Posts tagged ‘San Antonio’

A Fresh and Unique Start

I promised myself that I’d listen to my inner creative voice and do more photography once the holidays were over.  That worked, to a point, and I found some unique projects and practiced spur of the moment photography with my cell phone. Not considered “unique” to some, but I am still an electronic neophyte in many areas.

The start of January had my flying back to Rhode Island to assist in some family issues. In the brief four days I was there, my sister told me of a considerable sized migration of snowy owls from Alaska to the East Coast because of a food shortage.  Fairly early on the first morning I was there, and despite the Imageurgings of my sister’s 80 lb, “baby” Sammie, we left her house to head to Comicut Point where she and her husband had seen an owl recently.

I was overjoyed to see the owl, just sitting at low tide, on a sand bar about 50 yards offshore.

 

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Image I was able to get about 20 feet away from him/her? as he looked back over his shoulder at me.  It really was a beautiful bird.

A couple of days later, my sister heard of varied non-confirmed sightings at Sachuest Point Refuge in Middletown, RI.  The benifit to shooting here is that it’s a protected refuge, no dogs, no hunting, and all animals are wild.  It was cold, grey and misty, turning to rain sprinkles just on the coast.  We had hiked about 3 miles on the trails through the refuge and down by the ocean when we made a right hand turn to head back to the trailhead.  We were in the middle of a fairly large clearing with a solitary tree, right on the coast.  I remarked that it would be a great post for field mice or crabs.  My sister looked over me left shoulder to remark about this big seagull gliding in from over the water towards that tree. Suddenly she tensed and said, “Shit!, get your camera up! It’s not a seagull, it’s the owl!”

 

 ImageShe alighted on the top of the tree and just sat there, looking.  We were oblivous to the cold rain or anything around us. We both continued shooting, without looking at our images, until she flew off inland  into the middle of a grove of trees. My sister has returned since then to find a total of 3 snowy owls sharing the hunting grounds.

 

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Our next adventure, during the middle of the month, was to use a groupon that had been bought for me over a year ago.  Starshine got us a hot air balloon ride over Buda, Texas.  She had bought me the groupon for Christmas over a year ago and we had just never gotten around to coordinate our schedules.  So we decided, on a Friday while we were both in bed with heavy cedar allergies, that Sunday morning would be the time to go.

Sunday morning came around too soon and around 3am we stumbled awake, showered and dressed in layers.  We had to be at the meeting place at 0630.  We hit the IHOP for breakfast and had the Jeep on the road by 0430.  Starshine is electroinc wizard between us and by 0615 she navigated us with the GPS on her phone to the “meeting spot”.  Well, there were 8 fast-food restaurants, a Cabela’s, 2 hotels, and a Wal-Mart.  So I drove in circles and she growled at her phone, until we figured that the Wal-Mart matched the address on the balloon companies website.  At 0629, 2 panel vans drove into the Wal-Mart parking lot and I reached for the knife clipped in the front of my pants. The doors opened and a bunch of questionable looking “carnies” piled out.  Slowly people began to get out of their vehicles and we had about 14 poeple grouped around us.  They signed us in and advised a couple of people to visit the Wal-Mart for heavier clothes or shoes (one girl had flat bottomed ballerina slippers on!) and piled us in the van to the “launch site”.  We ended up on a 100-yard square piece of grass, between the Wal-Mart, Cabela’s, and a Hampton Inn.

 

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It took about 45 minutes all-together to inflate the balloon and board all the people.  Everone was kept within the groups but seperated according to weights to keep the basket balanced.  The balloon was 180 feet tall and the basket was rectangular shaped, about 20 feet by 6 feet wide and divided into 5 compartments, including one for the pilot. It was dark when we finally launched and the moon was still very visible.

 

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As the Sun continues to rise, the balloon rose, eventually, to a height of 4200 feet.  I can’t say there was much as far as composition or beauty in the images, but it certainally gave thing a different perspective.

 

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The view up, from inside the balloon.

 

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About an hour and a half into the flight, we were given landing instructions.  We were to turn around and place our backs on what, until now, had been the front of the basket.  We wre to grab the 3″ cotton handles in front of us, bend our knees and brace for impact!  The pilot said he wasn’t sure where we would land, it depended on the winds.  They were 10 MPH at 4200 feet but close to 30 MPH nearer to the ground!  He assured us the he could control the vertical movements of the balloon but, beacuse ther was to landing gear, skids,or brakes, the landing was up to the winds.  He picked a harvested cotton field and we “landed” backwards, at 11 MPH, bounced three times and came to rest sideways in the cotton field.  The basket now looked like bunk beds (or a mauseoleum) with Starshine and I on the bottom and other people stacked beside and above us.

 

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All things considered, we had a ball and would definitely do this again!!  My only desire would be to do it somewhere with scenery or color. However, like the pilot said, in places like that there are usually very few roads which meant very few landing spots, and chance of a long walk home.  As it was here, we had landed in the center of 2 cornfields about 200 yards each, acrossed.  The crew cheif managed to get one of the Suburbans and a trailer acrossed the soft field with some difficulty.  After helping the crew right the basket (1200 lbs) and roll and pack the balloon (700 lbs.), most of us walked acrossed the field to the panel vans waiting to take us back to our vehicles.

 

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Our latest project was a spur of the moment decision.  San Antonio had sleet and freezing rain with temps in the low 20’s the night before.  I had gotten off work around 0800 so I had missed the morning light but I called Starshine on the way home, she had been off that night, and told her that if she wwanted to grab her camera, there was enough ice to be interesting.  We drove through a couple of parks but didn’t see the ice i had on the way home. So we drove the route I had, on the access road beside the airport.  The open runways had provided no cover as the rain was blown sideways and coated the brush along the railroad tracks.  I had intended to just let her shoot, I didn’t have my camera anyway.  But looking at some of the compoistions I remembered what I remembered a seasoned photographer saying in an interview once, “Use what you’ve got”, so I pulled out my phone.  I am an old dinosaur and confirmed computer neophyte…but I’m learning and trying.  So here’s what I came up with alongside the Union Pacific train tracks.

