New Content!

I have finally gotten my lazy rear-end moving and uploaded some new content to my website. Three new galleries are now online (links below).

I am also making moves to reorganizing my website. Step one has been to implement a new gallery format. The galleries were created using SimpleViewer Pro. Unfortunately, my long-lasting resistance to using Flash has lost. However, if you do not have flash, the galleries should default to a simple thumbnail view that should still link to the full-res images. (this is important for folks viewing on mobile devices)

Step two is to update the portfolio part of the website. You’ll notice a new link to a “gallery”. It’s under development right now, so there is no content yet. But I will be working on this soon!

Anyway, on to the new images….

This gallery contains random images that I’ve taken this year. It isn’t a big gallery, but I will add to it as time goes on.

MISC Gallery – click to enter

In late February, I went on a fishing trip to Toledo Bend Reservoir on the border between Texas and Louisiana. The lake is enormous, and we only explored a small part of it. It is a man-made reservoir that was created by flooding a heavily wooded valley. You’ll notice this by the numerous bare stumps sticking out of the water.

Toledo Bend Gallery – click to enter

This last gallery presents my recent efforts to shoot the local wildflowers. I have been exploring Barker and Addicks reservoirs (particularly George Bush Park and also Bear Creek Pioneers Park) in west Houston.

Wildflowers Gallery – click to enter

The Yellow Flowers Are Back

I’ve been exploring the equestrian trails in Bear Creek Pioneers Park in the past 10 days. Currently there is a massive bloom of yellow wildflowers, and it is almost as good as the bloom that happened last year (see this post).

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The blooms are mainly two types, just like last year: prairie buttercups and golden ragwort (also called golden groundsel or butterweed).

Shake & blur
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The prairie buttercups are small, yellow flowers on plants that reach about a foot tall or less. There are multiple blooms per plant, but the blooms do not occur in clusters.

Prairie Buttercup
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The golden ragwort also have small, yellow flowers, but the plants are generally taller and can reach heights of two feet or more. There are multiple blooms per plant, and the blooms are usually in clusters.

Golden Ragwort
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Snakes are common to the reservoir area, and it’s about this time of year when they frequently turn up on the trails. This western cottonmouth hissed and showed me its white mouth as I approached.

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I get frequent reminders from family and friends about watching out for snakes. Yes, of course, I’m watchful and careful. Snakes are everywhere and you cannot avoid them. I go slow and make so much noise, that I rarely see them (they’re probably scared off long before I get there).

The flowers have just peaked out, I believe. Some of the buttercups have just started going to seed as of my last outing (Mar. 28). I’ve been out to shoot four times now; my first visit was Mar. 20.

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It’s great to be out shooting again. And it’s just a great that this place is so close to home.

The wildflower season, in general, is not good this year. However, this little area in Bear Creek Park seems to be doing really well. The blooms are not quite as thick as last year, but they are still pretty good.

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I’ll have more to post from this area. I’ve made four trips out there, and I might go a couple more times while the blooms are still going.

AR 34-38: Back to Photographing

I’ve started up my photography-walk project in the Addicks Reservoir this year. My first walk was in early February, and I’ve managed to take my camera out five times. (Although, I have walked many other times this year without the camera.)

Back on Track
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If you haven’t read about this project, please see this post that explains its purpose and documents the start of it.

Walk #34
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It was rough and non-productive starting out this year. I hadn’t photographed in a serious manner in a long while.

Walk #35
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The light was beautiful (late in the day: warm and directional light) for these walks prior to Daylight Savings Time.

There wasn’t much new growth in February and there were not very many little critters around. We had two spells of very cold weather this past winter and everything seems reluctant to spring back to life.

Walk #36
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I tried slipping back into Photo Mode, meaning I attempted to tune into the things that were attracting my attention, and then worked on capturing them in a meaningful composition. It’s not quite like riding a bike, at least for me. I quickly get out of practice after long periods of not photographing.

Walk #37
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I also played around with motion blurs again. There’s a lot that can be done with a little imagination, and trying abstracts and blurs certainly creates new possibilities regarding photographing the reservoir.

Walk #38
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What I learned last year still holds true. I quickly become out of practice if I don’t photograph for a while, and when I do finally pick the camera up, it’s hard to get my head back into it.

Practicing photography, even if it’s just for a very short while once a week, really helps to keep the momentum going.

AR 33 – Trees in Motion

This is from a while back, about two weeks ago. I’m behind on my work.

