Cooling my heels… and other body parts, too….

Been camped in Mom’s back room for a few days doing the stuff you do when your elders get elderlier, and woke up this morning to find Fort Worth gone all winter wonderland and whatnot….

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That’s not actually snow, it’s ice – we had a sleet storm come in about weird o’clock. Something over a hundred crashes this morning around the area, and my truck has neither studs nor chains. Looks like I’m here for a while.

I have food, coffee, running water, and crossword puzzles to work with Mom (one of our long-term hobbies). And intermittent Net access. All life is suffering.

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Well, except when it’s not.

Forward into the past..

When I first got serious about black and white photography I spent days wandering the Arboretum in Memorial Park and some of the back trails at Brazos Bend. (This was a while back, long before there WERE digital cameras.) It was a lot of fun and I actually got reasonably good at it. And then came the newspaper work, and eventually came the digicams, and I largely quit the field. It was a lot of time, and effort, and nobody but nobody was interested in buying B&W, or even talking about it. I still have my darkroom but I haven’t actually done anything more than stroll in and dust in several years.

But this afternoon I went walkabout at a section of Terry Hershey Park I haven’t visited for a while, and when I got home and started really LOOKING at the photos I brought back I realized – I’m still seeing it.

I don’t like the results of the conversion quite as much as I do the results I get from film, but that’s probably due to not having practiced as much as I should.

But… it’s time to get the old cameras out again. There are still things they can teach me, and well, I think I’m ready to go back to school.

Onward, into the fog….

Last week I was wandering around at Bastrop, looking at fire damage and getting depressed. Then I found these guys, and they reminded me that there’s nothing to be sad about. It’s just the Wheel turning.

Sometimes you’re on top of the world, and sometimes things just run right over you…. but the Wheel keeps turning, either way.

Let’s hope 2015 has more up than down.

So the batteries are charging and we’ve got a bunch of blank cards; it’s a new year and time to hit the road.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

And so I found out, courtesy of several people’s careless FuBar posts, that a kind of shirttail relative (my sister’s daughter’s significant other, which makes him I don’t know what to me but he’s reasonably cool so I don’t worry about it…) landed a solid role in the Sam Bass Community Theatre’s Christmas show, over in Round Rock. This left me with no options but to grab the little Panasonic and gas up the truck.

It was a very fine show… The adults were believable and the kids were a riot. Almost literally.

As Usual… pix behind pic. Click Pic.

Get Lost!!! (N29.76223, W95.56478)

Found myself wrestling with a bad case of cabin fever yesterday afternoon. Lots to do, as always, but the only thing I really felt like doing was throwing on a pack, grabbing a camera bag and my staff, and hitting the trail.

So I did. (It’s pretty hard to get lost here in the Big City with major streets everywhere, but you can lose the sightlines in the park and it FEELS much more “out there” than it actually is.)

It was a very grey day, which kind of limited the possibilities, but I found a few others…

They’re over HERE. Go look. If you’ve got money burning a hole, you can even acquire copies of your very own, suitable for hanging over the sofa, or the desk, or… (And if you don’t have money, or have better things to spend it on (food, housing, whatever) you can still look. Looking remains free.)

Steampunk

I keep an eye on the doings over at the East End Studio Gallery, because it’s run by some of Houston’s more talented East End Artists, and although I don’t make it over there as often as I ought to (I keep forgetting to put them on the calendar…), once in a while the stars align and I get to sneak over there and be sociable. Or sociable-ISH, anyways. Well, tonight was the second and last night of their Friday Night Steampunk Group Show. Tell the truth, Steampunk grabbed me when it first came up, back when it was more of an engineering motif than an artists’ aesthetic. I’m not particularly enthused any longer, but some of the artists who show at EESG are talented as all get out, so I went on over.

As usual, a mixed bag. Couple of pieces I very much liked, several I thought were okay, most in the middle, and a few that were beyond bizarre. There was a pencil drawing of a Steampunk Penguin going to war that was worth several looks and a couple of good laughs; Julie Zarate showed a painting of a beautiful woman with a clockwork heart and somehow got the skintone to work out so that she looked very believable as an artificial person. There were some other renderings of steampunk-ish women which were attractive work but just didn’t grab me. Pretty much all of the 3d stuff fell into the “I appreciate the amount of work that went into this but it’s just not to my taste” category.

