  Other than football of course, hehe! :-) But, sometimes the little mischievous/devilish side of life gets to me and that pushes me to put out these little tidbits... Plus someone who shall remain unnamed sent this to me.  Again, I love Christmas...  Ho, ho ho and all that stuff!  God bless us, everyone!  With that, watch the video and I hope you have a chuckle! (Sorry Santa, but I bet this guy's last name is Fudd!)

 
Driskill Bar at Christmas

So I took my own advice and went out to the Driskill Hotel in Austin this past week to get some more up-to-date shots. The original ones I had are three years old so it was time to get new ones. They always do it up nice there. I stopped by on my way to work.  Luckily it's not too far off the beaten path for me.  This is a shot inside the bar which is just off the main lobby and up half a flight of stairs...



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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Driskill Hotel Christmas Card

Work and Windows 8

Well, this is the first post on my little blog since Thanksgiving.  Things have been pretty hectic.  At work, we've had some crazy issues happening that has caused a bit of overtime.  Without boring you with too much of the details, lets just say it's something that happens in the life of a systems administrator, but hope that it never does.  I just hope what's happening at work gets better soon.

Another thing going on is that I thought I would give a shot at Windows 8, Microsoft's new operating system for tablets and desktop computers.  I loaded it onto my home computer and after two weeks, you know what?  I rolled back to Windows 7.  I just am not impressed with the "Metro" apps and crap.  I understand that it's a new operating system and we should all try to learn to like it.  However, don't like having to boot to the crazy screen with the huge tiles and then having to rely on those tiles for certain "apps" such as games and stuff.  And then, if you open a game such as Solitaire through those tiles, you have to login to Microsoft just to get them started and then it's a pain to try to close the game out when you are done.  I still haven't figured that out.  Another thing I like to do at home is sync files across multiple systems for backup.  Well, if you want to map a drive to another machine and auto sync files, Windows 8 won't let it happen unless you use the built-in file sync tool which I don't like or you have to actually click on the mapped network drive of where you want to sync files to and then my 3d party file sync tool will work.  I know this may not sound like much, but this new operating system just didn't seem like something that should run on a desktop.  It's probably great for a tablet, which I do not own, but it seems more in tune for that.  Maybe in some time, Microsoft will tweak this more for desktops as more people complain.  We'll see.

Driskill Hotel Christmas Card

The shot below has been selected by the Driskill Hotel here in Austin, TX for their 2012 Christmas Card!  It's also currently on a portion of their main webpageI am pretty excited about that!  I took this shot about 3 years ago and posted it on flickr, but I don't think I ever posted it here on the blog.  Well now I have a reason to!  I hope you like it, too!  It's getting me psyched up to go back to the Driskill and get some new shots!  They really do it up nice there for Christmas and they really have no problem with photographers and their tripods wandering about and shooting!  It's great stuff!  Thanks, Driskill Hotel!  And for any of you photogs out there who follow this blog and come to town, check out the Driskill and shoot it up!  You won't be disappointed!

 
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Revenge of the Birds

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there who follows my little blog. And for your entertainment, I found this little video that should make people think about what Black Friday could really be if you are not careful!


Wampanoag House Interior

The Wampanoag were the American Indians who met the Pilgrims that arrived in Plymouth, MA, the location where the first Thanksgiving is said to have happened.  Now, Plymouth has created a replica of the Wampanoags' as well as the Pilgrims' settlements at the Plimouth Plantation.  It is worth a visit if you ever get out there.  This is an interior shot of a Wampanoag summer shelter or house.  It was more suited for summer than the others that we saw.  As you can see walls were made of cattail reeds which helped absorb the humidity and keep out the rain.  Apparently it worked quite well.  However, their winter shelters were made mostly of bark. The benches you see here would be where the adults would sleep.  They would put down animal skins and other things to make their beds more comfortable.  The kids then slept on the floor.  Very interesting stuff.  Plan a visit there if you ever go!  You won't be disappointed!



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Friday, November 16, 2012

Marlboro Ferraris

F1 Weekend in Austin, TX

Everyone here in Austin, TX are getting pretty excited.  The new Circuit of the Americas F1 race course is now open and will be hosting its inaugural Formula 1 race.  If I'm not mistaken, event organizers expect upwards of 300,000 people to arrive from all parts of the world for all of the festivities.  We'll see how that bears out, but that's quite a few people.  What am I doing this weekend as if anyone cares?  I'm staying as far away from this as humanly possible.  The roads are expected to be horrendous, which means staying home and enjoying college and pro football on TV- American football that is - sounds like a much better option.  I'm not knocking those who want to go to the race, but I'm not up to all of the fighting it takes to get to and from the event.  Especially an inaugural one!  Let's get the kinks get ironed out on this one and then maybe a subsequent one will be more attractive.

