Friday, August 12, 2016

Another Day, Another Bed

Realizing I owe you a bed from the last trip, I thought it wise to post before I go off and make more beds. At least I thought I should post a bed from my last trip before I head off onto my next one. This bed is in North Dakota, in downtown Minot to be precise. We were wise and got a suite which was wonderful. The bed was quite fluffy but firm. I have to say, as far as beds go, I really liked it. Now, I may not get to do a bed in Peru but we shall see. It would be kind of nice to go off and get a South American bed but I might not have the time or energy to pull it off. We shall see.

I'm gearing up and packing out so expect some possible notes from the road or at least a few tweets from the airport. Again, we shall see. This is not my usual trip. Not going crazy with the photo gear but will try to bring back something other than cookies.

In other, completely unrelated news. I hear the cookies are really good in Lima. At least, I've been told to bring back some. Again, we shall see, if time and tide permits, eh?

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your bed, wherever it might happen to be.

As we photographers sometimes say, here's wishing you safe travels and good light.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Enter Froggy Friend

This weekend I got to tour the Willow City historic schoolhouse as part of the Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools Tour. Willow City is a small town located out near Fredericksburg, Texas, about an hour and a half from my current home. The school itself is an historic building, dating back to 1905. It's a two story brick structure with several rooms downstairs and a large auditorium style room upstairs, which served as a classroom for the high school students. Inside one of the downstairs rooms there was something called a "sand table" which is sort of like a giant sandbox, elevated on a tabletop like setting. That's what you see pictured here. This is a close up detail of some toys in the sand table. I guess they used the sand table when it was raining or too hot for the children to play outside. Another interesting tidbit about the Willow City school was that it was actually a replacement school. The original school, dating back to the early to mid-1800's washed away in a flood and in 1905 they built the two story brick replacement structure which stands today, included as part of the historic schoolhouse tour. I was enamored with the little toys and especially liked the expression on the little "frog man face" so I setup and took this shot while I was touring the building. They had a very interesting piano in the upstairs room so look for some shots of that to follow as well.

It was great to get to tour the old building, although I have to say it was a bit hot. I wasn't too hot inside the building itself, as they have some mighty ceiling fans going and, being a brick building and all, it's out of the sun, but, dang, it was over 100 degrees this weekend. It was hot. I've jokingly been saying that Hell called and they want their weather back! Yes, it really does get all that hot in central Texas in August. I suppose I should have grown to expect this but, somehow, when you are out in it and the sweat starts pouring off the back of your neck and your boots get filled with puddles of sweat from it rolling down your leg, why, it just kind of feels especially hot and sticky.

Even with the heat, it was a nice weekend. The trip out there is nice. It's an actual drive out in the country and I must confess that part of central Texas is a bit more green than the Austin area. More cows (real cows, not just the ones you see here in small form,) especially longhorns, more green, more open roads, more space, less traffic, and fewer people. Oh, and a lot of wineries. When I say "a lot" I mean we must have crossed paths with about 50 of them. Seriously. There is even one called "Fat Ass Winery" (I can't make this stuff up!) Who knew there was a whole "Tuscany in Texas" movement complete with wineries and fake Italian style castles out in the hill country? (I sure didn't!)

All in all it was happy but hot shooting. And I got to introduce you to my nice little froggy friend who's probably still out stuck in the sandbox. It's not easy being green, well, not in this heat anyway.

Until next time...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Little Houses

Been busy but wanted to check in. I've been playing with the iPhone a bit and came up with a couple that look like this one. Funny thing about that house, it was cold the day we were there and it actually started to snow a little bit, like flurries. I managed to take a couple of shots with the big girl camera but ended up somehow liking what the iPhone churned out instead. Go figure. It was 27 and snowing so, heck, I'm happy I got something out of it.

I'm up resizing some images to submit to something so I figured I would post and let everybody know I'm still here. Been busy but managing. I'll be getting a new roof on the house hopefully this week, so that's good, and I have a shoot lined up this week as well. Might be some travel in the near future too but it's early and I don't want to jinx it so I'll just say, "don't be surprised." And, yeah, this one involves a passport so lucky me, mine didn't expire just yet.

Still haven't processed all of the Dakota images but it's all good. They have been coming off the stack little by little and I have a couple that I like so all good, right?

Until next time...

