Stuff Happens @#$!%

So, I while I was out in Texas I got the opportunity to visit the state capital.  It was something I had been wanting to do for some time.  When I knew I might get the chance, I contacted some of local Texas friends and the plans were made.

Here's an image from the third floor (that's as high as the general public is allowed to go) looking down onto the floor.

That was the last shot I took with my Tamron 15-30mm lens.  A few moments after this, we were ready to leave.  I put my camera on my tripod and threw it over my shoulder, like always...and bam!  I hear the camera and lens drop to the floor.  Apparently it wasn't tightened into the ballhead good enough and when i picked up the tripod the camera went flying.  My own dumb fault!

The camera itself "looked" ok, but the lens was laying on the floor in 2 pieces.  The lens mount had separated from the lens itself.  I had backup bodies and other lenses I could shoot with, but this 15-30 was my baby.  My broken baby.

broken 15-30

We continued on shooting around Texas looking for wildflowers and what not.  The rest of that day and on my flight home I was weighing my options.  My gear is insured but I was trying to crunch numbers on repairing vs. replacing via insurance.    I decided to go the repair route.  Then I got in touch with the best repair team in the biz...The Tamron Repair guys.

I told them the situation and they said to me "There is nothing we cannot fix outside of your lens being full of liquid".  So, I send them the lens and pay them the repair fees since it was a non warranty repair. One week and one day after I had shipped my lens, it returns all fixed up.

fixed 15-30

Eight days...including the weekend and shipping times, I have my repaired lens back!  That's hard to beat.  I can't imagine how quick this would've gotten done if it were a warranty repair.  If you can't be without your gear very long investing in a product that can give you a 6 year warranty and that quick a turnaround on repairs (even out of warranty repairs) is a HUGE benefit!  Thanks again, Tamron for taking such good care of this.

By the way, I did decide to send my camera in for a check up since I have the Sony Pro Imaging Support.  They are still awaiting parts to fix my Sony A7R II, but they have sent me a loaner to use until it is repaired.

Providence Church

This is a scene I photographed a few years back, too.  Then it didn't have all these cool little wildflowers by the sign, however.

I tried to do some research on this place, but couldn't find much on Google except its location on a map.  I saw a church by the same name in the area, so I assume this is their old place.  The new(er) one is much nicer and larger.

These are the kinds of places you find when you take that dirt road. ;)

This little gem is somewhere in between Chappell Hill, TX and Brenham, TX on N. Meyersville Road.  That's pretty much all I know about it.  I can only assume that some classic, southern gospel tunes were belted out of here back in it's day.

Not much to the photo technically.  It was one of those F/8 and be there kinda things.  I did shoot it ultra wide with my Tamron 15-30mm lens at a real low angle.  

If anyone happens to know any info on this place, I'd be happy to hear more about it.

Bluebonnet Dance Tavern

After much consideration I have decided to have the Lasik Procedure done.  I've been in glasses or contacts since I was about 8 years old, so I am excited about not having to mess with either of those again.  I'll be having this done tomorrow morning, so you probably won't see any blog post tomorrow.  If things go wrong I may never see another one.  C'mon, that was a good joke.

Last week, whilst in Texas hunting their ever popular wildflowers, we stumbled upon this little abandoned building.  I could not have lived with myself if we didn't go back and at least snap off a few frames.  

ISO 400, 45mm, F/8 @ 1/400th

The Bluebonnet Dance Tavern.  This thing spoke to me in many ways.  First, we can't skip the name of the place, okay.  Awesome name!  Well played, person that named this place...well played.  Second, there are a lot of different textures going on here.  I love textures.  The bricks, the doors, the stucco wall and even the grass and asphalt all have different textures.  

I made this image using my new Sony A6300 camera, LA-EA3 adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  I must've been living on the edge here, because this image was handheld.

Regretfully, we didn't dance at the dance tavern, but hopefully if everything goes well tomorrow I can dance around the house...without my glasses.

