Tag Archives: event

March For Science Houston, April 22, 2017

Righteous Bella

Righteous!  My friend’s daughter keeps changing her mind from being a vet to an ornithologist and loves photography.  From her love of birds, she’s already identified over 300 species.  She’s 10.  Go Bella!

I know there will be a huge number of March For Science and Earth Day blog posts out there, so just add mine to the fray.  The premise of this march meant enough to me to actually join in – at age 56 – my first protest march ever.

Was it a “protest”?  The March for Science was meant to be a bipartisan event, promoting the scientific method, fact-based approaches to the study of the environment and climate change, and the benefits to humanity which have resulted from science.  As my friend’s daughter points out in the photo above:  her little brother would not be alive were it not for the accomplishments of medical science.  He was born 3-1/2 months early.  He’s now a sweet, happy, laughing 15 months old (11-1/2 months adjusted – they do that for preemies).

So, back to the March.  Was it a protest in addition to a celebration of all things and people scientific?  Ultimately, yes.  We probably should be having marches like this every year in celebration of scientists and all the things they’ve learned and created through science that aid us in our daily lives (Hubble telescope, space shuttles, internet, radio, iTunes, cell phones, velcro, medicine, photography, coffee makers, planes, trains, automobiles, etc).  We should be doing this not just because of the current administration.  It’s this current administration, however, that impelled these world-wide marches.  I still find it mind-boggling there are people out there (including the elected president) who deny climate change and want to cut funds to health and other scientific research.  America has been at the forefront of so many scientific discoveries, and now we should take a back seat??  I’m uncertain as to how this is “making America great”.   Whenever I think about this, I become that “mad scientist” you’ll see in one of the signs below.

Ok, enough of politics.  I leave you with images I captured during this very short, but very transformational march for me.

The Crowd Getting Ready

The number of marchers 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the event.  And more people kept streaming in.

Evolution SignPolio SignsBill Nye SignScience Knows No CountryResistors AndTransformersCoffee Wine Beer SignBrewed With Science

In all honesty, I’d be kinda lost without coffee, wine and beer.  Just sayin’ 😉

A Scientist Who Votes

A scientist who votes.  Somebody in government should be getting a little nervous, I should think.

Science Marchers Of All Ages

Marchers were there of all ages.  Made me proud to know so many people care about fact-based research and the scientific method.

CO2 Sign

Let’s see … I was born in 1961 so the CO2 level was probably around 318 – 319 ppm, approximately.

Princess Sign

My favorite sign was the “Mad Scientist” sign.  The next time I reach that boiling point of anger, I’ll think of this sign.

The Planet Dress

The Planet Dress

The New Ghost BustersThe Brain Hat

The Brain Hat.  I saw a number of them in varying  colors during the march.  And they all looked very neat, and very hot.  While it was not particularly humid, it was quite warm and sunny (thankfully, since thunderstorms were predicted).

Looking Toward City HallCity Hall Crowds

The march ended at the Houston City Hall.  So many people!  It’s estimated as many as 15,000 people participated in this event.

4-22-904-22-70

Let’s not forget that it was Earth Day, as well.  This gentleman saw me with my camera and came up to me to tell me he’d worn this same shirt during the very first Earth Day march.  I told him that definitely merited a photo.

For those of you interested, I used my Canon 1DX and 24-105mm lens to capture these images above.  The 24-105 is the perfect walking-around lens with a good number of focal lengths from which to choose.  All this, courtesy of science.

Becky and Bella_IMG_6589Becky & Maegan_IMG_6590

Your’s truly with a couple of friends she walked with at the march.

Science Becky TwinsScience Beckys

Twins? Triplets? The science of cloning?  Nah – well, not really – actually it was the science of Photoshop!

