Tag Archives: Houston

March For Science Houston, April 22, 2017

Righteous Bella

Righteous!  My friend’s daughter keeps changing her mind from being a vet to an ornithologist and loves photography.  From her love of birds, she’s already identified over 300 species.  She’s 10.  Go Bella!

I know there will be a huge number of March For Science and Earth Day blog posts out there, so just add mine to the fray.  The premise of this march meant enough to me to actually join in – at age 56 – my first protest march ever.

Was it a “protest”?  The March for Science was meant to be a bipartisan event, promoting the scientific method, fact-based approaches to the study of the environment and climate change, and the benefits to humanity which have resulted from science.  As my friend’s daughter points out in the photo above:  her little brother would not be alive were it not for the accomplishments of medical science.  He was born 3-1/2 months early.  He’s now a sweet, happy, laughing 15 months old (11-1/2 months adjusted – they do that for preemies).

So, back to the March.  Was it a protest in addition to a celebration of all things and people scientific?  Ultimately, yes.  We probably should be having marches like this every year in celebration of scientists and all the things they’ve learned and created through science that aid us in our daily lives (Hubble telescope, space shuttles, internet, radio, iTunes, cell phones, velcro, medicine, photography, coffee makers, planes, trains, automobiles, etc).  We should be doing this not just because of the current administration.  It’s this current administration, however, that impelled these world-wide marches.  I still find it mind-boggling there are people out there (including the elected president) who deny climate change and want to cut funds to health and other scientific research.  America has been at the forefront of so many scientific discoveries, and now we should take a back seat??  I’m uncertain as to how this is “making America great”.   Whenever I think about this, I become that “mad scientist” you’ll see in one of the signs below.

Ok, enough of politics.  I leave you with images I captured during this very short, but very transformational march for me.

The Crowd Getting Ready

The number of marchers 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the event.  And more people kept streaming in.

Evolution SignPolio SignsBill Nye SignScience Knows No CountryResistors AndTransformersCoffee Wine Beer SignBrewed With Science

In all honesty, I’d be kinda lost without coffee, wine and beer.  Just sayin’ 😉

A Scientist Who Votes

A scientist who votes.  Somebody in government should be getting a little nervous, I should think.

Science Marchers Of All Ages

Marchers were there of all ages.  Made me proud to know so many people care about fact-based research and the scientific method.

CO2 Sign

Let’s see … I was born in 1961 so the CO2 level was probably around 318 – 319 ppm, approximately.

Princess Sign

My favorite sign was the “Mad Scientist” sign.  The next time I reach that boiling point of anger, I’ll think of this sign.

The Planet Dress

The Planet Dress

The New Ghost BustersThe Brain Hat

The Brain Hat.  I saw a number of them in varying  colors during the march.  And they all looked very neat, and very hot.  While it was not particularly humid, it was quite warm and sunny (thankfully, since thunderstorms were predicted).

Looking Toward City HallCity Hall Crowds

The march ended at the Houston City Hall.  So many people!  It’s estimated as many as 15,000 people participated in this event.

4-22-904-22-70

Let’s not forget that it was Earth Day, as well.  This gentleman saw me with my camera and came up to me to tell me he’d worn this same shirt during the very first Earth Day march.  I told him that definitely merited a photo.

For those of you interested, I used my Canon 1DX and 24-105mm lens to capture these images above.  The 24-105 is the perfect walking-around lens with a good number of focal lengths from which to choose.  All this, courtesy of science.

Becky and Bella_IMG_6589Becky & Maegan_IMG_6590

Your’s truly with a couple of friends she walked with at the march.

Science Becky TwinsScience Beckys

Twins? Triplets? The science of cloning?  Nah – well, not really – actually it was the science of Photoshop!

 

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Filed under 1DX, 24-105mm, Canon, Canon Lens, Events, March For Science, Uncategorized

Photographing Jennifer and John’s Big Day

Avery and Jennifer

I met Jennifer several years ago, during our Texas Renaissance Festival days; I have a couple of fun photos of her elaborately costumed as a zombie wench during the Halloween-themed weekend.  I also remember her telling me once she didn’t like jam because she used to work in a jam factory.  Jennifer is from the UK so she has that wonderful British accent.  Oh, and she’s the horror hostess of the Edwina Rigormuerte Houston Horror Chamber Review (being a photographer has allowed me to meet all sorts of interesting, cool people).

I was so pleased when Jennifer asked me to photograph her and John’s (she calls him by his middle name, Avery) wedding.  I knew this was going to be an interesting wedding, given the couple’s love of old horror movies and her own very unique fashion style.  What made it even more special is that, in addition to being hired as their official photographer, I was also a guest!  That meant I could have a slice of wedding cake (it’s a thing with me – I always try to get a piece of cake); for once, I could photograph the cake and eat it too!