Marlboro Ferraris

So, in honor of the race this weekend, I thought I'd post another shot of a couple of Ferraris that were on display during the Formula 1 Expo held at the Austin Convention Center earlier this year.  Anyone know why Ferraris are also painted other colors than red?  See, doesn't red just GO with Ferrari?  I've seen others painted black, yellow, white, etc., but red is just perfect.  When I get my Ferrari, it will defintely be red.  Of course, that will be in another lifetime, but red it will be! ;-)



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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Another Day, Another Dollar

Excellent Photography Blogs

If you have a little time, check out the other photography blogs I have linked up on the right side of this page.  There are some really outstanding ones out there.  However, one of them is getting ready to shut down..  It's the Airstream Chronicles by Rich Charpentier.  I met Rich on a trip to Prescott, AZ a few years ago. He is a fellow HDR and portrait photographer who has come to the realization that he cannot survive on photography alone.  It's a shame, but it's the times we live in, I guess.

Another Day, Another Dollar

Here is something a little bit different..  I took this shot outside of Union Station in Denver.  There is a lot of work going on there to refurbish the place.  I'll bet it will be great when they are completed.



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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kawasaki 42

Back in 2010, Peter Talke invited me out to the Del Valle Motocross Park outside of Austin to take a few shots.  I was always a fan of motocross.  A couple of my friends growing up used to race it and I even tried my hand at bicycle motocross.  I never finished better than 4th in a main, but I did win a heat or two.  It was pretty fun stuff.  So now, with my relatively new hobby of HDR photography, I get to kind of merge those two things together.  This is a single shot HDR that I put together.  I kind of like the look that comes out of it, but it might be a little much for others.  What do you think?



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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Moon Balloon

Election Night Thoughts

I don't like to get political with my little blog here, but since last night was such a huge night in the democratic process of this great experiment known as the United States of America, I thought I would just put my two cents in.  Last night America spoke and we have re-elected our current president.  The system worked and now we'll have to see where it leads.  The right to vote is a valuable thing and exercising that right is what this is all about.  If the outcome is what you wanted, congratulations.  If it is not, better luck next time.  Either way, I hope you voted.  Otherwise, you really have no say.  Now that it is over, we must pray for our president and more importantly, we must pray for our country.

Moon Balloon
 
Today's photo is in the same vein as the last few I have posted.  While the previous ones were of hot air balloons as they were being raised, this is one that is actually in the air!  I captured this shot on the way to Estes Park from Denver last month.  I really liked how it floated in the sky with the moon by it's side. 

 

 
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

More Fiery Balloon Shots

Follow My Blog

If any of you are just dying to get the latest and greatest from my blog when I post something, just sign up to the right of this post where it says "Follow By Email" and you will get an alert whenever something new pops up here!  Thanks for following along!

More Fiery Balloon Shots

Here are a couple more balloon shots I took from the Georgetown Airfest this past weekend.  I really enjoyed watching the balloons inflate.  They brought out the little kid in me!  Nothing better that those burners shooting flames and making that loud whooshing noise when they light up!

Forgive these shots a little for they have a bit of noise in them.  It was still relatively dark and foggy when I took them so I had the ISO cranked up a bit.  But overall, I still like them.  I hope you do to!





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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hot Air

Today, Georgetown, Texas is holding its 3rd annual Georgetown Airfest.  There are lots of things to see at the event to include olde WWII era planes as well as helicopters, classic cars, etc.  The very first thing that was supposed to happen on the schedule today was a balloon launch.  Well, the airport was socked in with fog this morning so the balloons weren't able to go up.  However, two balloon owners were kind enough to inflate their balloons and let people take photos and ask questions.  It was pretty interesting watching the process of blowing one up.  They first spread the canopy out on the ground, then initially blow it up with a big old fan.  When it has enough air but is still too heavy to get off the ground, they pump in some hot air from the burners on top of the basket with a few quick blasts and the thing stands right up in just a few seconds.  Pretty cool!  I'm sorry they weren't able to lift off, but it was fun to see it all happen.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Driving Thru Aspens and Pines

October is a great time to visit the mountains in Colorado.  That's when the aspen trees change color and their leaves turn a brilliant yellow.  When mixed in with the dark green pines, it makes for a spectacular display.