 

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Filed under 1DX, 24-105mm, Canon, Canon Lens, Events, March For Science

Photographing Kevin and Amber’s Big Day

Bride-Groom-Pink Shoes

Gads!  I know!  It’s been forever since I last posted to this site.  So sorry!  I’ve had two weddings, a trip to Hawaii, and two airshows that I’ve photographed since my last post.  Oh yeah, and a day job in addition to all of this photography stuff.  I’d come home from work, eat a little dinner, try to watch the national news, then sit down to process anywhere from 4 – 10 images each weeknight before going to bed around 10PM and then getting up at 4AM to start my day over again.  Sometimes, I’d even take my small travel laptop to work with me so that I could sit at my desk and edit photos during my lunch time.  Weekends after each event have been spent at home, making the big push to get as many photos processed as possible, from the time I wake up around 5AM to the time I go to bed around 10-11PM.  My home is a pig sty because I haven’t had time to pick anything up and clean, and I still have luggage opened up with stuff strewn about on my floor because I haven’t had time to really unpack.

But now, I’m done!   And to prove it, I am posting here the results of the wedding I photographed September 27th, for Kevin and Amber.

Bride and Groom in Front of The Alamo VIGNETTE

Some of you have asked what my wedding workflow entails.  One of the tasks I try to do for each wedding is to Google the wedding venue and then personally drive (if in-state) to the venue to scope it out for photo ops as well as just the general lay of the land.  I also introduce myself to the venue staff so they know who I am, why I am there, and what I look like in order that they recognize me on the wedding day.

Kevin and Amber’s wedding was held at the Northwest Forest Conference Center, Cypress, Texas.  The conference center is a large area of acreage with several venues as well as hotel rooms on site.  The venue Kevin and Amber chose was The Alamo (a replica thereof, where the ceremony was conducted outside the building and the reception held inside).  You’d need to have met the couple but this venue was absolutely perfect for them.  Soooo very Texan.

The Ceremony at The Alamo

Every wedding is different.  While there are certain shots that are de rigueur (ceremony, bride and groom kissing, posed shots, cake cutting, etc.), each wedding also opens itself up to numerous photo ops singular to that couple’s day and event.

Amber was the first bride ever who told me up front that it was all about the photos.  She acknowledged that the ceremony would be over in minutes, but the pictures would last a lifetime.  With that mindset, she had a number of images she definitely wanted me to capture, and she even had examples for me to use as go-by.

While the venue differed (of course) from the example images Amber showed to me, the idea regarding what she wanted remained unchanged.  Plus, I now have these ideas in my photo op repertoire for future nuptials.

Boots-Bouquet-Rings

Rings Line of Sight

Engagement Ring and A Rose

Rings and A Rose

Generations

Picture Frame - Bride and Groom in Focus

I used my Canon 1DX and 5D Mk III bodies along with a rented Canon 6D (really cute little camera easy for my little hands, but not so great with low-light, I freely admit).  I used all L lenses (except for the 40mm pancake lens to which I affixed the Canon close-up lens filter):  85mm f1.2, 24-70 f2.8 (since destroyed during my Hawaii trip, blast it), 16-35 f2.8 (also destroyed during the Hawaii trip), and 70-200 f2.8.  I also used my Canon Speedlite 600 EX/RT flash.

For outdoor shots, I used an ISO of 640 and for indoor shots, I used an ISO (in general) of 3200.  I captured indoor and outdoor images both with and without flash.

Bride on The Bridge

Bride and Bridesmaids On The Bridge

Groom and Groomsmen - Alamo

I’ve never much cared for using a flash, but that dislike has lessened as my experience wielding it improves.  That, plus a flash is an absolute MUST for reception / indoor images because of the low light.  No way around that.

Grooming The Groom

Wedding Cake

Feeding Her Cake

Last Dance

Reception Hall

Dancing Inside The Circle

Everything was hand-held and with the exception of the 70-200mm lens, none of the others had image stabilization (IS, VR, whatever your camera brand calls it).  This meant I used the “spray and pray” method (holding down on that shutter button and letting the camera click away).  With this particular wedding, time was really tight and a tripod setup would have taken too long.  I was constantly on the move, changing between cameras.  Actually, I used each camera for the same scene just so there would be at least 1 good image between the 3 cameras – sometimes there were 2-3 good images of the same scene, so I processed them all because I like the newlyweds to have a choice – especially since each camera sported a different lens.

I made certain I whitened and brightened the smiles and I used Imagenomic’s Portraiture plug-in for Photoshop to smooth out skin creases and blemishes.  I also utilized OnOne’s Perfect Effects to add a little variation to the standard color images.  Some poses just begged for sepia or other interesting effect.