But the pictures were fun.

Quantum Mechanic (flyers) by Deborah Hill.

Steampunk Owls (Mach I-VI) by David Anderson.

Heart Art Project by Francisco Garabito.

Quantum Mechanics (from a series) by Deborah Hill.

Hmmm…

I found the audience more interesting and attractive than the artwork, frankly.

Uh oh… I’ve been caught…

The Selfie craze is getting a wee bit out of hand…

Send Money…

As unlikely as this may sound, I have on occasion been asked: “Where can I buy prints of some of these pieces you shoot? Or some of the other stuff you’ve shown me before?”

And up to now, the answer’s been “Call me and we’ll work something out.”

Which sounds great, but somehow never seems to work, either because the controlled substances wear off, or the phone’s out of order, or there are bills to pay, or the victim gets help, whatever.

So I get why it doesn’t happen, but still… I’ve always wondered, “what if I could soak these lunatics while the insanity’s still in control?”

So I’ve decided to try an experiment.

I’ve signed up for a website where you can order some things online. At the moment the choices are just some few of the prettier Ecuadoran landscapes and people, and a handful of flowers, but I’m expecting to add more as time and technology permit. I’m also going back to shooting the sort of things that look pretty hanging on the wall.

Prints are available in several sizes and every level of finish from plain prints in envelopes to full bore mounted and framed “art” pieces, if that’s your thing. I’m thinking the prices are basically in a range from “low” to “reasonable” (but you’ve got to order big fancy pieces to get up into “reasonable”).

It’s all handled more or less automagically. Yes, they take plastic, yes, there’s a money back guarantee, And yes, the lab does good work. And no, the prints aren’t actually signed; we’ll still have to work that out between us.

The website is behind the kitty on the bicycle.

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(I give you a kitty on a bicycle because (1) this is the internets, made up of equal parts cat videos, cat pictures, and pornography, and cat pictures are the only one of those I have on hand, (2) because Rhiannon DID like to stand on the bicycle, which is both cute enough and odd enough to be memorable, and (3) because people will sometimes reflexively click on cat pictures without thinking “what the heck am I doing?” and some of you may therefore wind up at the website. I think this is called product placement or some such thing.)

Enjoy. Have fun. Spend money. Remember Thanksgiving’s coming up and then the fat guy in red rolls into town.

Hmmm…

Wandered over to the East End Street Festival yesterday.

Didn’t work as hard as I probably should have…. other things on my mind.

Like just precisely how in the heck did I manage to set the new PanaLeica to “exposure autobracket” with a HUGE spread in the brackets, rendering two of every three shots almost completely unrecoverable? Dunno.

Fortunately (or not) I didn’t ruin EVERYTHING.

Jessi Sifuentes, Potter and Mosaic Artist, had a table of recent stuff, much of which I like VERY much. He works in earth tones, mostly, and while I’m normally inclined to cool blues and greys, there’s a draw to his simple geometric designs.

(If I weren’t squeezing the budget pretty tight just now, SEVERAL of those pieces could have come home with me…)

And then of course there was this ultra-cool dood peddling some interestingly complex varieties of hot sauce, sold under the Bravado Spice Co. label.

I’m really not sure I want to call them hot sauces, as they were brisk but a long way short of hot, and much more interesting than your usual “vinegar, tomato, and something with capsaicin” variety. I didn’t know it was even possible to do a mild habanero, but the “pineapple habanero” was something special (sweet with a very slight kick at the back edge) and the “jalapeño – green apple” was surprisingly agreeable. (I’m more into smoky peppers than straight hot ones, so it’s rare I find jalapeño ANYTHING to my taste. This was.)

And of course it’s not a festival in the East End or the Northside without artists. It just can’t happen. So I waved in passing at Elvira Diaz Ocampo and Lizbeth Ortiz (though Lizbeth was hiding in the back of the East End Studio Gallery booth and I’m not sure she saw me).

