Technology. Ain’t it grand!

There are times that I’m amazed by what we’re capable of. Even in my short lifetime I remember that having a computer in your home was like having a TV in the house for my parents generation, or a phone for my grandparents generation. Now I’m sitting at a picnic table in an empty arena typing on a laptop that’s connected to the internet through a phone that fits in my pocket while downloading photos from my camera of the heifer show I just shot and watching big rigs full of rough stock come in for tomorrow nights rodeo. Our lives, like that last sentence, tend to run on with all the different things we can accomplish in a short amount of time. I think I’m going to pull out some film and take a quick breather from the insanity.

PS. Just before I hit publish on this post it thundered. I hope it doesn’t rain out our youth barrel racers tonight.

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Waller County Fair, first weekend wrap-up.

Queens were crowned, competitions were won, fun was had by all.

It was a beautiful weekend in the tri-county area. Even if it was a bit hot for those not used to being in this part of Texas during the “official” start of fall. It was a rodeo and concert weekend. As I left on Sunday, the carnies had arrived and were setting up for next week and the ag barn was being prepped for the 4H and FFA kids show animals to start coming in.

The media crew had a little addition this year. The fair committee erected a scaffold next to the rodeo arena for us to use as a shooting platform. It feels kind of strange to not be hanging off the fences having to pay attention to where the animals are headed in case you need to make the choice between jumping off and getting hit by a stray horn or rope. It makes for a nice shady spot underneath during the day events too.

I have to give a special note of thanks to Saturday nights headliner, Jack Ingram. He’s the first entertainer in three years that insisted the photographer get a photo with the talent at the VIP meet & greet before the show. When the last VIP had their photo taken, I thanked Jack for his time. He just smiled and said “The photographer deserves a shot too”. Asked me to show his road manager how to use the camera and stayed for one last shot. That was a nice touch of respect from one artist to another and I appreciated it. He put on a great show to top it all off. Bright lights, thick smoke, and loud ass music.

And speaking of artists. I have to share the conversation I had with Shenandoah drummer/co-founder Mike McGuire. Mike actually stared off as a photographer out of high school; being a full time musician followed that. At one point he even owned and operated his own studio. We had a good conversation about how the technology has changed over the years since he was in the game. I’m sorta glad he didn’t succeed as a photographer. Shenandoah’s string of hits was a staple of my own high school career and has been victimized by my rare bouts of drunken karaoke.

For my parting shot I have to give tribute to the ultimate behind-the-scenes group of people. The road crew of a touring band. These folks get all the work and none of the glory. This guy is a perfect example.

(This was shot during the set. The edge of the stage and a stack of amps are just out of frame the the left.)

Creativity and Precision

One of my joy’s in life is being both a grandfather and a photographer. This is only a recent development, and kind of an unusual one too. I’m only 35. My friends are having kids at the same time my kid is having a kids. Okay, technically my step-kid is having kids. Either way it’s kinda cool. All the benefits of a baby without sleepless nights and dirty diapers. To top it off Logan was even born on my birthday. I figure his other grandpa and dad are good athletes and can handle all the ball handling skills and balance that I sorely lack. I’ll cover the art side of things and anything firearms related. Yep, creativity and precision will be our corner.

Scorched earth policy.

Scorched earth policy. That’s what I thought of as I was driven through the Remington Forest subdivision yesterday. The small neighborhood in the northern corner of Waller county was the hardest hit in the recent tri-county wildfire. About 90% of the homes there were lost according to information I gleaned from news reports on the internet. Some close friends of mine live in there and are counted in the lucky 10%. Thanks to the hard work of the volunteer fire fighters from all over the region, and even from out of state, not a single house on their street needs more than moderate repairs before they can move in again.

It’s kind of funny how the fire seemed to randomly pick and choose it’s victims. When I walked into John and Steph’s back yard you could see where the fire stopped just a few feet from their kid’s bikes. It was like time kind of froze everything. Innocence and destruction staring each other in the face. On another street further back in the neighborhood, one house stands surrounded by other homes burnt to the foundations. The people who live there told John the day before all they had was smoke damage inside. All of their neighbors lost everything. It was surreal.

Like a lot of things, fences meant nothing to the fire. The plastic economy fences used in Remington Forest melted in the fire leaving a tribute to Salvador Dali behind. While they might make interesting subjects for a photograph they are a twisted monument to the fate of the neighborhood.

I have some more shots to develop from the 4×5. The new lens and DIY lensboard worked well. Now I just have to mix up some fresh developer. Fair┬ástarts this weekend. I’m looking forward to the long days of shooting there again this year. The area needs a break from all this for a little fun too.

Changing the landscape.

If you’re not in Texas you may not realize we are into one of, if not the, worst droughts in recorded history. We haven’t had any┬ásignificant┬áamount or rain in almost a year now. To make it even worse this summer set records for the number days with temperatures at 100f or more. This one is going to change the landscape. Already the wildfires have┬ádevastated┬áareas larger than some states. The week of Labor Day they were within a couple miles of our home. Many friends and family just north of us were evacuated and some still aren’t home.

Yep, my grandchildren will grow up looking at a different Texas than I did. The trees are dying at an unimaginable pace. We’ve already taken one down in our yard. An oak tree planted in 1968 by my parents the first year they were married. It’s the first of several. At least two more, another oak and a pine tree, are turning brown even with watering. Luckily in the country you have your own well and no one can tell you when you can water. The irrigation on the trees around the house has gone on 24/7 since the beginning of July. I don’t see it stopping until I have to worry abut the pipes freezing.

But on a good note the stump made a suitable test for my “new” old lens on the 4×5. I had to build my own mount to fit the 210mm/370mm Schneider-Krueznach convertible lens to the camera. Nothing a little Lexan and a Dremel tool couldn’t handle. So far it’s working great. I think tomorrow I’ll take it for a spin on the other side of the creek to see some of the fire damage now that it’s┬árelativity┬ásafe again.

Making the time.

Sail maker repairing the Elissa in Galveston Harbor shortly after she survived hurricane Ike.

Sometimes, making time isn’t an easy thing to do. But like Nike always told us you have to just do it. So I am; again. This is probably my third start to a blog in as many years. But I’ve committed my self to making the time for it in this incarnation. So without further ado, lets get going!