Category Archives: Texas

Happy Independence Day! Where Will That Road Take You This Weekend?

The Road To The Desert

The road to the desert, Big Bend National Park, Texas

And just where will that road take you this weekend? Perhaps some of you have taken Friday off to make it a nice, 4-day weekend? Certainly enough time for a short visit to a national park like Big Bend National Park, in Texas. It’s in a remote part of southwest Texas, but it’s definitely worth a visit, with great landscapes, interesting desert and mountain ecosystems, neat birdlife, and wonderful geology. Just take plenty of water with you.

I’m headed off, myself, to Stehekin, WA, this weekend, for a few days exploring Lake Chelan National Recreation Area and North Cascades National Park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

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Filed under Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, Canon, Canon Lens, Holidays, July 4th, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Texas, Travel

A Visit to the Lone Star Flight Museum

Thunderbird B-17G Flying Fortress

Thunder Bird B-17G Flying Fortress

I’ve lived in Texas for a little over 16 years now, and it’s taken me this long to discover Galveston’s Lone Star Flight Museum.  I still probably would not have heard of this place had I not been Googling around for some other aviation-related item and just happened to chance upon this site.

I’m interested in all things WWII-related.  If you’ve read my previous post “Remembrance”, then you know my father was a WWII paratrooper who jumped over Normandy on D-Day.

I’d just finished editing a large set of wedding photos and decided for my first free Saturday to take a little drive along the Gulf Coast toward Galveston and visit this museum.  Naturally, I took along one of my cameras (the 1DX with the 16-35mm lens).  I also brought along my 24-70mm lens but exclusively utilized the 16-35 because I wanted that wider-angle perspective perfect for capturing most, if not the entire, plane view.

The museum is well-lit, but it’s still an interior venue; this means I set my camera to a relatively high ISO of 640; I subsequently brightened up the images a little more during the post-process stage.

First Sight in the Hangar

First sight that greets the museum visitor’s eyes

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose art

Some people think that these buxom, scantily-clad women (not including that winged tiger) are denigrating to the female sex.  I totally disagree!  But maybe it’s because I – on occasion – have the opportunity to photograph very lovely women (sometimes scantily-clad), myself, and thus I see the beauty in what was captured on the plane’s noses.  Don’t forget that this artistry was also a great morale booster to young men very far away from home.  The museum has a great explanation of the nose art you see here in these two photos.  My favorite piece of art is ‘Surprise Attack”.

Willys MB 1943

Willys MB 1943

Planes are not the only items on exhibit in the museum.

Tarheel Hal

Tarheel Hal P-47D Thunderbolt

Special Delivery

Special Delivery – B-25 Mitchell Bomber

During the time I visited, a James Doolittle reenactor was recounting Doolittle’s Raid to several listeners (including yours truly) .  I had a chance to speak to the gentleman afterwards, who told me he’d been doing this for 4 years, during which time he had the good fortune to speak to several survivors as well as to Doolittle’s biographer.

Bum Steer - P51 Mustang

Bum Steer P51 Mustang

According to the placard for this plane, the engine didn’t “meet the expectations of the U.S. Army Air Corps”; Britain re-fitted the planes with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine which greatly improved performance.

Annie Mo  F4U-5N Corsair

“Annie Mo” F4U-5N Corsair

The wing configuration reminds me of the imperial shuttle on Star Wars.  My tour guide Kevin told me that George Lucas is a huge WW II buff.

Marlene - Uncle Hos Nightmare

“Marlene – Uncle Ho’s Nightmare”

Million Airess

“Million Airess”

As a photographer, I absolutely LOVE the nose art on these planes.  Those artists were amazing.

Yellow Peril

Yellow Peril

Surplus Stearmans were sold as crop dusters and stunt planes after the war.  This gorgeous yellow model immediately brought to mind the yellow bi plane crop duster I sometimes see on my way home from Houston, swooping around and flying low to the ground.

A Stearman and A Texan

Ready to Roll

The museum offers 25-minute flights on both the Stearman bi plane and the T-6 Texan Trainer (for a price – check their website for more details).  Flights are offered on Saturdays, good weather permitting.  During the day I visited, the cloud ceiling was too low, otherwise I would have splurged for a ride (had I not been saving for my upcoming Alaska trip, I would have probably taken a ride in both, because they both looked like awesome fun).

FYI –  I recently read an online article indicating the Lone Star Flight Museum will be moved inland to Ellington Field sometime in the spring of 2016.   You see, Hurricane Ike did a number on the museum (to the tune of about $18 million) and damaged several planes.  There’s an American flag hanging on the wall above one of the jeeps; this flag bears a dirty water mark indicating the height of the flood waters that rushed into the museum’s hangars.

Becky and the T-6 Texan Trainer

Becky and The Texan

Special thanks to museum photographer Kevin McGowan for snapping some “me” shots in front of the Texan and the Stearman.  The show woman in me wants to return all gussied up wearing a 1940’s dress for some more photos. Open-mouthed smile

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Filed under Aviation, Canon, low light photography, Photography, Texas

Spring Means Bluebonnets

Field of Flowers

Spring means bluebonnets in Texas hill country.

It’s been maybe 4-5 years since I traveled into the hill country in search of those quintessential blue harbingers of a Texas spring.

Bluebonnet Scene

One day, last week, a co-worker emailed to tell me she had driven to Chappell Hill and then on to Washington-on-the-Brazos to view the wildflowers.  She said the color display was amazing.