Friday, July 01, 2016

April in July

Went to one of those "pass the pocket wizard" style photo shoots the other day. You know the ones, where they basically setup the lighting and everybody takes a shot at, well, taking a shot. The model (seen here) was April. She was really very good actually, I liked working with her a lot. May have to hire her in the future, if I ever get my portrait project off the ground. She was preparing for a body building type competition and needed some shots for that so she volunteered to pose for us. Was a fun shoot.

The thing about model shoots like this is that, why, I sometimes feel sorry for the models. You could hear the clicking of the shutters, the impressions being made but, poor April, nobody was talking to her. I felt so bad, at one point, I had to just strike up a conversation. I tried to talk a bit, at least to try and give her some feedback. Luckily, she was good about posing and didn't need a lot of feedback from us but still, talk to your models, people. Models are people too!

Another interesting take away from the shoot was that it wasn't a true "pass the pocket wizard" style shoot in that we had continuous lighting setup, rather than strobes. Now, I'll leave the discussions about strobes and strobists and how I feel about all of this for another day but, suffice it to say, I much prefer floods. I like continuous style lighting, what can I say? I just like it better, it fits my style more, and I like working with it so that was good for me. They had a nice portrait ring light that was only about a hundred bucks. May have to pickup one of those in the future, as it was a sweet light and not a lot of clams to bring it home. Of course, this is how they get you, this is how they get us all, right? It's a crack house in there, they are just really dealers, and we're the unsuspecting "user community." (No, really I can quit at any time. Honest! Ok, so maybe not so much.)

Was a fun shoot and I managed to wrangle a few workable shots out of it. Nothing earth shattering but you know I met a nice model and all. Can't think of a better way to spend part of a day really then playing with my camera, can you? Nope, didn't think so.

For this, I used the Canon 5DS with the walkabout lens and the existing lighting rig. 

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Schoolhouse Rocked

This weekend, I had opportunity to attend the Gillespie County schoolhouse tour. The tour is itself both a conference and a tour-they invite teachers to come from all over Texas, attend workshops, and tour the historic schoolhouses of Gillespie County, Texas. You probably could have guessed most of that without me telling you but, what you might not have guessed, is that Gillespie County has a disproportionate number of schoolhouses. When I say "disproportionate" I really mean a record number, as in almost more than any county in the United States. There's some mention of "world record" or some such thing, but you get the idea. There are a record number of these small, historic schoolhouses dotting the rural Texas landscape out that way. To get inside of these places and shoot is quite a treat. They are historic buildings, crafted in the style of the early 1900's typically, very central Texas in their construction. Think lots of old stone, wooden floor places and you've pretty much got it.

The trip itself was a bit of fun. We drove out to Fredricksburg by way of the Texas Hill Country so we got to pass through many of the small towns. There are a host of new wineries out that way and lots of building and construction going on as well. At one point, we hit traffic! That's a trip, let me tell you, as it's usually nothing but quiet, empty country roads out that way.

Once we got out there, we went to a few schoolhouses. The first school we visited, I got to talk to a man who had attended the school as a child. He also served as Sheriff of the town for a while (more on Sheriff Milton in a future post.) Next up, we visited a school that had a new school in the front with the older, original school out back. We were originally told the old, historic school was "filled with snakes," but this turned out not to be the case. One of the nice ladies from the historical center walked us back there and pushed open the door. We found no snakes but, in what was described as the "snake pit" we found a wonderful place to shoot. Really the best shooting of the day in that little schoolhouse (more on this to follow as well.) One of the walls was pink and had a chair and another wall had a green door with a green chair. It was awesome and reminded me a bit of the recent Dakota trip. Really fabulous finds there, I tell you, great shooting.

Then, we finished off the school tour by going to Luchenbach, Texas, the town made famous by the song ("Waylon, Willie, and the boys" were not there, I can assure you.) We got stuck in the rain and I shot off a few "car windshield in the rain shots" (more to come on this later, I promise) before we toured the last old schoolhouse before heading back to Austin. On the way back, we stopped in Stonewall, Texas to hunt for some peaches. The hunt was a success, at least, as I returned with a small basket of fresh peaches. Yum!

All in all, a great trip. Some great finds, I got to meet the Sheriff, got some peaches, and fired off more than a few shots I might actually like. Oh, and in perhaps even better news, I managed to find a flash card from Dakota I hadn't uploaded yet so, on top of all of this, I got to check out more Dakota images as well. Cool beans.