Bluebonnets, bluebonnets, bluebonnets

You were warned yesterday that more of these were coming. ;)

This image was made in the same field as the image I posted yesterday.  This time I focused only on bluebonnets...and it seemed they went on as far as you could see.  It is very hard to see in this image, but in the background right along the horizon on the right side is a very large field of indian paintbrush flowers.  I actually drove over to check those out, but the land owner had placed private property signs up and roped off everything at the road.  So, I headed back over to this bluebonnet field.

Tech talk...I shot this at 15mm on my Sony A7R II using the Metabones adapter and Tamron Lens.  So, basically, I set the lens to 15mm and put it right at the edge of these bluebonnets at a very low perspective.  I wanted to get low for this shot.  Not too low, though.  If I had gotten much lower than this you couldn't see that the field is full of flowers.  It would have looked more like a dozen flowers than thousands.  Since the sky wasn't very interesting at all, I knew I didn't want to include much of it.  So, using my Sirui W-2204 Tripod, I positioned my camera just a bit above the tops of these bluebonnets and angled it down to exclude much of the sky.

I shot this in aperture priority mode at F/16.  I had to raise my ISO up to 800 because it was so windy.  In order to keep the bluebonnets sharp, without blur from the wind, I raised my ISO so I could get a faster shutter speed.  Between bumping my ISO and waiting on times between wind gusts, I was able to capture a few frames where there was no blur.

I'll try to give you a break from wildflowers next time.  ;)


Texas Wildflower Sunset

I spent last week in Texas.  While I was there, I wanted to make sure I tried my best to find a good field of the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet.  These flowers could be found most everywhere along the roadside, especially so the farther you drive away from a city, however for the area I was in finding a really large field full of flowers proved to be a challenge.  After doing a little research, I was able to locate one field that was the best of any I found in the short time I was out there.  

The only problem was it was not too far from the main highway, so when I got there, 40 of my closet friends were there already.  Many of them there to take children's portraits in the flowers, or family portraits in the photographer had a couple pull their truck out in the field of flowers to pose with the truck for engagement photos.  So I spent a lot of time waiting on these people to move or working around them.

Now, I think a field of bluebonnets is a pretty awesome sight, but when making a photo I like to add something in the foreground as a bit of an anchor.  It doesn't have to be anything really special.  In this case I used the only handful of Indian Paintbrush Wildflowers that were in this field.  I thought the contrast of the red flowers helped to anchor the foreground a bit and also adds a bit of a leading line to the rest of the field of blue.

It was very windy during this particular sunset, so I had to bump my ISO up to get a high enough shutter speed to "freeze" the flowers, so I bumped it up to ISO 1600.  I shot this scene in aperture priority at F/16 in order to get the nice starburst.  That yielded me a shutter speed of 1/30th.  While that isn't a "fast" shutter speed, if I waited until the wind slowed a bit, it was fast enough. 

This image was made using my Sony A7R II, Metabones lens adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I also used my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead.  I took this tripod because it is super stable and small enough to fold up in my carry on luggage.  It worked out great!

I also processed this image using Lightroom and On1 Effects.  

Warning:  More flower images coming soon.




Gulf of Mexico

While I was in the Houston Area last week, I took a trip to the coast.  I had taken the trip in order to capture some photos for a project I'm working on.  I got so caught up in this project that the opportunity to photograph other subject evaded me totally.  Luckily, I packed an additional lens, the Tamron 16-300mm Lens, that allowed me to capture some of the unexpected subjects.

I kind of just threw this lens in the bag thinking I might need a little extra reach beyond the 70mm that the 24-70 would offer me.  I really expected to shoot only wide angle scenes the entire time.  That was until I stumbled upon a ton of these White Ibis' wading along the bay.

ISO 640, 300mm, F/6.3 @ 1/5000th second

I was glad to have done a few things when I came across these.  I was glad I had packed that Tamron 16-300mm Lens and I was glad I brought my Sirui T-2205X Tripod.  Both of those things came in very handy here.  I was wishing I had my 150-600mm Lens once I saw this guy had caught a crab...but I worked with what I had.