You may not think so, but this is an HDR composed of 7 brackets.  I tried to process it to keep it as realistic looking as possible.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sam's No3

Across from where we stayed in Denver is a great restaurant called "Sam's No3".  It sits on the corner of 15th and Curtis.  Eileen and I ate breakfast there the first and last mornings of our trip.  I can't tell you how other meals are, but if they're anything like their breakfasts, you'll be impressed!  They had a wide variety of stuff and huge portions!  I'm not trying to shill for them, but we really enjoyed it.  I liked it so much that I thought I should at least get a shot of it, especially at night.  It has this old 50's era diner look to it which I think is cool.  What do you think?


Thru the Tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park

Around 12,000 feet lies the ecosystem known as the tundra.  It seems to be made up of various grasses and a few different species of animals including big horn sheep and marmots. Not much else. According to our guide, the tundra is so fragile that if it gets damaged, say from human interaction, it can take up to 150 years before the grasses fill back in and the damaged area returns back to it's original state.  That's why you are not allowed off the roads that go through there.  You can see in this shot that the road snakes through the tundra and moves along.  There are very few stops, but the ones that do exist are just small turnouts.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Siamese Twins

Hey, I didn't name it! ;-)  It may be politically incorrect, but who cares, right?  Anyway, this is one of the many different rock formations at the Garden of the Gods.  This one is kind of off the beaten path, but I think it is one of the more interesting formations to see there.  Also, just behind it lies Pike's Peak way off in the distance.  I should've tried to find an angle with both of them in the shot, but I'm happy with this one.

I have a couple more shots of the Twins from different perspectives that I'll have to put out some other time.   I'll probably save those for some time when I'm out of fresh material. ;-)

As always, I hope you enjoy the shot and come again!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Denver Center for the Performing Arts

This looks like a great place to see a show.  The complex has several different theaters to see Broadway-type shows as well as restaurants to dine in.  Also, the parking garage is situated right next to it and is covered so you don't have to brave the elements to get from your car to the theater.  You can see the stairways for the parking garage here on the right.  If we ever go back, we might have to see a show there.

Hope you enjoy the shot and thanks for stopping by!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Cloud Shadows on Mountain Chute

If you travel by car up to the top of Pike's Peak, the Parks Department recommends that you drive all the way to the top without stopping.  They say that if you want to look at the various scenic stops along the way up, that it is better to stop and enjoy them on the way down.  It's supposed to be easier on your vehicle because of the steep grades and the thin air.  If you continually stop on they way up, it is harder for your car to get going versus stopping and going on the way down.  Makes sense to me!  So that's what we did.  That's where this shot comes into play.  It's the view from the first turn-out or scenic overlook on the way back down from Pike's Peak.  It's a beautiful view of the mountains below and it kind of reminded me of a chute that you might see at a ski area as you look down.  There was even a little dusting of snow on some of the rocks at the top.

This is an HDR that I converted to a monochrome.  I tried to "Ansel Adams" it up a little even though I think he did mostly black and whites.  Something about shooting mountains and clouds that just calls for either.

 I hope you enjoy it and thanks for dropping by!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

View of Downtown from Millenium Bridge, Denver, CO

The Millennium Bridge is pedestrian bridge that allows people to walk above railroad tracks and connects the Central Platte Valley neighborhood with the Downtown Pedestrian Mall.  I took this shot the night of October 3d when there were so many thing to watch on TV.  However, those things didn't interest me on this day!  But the thing was, a cold front had blown thru Denver that day and the night was pretty cold and windy!  So, I didn't stay out too long!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sports Authority Field at Mile High

Another Sunday calls for another football shot!  This is the home of the Denver Broncos taken from row 6 in one of the end zones... obviously. ;-)  I took this just after the team was introduced to the crowd.  It was an awesome atmosphere! 

