Monday, December 14, 2009

Am I a photographer yet?

I usually move all of a given year's photos to my backup drive(s) and burn a copy for "permanent" storage on dvds at the end of the year. I am driven to do this not by a masochistic desire for eternal file shifting or "year in review" sentimentality, but simply to clear room.

I take nowhere near the amount of pictures many do, so keep that in mind. My 2009 stats were:

Pictures (including about 25-30% of duplicate edited versions):

Size on Disk:
75.5 GB

Might need to consider cutting back a little next year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fall-ish Color

We don't get real fall color down here on the Gulf Coast. A few tree species will reluctantly change a hue or two, but none of the blazing fall color of the Adirondacks. We do have some maples (Big-tooth, etc in places like Lost Maples State Natural Area) but they are pretty few and far between.

After 7 years of this, I decided this year THERE WOULD BE COLOR, even if I had to supersaturate pictures to bring it out. Luckily, as winter arrives, sluggish Texas trees finally give way to small burst of color.

SO here is a brief sampling of Texas fall/winter color:

Sycamore fall colors
Sycamores:Maples as non-dairy creamer:milk. But we have to take what we can get.

Sycamore fall colors
More Sycamore color against a bright blue winter sky

Fall color
Sycamore close up

Texas Christmas colors
Bald Cypress against duckweed covered lake. It's about as close as we get to red and green Christmas colors.

More Bald Cypress, with a small bit of colored bird in the middle.

Chinese Tallow fall colors
Chinese Tallow is a nasty invasive, but is one of our few colorful fallwinter trees.

Autumn Color
I'm actually unsure what tree/vine this was from.

But to be honest, the real colros here are the browns and tans and shifting colors of the prairie. A little more subtle, but nice.

Adrift in a Golden World
Prairie grasses with (?)scorpionfly

Last light in Winter Grass
Winter grasses

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's frozen over....

(photo courtesy of Flick user fancy fembot, original viewable here.

Has it been 5 years already?

We got our twice-a-decade dusting of snow today. At first I was pretentiously looking down my nose at the freezing rain, sleet, and slush accumulation that these untrained heathens were calling "snow". (being from northern NY, much like the Inuit, we have 18 words for snow. At least 13 of them are usable in polite society.)

But then as the day progressed and the globs of mush turned into honest-to-goodness snowflakes, I had to grudgingly admit we were getting "real" snow. Now it wasn't a delicate dusting of powder (word 7 for those keeping track, and it wasn't quite a deluge of lake-effect (word 2), but it was reasonably large puffy flakes coming at moderate velocity. It was just a little bit short of a flurry.

Now let me tell you what a treat a 45 minute commute on major highways in shopping season in the snow with drivers who can't handle normal driving let alone loss of traction is. My assumption is that they assumed the white flakes were some manifest wrath of their respective deities, and they were doing their best to OUTRUN them, explaining the ridiculous speeds and subsequent wrecks abounding because of LESS THAN AN INCH OR SO OF SNOW. (dear Houstonians, that last capitalized bit may not convey to you the scorn that it implies to those of us who grow up with snow. Suffice to say that less than an inch barely qualifies as a "dusting". That's April weather, not proper winter snow. So inability to drive in a pleasantly cool spring dusting does not speak well for one's ability to handle snow.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Cheer

Among the rush and bustle and blah of the over-hyped, over-sold, over-blown Christmas season, there are a few bright points...

Winter 6 pack lineup

oh, also, family, peace on earth, etc etc etc.

I is speaking goodly, or, "our friend, the noble comma".

So I have no illusions of being good at grammar, spelling, coherent communication, etc.

However, there is one formal point of grammar about which I think:

1) I'm right with a rightness that is like unto a moral absolute.
2) anyone who disagrees with me is dead wrong. And potentially a communist.

The point in question is the use of commas in a list.

I was always taught in school that when constructing a list separated by commas, that no comma was needed between the second to last item and the "and" that connects it to the last item.

For example, "Justin is awesome, strikingly handsome, erudite and humble without equal."

now there are a LOT of things wrong with that sentence, but I believe the comma use is NOT among their number.

