Storm flower

Flower on my Lemon Drop tree
Flower on my Lemon Drop tree

I took this last night before yet another rain shower dumped buckets in Austin. It’s an El Niño year, which means we’ll be wetter than usual here. Austin has been in a fairly severe drought for years now, which makes this rain welcome. But it’s KILLING some of my drought-tolerant plants. ::wet feet:: On the other hand, my fig, pomegranate, and lemon drop trees are loving this rain.

Gardens at Alcatraz

alcatraz-garden-web

I enjoyed learning about the gardening program prisoners back in the day at Alcatraz. And I’m glad that the current caretakers are continuing the tradition of beautification and protection of the tiny island

My challenge with these pictures was to combine the macro shots with a sense of location. Sometimes I shoot macro stuff just to show the detail of something. But this time I thought it was important to give a sense of the total environment.

alcatraz-5

alcatraz-garden-2

And here’s one shot to show the scene as I was interpreting it.

alcatraz-garden-3

Fisheye Lens and Flowers

I took a trip with my kiddo this weekend. I asked him if he wanted to visit the mountains or the beach. He chose the mountains, so off we headed to El Paso.

For the first time ever, I rented a lens…a fisheye lens. Of all things! I wanted to see what I could do with the distortion that kind of lens creates.

I took the one below of a blooming palo verde tree in Concordia Cemetery. It’s not as in focus as I would like. To be fair to myself, this was taken the first hour I was working with the lens. I have to remember that this is all a learning process!

fisheyeflower4

I also tried out its capacity for close-up pictures of individual flowers. I really like how these turned out. You can see the whole background, but it is oddly blurry and bent. To me, it offers some interest to the background detail while keeping it from competing with the main image.

Ocatillo flower on the Franklin Mountains
Ocatillo flower on the Franklin Mountains

In one of my photography books, an author is bothered by the darkening of the corners of photos when using very wide angle lens. I find the effect sort of charming, like a vignette effect or something. It’s not something I would change in the editing process. Here’s an example of that vignetting on the upper corners of this picture of a globe mallow:

fisheye-flower2

And here’s another pretty flower from the Concordia Cemetery.

fisheyeflower3

Beautiful Hixon,Tennessee

I stayed in Hixon (just a bit outside of Chatanooga) on Saturday night in a neighborhood up on a mountainside. It was so quiet that it was a bit eery for me. Even though I live in the outskirts of Austin, there’s some background noise from IH 35 and various neighbors. Nothing like that out in Hixon! The person I was staying with warned that Great Horned Owls sometimes hoot at night, but I guess they took a vacation. Or, I was so tired I passed out.

On to the flowers: The dogwoods were in full bloom, as were lilacs and other small flowers.

The neighborhood sits across from a nuclear power plant, which I would never have noticed if I had not been told. I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves this time. This is my visual task of ‘show not tell.’ Fewer words, more pics!

Bug on a flower.
Eeew! Bugs!!!
Among all the new construction, I found this gem sitting at the bottom of a developed property. I hope they keep it there--it's a piece of Hixon's history.
Unknown yellow flower on the lake's edge
Nuclear power plant with 5 parallel 345 Kv transmission lines (or possibly 230 Kv)

Wild times in Tulsa!

Look, I’ll be honest. I wasn’t expecting to have any fun in Tulsa when I went there for work. I was mistaken!

I especially wish I had more time for night photography. I just snapped one quick shot.  Tulsa has a number of buildings from the 1930s-1950s which are still in use, including the county courthouse. The workmanship in the 1950s courthouse was especially well-done. Look, it’s 2012, and nothing has fallen off the walls. The bathroom had nice, sturdy doors too. Just in case you have to take a leak at the courthouse. I try to be helpful when I can.

The nightlife wasn’t bad either. I randomly selected McNellie’s for dinner because it seemed to have good reviews online. They have $3.99 hamburgers every Wednesday from 5:00 to like 11:00 (and a really hot waiter who I pretended I couldn’t hear unless he got closer-hee hee!). I stayed late enough to see the college kids roll in. I forgot about those days of whimsy when you could eat at any hour and not worry about the old waistline.

http://mcnellies.com/site/sections/1 My coworker and I were like, “I can’t pay these robber baron prices for a delicious burger, dammit!” I really enjoyed the atmosphere–the place was buzzing and getting buzzier as the evening wore on.  I love trying to blend in with the local crowd. It’s really hard for me, being a Texan in Oklahoma. I had to hide my accent and furry tail.

In the morning, I was greeted by lovely flowers blooming on a tree outside my hotel room.

If I can get a deal on Southwest, I’ll probably go back for a day!

Flowers on the storm…like a dog without a bone. Huh?

These are pics of flowers right before the storm hit in El Paso this week. Very diffrent background from the ususal bright, sunny, lens flare ones I take.

Anyhow, while I do like that song Riders on the Storm by the doors, I have to admit that I find many of the lyrics inane–even unartful. Um, like a dog without a bone, an actor out alone? First, I don’t think a dog without a bone is an incredibly sad scene. It doesn’t have something to gnaw on? Well, Fido, go find a stick.

An actor out alone? Isn’t that called a monologue…where all the attention is on ME ME ME? [bows to imaginary audience applauding]

And: there’s a killer on the road, his brain is squirmin’ like a toad. 

oooh. Not a killer! Scary, scary, scary. [ugh] Wouldn’t it have been better to have said his ‘mind’ was squirming, rather than his brain? The brain is an organic structure not capable of movement. This is a jarring, yet entirely stupid image. Also, toads don’t squirm. Worms squirms. But, worm doesn’t rhyme with ‘road’ so…..