Tag Archives: fireworks

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!

Happy New Year London 2-15-2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY
(yes, one day early – at least it’s not one day late as is my usual timing)

As I look back on 2016, I see a mix of good and bad, as is usual over the course of a year. The good stuff had to do with travel and photography and getting closer to what is left of my family. The bad stuff – well, let’s just say 2016 was marginally better than 2015, which was a horrible year.

Sooooo, I’m truly hoping that 2017 makes up for all the bad stuff. And I also hope the New Year 2017 is a start of many good things for all of you out there.

Now, for this photo: I had the great good fortune to stay in London over Christmas and New Year. It was my last hurrah to close out that horrible 2015 year I mentioned earlier. I deliberately chose that time of year to fly to London because I wanted to especially see the fireworks over the London Eye.

I remember joining the hordes to wait about 45 minutes for the security lines to open up so we could go find a spot around 7pm (nothing ever opens up exactly on time, you know). I went through 3 checkpoints before squeezing into a spot along the Thames in front of the Royal Horseguards Hotel and across from that great wheel on which one can get an amazing view of the surrounding land. It was a good thing I didn’t have to go to the toilet because we all stood there, cheek-by-jowl, for about 5 hours, waiting for the countdown to begin. I got acquainted with the family from the Midlands and the young lady from Dubai standing behind me who was there for some sort of news service.

It was worth the wait. The 10-minute display of fireworks was amazing and I alternated between having the camera up to my eye and then putting it down so I could just enjoy the fireworks without looking through a lens. It was such a neat feeling to realize I was actually standing there, in London, watching the New Years fireworks from a prime spot, surrounded by people from all over the world.

Again, Happy New Year! I hope everybody’s 2017 adventures far surpass those embarked upon in 2016.

 

 

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Filed under 1DX, Canon, Events, holiday, London, New Year, Night Photography, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography

Happy New Year, London – It’s 2016!

Happy New Year From London

My last post described my New Year’s Eve experience in London.  This post shows you the results.  The fireworks display lasted around 11 minutes. I used my Canon 1DX and 16-35mm f/4L IS lens, set the ISO to 5000, shutter to 1/50 of a second, aperture was f/4 and I just left it at that for these photos.  I had to use some noiseware (Imagenomic) reduction software during the editing phase.

Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year Longon 2-15-2016Happy New Year UK 2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2-15-2016

Some of these images bring to mind an abstract painting.  All of these images bring to mind an incredible event.

 

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Filed under 1DX, Canon, Canon Lens, holiday, London, New Year, Night Photography, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Uncategorized, Vacation

Countdown to 2016

Countdown

I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous post or not (without going back and re-reading my posts), but the main reason I took a December vacation to London was because I saw a photo, earlier in the year, of the 2015 fireworks over the London Eye. I was so taken with that image that, as a photographer, I knew I had to be right there for the 2016 fireworks.

In case you aren’t aware, they now ticket this event (£10), and if you don’t have a ticket to present at the event, you don’t get in.  After I’d purchased and received my ticket to the Embankment (blue) section, it turns out the hotel at which I stayed bestowed to its guests wrist bands to the same section, lol.  I definitely was assured entrance to the event.

I spent about 45 minutes waiting my turn to go through security at the first checkpoint, and then went through a couple more checkpoints before being lucky enough to squeeze in between a Chinese tourist on one side and a family from the Midlands on the other.  I then waited 4 hrs 15 minutes in that same spot (no, I never once felt like I had to pee, thank goodness).  I could feel the press of the crowd behind me.  I had a nice visit (should I say “chat” instead?) with the young lady behind me and the father of the family beside me.

Color On The ThamesColor On The Thames

During the long, chilly wait, a kaleidoscope of colors kept splashing against the London Eye and the buildings beside that iconic landmark.

A Line Of Lit Smartphones

At one point, to keep the crowd from getting too restless (remember, it was a 4-hour wait), the speaker challenged us all to turn on our smartphones and show the bright screen to the sky and the BBC helicopter.  To the right of the London Eye in the image above is a line of bright smartphones all along Westminster Bridge.

And then, the countdown …

OneHappy New Year London 2016Happy New Year London 2016

The show was INCREDIBLE!  And I was right there in front, taking it all in.  I can’t describe what a cool feeling that was – all I can say is that every time I stare into space and think about the fireworks, my smile gets wider and wider.  When I do this at work, people wonder what the hell is going on with me (grin).

Oh, and that white semi-circle you see in the mid-left portion of the photos:  that’s the waning gibbous moon.

Happy New Year London 2016

I’d capture a series of photos with my Canon 1DX and 16-35mm f/4L IS lens, then take the camera away and drink the experience in with my eyes, then take some more photos.  I did this for the next 10-11 minutes as the fireworks and music and cheers and ooohs and ahhs carried on around me.  At one point, I remember looking down at the young son of the family next to me standing a little bit in front of me, who in turned looked up at me to see me with wide eyes and a silly grin on my face as I watched this spectacular pyrotechnic display.

