Sunset in Austin

I just realized that my last 3 shots that I posted here are all from Europe, as are a large portion of my previous shots over the last little while.  In fact, my Europe category here on the blog has grown considerably over the last year or so, and is nearing 200 photos.  Obviously, I have been going to Europe a lot, and taking a lot of pictures there.  But also, I am a total Europhile.  I can’t help it - I just love the continent and everything about it that I have encountered thus far.

This got me thinking about how much of it I have seen.  So far, I have been to 14 countries in Europe, but not all as a photographer.  Some of these were visited when my wife and I quit our jobs and spent 2 months backpacking around over there, which was back in 2001.  And yes, it was as awesome as it sounds, in case you were wondering.  :-)

In the last couple of years I have been back several times, and with my love of photography, I have tried to do it justice.  I will keep trying, and keep sharing photos from there, because I have a massive amount of shots still to get to.

But, I also have a lot of shots to share from other places, some as far away as downtown Austin, about 20 minutes from my house.  That’s where I grabbed this photo, looking westward along Town Lake (which is now renamed Lady Bird Lake) into a fabulous sunset.  Sometimes, you can capture beauty right around the corner, instead of halfway around the world.

iPhone fun on a lake run

The Colorado River runs through downtown Austin, and we dam it up in a few places to make some nice lakes. The main one is Lady Bird Lake, but only new people call it that.  It's Town Lake to me, and always will be...but I've been here a while.  Anyways, we have a really nice trail around it for running and biking, and you can always find folks out on the water kayaking, rowing, and stand-up-paddleboarding.  Austin is like that - we enjoy our outdoor activities, even with oppressive heat in the summer.  

I was down there a couple of times over the last week or so, and of course had the iPhone I grabbed a few shots.  Hope you enjoy the photos, and thanks for stopping by today!


Hyatt Regency Austin

I was going through my archives and came across this shot, so I thought I would share it.  This is the Hyatt Regency on Lady Bird Lake, here in Austin.  It's an old-ish hotel but has a great location (obviously!) and they are well known for their fajitas in their restaurant - I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!   Mmmmm....fajitas.

I took this back in September of last year, as I was walking across the bridge and heading to the hotel. Thomas Hawk was in town, and he was hosting a mammoth photo walk that morning, and we were all to meet there in the lobby.  It was a great time and in addition to meeting Thomas, I got to hang out with some of my local photo buddies and meet new ones that day too.  It was a great start to a Saturday!!

Cherish the silence

I frequently find myself at this bridge when I am downtown in Austin with camera in hand.  In this case, I had it to myself.  It was my bridge, at least for some quiet moments.  There is a silence that exists in busy towns, but you can only find it when you are up and moving about early on a weekend.  I never seem to experience it  at other times - it's elusive like that.  I was happy to find it the morning I took this shot.  Usually Lady Bird Lake is full of folks in boats of one sort or another, but not on this morning.  It was weird, but I liked it.

Austin skyline at blue hour

Last weekend on Sunday I got up pretty early and took off to catch some early morning shots of the town.  Shooting downtown is probably my favorite place around here, and catching it early on a Sunday morning means you won't have anyone in your way - which is nice.  I immediately headed down to Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake if you are newer to Austin), thinking I would get a skyline shot with the lights reflected in the water.  I had been thinking about sunrise before getting there, not really the blue hour.  But once I got to this spot and got set up, the darkness was fading and the blue hour was at hand.  I think the term "blue hour" is a bit of a misnomer, because it only seems to last a few minutes.  Nonetheless, it is a fabulous time of day and this one was remarkable.  I am beginning to think that blue hour (morning or evening) is even better than sunset.  We had some nice cloud cover that morning and I think it helped diffuse the approaching light and make this scene so beautiful. 

This is a 5 exposure (-2 to +2) HDR taken at f/14 and merged in Photomatix, then adjusted in PSE and Aperture.

Bouncing bridge

Taking HDR shots of bridges is one of my favorite things to do.  I really enjoy photographing them.  I find them interesting and beautiful.  Mostly though, I find myself under them trying to get an interesting angle.  After shooting a bridge, I nearly always find myself under it, and nearly always enjoy those pictures better.  This is under the Lamar Street bridge in Austin, taken last December (you can see some Fall color in the trees).

6 exposure HDR, f/13, -4 to +1.  Merged into an HDR in Photomatix with some minor adjustments afterwards in PSE and Aperture.  By the way, I gave it the title Bouncing Bridge because it almost looks to me like the arches just barely touch the water and bounce up again...

Austin city view

Two images today (well, technically it is one but it is two versions!) - and I need your help.  Please read below...