I must say that the camera rules for the Broncos' stadium is pretty good.  They don't really care what you bring in as long as is doesn't interfere with other fans' enjoyment of the game.  I actually emailed them about what I wanted to bring which was my Nikon D300s, my all-purpose 18-200mm and my 10.5mm fisheye lenses and they wrote back and said (I'm paraphrasing), "No worries".  I think if you even had the equivalent of an 18-300 for DX (APS-C sensors) cameras anyway, they wouldn't have any issues with that and you could get great shots from anywhere in the stadium.  Just don't bring a tripod or monopod.  Again if you aren't sure, just contact them.  They are good about getting back to you.  Also,  you can't use the shots for any commercial purposes.  You know, you need the "expressed written consent.." and all of that other stuff...

The shot below is a one shot HDR that was processed using Nik's HDR Efex 2. It really brought out the detail in everything.  Even the flames shooting up from above the scoreboard at the other end of the stadium came out pretty well!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Garden of the Gods #2

The National Natural Landmark known as "Garden of the Gods" is a must see on any visit you may make to Colorado.  It's full of beautiful sandstone outcroppings and there are plenty of hiking paths and roads to see everything the park has to offer.  Located in Manitou Springs just outside of Colorado Springs, its a wonderful place to see nature at its best!

Th shot below shows what you can do with HDR...  The light was terrible.  I was shooting into the sun and the sky was very hazy at the time.  But, with 7 brackets, a little processing with Photomatix and some tweaking with Nik's Color Efex and Viveza, I was able to bring out some of the detail from the haze and the shadows to present something a little more interesting than just the original snapshot.  Do you think it was worth it?  I would love to hear your thoughts if this looks good, if it looks over done, or if it looks OK.  Either way, I can take it! ;-)

I hope you enjoy the photo and thanks for dropping by!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tigers Go to World Series!!!!

The Detroit Tigers just clinched the American League Pennant with a sweep of the storied New York Yankees!  With a combination of great pitching as well great hitting, the Tigers were just too much for the Bronx Bombers.  I must say that after the up and down regular season the Tigers had, I wasn't sure they would even make the playoffs.  Boy was I wrong!  Can't wait for Wednesday!  As they used to say when the Tigers won the series in 1984, "Bless you boys!"

The pictures below are of the two best players in baseball right now.  Justin Verlander, the guy throwing, is last year's AL Cy Young winner (for the best pitcher in the league), Most Valuable Player, and won the AL pitching triple crown; lowest ERA at 2.40, 24 wins and 250 strikeouts!  Awesome!  This year he's in line to win his second AL Cy Young award.  He has a ton of other awards including the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year, the ERA title in 2007 and many others.  He also has two no-hitters to his credit!  The Tigers need to keep him forever!

The other guy pictured is Miguel Cabrera.  He is this year's batting triple crown winner and will probably be the AL Most Valuable Player!  No one has won the batting triple crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.  There were only 13 others to win it including Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.  Pretty good company wouldn't you say?

These are two great players and it's hard to imagine they are on the same team, plus it's my favorite team to boot!  Let's just hope they can win the World Series!  Detroit Lions, are you watching?

About the pictures... I took these prior to the Tigers v Texas Rangers game on August 11th at Rangers Stadium in Arlington, TX.  Unfortunately, the Tigers lost 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th, but Verlander pitched a great game even though they lost.  Anyway, who's in the series now, Texas? ;-)



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Running a Red Light at Larimer Square

Larimer Square (which  I think is really a street, but called a square) is a stretch of road that lasts for about a block on the west side of Denver and is packed with lots of cool restaurants and markets.  The thing that really caught my eye were the flags and lights strung across the street.  I tried to capture those as well as I could and I was also able to catch a taxi running the red light while crossing 15th St.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel is located in Estes Park, CO and served as the inspiration for Stephen King's book, "The Shining."  I never read the book, but I did see the the first movie with Jack Nicholson and it scared the bejesus out of me!  I loved some of those lines he had and how he delivered them... "Little pig, little pig, let me in..." or "Heerrrre's Johnny!"  Of course they used a different hotel in that movie than this one, but it's kind of cool to know that this was the inspiration.

Here's a little more about the hotel from their website:

"When precisely the strange events began happening at the Stanley Hotel has never been documented, but interesting occurrences are a part of the history of this beautiful hotel.

Miss Elizabeth Wilson was the chief housekeeper at the Stanley Hotel in its very early days. On the evening of June 25, 1911, during a storm, she was involved in an explosion that took place as she was lighting the acetylene lanterns that were the back-up system for the hotel’s electricity. Miss Wilson was shot down in the explosion from what is now Room 217 to the floor of the MacGregor Room. She was not killed, but her ankles were broken. From the 1950’s on, it has been reported that she might take special care of people that stay in 217. Sometimes guests staying that room encounter extra housekeeping services, including having their things put away or unpacked.