The Groom His Men and Texas Flag

The Groom and His Father

While I am always a little tired after spending 3-5 weeks on wedding photos (I cull through thousands to get anywhere between 150 to almost 400 really good shots, depending upon the length of time I am photographing), I also feel a huge sense of satisfaction with my work; that satisfaction grows in proportion to how pleased the newlyweds are with the images.  I must ALWAYS keep in mind the desires and expectations of the clients, so I am always a little nervous as to how they receive my work.

To see more images taken during Kevin and Amber’s wedding, click on this link to be taken to my photo website.  And feel free to browse around the other galleries and folders as well.  My site continues to be a work in progress.

Pinkie Promise

Next post:  Jennifer and John’s wedding.

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Equipment, Events, Life, Photography, wedding

A Wedding In Galveston–Thoughts And Hindsight

Inside The Car

No matter how much you *think* you know about photographing a wedding, there is always something new to learn and take back for use at a future wedding. Since hindsight is 20-20, here are a few lessons I learned and things I will (try to) do for future jobs.

  • For the reception – particularly the dancing – I’ll get closer to the action and use the flash more – without the diffuser dome.  I’ll just make sure the flash is not at it’s highest setting since a little bit of non-diffused flash goes a long way.
  • I’ll make sure to have a step stool or a free table handy onto which I can stand.  Actually, I’d requested a ladder and the resort staff said they would provide one for me, but never did and I didn’t have time to go search for one – I managed to find a chair that worked well enough for my shots.

Speeches

  • In addition to the step-stool thing above, I’m going to try and procure something that allows me to stand above the action and use a tripod so I can request of the bride and groom that they go out to the dance floor and just stand there, looking like they are slow dancing while gazing at each other, while the rest of the dancers move about them. I’ll use a slow shutter speed on the camera so that only the newlyweds would be sharp in contrast to all the blurred movement around them.  I’ve seen similar wedding images to which this idea was applied and they are totally cool shots.
  • I will pack less gear (famous last words, I know, but I really do mean it).  Go back to my first post regarding this wedding to see all the gear I brought with me.
  • I will continue to remain ever-vigilant regarding subject placement against a background of lamps, lamp posts, or tree trunks so nothing looks like it is sprouting out of someone’s head.  Luckily for me, those issues were minimal and could be discarded because I took the same shots at numerous different angles.

Finally, here’s some advice for those of you embarking on a part- or full-time career in wedding photography. If you have a contract (and you should), make sure there is a clause stipulating that the bride & groom agree YOU are the only photographer who will take the official images of the ceremony as well as all the posed shots of  the bridal party and their families (I’ve got that clause in my contract).   Hard to avoid smartphones during the processional, but YOU should be the only one standing in the aisle with your camera catching the bridal processional.

Thankfully, I had no real issues about that with this wedding.  So, why am I even mentioning this? Awhile back, I read a  blog post about a professional wedding photographer who had a number of  key shots ruined because the guests were either elbowing the highly-paid photographer out of the way to get their own smartphone shots, or guests were getting *in* the way of a key shot, or because a guest’s flash went off at the same time the photographer’s flash went off, thus totally over-exposing (blowing out) the bride & groom or their families to the point that there was no way to recover any detail at all in the photo. I looked at each of this photographer’s photos and literally cringed over the shots ruined by rude people, both guests and non-guests.  One of my Facebook friends who is a successful wedding photographer told me he simply refuses to take any posed photos as long as some of the guests are trying to take the same shots with their own cameras. He just puts down his camera and waits.

Father-Daughter-Dance_U9A2581_thumb3

While I’ve been extremely lucky with the weddings I have photographed, that blog post and those Facebook comments highlight this problem that all wedding photographers face at some point in time.  Because of the bride & groom for this wedding prepared a very handy schedule of events for the key players, I had no problems at all during the ceremony or with the posed shots, and very minimal issues at the reception (like this photographer photo bomb during the father-daughter dance).

Naturally everybody is going to pull out their smartphone or point & shoot to  capture images during the reception, which tends to be a much less-structured event than the ceremony and far more relaxed.   Sometimes, one even runs across those guests who have toted along their  fully-loaded SLRs to the wedding because they either think they are doing *everybody* a favor (including the wedding photographer), or else they don’t think the paid photographer can do his/her job as well as they might have.  My ego would like to think that these guys (yeah, it’s usually guys)  see the wedding photos and then realize (but would *never* admit) that I did a pretty damned good job after all!