Austin is a great town and I consider myself lucky to be able to live here.  Though it continues to grow and prosper, it seems the city is doing all it can to manage that growth appropriately and keep the infrastructure up with the size of the place.  With all the new residents comes new construction, and our skyline has changed and grown considerably over the last few years, with more underway.  I like the skyline and find it pleasing to look at, though I am probably biased.  Clearly it is not a NYC or Chicago skyline, with all the skyscrapers rising high, but we have a few and they seem to fit in well.  I think it is a nice looking skyline.  What's your opinion?

Speaking of opinions, I need some input.  I generally consider myself a "color guy", and though I appreciate the beauty of a lot of black & white photos, I only use that technique sparingly.  In this case, though I did like the color version, I thought I would give it a whirl in B&W too.  I actually like both and when I decided to post this photo, I couldn't really decide which I liked here are both.  Hey, it's my photo blog, so I can do what I want to, right?  Anyways, I would like your input.  Which do you like better and why?

They are the exact same photo, except that I converted one to B&W.  Both are 6 exposure HDR shots taken at f/22, with exposures ranging from +2 to -3.  ISO is 100.  I merged them into an HDR in Photomatix and then made my typical adjustments in PSE and some minor tweaking in Aperture.

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks in advance for letting me know your thoughts!

Graceful symmetry

Ok, back to an HDR shot.  I do like to experiment with photography and try new things.  My last two posts were a macro and a Black & White, but after a couple of days of not posting an HDR shot I start to get itchy.  I really do love HDR and find it fun and fascinating.  This is the Lamar Street bridge in downtown Austin.  I have taken many shots of this bridge, from many angles.  They always come out great in my opinion.  The bridge is very photogenic.  Most folks in Austin shoot the Pennybacker Bridge (aka Loop 360 Bridge) and it is certainly an iconic symbol of Austin, not to mention a great looking bridge.  But for some reason, I keep getting drawn to this bridge more often than the Loop 360 bridge.  This one is much smaller, and much simpler, and I guess I like that about it.  I really like the graceful symmetry and the consistent pattern of the arches.  On the morning that I took this shot, the weather was fabulous and the skies were mostly clear.  A bit earlier there were a bunch of clouds passing through, and you can see them in the distance, but they never materialized over the bridge - that would make an excellent shot.  

This is a 5 exposure HDR taken at f/13,with exposures from+2 to -2.  They were merged into an HDR in Photomatix and then I made additional adjustments in PSE (Curves, Contrast).  I made final adjustments in Aperture and there you have it!

Curves of a bridge

This is a shot of a pedestrian bridge in downtown Austin.  I enjoy taking shots of bridges, and usually wind up underneath them trying to find cool views, in which I am usually successful.  I thought this one had nice lines to it.  From the top of this bridge you can get a nice view of our downtown skyline.  The arched bridge in the distance is a frequent subject of mine, since it has those wonderful arches in it.  In the old days, before this pedestrian bridge existed, you had to cross the distant one on a very narrow track.  Every time a car went by it felt like you would get blown off the bridge.  That pretty much stunk, but it's all better now!

This is a 6 exposure HDR shot at f/13, with the exposures ranging from -3 to +2.  The raw files were merged into an HDR in Photomatix, and then the HDR was adjusted in PSE for Curves, Contrast and UnSharp Mask.

Dawn breaks in Austin

As I have mentioned previously, I really enjoy looking at the Austin skyline.  Whenever I get a chance to go shoot, I find I am often drawn to downtown and am looking for a different view of the skyline.  In this case, it was reasonably early on a winter morning, and the sun was starting its ascent.  I wound up down on the Hike and Bike Trail around Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake to some; the Colorado River to a few) and walked around until I came to Lou Neff Point.  There is a gazebo there, where I am sure folks sit and enjoy the view when it is a little warmer out.  In this case, I was completely alone, except for all the ducks, which scattered as I approached (you can see some of them in the distance out on the lake).  From the gazebo the shot was slightly blocked due to some trees, so I did what any resourceful person would do and climbed around behind the thing, down to the lake.  There is a small patch of ground there which must have been created just for photographers - it was the right size for me and the tripod.

This image is a 7 exposure HDR, shot at f/11 in the early morning light, with the exposures ranging from -3 to +3.  I merged the exposures in Photomatix, which is a great product by the way, and then made some adjustments in PSE and a light polish at the end in Topaz Adjust.  I experimented with a couple of different looks in this shot.  The first showed a lot more detail in the buildings, etc, but then I changed the contrast a bit and decided I preferred this version, which sort of produced a skyline silhouette of sorts.  Hope you like it!