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.

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.

The Sun Always Shines in Texas!

You know, it’s amazing how much there is to photograph right in your own home town. Here’s another shot of Sugar Land’s brand new City Hall. The cowboy statue in the fountain is of Stephen F. Austin on his horse pulling a pack horse out of the Brazos River.

Shot with a Canon 40D, 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 17mm, f/10, 1/200th on Lexar Digital Film.

Shot with a Canon 40D, 17-40mm f/4L with circular polarizer at 17mm, f/11, 1/125th on Lexar Digital Film.