Monday, January 19, 2015

Change of Plans

I will not be at the Aurora Open Studio tonight.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Aurora Open Studio

Everyone is invited. I actually have wall space even though I haven't done much about putting it to use. Every month I say that before the next open studio I will get it done--maybe next month. LOL My lease is up in February so I only have one more shot at it if I don't renew.

Aurora is located on the corner of Aurora and Harvard in the Heights. Four blocks south of Yale. Very easy to find and parking is usually available. The poster was designed by Harris Panisch one of the artists at the studio. 

IMPORTANT ADDENDUM: The studio is 4 blocks south of the North Loop (610) and 1 block east of Yale. Somehow part of that sentence got deleted.


Alcy has been under the weather with a serious sinus infection for the past several days and it has been uncomfortably cold for Houston--or at least this Houstonian. So we are photographing ice. I am calling it that because I don't want it getting around that I am photographing flowers.

I am really just riding the coattails of Alcy's latest project but that's okay. She's not complaining, yet.

We still have a few logistics to work out but this may be an ongoing project. Don't tell anyone but it does beat Mercer. I need to create a light box that is workable and inexpensive. Sure wish I could figure a way to do this at the studio with the copy stand but I think that is out.

Alcy has a different name for her portion of the project but I am thinking Winter's Flowers.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lensbaby Day

Alcy at the Antique Center
Michael Curso just joined the Lensbaby club. Along with Alcy, we each packed up our Lensbaby equipment and headed out to see what we could find on a pretty miserable rainy day. Michael is turning out some very interesting photography and it is always a pleasure to go shooting with him. I am very hit and miss with the Lensbaby but I came home with a couple that I think are presentable.

Michael was using mostly the Pinhole/Zone Plate optic. I came home and put that on my B&H wishlist. I got a nice gift card from B&H and think that is a pretty good use for it.

We first headed to Texas Antique at the old Northwest Mall. I started the day off great by dropping the D750 about two and a half feet on to the concert sidewalk. Surprisingly it bounces. So far I haven't found any problem beyond popping the silver ring off of the front of the Lensbaby. Wasn't a good way to start the day. After an hour or so at the antique store we headed to the Houston Arboretum but got rained out after a short while. Grabbed lunch at Star Pizza and drove through Glenwood Cemetery but didn't take any photos. Back to the studio and called it a day. But I am getting a little enthused about possibly using the Lensbaby more.

Alcy at Star Pizza
Alcy at the Arboretum

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cold Today

Today it is exceptionally cold for Houston. It is not unpleasant because there is little wind. I wanted to do something that evoked cold so I spent most of the day in the only 'warm' room in the house, the kitchen.

This is a quat blossom. I think it is a loquat but it may be qumquat. I can never remember which. Anyway, I don't think it should be blooming this time of the year. The cold will put an end to that.

This is a little awkward but it is something that I think I will keep working on. But it needs a little sophistication in the technique department. Something beyond hand held on my kitchen table.

Reminds me a little of the time I had failed to replace the defective heater coil in the pickem up truck. Who needs a stinkin' heater in Houston. Well the day it stayed below freezing all day it would have been nice. I had put five candles on the dash to be able to scrape the windshield clear in the morning. Thinking that it would thaw before quitting time I left the candles at home. Unable to scrape it clear enough that it wouldn't freeze over within two blocks, I finally gave up and drove home with my head stuck out the window.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

The First Day of 2015 and Celebrating a Birthday

The first was Alcy’s birthday. The day was dull, overcast, rainy, blaugh—sum it up as depressing. If it had been the first such day it could probably have been overlooked but it was just one in a long series of dull days that we can frequently have during the winter in Houston. Photography was out so we decided to go to a movie.

Going to a movie with me is about as depressing as the most miserable weather. First I do not keep up with movies so I never have any idea what is currently showing. I have no idea if they might or might not be of any entertainment value. Add that to the fact that there are certain actors that I will not go to a movie they are in. Same for certain directors that are on my non-support list. Since this includes almost everyone in Hollywood you generally have to find a movie that has no one that I have ever heard of before if I am going to fork over money.

