First Hummer Of The Season

We had ZERO hummingbirds in the spring. Very disappointing. Donald Ray Burger keeps a log of Houston hummingbird sightings going back to 1993 and when I read that he had his first fall sighting on August 5th I decided to put the feeders out. Today we spotted two hummers. One male and one female, both Ruby-Throated. It was late in the afternoon, but I setup the tripod real quick anyway and caught my first photo.

Hummer!

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Hummer!

Hopefully I’ll get some more shots before we head out on vacation. Even better, maybe they’ll still be here when we get back!

Oscar Meyer Wienermobile

Oscar Meyer Wienermobile

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Oscar Meyer Wienrmobile

I was running a quick errand to the H.E.B. to pick up some postage stamps and lo and behold, the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was parked out front. I don’t know exactly why, but I get kinda silly when I see this thing. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me since it was a quick errand. I went ahead and bought the stamps and then ran back home and asked Cynthia if she’d be interested in taking a whimsy break.

Oscar Meyer Wienermobile

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Oscar Meyer Wienrmobile

I grabbed my camera and we headed back over to the H.E.B. and had a nice visit with the drivers of the Wienermobile who are known as “Hotdoggers.” It was really quite fun and silly, but we learned quite a bit about the ongoing Oscar Meyer marketing campaign and some facts about the Wienermobile.

Oscar Meyer Wienermobile

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Oscar Meyer Wienrmobile

They still give away little plastic wiener-whistles!

Oscar Meyer Wienermobile

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Oscar Meyer Wienrmobile

*Photographer’s Note*
The first two photos were taken using the Lensbaby Composer mounted on the the A850. The Lensbaby Composer creates the selective focus effect you see in those images and is a fully manual lens. The third photo was taken using the 16mm fisheye and the last photo was taken using the 100mm macro lens.

Mik Miano – R.I.P.

I have just learned that Houston artist and good friend Mik Miano passed away.

A prolific artist, his metal sculptures are major part of the interior architecture or Rudyard’s British Pub and he’s the designer of the Houston Press Music Awards trophies in 2008 and 2009.

There’s a Facebook group called I can now post pictures of Mik for posting pics and memories of Mik for those so inclined.

The Wild Peafowl Of West Houston

Off Memorial Drive between Kirkwood and Dairy Ashford reside the wild peafowl of West Houston. Peacocks and Peahens roam the yards and streets, putting on a show and making a racket. Their call sounds like a baby crying out or a cat in severe pain. Some residents describe their call as “sounds like somebody being murdered.”

Overall they seem oblivious to the human residents and the occasional gawkers like myself who drive down to see them.

Apparently the population of about 50 birds are offspring from a pair that a landowner gave his wife more than 30 years ago. From what I understand, most of the residents like the birds.


And this one particular Peacock had no problem at all with me taking his picture as he presented himself, in all his glory, to any Peahen who cared to have a romp or a gander.


Brennan’s Houston

I shot this on request for my friend at Studio RED Architects who were strongly involved in the rebuilding of Brennan’s here in Houston. You might recall that Brennan’s burned down during Hurricane Ike.

Shot from across the street using the A850 and the Zeiss 24-70mm.

21 second exposure at f/13.

The neon sign wasn’t finished before the grand opening and if you look closely, the gas lanterns are also not complete.

Brennan's

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Brennan's

Rediscovering An Old Friend

When I first got into shooting with a digital camera, I picked up the Sony A100 and the 50mm f/1.4 lens. Due to the crop sensor on the A100, the 50mm translated to a 75mm focal length making it just a little too tight for the kind of photography I was doing so it really didn’t get all that much use. A shame, really. This lens is fast and sharp and the images were outstanding. Even so, I found myself leaning on my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for that added wide focal range (equivalent 45mm on the cropped sensor) that allowed me to capture more of the scene I was shooting.

Now that I have upgraded to the full frame Sony A850 the Sony 50mm f/1.4 is finding its way back into rotation and I am reminded of how great this lens is.

Nick Gaitain

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Nick Gaitan

Henry Chow

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Henry Chow

Jonathan Richman

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Jonathan Richman

Balloon Over Houston

There’s a tethered balloon at Discovery Green Park. It goes up 350 ft and back down again. The ride lasts about 10 minutes. A unique photo opportunity, not to be missed. Unless you’re petrified of heights.

