Special Thanks to the Houston Museum of Natural Science!

I’d just like to say thanks publicly to Erin Blatzer and all the folks at the Houston Museum of Natural Science for posting three of my images on their Flicker Group and soon on their Internet Press Room. If you’re not familiar with HMNS you really should drop by the museum on Hermann Drive in Houston. If you’re ever out in Sugar Land or the Richmond / Rosenberg area on a lazy Saturday evening, you should pack up the kids and head down to the George Observatory for their “Saturdays at the George” program. You can also read about other things happening at the museum’s blog called BeyondBones or on their FaceBook site.

I’ll be adding new images in the coming weeks and months as I continue to PhotoWalk the museum’s exhibits, special events and other locations using my camera as a guide! If you’re a local photo enthusiast or even a pro shooter living in the area and interested in PhotoWalking, send me an email at jeffrey.t.lynch@[nospam]comcast.net. I’m looking to organize several area PhotoWalks in the late summer and early fall and anyone with a good pair of legs, a steady hand and a keen eye for light is welcome!

Texas Wildlife

One of the great things about wandering around a state park in Texas is the variety of wildlife you’ll encounter. I shot this earlier this afternoon during another visit to the Brazos Bend State Park where I was actually looking for some alligators to photograph. Accoring to the park guide there are “more than 300 species of birds sighted; 21 species of reptiles and amphibians, including American alligator; 17 species of mammals including bobcat, white-tailed deer, raccoon, and gray fox; 39 species of dragonfly; 500 species of plants.

Now that’s what I call a lot of photographic opportunities!

Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 70-200mm f/4L with a Moose Peterson warming circular polarizer at 126mm, f/4, 1/1000th at ISO 100 on SanDisk Digital Film.

(Yes, the yellow/green color background you see is no digital trick. This is what a real East-Texas bayou looks like in the summertime!)

(And yes! There are some very large gators just under the surface waiting for one of these birds to get lazy.)

Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 70-200mm f/4L with a Moose Peterson warming circular polarizer at 184mm, f/4, 1/350th at ISO 100 on SanDisk Digital Film.

The Windmills of my Mind

You know you’re in the South when you see one of these! This “working” windmill sits in the middle of the Brazos Bend State Park and on a windy day it pumps fresh water into a small cistern.

Yes, we do get some of the most spectacular clouds here in Texas. It comes from being close to the Gulf of Mexico and from our “normal” summer weather which includes temperatures in the mid 90′s and humidities to match. Of course, every now and again we do get some really interesting hurricanes to shoot as well.

Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 37mm, f/13, 1/500th at ISO 100 with an exposure bias of -0.3ev to keep the windmill in silhouette. Stored on SanDisk Digital Film.

Also taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 37mm, f/13, 1/500th at IDO 100 with an exposure bias of -0.3ev to keep the windmill in silhouette. Stored on SanDisk Digital Film.

Hi, I’m a PC and My Friend Mac Just Gave Me Some Malware!

It goes like this…

“Hi, I’m a PC.”

“And I’m a Mac, and I just gave my friend PC here some Malware to chew on!”

If you’re a MobileMe user like I am, you’ve probably already downloaded the latest update for your Mac and the iPhone/iPod Touch 2.0 firmware so that you can “sync” them up over the Internet. And if you’re also a PC user like I am in my day job, you may have also downloaded the latest version of iTunes so that MobileMe can sync your Outlook Contacts, Calendar and Email with your Mac and iPhone. Cool stuff indeed!

But, if you’re not a MobileMe user and you’ve downloaded the latest version of iTunes for your iPod & PC, you’ll find a little surprise just waiting for you in your Windows XP or Vista Control Panel. Yes indeed! A MobileMe control panel applet will appear without so much as asking for permission to install or even informing you that it had been installed.

In my book, that’s called Malware and I’m quite surprised that Apple would even think of doing this to PC users without so much as a checkbox to unclick (as they did in their latest QuickTime update).