All of the rooms in the hotel have had out-of-the-ordinary experiences reported, including having items moved from place to place, as well as lights turning on and off. If you stay on the fourth floor, you just might get to hear the children of long ago running up and down the halls, laughing and giggling. Sometimes guest will be tucked-in at night, as that was the duty for the nannies to perform for the young children.

(The founders) F.O. and Flora Stanley are said to still spend time at the hotel. It is not unusual for guests and staff to catch a glimpse of F.O. walking the lobby, or hear Flora still playing her beloved piano in the Music Room. Remember, they loved and took pleasure from the hotel, and maybe they still do!"



Saturday, October 13, 2012

High Kickin'

Two weeks ago, we were lucky enough to see the Broncos beat the Raiders 37 - 6!  It was an awesome game!  And part of the game between TV timeouts are the NFL cheerleaders!  I'm not sure what most people think about cheerleaders in the NFL, but I think I can tell you that most red-blooded male fans don't mind. Red-blooded female fans of the NFL may be another question! :-)

So, as I was saying, part of the NFL pageantry includes the cheerleaders.  Most teams have them.  The most famous are probably the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. However, there are some NFL teams that don't have cheerleaders, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Greenbay Packers (boo!!) and my very own Detroit Lions.  I don't think there's anything wrong with having professional cheerleaders, but there's also something kind of special about not having them.  What I mean by that is technically the Lions don't have "Lions" cheerleaders per se, but they usually have local high school cheerleaders come out to support the team.  That has a nice hometown feel to it, don't you think?  So I guess the Lions really do have cheerleaders, but it's so much more innocent and special. On the other hand, I kind of wish they had regular cheerleaders, because in some weird way I think that that would make them more a part of the NFL and maybe they would get better.  Yes, that doesn't make sense, especially when you look at the Pittsburgh Steelers - the team with the most NFL championships and yet still have no cheerleaders - along with the hated Packers with their storied history.

Well anyway, you have to admit, pro cheerleaders add a certain "glamor" to the teams as you can see here.  The Broncos Cheerleaders are certainly glamorous and can put on a show!  I think I just got pretty lucky in the fact that I was able to catch them at the apex of one of their high-kicks!  Can't beat it, can you?!


Friday, October 12, 2012

View from Atop Pike's Peak

Pike's Peak is one of the larger and well known mountains in Colorado going up to 14,115 feet above sea-level. It is even designated a National Historic Landmark.  It was named after Zebulon Pike, Jr., an explorer who led an expedition to the mountain. 

We were very lucky to be able to drive up to Pike's Peak.  We tried to go up in mid-morning or so, but when we got to the base, they had the road to the top closed due to fog and ice.  So, we went over to the Garden of the Gods and spent some time there while we waited for the peak to clear up.  Luckily from the Garden, you can see Pike's Peak.  Around 1:00pm or so, it cleared and we were able to drive up. The drive up is a little scary, but fun at the same time.  Great views, but if you suffer from a little vertigo, it could be a little nerve racking.  Many places have no guard rails and there really are no shoulders once you are up beyond the tree-lines.  The drop-offs are steep so it can make your stomach quiver a little.  However, if you just keep your eye on the road, it's not too big of a deal, at least for the driver.  The passenger on the other hand gets the curbside view! 

This shot was taken behind the gift shop looking down towards Manitou Springs.  As I said, it has great views, but as you can see from the snow on the ground, it was a bit nippy.  Bring a jacket if you decide to go!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting Perfect White Balance

A lot of you may already know this, but it's something I don't do as much as I should.  I'm gonna try and do it more.  I think the reason I don't do it is because it takes a little more time to get the shot, plus I have that, "I can always fix it in Photoshop" mentality.  What "that" is is getting the right white balance.  (ADD moment: can one use "is" twice in a row in one sentence?)

It turns out that it's pretty easy.  A fellow photographer that I meant while taking pictures at the San Jose Mission in San Antonio a few months back showed my how he does it.  I wish I got his name, but I didn't.  Anyway, here's what you do (this is mainly for Nikons, but I bet Canons can do something similar if you check out your manual):

1. Make sure you have a gray card or a gray piece of material, something that you can take a picture of that's gray. Whatever it is, as long as it's gray, you're golden (bad pun intended). Currently I have a gray microfiber cloth that came with my Ray Ban sunglasses that works quite well.