George R. Brown through a fisheye lens

Balloon At Discovery Green

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Balloon At Discovery Green

The George R. Brown via the Sigma 12-24mm.

Balloon At Discovery Green

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Balloon At Discovery Green

Discovery Green Park viewed through the center of the gondola. Notice the ice skating rink. Also a fisheye shot

Balloon At Discovery Green

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Balloon At Discovery Green

Minute Maid Park and two more via the 24-70 Zeiss

Balloon At Discovery Green

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Balloon At Discovery Green

Balloon At Discovery Green

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Balloon At Discovery Green

Balloon At Discovery Green

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Balloon At Discovery Green

Nearby construction via the 70-300mm G.

Balloon At Discovery Green

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Balloon At Discovery Green

KISS Alive 35

There is no band I know of more iconic in terms of sound AND appearance than KISS. Love ’em or hate ’em, you know ’em when you see ’em and you won’t confuse KISS with any other band in existence. In the mid 70’s I went to every single show they toured, starting in 1975 and ending in the 1983 when they showed up with Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics as an opener.

When I heard they were coming to Houston for their 35th anniversary show I really, REALLY wanted to photograph the event. It took some wrangling, but I eventually scored press credentials to provide photos for Craig Hlavaty’s review in The Houston Press.

I’ve shot a lot of small and mid-sized concerts, but this was my first big rock show. I was really appreciative of Technology Bytes co-host Groovehouse’s presence at the show. He had an extra photo release form which I needed to fill out plus an extra set of ear plugs which really made the difference.

The opening act was a band called Buckcherry and we got to shoot their first three songs. I wasn’t all that interested in their performance, but it was an opportunity to get a feel for the layout and I treated it as a warm up. We were only allowed to shoot the first three songs by KISS and I was sweating it a little. The typical scenario is three songs and even it’s not a lot of time to settle in and get your shots.

For this show I carried both my new Sony A850 and my Sony A700. The former mounted with my Zeiss 24-70 and the latter with my Tamron 70-200. Both lenses served their purpose and I was glad to have them. Overall, though, the A850 with the Zeiss wide angle was the most useful rig for this show.

I gotta hand it to KISS, they really put on a show. For the first two songs they played it up for the photographers and gave us plenty of opportunities to get some fantastic photos. I’ve never had a band do that before and it was a real treat. Be sure and read Craig’s review of the whole show at The Houston Press for the set-list and other observations.

Here are a few of my favorites from the evening. Click any image to see a larger version.

KISS
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KISS

KISS

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KISS

KISS

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KISS

KISS

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KISS

KISS

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KISS

KISS

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KISS

Additional photos in my Flickr gallery.

Snow Day 2009

Weather forecasts all week predicted snow for Friday, Dec 4th and sure enough, we had several inches of snow. I was fortunate enough to have the day off and Cynthia got to come home early. We took advantage of this rare weather phenomenon. We simply don’t see this much snow in Houston EVER. It snowed last year, but not much and it snowed on Christmas Eve in 2004 but it didn’t stick. The last time I saw snow like this in Houston was in the 60’s.


Snow In Houston
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Snow In Houston

Snow In Houston

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Snow In Houston

Snow In Houston

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Snow In Houston

Of course the sun was out the next day and the temperatures are expected to be back up in the 70’s before mid-week.

Our neighbors demonstrate their sense of humor about the fickle weather here in H-Town:

Snow In Houston
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Snow In Houston

Additional photos are here

Zappa Plays Zappa – 2009

Zappa Plays Zappa, a concert where Dweezil Zappa plays the songs of his father. This show gets better and better each year.

Dweezil Zappa

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Dweezil Zappa

Dweezil Zappa

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Dweezil Zappa

Dweezil Zappa

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Dweezil Zappa

Dweezil Zappa

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Dweezil Zappa

Dweezil Zappa

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Dweezil Zappa

Additional photos are here in my gallery

Memorial Hermann Hospital

Looks like the new Memorial Hermann building I wrote about previously is nearing completion. I can only speculate as to why there are beams of light shooting skyward. Perhaps these are transporters that deliver the souls of those who don’t make it to their great reward. I was unable to verify if there were equivalent beams of light headed in the other direction emanating from the ground floor or basement.

Memorial Herman