Alcy had a movie in mind, sorry but right now I can’t remember the name. We headed to a theatre up on FM2920, but it wasn’t showing there. Couldn’t decide on any of the movies that were available so we drove to a different chain on the other side of north Houston at 249 and FM1960. It wasn’t showing there either and again couldn’t make a selection. 

We went back to her place to find where the movie was showing and it was only at theaters on the south side of Houston so we punted on that one. Opened up the Internet and looked at a few trailers of the movies we could remember from the two theaters we had visited. I checked the actors and directors. Not surprisingly I had never heard of anyone in any of them other than Christian Bale in Exodus and I really don’t know much about him.  Where did all the actors go that I can’t stand? I could almost accept that as good karma except I knew this was merely an aberration.

I selected A Woman in the Night or something like that because cinematically it was the most interesting but Alcy has nightmares and doesn’t enjoy hers nearly as much as I enjoy mine to that was out. We finally compromised on Big Eyes, which was showing at both of the theaters so we went back to FM2920.

It was neither good, bad or indifferent. It wasn’t offensive or scary. Marginally entertaining and without all the political correctness forced on it by looking backwards and judging the past by the present it would have almost been tolerable. Would I have paid money to see it if I had known more about it—not likely. But then again that goes for almost any movie you might mention that has been made within the last thirty or forty years. And it was a considerable step above the last movie we went to see which thankfully I have forgotten both the name and the plot; had something to do with stealing money—I am pretty sure it had a plot although it wasn’t recognizable I feel certain there must have been one.

The next time we want to see a movie I am dragging out the VCR and my tape of On The Beach. That was made back when all we had to get excited about was nuclear annihilation and not all this wimpy political correctness crap.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Last Day of 2014

Not to complain about the year but here's hopping that today was assigned to get all the crap out of the way for the upcoming year. .

Yesterday Alcy brought her computer to the studio to work. Last night she called to let me know that she had the AC cord for both her computer and mine so we made arrangements to meet for breakfast this morning so I could pick up my cord.

We met, went to breakfast and then went shopping for me a new TV because my analog to digital converter box bit the dust a couple of days ago. No one had what I wanted in stock--24" max and preferably smaller. All sold out at Christmas so they say. Gave up on that and shopped for some items that Alcy needed for a flower photography project she has in mind. The only success of the day. I drove Alcy home and headed to the studio. On arriving at the studio realized that I had not picked up the AC cable. I stayed and read until around 4:30 when I went out to lunch. When I got back to the studio it was under lockdown. It is closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day. Well it ain't New Years yet. I came home.

Decided I would go to a movie--a very, very unusual thing for me to even consider. An obvious desperation move. There is not a movie showing I would pay good money to see. No movie, no TV, what am I going to do to entertain me. I think I may do a washing. That wouldn't do anything to help. I don't have a front loader so there wouldn't be anything to watch except a big brown box vibrating.

What a way to end the year.

My intent was to post the New Years Resolution which I hinted at a few days ago. It's on the computer at the studio so I end the year with a whine instead.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I and the new Rodin in the sculpture garden at the MFA seems to share a similar opinion of the docent who didn't move when he noticed me trying to photograph the sculpture. I just shrugged my shoulder and said to myself, "It adds scale."

I once read a book about Rodin that mentioned that he had been rejected from an exhibition because it was thought that he had cast a mold from a living person for the sculpture he wanted to enter. Apparently he hadn't but assuming that to be the case the French must set some sort of world record for the size of their feet. There are three Rodins in the sculpture garden and on all three the feet seem considerably out of proportion to the rest of the figure--either that or he really had a thing about feet.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Again and Again at The Winged City Installation

Everyone seems to enjoy photographing The Winged City installation at Discovery Green. When Paula asked to shoot with us I asked if she had photographed them and when I learned she hadn’t suggested it. Alcy, Alex, Debi and a new photographer, Ricky, joined us.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Becoming a Tradition

I don't suppose you can call something a tradition if you have only done it twice, but shooting downtown on Christmas Day is worth making a tradition.

Alcy, Debi and I did Christmas on Tuesday, Debi did family Christmas on Wednesday and Alcy had to work today, Thursday. 