Here’s my rule of thumb:  If I am invited to a wedding and I am not the wedding photographer, then I leave my camera gear at home.  Period.

The-Bride-The-Groom-The-Bentley_0719[2]

I am exceptionally proud of the images I captured for this couple on their special day.    If you would like to see more photos from this wedding, then wander on over to my Facebook page Rebecca Latson Photography, click on the Photos box on my timeline, select Albums, then click on the link to the Maegan and Josh album. And, if you like what you see, then please “Like” me while you are on my page.

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Filed under Equipment, Life, low light photography, Photography, wedding

A Wedding In Galveston: The Rehearsal

Stylish Shoes

Ok, so in my previous post, I gave you the lowdown on the wedding location and the gear I took with me.  I’d checked in that Saturday afternoon and proceeded to get my stuff spread out all over the room; when I was finished it sorta looked like my room at home (grin).

That evening, around 5PM, everybody met in the resort’s entrance hall and then headed to the gazebo for a very quick rehearsal run-through with the resort’s wedding planner.

Waiting For Everybody To Gather

I was not scheduled to take any rehearsal dinner photos, but I wanted to be there for the rehearsal prior to their dinner to meet the key players as well as to scope out the gazebo venue for photo op locations.  Since I was carrying my 5D Mark III with the 24-70mm lens with me, I figured I might as well take a few pics (can you imagine me *not* taking any photos if I have a camera handy?).  I had to remember to switch from a higher ISO for the above indoor shot to a much lower ISO for the outdoor images.

Practice Run

Rehearsal didn’t last but maybe 10 minutes max, and then they were all off to their dinner.  I had made a reservation at the resort’s restaurant called The Steakhouse.  I highly recommend this place for the food, polished and unobtrusive service, and ambience.   Pricey, yes, but it was a little splurge for me (my hairstylist returned from her Puerto Rico vacation with a huge cold and had to cancel my hair appointment for that week, so I instead blew that cash on dinner).  I figured what the heck, I had the whole night ahead of me to relax and get ready for the next day’s activities and figured I might as well treat the day as a nice getaway from home (spotted some neat birding photo op locations along the way to Galveston).

Bella

Bellas Pink Hat

Next post: the first photo ops of the Big Day.

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A Wedding In Galveston: The Gear

Newly Wedded

Originally, I had written a 2800-word blog post (give or take). Yikes! Way too long! I think the human attention span tends to get a nervous tic over anything past 1200 words (which is the length I try to stick to but oftentimes never successfully manage). I personally can’t stand reading uber-long posts, no matter how helpful they may be; I tend to skim over them and just look at the pictures. I’d forgotten about this, though, in my 2800-word zeal to get everything down about my experience photographing this wedding. Then, I started reading some short but neat blog posts by Scottseyephotos about his photographic trip to Hallo Bay, AK, and I realized I was far more interested reading his numerous, interesting short blog posts than I would have been had he combined all of his bear articles into a single post. So, I’ve separated this original post into several shorter ones.

Here’s the First Post, which I hope whets your photographic-blogospheric appetite for the next post:

I had the great fortune to photograph Josh & Maegan’s wedding in Galveston, Texas, back in late April (2013).  The venue was the San Luis Resort.  I reserved a room for the weekend and prepared for the event.

What I took with me:

I’ve written a TripAdvisor review including photos of my room and the resort.  Suffice to say that I enjoyed my stay, liked my room, loved the view, but wished they had provided me with a different type of coffee maker .  A small complaint, but coffee is a mainstay for me when traveling and working with photos on my laptop.   I usually pack my own coffee and filters with the assumption the room has a 4-cup coffee maker.  It didn’t work with this particular room.

Setting Up The Wedding Venue

Looking down at the wedding venue from Josh & Maegan’s 16th-floor penthouse suite.

Now you have the location and the venue.  Next post:  my first photo op with the bride and her crew.

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Introducing Andrew and Juliana

H5T0025_Julie and Andrew Special Effects

If you read my previous post, then you know I spent my Christmas holiday  in eastern Washington.  This post photographically details the wedding I photographed in Tacoma, on December 28, while still in Washington.