These photos are just the start.  I captured a gazillion different fireworks images that I’ll publish in the next blog post (ok, maybe not all gazillion of them, but a few).

Happy New Year, London and Everybody!

 

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Filed under 1DX, Canon, holiday, London, New Year, Night Photography, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Uncategorized

Yee Haw! Houston Rodeo 2012

4270_Fancy Saddle

Actually, it’s the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but we just call it “the rodeo” or the “Houston Rodeo”.  I won a sort of departmental lottery drawing and scored a free ticket to my company’s suite at the rodeo.  It was during a weekday, so I took a half day off and left the office before noon.

The Houston Rodeo is a popular venue as it is one of the biggest and most well-known rodeos in the world.  I love it!  My favorite part is the riding and roping, but there is so much more to the rodeo than just that, as you will see from my photos in this post.

On this particular day that I attended, the place was PACKED!  Of course, it was during the Texas schools’ Spring Break  and it was also Family Day at the rodeo; discounts on tickets and various other items were offered and pretty much the entire city of Houston decided to take advantage.

The first thing I like to do is visit Reliant Arena, where the demonstrations (weaving, bee keeping, milking), shopping, and most of the food is selling.   Wall-to-wall people and kids.  Barely room to move.  Got a few shots, but not as many as I might have captured had I arrived first thing in the morning.  I love the birthing area, but naturally that was slammed.  People can watch cows, sheep, pigs, and goats give birth before their very eyes.  With commentary.  It’s quite educational, and great for city folks who don’t normally spend much time around real live farm animals.

3670_Hand-Yarn-Spindle

3679_Yarn

3695_Feeding Time

3709_Little Lamb

3725_Hats

I never noticed this before, so I assume this is a new thing – flower arrangement competitions.  I could never get a really nice shot – too many people around – so I had to opt for close ups.  Orchids were a huge theme in a number of these arrangements.

3754_Flower Arrangement

4216_Flower Arrangement

4234_Orchid Arrangement

4256_Yellow Orchids

And of course, I always stop by my favorite bronze statue (there are a number of bronze sculptures right next to the stadium).  This year, I was kicked out by a guy at the wine garden because this sculpture is located smack-dab in the midst of the seating, and the wine garden would not open to the public for another 3 hours or so.

3780_Bronze Statue

After an extended period of walking around with no place to sit, my poor feet began hurting.  I do this every year; I like to “rodeo up” and wear cowboy boots, but with the exception of people actually participating in some shape or form at the rodeo, everybody else (i.e. the general public) wears comfortable jogging or tennis shoes (aka “trainers”).  I need to remember to do that next year, rather than try to look “western”.

I wandered through the carnival.

3647_Carousel

3873_Rides

3854_Guitars

4199_Euro Slide

4190_Euro Slide

I bought 10 tickets for $5 (it takes more than one ticket for a ride, folks) and took a nice little ride on the sky chairs  (that uses up 8 tickets) across the length of the carnival.   At one point, the ride stopped while I was at the top – I wonder if they did that just for me so I could get some great shots Winking smile

3878_Sky Chair View

3126_Headed Up

3902_Sky Chair View

3164_View From My Seat

3170_At the Top

3211_The Ride Down

3227_Looking Down

3237_Heading Down

Some of those rides make me nauseous just watching them. It takes an iron stomach to handle them and I just don’t  have an iron stomach.

3844_Wheee

4160_Upside Down

3919_Disko

3930_Wheee

4213_Way Up There

After the sky chair ride, I decided to opt for some quiet time and made my way across the carnival to the horse arena, where a small horse show was taking place.  I don’t know what the judges look for exactly, but this understated  competition required riders (mainly women but there was one young man) to get their horses to walk-jog-lope-walk backward-maneuver around a sort of semi-obstacle course.  I saw some beautiful horses out there (and some pretty fancy riding outfits).

4125_Show Horses

4092_Fancy Mane

4083_Fancy Saddle

4134_Stirrups

From there, I wound my way back to the stadium to wait for the moment they opened the and I could find my seat.  You see, at the time, I didn’t realize I had a ticket to my company’s suite; I just thought I had a ticket to a decent seat on the 2nd level.  Lemme tell ya – that suite is sweet!  Awesome view of the arena, food, drink, in-suite bathroom, a full-time attendant, plus little extras that make life good while watching the rodeo.

3249_View From Suite

3267_View From the Suite

Naturally, I was all about the photography.  For these arena shots, I used my Canon 16-35mm for the wide angle, and the rented Canon 100-400mm for the close ups (love that 100-400; it’s next on my “to buy” list).  Considering I was up in the 2nd level and not right down where the action occurred, I was pleased with the results.  I bumped the ISO up to between 1250 and 4000, so I could get some nice shutter speeds for the action.  Naturally, I had to use a little noise-reduction software on some of these shots (but not all of them).

Before the ridin’, ropin’, calf scramble, barrel racing, and live music performance take place, the Grand Procession parade wends its way around the stadium.