Image captured with Sony A77ii and Tamron 16-300mm Lens.  Resting atop the Sirui T-2205X Tripod and G-20X Ballhead.


Houston at Dusk

So, I got to do a few things last week.  I got to travel to Houston and I got to travel with a new to me product that I've been playing with over the last several weeks, the Sirui T-2205X Tripod and Sirui G20-X Ballhead combo.

This combo was a delight to travel with.  The whole shebang folds down to a whooping 14.6" making it very easy to fit in a carry on.  Its also very easy to attach to the side of your camera bag and forget about if you are making a hike into the woods.  It has a maximum height of 56.9", which is more than adequate for my travels.  It also holds up to 26.5lbs, so it holds my Sony A7R and Tamron 24-70 (my favorite combo) without any trouble at all.  It's one of the best travel setups I have ever used.  I've also been using some of their other products recently and their ballheads are an exceptional value.  I couldn't believe the retail price on them after I discovered their quality.

Back to Houston...I've been to Houston many, many times.  However, I usually don't get a lot of shooting time while I am there.  This time, however I had almost an entire day to wonder about.  I also squeezed an extra evening after dinner to head downtown into Eleanor Tinsley Park.  I've shot from the park a few years back and it made for a fantastic scene of downtown.  I'm a creature of habit, so I went back to the exact same spot.  Only this time I had my Tamron 24-70 Lens.  This time I wasn't prepared for the huge amount of people at the park in the summer...or the 15 parking spots that were available.  So, I thought I was getting there very early, but after finally parking I had about 3 minutes to spare.

I photographed this scene from a pedestrian bridge that crosses Allen Parkway.  This is the same bridge I had photographed this scene from before.  The last time I had a smaller lens, so I could jab it through the chain link fence and shoot without worry.  So, I was a little concerned that I might not be able to get through the fence with the 24-70.  As luck would have it, some kind soul had already cut a hole in the fence for me.  That concern vanished.

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16 @ 13 seconds

If you want to shoot "night" scenes like this, it's best to do it right after the sun goes down, right before dark.  It's dark enough for the lights to be on in the buildings, cars are using their head/tail lights, but the sky isn't black, so it has a lot more definition and not as much noise.

As you might suspect, there was plenty of traffic coming out of downtown in the evening, but not very much going into town.  I wanted to balance that part of the image as much as I could.  There was a stop light behind me about an 1/8 of a mile or so.  I'd watch that stop light.  As it turned green, I'd wait for the cars to get right beneath the bridge I was shooting from and open the shutter.  This gave me the most amount of taillights I could get.  I also stopped down to F/16 and shoot at ISO 100 to give me a bit of a longer shutter speed, too.

As I mentioned before, I shot this with my Sony A7R, LA-EA3 Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70 Lens.  All of this rested atop the Sirui T-2205X Tripod and G-20X Ballhead.

Church in Texas

So, today I was thumbing through the Feb 2015 Outdoor Photographer Magazine and noticed a photo that looked awful familiar.  Hey, that's mine.  And that's one of my photo partners, Vanguard Photo USA.  It was nice to see my image in an ad of theirs.

The image they used was an image I made in late spring of some bluebonnets in Texas.  Seeing the image got me to thinking back to that day.  I remember coming across this little church at the end of the dirt road I was driving down on a bluebonnet hunt.  I actually made this image of the church on Easter Sunday, too.  It was pretty desolate when I came across it late that afternoon.  I'm not even sure if anyone still uses it, but I thought it made for a cool shot!

24mm, F/16, ISO 100 @ 1/4 second

24mm, F/16, ISO 100 @ 1/4 second

This image was made with my Sony A7R and Tamron Lenses 24-70mm Lens.  That combo was mounted on my Vanguard Abeo Plus 323CT Tripod.

I processed the image in Adobe Lightroom.  One thing I did to bring a little color out of the sky was to bring down the luminous in the blue channel.  This really made the no nothing sky pop with blue.