2.  Set your white balance to "PRE" on your camera.  Hold the WB button down until "PRE" starts flashing.  When flashing, take a picture of your gray card or whatever you have that's gray.  Make sure it fills the frame.

3. If the camera gets a good shot of the card (it doesn't have to be in focus), the display will flash "Good".  If it flashes "no Gd", try step 2 again until you get a "good" result.

4. Change your WB setting to "d-0" and you should be good to go.  Now you have a perfect WB setting for the light you will be shooting!

Easy-perfect white balance! That's what I like! Something to remember though; anytime you want to measure a new WB setting using the steps outlined above, it will always save to d-0.  So any previous setting in d-0 will get overwritten.  If you want to save what's in d-0, in the WB menu, go to "Preset Manual" and press the right arrow.  Then, select a destination between d-1 and d-4, highlight "Copy d-0" and press "OK". Now to use the the WB that you saved, change the setting to d-1 or d-2, etc.. wherever you saved it.

Why I don't do this more is beyond me.  Well, maybe not.  Either I'm in too much of a hurry or I'm lazy.  I like to think it's the previous, but it's really probably the latter.

That should do it. Try it!  Take a picture with your camera set to "Auto" WB and then take a picture using this trick.  It really made a difference for me. If you do, would you mind letting me know if it helped you?

Hope this helps and thanks for visiting!

Garden of the Gods

In Manitou Springs, CO there's a place called the "Garden of the Gods".  It's a wonderful place filled with sandstone outcroppings that formed thousands of years ago.  It got it's name from a Denver surveyor named M. S. Beach who thought it would be a "capital place for a beer garden."  His companion on the trip named Rufus Cable said, "Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods."  Hence, the name!  It was also a place that local Indian tribes would settle during the winter months due to the shelter that the rock formations provided.  Check it out if you ever get out that way.  It's near Colorado Springs.  Thanks for visiting!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Peyton Manning (Oakland v Denver, Sept. 30th, 2012)

Here he is! Peyton Manning!  He's one of the big reasons we went to Denver this past week.  He's a great quarterback and ever since he's had problems with his neck in recent years, we never really knew if we'd get a chance to see him play.  So, when the opportunity arose, we jumped on it.  We were even able to score some pretty decent seats... 6th row in one of the end zones!  Nice place to see a game and to take a few shots.  This one here is one of the better ones I was able to get.

According to things I've read about getting football shots, if you get a face and the ball in the shot, then it should be good.  Well most of the shots I got didn't have either.  I realized it's not easy to shoot football games, especially from the seats.  However, this is one of the few shots that had both a face and the ball in it.  It's not the greatest shot in the world because I would've preferred to see Peyton's number 18 as well, but overall it's not too bad.  Here, Peyton's throwing the ball to the running back, Lance Ball, number 35, for a touchdown.

The game was an awesome one!  Denver won 37 - 6!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Panorama View from Alpine Visitors Center, Rocky Mountains National Park, CO

Last week, Eileen and I took a trip to Denver, CO!  The two main reasons we went were to check another stadium off of our NFL bucket list (Sports Authority Field at Mile High) and to see our good friends, Eugene and Mary!  (Sorry we didn't have more time guys!)

While we were there we went out to Estes Park and grabbed a sightseeing tour on the "Top of the World Tour" through a company called "Rocky Mountain Rush".  It was unbelievable!  We drove up Fall River Road - in a 16 passenger Toyota Landcruiser - which is a one way gravel road that takes you from the bottom of the park up to 11,796 ft to the Alpine Visitors Center.  The road on the way up was a little scary as there were no guard rails protecting you from falling off the side of the road thousands of feet straight down and there were times you thought maybe the back wheels may slip off the side while turning through the switchbacks.  However, we had total confidence in our guide, John, who was just the right guy for the job. He got us up the mountain and was a wealth of information when it comes to the local habitat and how it all works together.

We stopped at the Alpine Visitors Center and took in the gorgeous view of which you see here.  The terrain we were in was called the "tundra".  I didn't really know this, but according to John, tundra is the name of a type of fragile ecosystem that resides above the treeline and it is made up of grasses and a variety of wildlife.  So, the more barren grassy portions you see here is the tundra.  Then below where the trees are is an ecosystem called "alpine".  And, the further down you go in the treeline, you hit another ecosystem called the "sub-alpine".  I always thought those names were more descriptions than actual names of ecosystems.  You learn something new all the time!