So today, Debi and I met at the studio at 6:15am and headed downtown to shoot the city deserted on Christmas Day. We were not the only people there but there were very few. We arrived well before sunrise to take advantage of the blue hour--that lasts about fifteen to twenty minutes We shot until almost 9. Then we headed to Denny's for breakfast and decided to catch a movie. Saw something about some fellow who broke the German enigma code during World War II. Pretty good though I'm not much of a movie person. By then Alcy was off work so we drove out and picked her up for dinner. A little cold early in the morning but in spite of that a very nice Christmas Day.

Tomorrow it is back downtown to do the Winged City again with Debi and Paula. Alcy is doing family Christmas but will join us if they finish early enough. Then it will be over for another year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Alcy, Debi and I had our Christmas on the 23rd since Alcy works Christmas Day and Debi was doing family on the 24th.

As usual I am a lousy gift giver. I have great admiration for people that are good at gift giving. Both Alcy and Debi are—so I made out like a bandit.

Several months ago I shared with Alcy a poem that I like very much. The poet claims that it is the shortest poem in the English language. I think I could write one that would be one letter shorter but then I am not a poet.

Alcy is into calligraphy and I sorta made a suggestion that I would really like to have a really well done copy of the poem framed. She went me one better. Instead of doing calligraphy, she decided that since I am a photographer, okay, we are photographers, that the letters should be photographs of objects that are shaped like the letters. She found photographs that spelled out the poem and had them matted and custom framed for me. A very thoughtful and personal gift. The poem is by Eli Seigel…

I, Why?

I think all photographers or at least a lot of photographers are actually frustrated painters. I joke that I paint once every 15 yeas. I just have so little patience for learning the techniques that I give up before I have given it a really good chance. While I was at the Monet exhibit at the MFA with Alcy and Debi I wanted so badly to stop by the art supply on the way home to buy a canvas. Okay, I’m no Monet and I know it. But it sure did stir a lot of desire. That was a month ago. Yesterday, I opened Debi’s packages to find five or six canvases of various sizes (three small ones to practice on) and a set of oils. My brushes are old but old brushes do more of what I like than new ones so I can hardly wait to get a little free time. Being in the studio with a dozen or so painters I will be a little intimidated in showing anything I might produce but then again I might just give up photography. NOT.

In Reference to Faux Pas

I realize that I seem to share an awful lot of my screw ups on this blog. One of the things that I learned from Hattersley very early on was that it is our screw ups that gives us our humanity. His philosophy was that by sharing or confessing, whichever, our faux pas we gave others the opportunity to accept their own humanity. I liked that idea then and I like it now. It is my gift to you to know that you are not alone. As my older brother frequently says, "No need to send candy." And no, I do not know why he says that.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Faux Pas

If I were French my middle name would have to be faux pas. There are time when I can do the dumbest things possible. I was asked to take photographs at the studios holiday party last Saturday. I told them that I was a lousy event photographer then did my best to prove that. But the pièce de résistance occurred after the party. I thought I marked all of the photographs to be uploaded to my computer and without checking formatted the disc. Well, as you might have guessed I only marked a very few, maybe like three or four. The rest, all gone.

Well, I borrowed a SD card from Alcy for the shoot in Richmond so that I would not overwrite anything on the card I had used. I was a little slow getting to the studio today but when I did I researched recovery software and took a shot in the dark at a free software called Recuva. Loaded it to my computer and after installing scanned the SD Card. The first scan found nothing. The software suggested a ‘deep scan’ warning that it could take a very long time. What else did I have but time. I tried it. Took just under an hour because it was scanning a single 32gb card rather than a multi-terabyte hard drive. Didn’t work. Nothing, nada. But I’ve got this poof theory that says not to sweat the small stuff, at some point everything is going to work out sorta magically—always does. Remembering my poof theory I decided to do it again. This time it did work. Found every single file and they are all in excellent condition. So, at this point I would recommend that having Recuva on your computer is not a bad idea, but then again your middle name might not be faux pas.

Model Shoots

Well, I wrote a post and then I thought better and deleted it. It was just more of my rambling about photographing children and about a woman I saw Saturday that took my breath away. Everyone knows everything there is to know about the first and don't particularly care about the second.

My photography seems very, very off track and right now I am not sure how to get it back on track. And maybe it is just the time of the year.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

On Track

Debi called around noon to asked if I was on track. I had to ask track for what. Then she reminded me it was Friday and we were going to the Trans Siberian Orchestra at 4. A quick shave and shine and we met up at the studio at 2. Where we had parked last week was $20 and was full. We drove around the block and parked at a meter across the street from the lot for $2. Not a bad beginning for the night.