 

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…and…the images are rotated and I can’t figure out how to straightena nd format them. You get the idea.  It was cold, fun, and different.

 

We had planned  date-night that Saturday so we napped and were lazy during the day, got up around 4:00pm and wre invited to stop by Starshine’s son’s and visit with our grandaughter, Kali, for a little while.  Just after we got there, Kali’s Mom came home from work early so we offered to stay and sit with Kali so they could get some stuff done.  I don’t smile too often, but it was a pretty great date-night!!  We DID get our dinner, at Chili’s right before they closed. But since that was where we had had our first, un-official “date”, I think our weekend turned out pretty good.  Love you Princess

 

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San Antonio Missions & an Owl :)

I spent the day getting outside for a bit. It was 80 degrees and sunny (got my first sunburn of the year), a gorgeous day. My aunt & I took the “Mission Trail” here in San Antonio. I’ve taken it many times before but there is always something to see from another perspective. And, occassionally, if you look in nooks and crannies…you will find something unexpected…like an owl! I’ve been searching for a while now for owls to photograph. They are my 94 year old grandmothers favorite animal. She has hundreds, maybe thousands in her room. However, I wanted to get a photo of one (or more) that I could print and hang in her room. She is in rehab right now for a hip fracture and will be home in a few weeks. She will be so happy to see the new picture in her room (if I can decide which one to print).

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The Alamo

 

Mission Concepcion

Mission Concepcion

 

Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose

Mission San Juan

Mission San Juan

Mission Espada

Mission Espada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

soft glow

soft glow

Arches

Arches

Stairs to...

Stairs to…

              

Textured Roof

Textured Roof

 

Berries in Bloom

Berries in Bloom

            

Owl

Owl

Owl

Owl

Owl

Owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owl

Owl

Owl

Owl

Owl

Owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was impossible for me to choose the one I liked best so…you get several to choose from 🙂

Happy New Year!

I am lucky to work in a place where I get a few moments here and there to have a little fun. Working New Years Eve is nothing new however tonight I was able to get on the roof of the 24 story hospital I work at and take my photos from there. It was a great view. Here are a few shots that you might enjoy.

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Christmas Lights in San Antonio

I had a great night with my best friend tonight. Doug and I went to the Riverwalk and then to the Historic Pearl Brewery to take a few shots. I could not convince him to take pictures too. He said he was having too much fun watching me…awe…

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San Antonio Zoo experience

So Stacy and I managed to both get the same time off last week, but then couldn’t find an imaging project.  Her Grandma turned 94 last week, and loves owls, so we decided to hit the zoo. I researched it online and they have 3 species of owls, and I remember going to a hands on class for kids with my daughter a few years back.

So we get to the zoo, temps in the 60’s, plan our approach and attack…and can’t find the dumb birds? We finally find a zoo worker to ask (yes I’m a guy who can ask directions) and she tells us “Oh no, that whole section is closed for renovation. You can’t go in there”.  Frustrated, I look at the area they have the owls house in, and it’s only blocked by a wooden traffic barrier. I’m not saying we crashed the gates–but it WAS a little ajar and my hip MAY have brushed it when I was trying for a closer look…

Anyway, they have the poor owls housed in what looks like a concrete dog run.  About 20 feet deep by 8 foot wide with no windows, lighting through the gate-like fence that is the door. AND there are just 2 Spectacled owls.  To say it was a challenge to shoot would be an understatement.  We tried to keep our apeture around f-4 or 5.6 and our ISO down but the lighting and fact they were 20 feet away.. You be the judge

 

Single Owl (Can’t figure out how to rotate image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dual Owls

 

Here are some of the other images I was impressed with for one reason or another.  I guess Stacy beat me to the punch and posted some of hers on Facebook AND THEN got on this blog!  SO some of what you see may look identical.  I’ve said before though, one of the many things I enjoy about falling in love with such a talented person, is that we can take the same images, with a completely different vision in our heads about the finished product.  In no particular order…here are my winners…

Baby Bear

Curious bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue and Red

Orange Bird

Black Bear

Electrified

Wrinkles in Fabric

Two of a Kind

Get all your ducks in a Row

Kitty

You want a piece of this??

Not a hand out…a hand up…

Holding hands and trying to be brave

               

 

 

 

 

I can do this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are all you staring at???

 

 

When I grow into these paws…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elephant snack time. They put the treats in that beer keg behind him. He shakes the can with his trunk to get them out.

 

Well, that’s most of the adventure.  I DID go Black Friday shopping, go to an outlet mall (and got out of both without anyone getting hurt), and watched football.  Those were adventures for another post.

 

Zoo Time

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Here are a few of the pictures that we took last week. I did a couple quick edits to some of them. Doug will be posting more pictures, some may be the same but with his edits. We haven’t compared pictures/edits yet. Hope you enjoy

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Posted from WordPress for Android by starshine 🙂

Lost Maples…Starshine’s view

It was a good weekend. We spent quite a bit of time outdoors. We walked/hiked the trails at Eisenhower Park here in San Antonio on Saturday. Then Sunday took a trip out to Lost Maples State Natural Area. I tend to agree with Doug, you had to make the photo appear that there was lots of  color (fall foliage) here in south Texas. With that being said, here are some of my favorite shots of the weekend.

 

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