Anyway, back to this shot.  As nice as this turned out, it doesn't do justice to what we saw.  It was just an amazing view.  As far as the shot goes, this is made up of 8 separate shots taken in portrait orientation with my Nikon D300s with my Nikkor 18-200 lens at 18mm and then merged together in Photoshop CS6 to make up this panorama.  I then did a single image tone-mapping using the Graduated 1 landscape setting in Nik's HDR Efex 2.  After that I just did a little bit of noise reduction on the sky and some sharpening on the rest.  I also put a little Darken/Lighten Center filter in from Nik Color Efex 3.  Really not much to it.  I hope you enjoy it.  Speaking of which, the next several shots I'll be posting here will be from our trip to CO, so stay tuned!  Thanks for dropping by!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Final Departure (My First Beer Label!!!)

Back in 2011, we flew out to Whistler for a ski trip.  On the way back, I took a shot of our plane from our layover in Dallas.  You can view that shot here.  Well, it caught the eye of Dione Dittmar, one of the owners of Airways Brewing Co. in Seattle, WA.  She liked it so much that she's now using it for a new beer they just produced called, "Final Departure".  It's a beer that gives a nod to the end of the world that will be taking place on December 20th of this year, according to the Mayan calendar anyway.  The brewery has posted a little bit about it on their blog and Seattle Monthly mentions it in this month's issue.  I was honored that they liked the photo so much that they wanted to use it.  They added in the lightning bolts behind the plane to make it a little more sinister and de-branded it for licensing reasons.  I think it looks pretty cool!  To know I have a photo as a beer label is a dream come true!

Picture from Seattle Monthly Magazine


O X O Companion (Looking Thru)

Today's shot is a companion to my previous post of an old-timey car that I shot while out at the Kingsbury Aerodrome.  I tried to give it a similar treatment to the other.  How do you like it?


Saturday, September 22, 2012

O X O

Here is another shot I took while out at the Kingsbury Aerodrome, home of the Pioneer Flight Museum near Luling a few months ago.  Yes, I know it's another automobile shot but I like it anyway! 

I tried to give it a little different look by muting the colors a little bit using Nik Color Efex and Viveza. I used the duplex filter in Color Efex and I used the control points in Viveza to desaturate the clouds in the sky as well as the grass.  I kinda like how it turned out.  Let me know if you do too, or even if you don't.  I would just like your opinion.

Thanks for dropping by!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Plymouth, MA Harbor

This is a shot I took last year when Eileen and I took a trip to Massachusetts.  It is of the harbor in Plymouth.  This time of year is beautiful in that neck of the woods.  The weather is cool enough for sweatshirts and the foliage starts to turn into those those great oranges and reds that we expect to see in New England.  You can't beat it!

I hope you enjoy the shot and thanks for dropping by.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Single Cloud

This shot is really nothing spectacular to look at, but I kind of liked how the single cloud in the sky lined up in the middle of where the two roof lines meet in this particular shot.  I took this out at the Zedler Mill in Luling, TX.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Tucker Automobile

I'm sorry..  I just can't help myself..  But, I love cars!  I'm even getting into a show on BBC America called "Top Gear" that my friend Darrell got me hooked on.  Granted, it's a British show and they don't take too kindly to things American, but it's a fun show to watch nevertheless. I think it's been on the air over there for quite a few years but it's just now making headway here. It's a show where they test drive vehicles ranging from everyday automobiles to the highest-end super-cars.  They also do some fun stunts on that show such as converting regular old cars into amphibious vehicles and then sailing them across the English Channel.  The results are hilarious!  Some of it looks staged, but it's still entertaining. Now there's an American version of the show.  It's OK, just not as entertaining as the Brits'.  Maybe it's their humor or the chemistry between the three members of the show, but it works much better.  So in that vein, since I like cars so much, I thought another shot of a cool/unique car was in the offing...

I took these at Dick's Classic Garage early this year. They are shots of the "Tucker" automobile.  It's a pretty cool car, one that was ahead of its time, but could not survive with the likes of GM, Ford and Chrysler back in the late '40s.  There's even a movie about it starring Jeff Bridges called "Tucker".  It's a pretty good movie.

