Friday, November 28, 2008

an ike thanksgiving

If you live in the Houston-Galveston area, you have probably heard about the layoffs where I work - at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Due to the heavy flooding of the island during Hurricane Ike, most of the university's buildings were damaged leaving patients no other choice but to seek care at other hospitals in the area. The University of Texas Board of Regents then voted to layoff 3,800 employees as a result of the falloff in revenue. I was fortunate - my job was spared, but many healthcare workers and support staff are now without jobs after already losing their homes and belongings to Ike. It's hard to say what will happen to Galveston and UTMB in the next six months. You hope for the best and give whatever support you can to the many hardworking professionals now facing Ike's second blow, but most of all you give thanks for what you have - family, friends, and the fact that the sun will rise in the morning.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

polynesian girl

In honor of my shooting partner at the Renaissance Festival last weekend, Larry Patrick, here's an 11x14 crop of the lovely Polynesian girl that posed for us early in the day. Larry's got a great body of work going at his web site of our day's shooting at:
Postprocessing of the image above involved using a sepia layer to desaturate the photo, bringing back some color to her eyes and lips, and vignetting the edges. Be sure to click the photo for a larger view.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

fall flowers

We've lived in our current house for two and a half years, and it always amazes me that in November a hibiscus bush on the side of our house begins to bloom profusely. On November 20 you wouldn't think you'd see such color and splendor, as pine needles and leaves seem to take over the landscaping. It bucks the odds, stands up to the cool fall breezes, and reminds me that even though January is right around the corner, hope and a splash of color are all that takes to get you through the coldest of winters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

rickshaw girl

The photo above was taken at the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville, TX. A group of photographers from the Bay Area Photo Club went up on Sunday to shoot the event - an annual festival of medieval culture with the accompanying food and frivolity. There were, to say the least, some great characters there, and most were more than willing to let you take their photos. Fellow BAPC member Larry Patrick and I teamed up, using his Alien Bees triggers - firing a Nikon SB800 flash through a small softbox mounted on a monopod. One of us would shoot while the other would run the flash, and then we'd switch off. This photo was taken pretty late in the day. I took 20 photos of this woman, and I must say probably 15 of them are keepers - such an engaging face with a great hat and hair to frame it. Usually, you'd think it would take a couple of shots to get you in the ballpark - both in exposure and comfort working with the model, but this was the first frame I took. The image was cropped slightly, toned with Nik Silver Efex, and the corners were burned with Photoshop. To see some of Larry's shots, check out his blog at:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

finding a new home

This photo was taken at Armand Bayou early one morning when I was out practicing some panning blurs - where you shake your camera as you take the photo creating an out of focus abstraction of the subject. I was shooting trees on one side of the bayou, and when I looked across I saw the scene above so I took a couple of photos. I didn't think much about them for quite a while, but when the Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake announced they were holding an auction, I thought this print might be good to donate since it was of local interest. So last Saturday night they had the auction. There were some great items there. The theme was "small works by great minds," since the artwork had to be no larger than 11"x14". Anyway, as I stood in line to pay for a bluebonnet painting that I bid on and won, a young woman stood in the next line with my photo, which she had won. I probably should have told her that it was my photo she was holding...told her a little about the story of how it was shot and processed...but I didn't. I paid for my bluebonnets and quietly left the Arts Center, knowing that my print was getting a life outside of my computer. I thought about how casually I had dismissed this shot, and yet someone else had thought enough of it to buy it and bring it into their home. And that's what any piece of art (or person for that matter) needs - a place to call home, a place where they're valued.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The photo above is of the pilings where a Galveston restaurant once stood over the Gulf of Mexico. It was destroyed during Hurricane Ike, and all that's left are these pilings. I've read news stories recently that some of these businesses are going to rebuild in the same location. Is it the lure of tourism dollars that causes people to think they can beat mother nature? Will tourism ever return to pre-Ike levels in Galveston? Hard to know. I see a church group tent along Broadway every day as I head home that offers a free meal at 3:30; and when I pass by at 5:30 it's still going strong. For me, it's hard to think of tourism when local residents just need a hot meal.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

men of the sea

The images above are all potential environmental portraits for the next Bay Area Photo Club honors night meeting. The top two are of Captain Kip Files, who sailed the tall ship Elissa out into the Gulf of Mexico during her sea trials in the spring. The first shot is probably less of an environmental portrait than any I'm considering submitting next week, but there's something about it that's really appealing to me - a sailor piloting the ship back to dock after a day at sea silhouetted against the late-day sun. No, it's not your typical portrait ... but it sure was quite a scene as I stood below him with my wide angle lens. The second shot of Captain Files was taken at the back of the boat midway through the sail. As I took photos of him smoking, he joked that his wife better not see these. Sorry, Captain, seven months is as long as I can wait. The bottom photo was taken last weekend in Galveston as a shrimp boat docked. This shrimper who was securing the line, I learned, was a king crab fisherman from Alaska and was visiting the boat owner to help shrimp and work on his damaged house after Ike. So, here are two men of the sea, stopping in Galveston on their journeys - on as disparate a mission as you can imagine.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

not much of a catch

Here's another environmental portrait of a shrimper ... taken on the Bay Area Photo Club field trip this past Saturday in Galveston. You'd never guess, but this shot was taken in mid-day sun - the background was SO bright, it really took some finessing to knock it down in tone and lighting in Photoshop. I used some layers with varying exposures to take the background down, then used Nik Silver Efex to make a sepia layer and mixed it with the full saturation layer at about 64%; also brought up the sharpness in the face, hands, and shirt - which I thought were visually interesting. .... I asked the guy how shrimping was, and he said "not much of a catch." I think I could say the same thing about my photos Saturday. It was one of those days. Comments welcome.