Red Yellow Blue and Green

So on my next Friday off, I took my cameras and myself on a little drive along Hwy 290 to Chappell Hill to see the color for myself.

The Long Dirt Road

Field of Bluebonnets

The Road Up The Hill

Springtime in the Hill Country

Golden

Becky and the Field of Gold

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Filed under flowers, nature, Photography, Texas, Texas

Becky in a Field of Gold

Yesterday, I drove out toward Texas hill country to capture some images of the bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and other wildflowers – like this field of gold wildflowers (whose name I need to look up).  It was a beautiful day and I managed to get some great shots, more of which will be in a future post.

Becky and the Field of Gold

If you are currently in the southeast/central part of Texas, drive Hwy 290 over to Chappell Hill and then take 1155 from there toward Washington-on-the-Brazos state park to see some lovely carpets of blue, red, and yellow covering the fields as well as much smaller spots of scenery.

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Filed under flowers, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Texas, Texas, Travel

Hummingbird Goodness

Sharing Closeup

On my Facebook page, I have attempted to convey the sheer numbers of hummingbirds that visit the three feeders my mother set out (and that I refill) with words.  While that is nice for the imagination, words just don’t convey what I see every weekend morning at 7AM, right on the dot (hummingbirds are – apparently – very punctual little creatures).  So below are images I took this morning (9/29/2013)  of each of the feeders at a little after 7AM.

The Diners At Feeder 1

This is the most popular feeder (for whatever reason).  I counted 16 hummingbirds in this one image.  There were so many fighting for a place at the feeding holes that they gently rocked the feeder back and forth with the force of their landing, perching, getting knocked off  of, and/or colliding with, the feeder in a frenetic attempt to get in a sip or two before being chased away.

The Diners At Feeder 2

I counted 10 birds at this 2nd-most popular feeder .  You must look carefully in order to find that bit of tail, wing, or head indicating the presence of a hummingbird to add your count.

The Diners At Feeder 3

I counted 8 hummingbirds in this image.  And while I won’t call this the least-popular feeder, it is the less-visited of the three feeders.  There are an inordinate number of bugs at this spot, which can be a bother, or – if the bug is small enough – an extra bit of protein for the little hummer, since hummingbirds feed on small insects and spiders in addition to nectar.

The air was thick with the sound of humming – because there were so many birdies zipping back and forth, the decibel level of the humming noise had increased, I kid you not.  Hummingbirds would zip past me, sometimes less than a foot away from me.  A few hovered near me to check me out, but upon deciding I was not nectar-worthy, they would fly away.

Pulling The Head Feathers

Of course, I witnessed more of what I jokingly call “corporate behavior”.  These little “pecks” and “feather pulling” to the head were so quick, and yet to a 3.5-inch hummingbird (yes, that is how tall a ruby-throated hummingbird measures), those little pecks and pulls might have hurt just a little.  I dunno.  I *did* think it was funny to see so many hummers visiting the feeders that showed off spots of ruffled-up feathers on their heads and backs.

Becky And The Hummingbird

Most of the hummingbird photos you have seen on these  blog posts are for sale as prints on my website (just click on one of the photos to get to the hummingbird gallery).  I’ve also created a couple of hummingbird calendars for sale on my zazzle storefront (just click on one of the calendar images on the left column of the screen) as well as a number of neat book options (writing journals, address books, and 2014 weekly planners) – just click on the icons for those books on the left column of the screen.

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Filed under birds, hummingbirds, nature, Photography, Texas, wildlife

Corporate Behavior

Corporate Behavior

Well, now I know: we humans are not the only species within the animal / bird kingdom to practice climbing over another’s back to get ahead at the office.

Ouch

Nor are humans the only ones to have a pecking order.

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Filed under Attitude, birds, hummingbirds, Humor, nature, Photography, Texas, wildlife

A Wedding In Galveston: The Gear

Newly Wedded

Originally, I had written a 2800-word blog post (give or take). Yikes! Way too long! I think the human attention span tends to get a nervous tic over anything past 1200 words (which is the length I try to stick to but oftentimes never successfully manage). I personally can’t stand reading uber-long posts, no matter how helpful they may be; I tend to skim over them and just look at the pictures. I’d forgotten about this, though, in my 2800-word zeal to get everything down about my experience photographing this wedding. Then, I started reading some short but neat blog posts by Scottseyephotos about his photographic trip to Hallo Bay, AK, and I realized I was far more interested reading his numerous, interesting short blog posts than I would have been had he combined all of his bear articles into a single post. So, I’ve separated this original post into several shorter ones.

Here’s the First Post, which I hope whets your photographic-blogospheric appetite for the next post:

I had the great fortune to photograph Josh & Maegan’s wedding in Galveston, Texas, back in late April (2013).  The venue was the San Luis Resort.  I reserved a room for the weekend and prepared for the event.

What I took with me:

I’ve written a TripAdvisor review including photos of my room and the resort.  Suffice to say that I enjoyed my stay, liked my room, loved the view, but wished they had provided me with a different type of coffee maker .  A small complaint, but coffee is a mainstay for me when traveling and working with photos on my laptop.   I usually pack my own coffee and filters with the assumption the room has a 4-cup coffee maker.  It didn’t work with this particular room.

Setting Up The Wedding Venue

Looking down at the wedding venue from Josh & Maegan’s 16th-floor penthouse suite.

Now you have the location and the venue.  Next post:  my first photo op with the bride and her crew.

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Filed under Equipment, Events, Photography, Portraits, Texas, wedding