I didn’t get a good angle on Lizbeth as there was some good traffic at her spot and I didn’t want to break the flow… but got lucky with Elvira and only one customer…

And at that, they did much better than the guy at the Kroger booth.

Slow promo day, I guess. On the other hand he was sticking it out; a bunch of the exhibitors either had or were in the process of packing up about the time the festival hit the midway point… But oh well. Their business.

Of course the big thing about festivals is music… and unfortunately the light was ALREADY very harsh and hard, and the camera did exactly what I told it to do. Dammit. There are some things you can fix when you do that, but lots more you can’t. It turns out that the new camera goes VERY hot magenta when it’s overexposed to the point of being blown out, and my photoshop-fu isn’t strong enough to pull the color curves back to anything I liked, so that leaves only one option: drop the color out and say “Yeah, I meant to do B&W anyway.”

Yeah. Meant to do that.

¡Viva Mexico!

So it was Friday afternoon, I was feeling mostly broke (as usual), and I was (as usual) looking for something interesting to see. Ah. I know. I’ll go to Mexico.

Well, not south of the border Mexico, but Museum Mexico, at the ever-interesting Houston Museum of Natural Science. See, every so often they do a family-friendly party with a “someplace interesting” theme, and this week it’s Mexico.

I went online and paid for my fare (MUCH less than AeroMexico — and no body searches!!) and caught a bus.

C’mon, let’s go. D’you wanna live forever?

{insert hour-long bus-and-train trip here…}

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The Queen is dead. Long live the King.

As some of you know from Facebook mentions, during the last run down to Space Center, I discovered that my favorite walking-around camera, my little Panasonic GF1, wasn’t working. So I took a deep breath and bundled her up (I dunno, some of my cameras are hims and some are hers, and I don’t know what the difference is, but the PanaLeica* is definitely a her) and sent her off to the Panasonic Factory Service shop.

It was too late. Apparently when you sweat as much as I do in the Texas summer, with a camera hanging off your neck, some of the salt gets into the camera and corrodes the internals. So she’s gone to an honorable “remember when?” spot on the shelf above my desk with other bits of personal history – things I’ve run across and can’t bear to part with. When I die someone’s going to wonder “what did he save all this stuff for?” and junk the lot… but until then they’re memories and they stay.

Thing is, I’ve gotten VERY used to having a small inconspicuous close-work camera and my Canons, wonderful tools that they are, are noticeable from half-a-mile away. So the loss of the PanaLeica leaves a noteworthy gap in my working bag.

Enter the GX-7 – the latest update in Panasonic’s scaled-down Micro 4/3 line. It’s essentially a GF1 with several years’ worth of development and refinement. And as a friend/inspiration source dude comments, it’s not nearly as pretty as the GF1 but with the new features and changes, it’s worth it. The friends at The World’s Biggest Camera Store were able to hook me up without leaving the rent unpaid…

Yesterday about 4:00 a new UPS guy swooped across the porch and dropped off a box. (The old guy was a shooter himself, and would usually stick for a few seconds to see what was in the box with the interesting return address…. This one’s not nearly so much fun.)

It took a few minutes of figuring out where the controls went and what some of the new settings do, and an hour or so to spruce up the charge on the battery, and then I tucked the new kid into the camera seat and went out to work. After the pay gig, on the way out, there was a quick stop for this:

The new kid and I are going to be friends. (Yup, this is a “him.”)

*When Panasonic decided to get into the digital camera field, they realized fairly quickly that they had some of the finest electronics engineers known to man, but they didn’t know much about building cameras or lenses. So they turned to the finest camera and lens designers known to man, the guys at Leica. And at about that time Leica had realized they needed to get into digital cameras (thousands of fans banging on the door screaming “Go Digital, Dammit!” will do that for you…) so they were agreeable to several kinds of collaboration – and the results of that were magnificent digital Leicas for the nobility and pretty damn superb digital Panasonics for the peasantry. Digital Leicas carry Leica-based price tags… worth it if you’ve got it but unreachable if you don’t. Digital Panasonics lack the famous Leica Red Dot, but they make first-rate images and they’re priced for peasants. So, since I am at heart and in wallet a peasant …