Now before you English majors rise up in revolt, I understand that what seems to be the rest of the civilized world was taught something different. I won't speculate on ythe dastardly purposes for which your instructors felt they needed to pervert logic and have at the English language with the grammatical equivalent of a rakishly wielded cudgel. But for whatever their nefarious purposes, you were taught that the proper end of the example sentence should be as follows:

"...erudite, and humble without equal."

Note the presence of a comma after erudite. In seeming defiance of the "and" that follows it. Now I have never been one to defend any action or idea simply because it was what I was taught to think of as right. An action or idea is right or wrong (or in this case, a challenge to the fundamental liberties we hold dear..) on its own merits.

Toward that point, I offer the following rationale towards the case of omitting the final comma.

1) The commas serve as placeholders for the word "and". So instead of saying "Joe will eat carrots and lettuce and meat and cake", we place commas in the position of the first three "and"s. Therefore:

-"Joe will eat carrots, lettuce, meat and cake." translates to:
-"Joe will eat carrots (and) lettuce (and) meat and cake."
Notice that the last "and" is kept without comma.

2) using a comma before the last "and" is therefore redundant. In the example above, if we were to replace all the commas with "and", including a comma placed before the final "and", we would have redundant "and"s.

-"Joe will eat carrots, lettuce, meat, and cake" translates to
-"Joe will eat carrots (and) lettuce (and) meat (and) and cake."
(notice that the last comma duplicates the purpose of the "and" atthe end of the sentence)

Does this really matter? Well probably not. However, given the righteous indignation I get any time I broach this subject with any of you of the opposing camp, I thought I should make the case:)

As shown, the use of the final comma is redundant. I might also suggest it speaks to a wide-spread international plot against the english language, but that's somewhat harder to support.

All I can say is, "love your country, love freedom and love the proper use of commas in a list."

Anyone who disagrees is obviously on the payroll of the comma industry.

Friday, November 13, 2009

B&W day

As promised from my previous thread, this is a follow up set of black and white images of late. No deep thoughts today, just a gallery.

We'll start it off light....these Least Grebes have these almost unblinking bright they're looking into your soul....add a little film noir lighting and this is the most scared I've ever been of waterfowl.
The Grebe is coming for you...

Lost Maples Reflecting Pond (Lost Maples SNA)
Lost Maples reflecting pond

Old Baldy vista, Garner State Park.
Old Baldy Vista (B&W)

Bones of the Earth - bald cypresses on the Frio River at dawn
Bones of the Earth

Cactus Singularity, Prickly Pear Cactus, Lost Maples SNA
Cactus Singularity

High Country Wood, Lost Maples SNA
High Country Wood

Big Tooth Maples, Lost Maples SNA
Big Tooth Maples

Utopia, Utopia, TX
West Texas Vista (B&W)

Bridge to Terebithia, Bandera, TX (Medina River)
Bridge to Terebithia

Burn Boundary, Bandera, TX
Burnt Wood


Battle Scars, Brazos Bend State Park
Battle Scars

Life's Work
Life's Work 2

Kingdom of the Ducks ( I love the ominous feel of the gnarled old branch juxtaposed with the inherently non-sinister nature of the comical black bellied whistling ducks)
The Ducks are Watching...

Forest Layers

Kind of Cute. (Nutria, Cullinen Park)

Flooded Forest
Flooded Forest (B&W)

I am Become Death, Devourer of Dragonflies (Golden Silk Spider)
Golden SIlk Spider (B&W)

?flower (B&W)


More on

Saturday, November 7, 2009

There and Back Again

With apologies to Mr. Baggins.

I have not posted since June. Things have happened, as they are wont to do.

In the interim, I have:

- started a new job
- put my mother to rest
- climbed an Alp
- attended a German wedding in Germany
- Stayed at a Dude Ranch (for work reasons)
- sang Country kareoke without a hint of irony
- had a second anniversary
- developed a greater fondness for Cormac McCarthy's OTHER works
- finally ridden a car to death
- photographed. A lot.
- become a volunteer/amateur naturalist for one of Texas's premier state parks (Brazos Bend)
- tried to be good. Occasionally succeeded.
- Had a hundred thousand thoughts that, upon having them, I said to myself, "self, you should post about this on your blog"
- not posted.
- been somewhat weary in general.