A Slice of Wedding Cake

Ever heard of the Las Velas?  It’s a hidden gem in Houston located between Hwys 59 and 610.   It’s not obvious from the road, and I saw no large sign pointing the way to this venue.  I asked Jennifer how she found it and she laughed, saying she was searching online for “inexpensive wedding venues”.  The Las Velas’ exterior is filled with lots of flowers and greenery, fountains, and mosaic-inlaid stone.  The interior hosts large, airy spaces, lots of natural lighting, elaborate molding and polished stone floors inlaid with mosaic butterflies and curly-cues.

Mosaic Detail

The Ceremony Venue

The Bride on The Balcony

As I wrote in a previous post, every wedding is different.  This particular event was quite laid back and kinda funky (the bridesmaids wore combat boots with their dresses).

Boots and Heels

Levity with the Bride and Bridesmaids

Both ceremony and reception were interior events (with the exception of a few posed outdoor photos), so I made use not only of the natural light coming through the large windows, but my flash as well.  As with the previous wedding about which I wrote, I used the same three cameras (Canon 1DX, Canon 5D Mk III, and a rented Canon 6D) and the same Canon L-lenses (85mm f1.2, 70-200 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, and 16-35 f2.8).  I photographed the same scenes with all three cameras, with and without flash.  For exterior shots, I used ISOs of 200-400 and interior shots had ISOs of 1600-2500 even with the flash.  As with the photos from the wedding of the previous post, I used Imagenomic’s Noiseware to reduce the high ISO grain as well as Imagenomic’s Portraiture and OnOne’s Perfect Effects for certain photos.

Tiara and Bubbly

W on the Cake

The Grooms Zombie Cake FX

The Groom and Groomsmen

The Bride OnThe Stairs

The Bride In Front Of The Window

Bride and Bridesmaids

Jennifer and Avery at the Fountain

The Ceremony From Above

The end of Jennifer and John’s wedding signaled the end of my wedding photo shoots for 2014.  We’ll see what transpires in 2015.

Photographer and Guest - My Table Assignment

To see more images from Jennifer and John’s wedding, click on this link to go to that gallery.

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Events, Houston, low light photography, Photography, wedding

Low-Light Photography and A Night at the Museum

Cyborg Rex

The Cyborg Carnivore – that light looks like a laser eye

I am not a big partier.  I used to go out more during  my college days, but that was eons ago and I would now much rather do something sans crowds….unless, of course, it’s an interesting venue and I can tote along my camera.

My company’s 2014 Employee Appreciation Party  was held at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  With the exception of a few exhibits, we had the entire place to ourselves.   I couldn’t refuse the photo ops, now, could I?

Greg Hills Talk

The Dance Floor and The Welcome Speech

I knew the light would be low or bright only in spots, but I did not want to take along a flash because I did not want to ruin the ambience that available light bestows.  Flash would have created shadows and would have destroyed any of the neat available-light colors seen in these photos.

Hall Of The Dinosaurs #1

Hall Of The Dinosaurs #2

Hall Of The Dinosaurs #3

The shots above are of the Paleo Hall, where tables and food stations were set between the skeletons of pre-historic denizens

So, I set the ISO high – varying it between 1000 and 2500 on my Canon 1DX and used my Canon 24-70mm version II lens.  The shutter speed was between 1/40 and 1/60 and the f-stop was set to 4.

I applied what  is called  the “spray and pray” method of image capture (I’d never heard this before until just recently).  It means you hold down on that shutter button, clicking away  (the “spray” part) and “pray” that one of the images comes out the way you want it.  I’ll go with that.  It’s always worked for me in the past and I have plenty of memory cards.

The View From My Table

A View of the Dance Floor from My Table

The Foucault Pendulum

Foucault’s Pendulum

Hall Of The Egyptians

Hall of the Egyptians

The Paleo Hallway

The Paleo Hallway

Ready To Do Battle

Face Off!

Stegasaurus

Spotlight on the Stegosaurus

Triceratops

My Favorite Dinosaur:  The Triceratops

I applied noise-reduction software to all of these images because the high ISO settings required elimination of the inherent grainy look.

Becky And Friend_H5T7981

Me and A Friend

I joke that someday, when I become a famously-recognized (and wealthy) photographer, I will rent this museum’s Paleo Hall for a reception.  Winking smile

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Equipment, Houston, low light photography, Photography

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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Filed under Photography, rodeo