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It may seem easy to make these photos. At least that’s how they look in finished form.

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What’s really hard is judging them in the field as they’re shot. I’ve learned that the LCD review doesn’t often show the subtleties that can distinguish between a good photo or a throw-away.

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So that’s it for a while, perhaps. I have a major problem now with the time change and my normal walking route. The days are getting shorter and it’s significantly darker when I walk now.

The crossing at Highway 6 and Patterson Road no longer has a time delay for pedestrians. When the light turns green for Patterson traffic, so does the crosswalk. Nearly 100% of drivers starting up do not realize when there are pedestrians present and that those pedestrians have the right away.

This makes for an incredibly dangerous situation further worsened by lack of light. By the time I’m back from my 4 miles and ready to cross the 6 lanes of Highway 6, it’s dim enough to need a flashlight.

Anyway, I’ll have to find an alternative. I still need to exercise!

AR 32 – Fall Has Arrived

Fall, or what passes for fall down here in Texas, is in full swing. Today is cold and rainy, and I probably won’t get out for a walk. I don’t mind the cold, but the damp isn’t good for electronics.

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I thought my fascination with motion blurs wouldn’t last very long, but it seems to have taken hold of my interests. The more I do it, the more I get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

What I like about it is that it abstracts colors and shapes into information that is easier to digest. Literal shots are hard to make sometimes because you have to deal with all the information in the photo (the messy looking pile of leaves and branches in the near background that’s in focus with the foreground subject, for example). Blurred abstracts can smear away other detail not critical to the main subject if you do it right.

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Not all scenes lend themselves to blurring, and there are many factors to play with such as shutter speed, camera movement, focal length, and distance to the subject. I’ve mostly played around with simple panning along defined lines in the scene (e.g. tree branches or trunks).

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We’ll see where this goes. The days are getting shorter and daylight savings is about to end. My normal walks will be in near darkness soon.

AR 30 – A Blur of Interest

Here we go again with more motion blurring :-)

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It’s fun, yet difficult. It takes a lot of trial and error and I’m just barely beginning to get a feel for it.

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I enjoy the effect because it abstracts the scene into basic forms that, hopefully, are still recognizable. But it still captures the same colors and forms that I’m noticing with my eyes when I see the scene.

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Of course the literal shot is still interesting, such as this yellow flowering weed and bee. There were many bees working around this plant.

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Finally, another snake sighting. I was moving towards a palm tree to try a motion blur when I instinctively checked the ground first. Sure enough, there lay a cottonmouth.

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It’s funny, and a little scary, how many times I’ve ventured off-path only to discover a snake in waiting. At least I’ve learned to check first.

AR 29 – Motion

This post picks back up on regular timing. This walk was just two days ago.

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I’ve had a recent and sudden inspiration, many thanks to Marti Jeffers. Basically, this is a new approach of seeing the world in shapes, lines, and colors through the technique of motion blur.

The above shot was taken while I was walking. I also panned the camera upwards a bit during the exposure.

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This photo above was taken during high winds. I held the camera nearly still for the exposure.

AR 28 – Trees and Post

This entry is for a walk I did almost a month ago. I’m way behind on things after all the activities and trips that have happened in October.

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The fungus covered tree is an interesting one that I see every time that I walk. I’m becoming familiar now with almost every tree and bush along the path.

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The path is marked with posts every quarter mile. Above the engraved numbers are little red hearts. This post is weathered pretty well.

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AR 27 – Trees, Seeds, and Snakes

The weather was beautiful yesterday with temps in the mid-to-high 80′s and significantly lower humidity. The days are getting noticeably shorter too, so my walks are taking place effectively later in the day in terms of daylight.

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I’ve not been too focused on photography lately. My mind has wandered a lot during the past two walks, and I’ve not concentrated much on seeing and discovering things that I want to shoot.

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But that is the purpose of this photo-walk project. The more I do it, the more accustomed I am to seeing and photographing, and the easier it becomes for me to slip into a meaningful and productive photographic process (and get to my happy place).

I’m hoping to get out today too, especially since the weather is still really nice here. I’m about to head into a period of about three weeks where I won’t get much opportunity to go walk in the reservoir.

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Once again I was startled by a cottonmouth right next to the paved trail. I didn’t even see it until it had flipped around and was quickly wiggling away. I missed getting a shot. Shortly later, I came across a rather large one stretched across the pavement. It also took off quick but then paused in the grass next to the trail.

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