You know it's shooting season when I am shooting way more than I can upload! I've been invited tomorrow to shoot a model. Going to try to make it over to Precision Camera for the lunchtime model shoot so maybe look for some shots from that to come soon as well. Happy shooting season, y'all!

Have a peach!

Until next time...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Abandoned School Tour

Possibly heading out tomorrow to shoot the Gillespie County schoolhouse tour. Every year they have a tour of the abandoned schoolhouses in Gillespie County, Texas (think Fredricksburg here.) That's right, I'm going out near places with names like "Stonewall," "Johnson City," and the oh-so-famous Luchenbach. Yes, that's right. I'm headed to Luchenbach, Texas only without Waylon, Willie, and the boys (they'll have to head out on their own. Sorry, fellas!)

This shot is from our recent Dakota trip. It's from Rugby, North Dakota, on a farm. As part of my Dakota trip I did manage to shoot a couple of old schoolhouses and so, what can I say? I just can't get my fill of them. Out to Gillespie I go, "God willing and the creek don't rise." (It's supposed to rain tomorrow. Here's hoping the weather holds.)

In other, almost unrelated news, I have been doing battle with my tripod yet again. Got it together, sort of. Managed to attach the foot back to its rightful place, after "Special Forces" Dan was kind enough to mail it back to me from Dakota. All well and good, but then the damn head got loose, so I had to tighten that, and then it pinched me and pissed me off. Damn tripod, how I curse you so! Still better than the alternative, so I'll shut up now but, c'mon man, did you really have to pinch me? Must you draw blood like this? What's next? Care for a pound of flesh to go with that, you utter vampire you!

Couldn't manage to find my kick plate yet again. Somebody asked me on the Internets what a kick plate is. That one's easy, man, it's the part of the camera I keep loosing! Seriously, it's also called a "quick release plate" or a "side kick" and it's the part of the tripod that attaches to the camera so that you can remove the camera more quickly from the tripod head. Annoying but necessary in proper tripod operation. Of course, the little "quick release plate" is prone to getting lost, especially in my camera bag. Always seem to loose the freaking things. Managed to find it only after totally emptying my camera bag and scouring the bowels of the old girl. Managed to find almost everything *but* the kick plate (old boarding pass, stale crackers, about five old pens, spent flash memory, the list goes on. Geesh, what do I keep in there?) Finally found it. Of course, it's always in the last place you look, right?

Seriously, I so should do a blog post on what's in my camera bag, just so I embarrass myself into cleaning it out some. Why do I carry around all of this crap? I need to strip down and do the visual artist equivalent of "an acoustic set" sometime soon. It's either that or get a freaking pack mule and, frankly, I don't want to go with the donkeys, m'kay.

Who am I kidding? Even if I were locked in a room with nothing else, I'd still misplace the freaking kick plate. Man, I so hate that thing, it's not even funny. 

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dakota Road

This is a road in rural North Dakota. This is what the roads look like there. This is the vast expansion, the big open sky, the heartland of America in all its glory. An interesting thing about my trip to Dakota-when I was young I would have never wanted to go there, to this place, to see roads like this. Nope, not me. I was much more of a city kid. Always wanting to be near the action, flying by the seat of my pants, hanging on with friends, jumping stoplights, and partying in nightclubs until late at night. There's something about being in this kind of land, seeing this kind of place, that really changes you. I can feel it in my bones. Maybe it's just me getting old. Maybe I'm wiser now than I once was. Those friends who jumped stoplights and dressed up in goth clothing to hang out downtown in nightclubs seem all but a distant memory to me now. Now, why I welcome sights like this.

I didn't grow up in this land. It's not in my blood, not my bones, not a deep set part of me, no, but I welcome it. I enjoyed seeing it. A funny thing about image processing from this trip. Yes, I photographed a lot of empty rooms. Heck, I always do that, don't I? But, the images that really speak to me seem to be more of this nature. This big open sky. Those fields, That rural icon that, to me anyway, just screams "Dakota!" at the top of its lungs. Yes, there's something about that place that attracts me, but it's not really, or perhaps more precise to say not *only* in the abandoned architecture and the essence of the farm people. It's the land itself. I'm somehow drawn to the land itself.

It sure was different anyway.

Until next time...