When Don and Carolyn arrived sometime before us they had been upgraded to box seats so we would not be sitting together. Not a problem. It was interesting. Were it ever on my bucket list it would now be totally off which is about the best that I can say. They had sort of tied it to gather loosely with a story about a young girl in an attic reading letters. Finally when the got to the last letter I thought the grand finale was getting near. They did a big production number with fireballs so hot they could be felt at the back of the arena and I thought that was it. But wait, there were several more numbers and another big production and more and more. There were at least three or four finales before the grand finale. I began to pray at the end of each number that the next would be the real grand finale. And people say that I go on and on.

Finally it was over and my ear drums could see some possibility of getting back to normal. If I hadn't been nearly deaf before I would surely be now. I had talked to Carolyn about going to dinner at Pappasitos over in the Hilton after the show and she had agreed, so we headed for Pappsitos. It would be a 45 minute wait. I suggested that we hit the Papasitos out on 1960 since it would be on their way home (but a thirty plus mile drive for me). I forgot about Christmas and Willowbrook Mall. Traffic was horrendous. We finally got there. Don and Carolyn were already there and had made a reservation--the wait time was one hour and 45 minutes. Oh well, it gave us an opportunity to sit and talk although we seriously considered crossing the street to the Coney Island. They were fairly close on the wait time. We drew a great server, the meal was excellent as usual and we all enjoyed it. Well except for the part where Santa and his elves were serenading off key--way off key. Sure appears they had been hitting the Tequila pretty hard. Debi and I got back to the studio a little after eleven and I should be in bed but  who can sleep when they are full of enchiladas, so very full of enchiladas.

It was a very interesting night to say the least. Now for the Christmas Party at the studio tomorrow and a photoshoot in Richmond Sunday. Going to do Christmas with Debi and Alcy on Tuesday, shoot with Debi on the 25th and with Paula and Debi on the 26. 2015 is going out with a bang if only I survive. I'm certainly will be hitting the Two Old Goats frequently.

[For those who do not know, I am not referring to anyone I know should you be confused. Two Old Goats is an essential oils ointment that helps relieve the pain of arthritis. I actually will not be hitting it, I will be rubbing it on my knee.]

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Mullett

Sunday the Sugarland Photography Meetup scheduled a shoot at a place called The Mullett in the Almeda area south of Houston. I wasn't a member of the Sugarland group but Saundra Salter sent me an email and I quickly joined and registered for the shoot. Got to visit briefly with Rudy Hernandez a co-worker from the many years ago at Southwestern Camera. Rudy has had a successful run as a professional photographer and photojournalist. He has a highly respected reputation in Houston. The Mullett was an art supply/art studio affair but as I understand it the young man that set it up had been murdered and they were being evicted. Outside it is Alvagraphics on steroids. The graffiti is phenomenal and covered an area larger than Alvagraphic’s old building. Some fellow was there that let us inside to do some photographs.

The shoot ended fairly early and one of the women asked me if there was anything else in the area. The Kemah Boardwalk was the only thing I could think of so Sandy, Liz, Saundra and I headed over there. I had mentioned before I knew that Saundra and I would be going that if they go they should eat at Tookies. When we met up in the parking lot at the Boardwalk Sandy mentioned that they had seen Tookies and almost stopped. About that time Alcy called and when I told her where we were she said that we had better not go to Tookies without her—sorry it was too late for that. We went back over the Clear Lake Channel Bridge to Tookies before we started to shoot.
I probably haven’t eaten at Tookies more than a half dozen times or so times since Janet and I quit sailing and I have been there three times within the last three weeks. That’s okay, you can’t stop too often at Tookies for a No. 99, their specialty burger with a wine marinated patty. Great eating.

Here are a few of the shots from the day…



 I didn't do much at the Boardwalk but I did shoot a few of the rides.

As a matter of explanation; I do not generally put the borders around the images that I upload to Meetup sites. The image itself is resized to 1024 pixels on the long side before the border and occasionally I will take the time to add borders before posting to the blog, sometimes not.