The following is from the Official Tucker Club of America's website:

"Preston Tucker was a car-crazy kid who hung around auto speedways and grew up to create an automobile--the Tucker--that was years ahead of its time. He was a man of pioneering spirit, ingenuity and daring, who revolutionized Detroit in the 1940s with his stunning "Car of Tomorrow." It was streamlined, futuristic and fast--the car every American dreamed of owning, at a price most people could afford. A man of endless enthusiasm, Tucker publicized his model all over the country to wild acclaim. He sold stock, set up a factory . . . and then the auto industry launched a devastating anti-Tucker campaign."



 

Monday, September 3, 2012

UPDATED: University of Michigan Band At Jerry's World

This Labor Day weekend was a great one!  Well, sort of...  This weekend Eileen and I, as well as our friends Valerie and Theresa were able to go to Dallas and take in the premier college football game of the week: The University of Michigan versus the University of Alabama.  The teams were ranked #8 and #2 respectively.  Plus, my excellent sister Elizabeth and her boyfriend Jack of some 12 - 13 years (at least.. sorry if I'm off a little Elizabeth ;-)) came out from their home in Florida to catch the game!  You see, they are both Michigan alums and go to as many games per year as they can. They were able to get tickets and asked if we wanted to tag along. Heck yeah! Elizabeth made all of the arrangements and everything!  She did a great job!

We all spent the whole weekend in Dallas, went to the game, visited and in general had an awesome time!  We even met some new friends!  The bad part was that Michigan got their @$$3$ handed to them in a 41-14 loss.  It was awful.  I was a little nervous for my boys in blue leading up to this game and unfortunately my fears came true.  I guess that's part of the rebuilding process.  They are still trying to get over the terrible "Rich Rod" years; the head coach that took the "Michigan" out of Michigan football.  Now that Brady Hoke is the head coach as of last year, he's slowly getting them back to prominence.  However, Alabama is pretty tough and it would be hard for anyone to beat them this year, as it looks.  Oh well, like I said, it was a fun weekend anyway, especially since we were able to visit with family and friends.

This it a shot I took a few minutes before gametime as the University of Michigan Marching Band was on the field.  I took this with my new fisheye lens as you can see.  It's pretty fun to play with!  It's nice to get a whole panorama interior shot of a sports stadium without having to take 7-8 separate shots and try to blend them together.  I did notice that there is a little bit of purple fringing around some of the lights so I guess I'll need to be conscious of that in the future.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the shot and thanks for dropping by.

Update:  I decided to try and remove the bad purple fringing around the lights on the opposite side of the field.  I think I got most of it.  If you have the right software, it can really be easy to do.  I opened it up with Nik's Viveza, put a control point on the offending color, desaturated it and then brushed it in.  Super easy!  I love that Viveza!  You can now see the result!  I must say, it's not real obvious here, but if you roll your mouse over the picture, you will see the purple fringing on the lights that are across the field.  Believe me, it was originally pretty bad.  I just had to clean it up!

Image01

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fun With a Fisheye

New stuff to play with!  Yay!  I recently purchased a new fisheye lens and today I tried it out at the Texas Capitol building, of course!  It's a great place to shoot, plus it's close to where I work and best of all, it's indoors!  When it's 100 degrees out, this is a good thing! 

I like this new fisheye lens for two reasons... It's slightly wider than the wide angle lens I have and it has some great funky distortion for a little different look.  It's a nice little change of pace.

So, these two shots are in the portion of the Capitol called the "Capitol Extension".  It's an underground portion of the complex that extends north and houses shops and offices.  It also has some cool architecture.  And I think it looks cool through the new lens.

Enjoy and thanks for dropping by!



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Top of Brazos Garage

I've been lacking as far as getting out to get any new content for the old blog here.  The weather's been too hot and I guess I've been a little bit lazy as well.  It's not that I don't enjoy shooting, but I'm really trying to figure out some new subjects to shoot. Until then, I thought maybe I should put out something I took a couple of years ago when I was going around to different parking garages in Austin trying to get unique views of the city.  This was taken from the top of the Brazos St garage near the convention center and the Four Season Hotel.  It's a different angle.  I always liked the shot, but I'm not sure if the angle works or not.  Maybe some of you could provide a little constructive criticism.  Or not. ;-)  Anyway, let me know what you think and thanks for dropping by!


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