4277_Purty Cowgirl

4356_Grand Procession

4325_Rodeo Flags

No event is complete without a mascot.  I don’t know what his name is, but he’s the “H” symbol for Rodeo Houston.

4319_Rodeo Mascot

And what event is complete without cotton candy (aka candy floss).

4334_Cotton Candy

Then the lights go off and we all stand for the National Anthem.  This evening, it was sung beautifully by a local boys choir.  While the anthem is played, a lovely young lady (usually a blonde) races around the stadium riding bareback and holding the American flag from which spew fireworks near the end of the Anthem.

4387_American Flag

3285_Star Spangled Banner

3286_The Fireworks Begin

“….and the rockets’ red glare….”

3289_The Fireworks Begin

3304_Rodeo Fireworks

And now the action begins.

First:  Bareback Bronco Riding

4451_Bareback Bronco Riding

4457_Bronco Riding

4547_Bronco Busting

I would have loved to have been one of those photographers down there.

4588_Photographing The Bronco

After the bareback bronco busting came  the  calf roping.

4579_Calf Roping

I only got one shot of this because I got into a conversation with one of the other suite attendees and I didn’t want to be rude.  Sigh.  Unless you are a photographer, you can’t realize the pull and desire to have it be all about the photography; to try and capture every moment that you are able to with your camera.  Oh, this is not a “forest for the trees kind of thing” – the camera wasn’t up to my eye for every single move – I did remember to take the viewfinder away from my eye and just watch the action.  But, I did want to make as much use of the situation as possible, and that precluded conversation, for the most part.   That’s just the way I am.

After the calf roping came the bronco busting (with saddle ).  The events alternated ends of the arena, with the bareback bronco riding, the saddle bronco riding, and the bull riding taking place on my end, while the calf roping and steer wrestling took place at the other end of the field.

FYI, for the bronco busting, they specifically train these horses for their role.

4593_BroncoBustin

4605_Buckin Bronco

4611_Hanging On

4613_Bucking Bronco

Steer wrestling.

4640_Steer Wrestling

4646_Steer Wrestling

4649_Steer Wrestling

Clowning around – this particular rodeo clown is a fixture out there and has been working the Houston Rodeo since God was a little boy.

4651_Clowning Around

Now comes the bull riding, which is when you see those rodeo clowns.  In addition to being entertaining and even acrobatic, the role of the rodeo clown is very important, and pretty dangerous.  Once the bull rider is finished – be it by falling off, or actually making it through the entire timed event – it’s the job of the clown to pull the bull’s attention away from that bothersome human who was riding on his back, and guide the bull back to its stall (although usually the bull seems to know where its stall is and it goes there on its own without any help).

These bulls are BIG and MAD.

4658_Over The Top

Send in the clowns!

4667_Send In The Clowns

4690_Bull Rider

4704_On Camera

Next comes the calf scramble, which everybody loves to watch.  Thirty high-school-aged young men and women are out there to try and catch one of 15 calves.  They then have to harness the calf and walk (drag) it back within the white square.  If they manage to do that, then they are given a calf to care for during the year and enter in competition the next time the Houston rodeo roles around.  It’s chaos out there, and very entertaining.

3357_Calf Scramble

4729_Calf Scramble Chaos

The final event before the scheduled music for the evening is the barrel racing.  This is an awesome competition to watch.  Women riding their horses ninety-to-nothing come racing out of the gate, circle around three barrels (trying not to knock them down) and then race back through the gate in a timed event.  The riders and horses act like a single unit, and must be able to round corners on an extremely small turning radius in order to make the best time.

4735_Barrel Racing

4759_Barrel Racing

4782_Rounding The Barrel

4793_Rounding The Barrel

4819_Action Shot

After the competitions, the music performance gears up.  Big names – and smaller venues – perform at the rodeo, including Reba McIntire and ZZ Top.  That evening, it was a sibling group called The Band Perry.  They don’t like people to photograph the entertainment (especially with big lenses like the one I used), so I put my camera away.  I left shortly after the performance began because I have a long drive home, it was late, and I had to go to work the next morning.

Got home at 11PM, got to bed at 11:15, fell immediately asleep and was rudely awakened at 4AM to start my work day (keeping my eyes open was a little tough that day).  Needless to say, I didn’t start working in earnest on these photos until Friday.

Once again, I had a fantastic time at the rodeo.  If any of you are ever in the area during the last week in February and the first three weeks in March, you ought to try to attend this event, for the sheer experience and – if you love using a camera – for the multitude of photo ops.

Yeeeee Haw!!!

YeeHaw_Profile

(Note – different hair color, different year – it just made a good ending photo for this post) Winking smile

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Filed under Events, Houston, Photography, rodeo

The Star Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

I attended the 2012 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last night and had an awesome time! My very favorite part of the rodeo is the ridin’, ropin’, calf scramble, and barrel racing. This photo is just a taste of a longer post I’ll be writing about the photos and photography at a venue like this. For now, though, I’m plain tuckered out. Came home late from the rodeo, got 5 hours of sleep, had to get up at 4AM for work, and now am just too tired to work on any more photos.

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