Shame on you Apple for resorting to such tactics!

Stairway to Heaven

Just south of Sugar Land, TX about 20 miles as the crow flies, you’ll find the Brazos Bend State Park and the George Observatory. Nestled in just under 5000 acres of river bottomlands, the park boasts an abundance of wildlife including white-tail deer, coyotes, waterfowl and some of the biggest alligators this side of the Mississippi. All together a great spot to take some shots!

The observatory is run by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and is home to three domed telescopes. The largest is the 36-inch research telescope, one of the largest telescopes in the nation open to the public on a regular basis. The observatory also has a new 11-inch refracting telescope in another dome. The George Observatory is open to the public on Saturday evenings.

Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 17mm, f/13, 1/250th on SanDisk Digital Film. Cropped and rotated in Aperture 2.1 on a MacBook. It almost seems to be floating in mid-air, doesn’t it?

Here’s another view. This time more conventionally framed.

Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 17mm, f/11, 1/320th on SanDisk Digital Film. Cropped and enhanced in Aperture 2.1 on a MacBook.

And another image of the top of the entire dome. Now if we could just get those doors open!

Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 17mm, f/13, 1/250th on SanDisk Digital Film. Cropped and enhanced in Aperture 2.1 on a MacBook.

Powerful Words

I found this wandering around Sugar Land a few weeks ago. Like most of the south, folks in Texas take their religion seriously. Notice what’s sculpted on the sides of this cross. Powerful words indeed!

Shot with a Canon 40D, 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 17mm, f/11, 1/160th on SanDisk Digital Film.

Shot with a Canon 40D, 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 23mm, f/5, 1/500th on SanDisk Digital Film.

Both shots were taken on a steamy summer afternoon, when most folks in their right mind are inside in the air conditioning or at least sitting under a tree sipping on a tall lemonade. Photographers sure are a crazy bunch!

I Hate Neck Straps!

Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t bought any photo gear in almost 25 years. In all that time I’d have thought the major camera manufacturers (Canon especially) would have come up with a better neck strap! But No. The strap that came with my 40D body looks exactly like the strap still connected to my ’75 F-1 with the exception of the word “EOS”. I gotta tell ya. I really hate those damn neck straps! Wearing one of those makes me look like an overweight tourist heading for Hawaii, rather than the serious(ly) amateur photographer that I am.

Luckily, the folks at BackRapid have come up with a “blinding flash of the obvious” in their R-Strap! I placed my order just as soon as I finished watching Ron Henry’s videos.

How can I say this? It’s the best strap design I’ve ever seen and the workmanship is superb. And that’s coming from a design engineer with six patents of my own. I’m damn jealous that I didn’t think of it myself (LOL).

It’s a little difficult to describe the R-Strap since it’s really not a neck strap at all. You really need to watch Ron’s videos to understand how it works. Even the photos above (copyright and courtesy BlackRapid, Inc.) don’t do it justice. Truthfully, I like everything about the R-Strap and would recommend it to any amateur or pro, especially for photowalking

Go watch Ron’s videos and look over the BlackRapid site. Buy one and watch how fast Ron’s team gets it to you. Put it over your neck and under your arm. Attach the FastenR to your body, lens or battery grip. Latch it all together (don’t forget the plastic safety sleeve) and adjust it till it feels “natural”. Swing your camera up for a shot and feel how secure and “braced” everything feels.

This is what a camera strap is supposed to be!

Those Warm Summer Nights!

Sugar Land, TX is not just one of those modern Texas suburbs with the new brick buildings and manicured gardens. Like most Texas towns, it boasts a long and colorful history. In Sugar Land’s case, it’s all about the Imperial Sugar mill and headquarters.

Shot with a Canon 40D, 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 20mm, f/16, 1/6th on Lexar Digital Film. Taken just before sunset on a steamy summer evening.