So instead of trying to unclog the stopped-up, stygian depths of my mental plumbing, I am going to just give the update above, and then post pictures. I find that works better than my long ramblings.

The pictures, as always, are available in larger size at

I've been moving toward doing a little more post-processing to heighten effects, or to get what I could envision of a scene even if I shot at the wrong time of day. This has lead to a lot of shots of Texas landscape elements that I thought went nicely together. I have tried not to play up too mnay cowboy-esque stereotypes. This set is the generally sepia-tones/antiqued lot. Color and B&W sets to follow. At some point. Breath-holding is ill advised.


Bare Earth
Bare Earth

Arroyo Fire


Hard Rider

Spirit of the West

Into the West
Into the West

Advance Guard

Old Men of the Wood
Old Men of the Wood



In the grip of Night
Moon (sepia)

Road Trip, 1939
Road Trip, Texas, 1949

Old Man Crow
Old Man Crow (antiqued)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Occasionally, when I'm not swamped with pictures to edit and sort through, I take a few moments to, you know, be creative while I'm....being creative.

I've always liked the opportunities diptychs/triptychs/etc have for storytelling and/or juxtaposition of themes. In all humility, I have not really explored the extent of these possibilities.

I have made a couple that I liked. As always click on the small image for a larger size, (detail is much better at larger sizes) and more examples are located at My Flickr Collages set

This was an experiment with patterns of all scales
Patterns - collage
(from top left clockwise, developing area from the air, ferns, Duck feathers, holly leaves, sandstone "waves" at Zion, lichens on rock, sandstone forms at Antelope Canyon, plant leaves in Austin, more leaves, thorn bush)

Probably my favorite, two different exposures of a sunset through wetland trees. Put together with a black border, the heavy silhouette of the trees and vibrant colors give a nice stained glass effect
Cullinan Park 4 - Tiffany Dyptych

A collection of different earth shots from above

Different treatments of a closeup of figured old wood ("Comes the Winter"). Nothing really deep here, I was playing around in Lightroom with different treatments, and found these three reminded me of a life cycle, so to speak. The old wood, the winter chill, the dead wood.
Come the Winter (white)

This one is heavily dependant on seeing the larger version. I am the only one who seems to have found this one funny. The bee approaches, the bee digs into the horsemint nectar, the bee backs up off it with a WHOA expression. I can only assume that was some REALLY good nectar. This is a bit of the storytelling potential of a triptych.
Bee Tryptych

This collage is a set of found objects left over after a flood. An odd mix of the natural and artificial, all abandoned and bleached in the sun. This one isn't supposed to be deep and meaninggul, it was more an exercise in B&W tone and texture
Remnants (low res)

This one was just kinda fun. This sanderling came up to me while I was shooting with a downcast, bashful expression, then quickly scurried away as if embarrased. Anthropmophizing, of course, but it was a funny moment. IN the style of overused internet memes, "Bashful sanderling is bashful", or "I IZ EMBARAZZED". ahem.
Bashful Sanderling is Bashful (white border)

Old Wood, series III - I went through a lot of iterations of this one, and still am not satisfied. I need more old wood shots to mix and match. An exercise in textures.
Old Wood series III, black

Same things, slightly different format
Old Wood series IV, white

Just an example, trying to put together some indicative shots of native wildlife..this one for the Little Blue Heron. This was an experiment in graphic design (see interior color/border/labeling). The shots themselves were just placeholders.
Little Blue Heron collage

Another detail-dependant one. I was getting a closeup (well, 300mm lens with crop closeup, not CLOSE, per se:) ) of this sleeping gator, when all of a sudden his eye popped open and stared directly at me. It popped into my head the Yamamoto quote re: "waking a sleeping giant and filling him with a terrible resolve"
Terrible Resolve, black