I took the photographic equivalent of the kitchen sink with me:

Let’s see….did I forget anything here? Probably.

My brother-in-law was the officiator for the wedding, so on December 27, my sister, bro-in-law, and I piled ourselves and our stuff into their SUV and headed west over Snoqualmie Pass in fog, snow, slush, and rain to Tacoma.

H5T8971_Over The Pass

Our hotel was the Silver Cloud Inn, Tacoma Waterfront, with great views of Commencement Bay.  I was mightily impressed with the hotel and would stay there again in a heartbeat (this reminds me that I need to write a review of the hotel in Trip Advisor, to add to the other reviews I have written over the past couple of years).

U9A6532_Full Moon on Commencement Bay

U9A6543_Commencement Bay

The view of Commencement Bay and the full moon from my hotel window.

U9A6594_Commencement Bay Sunrise-Wide Angle

Sunrise on Commencement Bay the day of the wedding.

6226_Weyerhaeuser Mansion

The wedding was held at Weyerhaeuser Mansion, in the Old Town portion of Tacoma, atop a hill overlooking Commencement Bay.

6254_Venue with a View

Had the bride and groom not been so entranced looking at each other, this is the view they would have seen from where they stood during the ceremony.

U9A6819_Movie Starlet

H5T9257_Portrait of Juliana CROP

U9A6840_Juliana CROP

Prior to the wedding, Juliana dressed up in this adorable little movie-starlet outfit and with Andrew, welcomed guests to the mansion.

H5T9511_Fixing His Tie

Andrew getting ready.  I’m not sure how it happened, but his suit had been left back at their home, some 30 minutes and one ferry ride away.  Luckily, the suit arrived and the wedding started on time.

H5T9754_Pinning the Hat

Getting ready.

H5T9465_Wedding M&Ms

Wedding M&M’s with the date and their names printed on them.

H5T9678_Appetizers

Appetizers

H5T9803_Red Suede Shoes

Red suede shoes worn under the wedding gown.

Whenever you are photographing an event such as a wedding, you need to remember to capture images of the little things – the accessories, the decorations, the food/drink served.  These help flesh out the event and add atmosphere.

H5T9787_Portrait of the Bride

After Juliana was all dressed in her bridal ensemble, I asked her to stand next to the window so I could capture a portrait of her with the side light, which is one of my favorite  lighting techniques.

H5T9787_Portrait of the Bride - Enhanced

I took some of the photos and duplicated them, then used different special effects either  directly from Photoshop CS6, or as one of the presets in OnOne’s Perfect Effects 4 plug in.

H5T9825_Julie Head of Stairs-VIGNETTE

Juliana took my breath away as she stood at the top of the staircase, waiting for me to get my photos of her before she headed down to where her father awaited to escort her out to the groom and officiator.  Her gown and hat matched the character of the mansion and she truly looked like the Lady of The Manor.  In this photo, as well as a number of others, I made use of the vignette effect to focus the eye more on the subject.

H5T9825_Julie Head of Stairs-Anime

Another preset from OnOne’s Perfect Effects 4.

H5T9838_Juliana On Stairs Smiling

H5T9858_Father and Bride

H5T9874_Viewing His Bride

Andrew’s look as he first beheld his bride walking toward him.

H5T9884_From Father to SonInLaw

H5T9894_The Ceremony

U9A7175_The Ceremony

6275_Ceremony Overhead

U9A7188-2_Ceremony From Above

H5T9900_Putting On Her Wedding Ring - Ceremony

As I was earlier scoping out the mansion for possible photo ops for the bride & groom, I noticed this little room down the hallway from the changing room on the third floor of the building.  The room’s balcony looked directly over the wedding ceremony site.  So, after getting some ground-level images, I RAN up the three steep flights of stairs to get to the balcony so I could capture some overhead photos.  Then, I RAN back down the three flights and managed to arrive just as the bride and groom were kissing.

H5T9926-3_You May Kiss The Bride-Closeup

U9A7199_A Moment of Laughter

After the kiss, there was a moment of laughter as the groom came away with lovely red lips of his own; the bride’s lipstick color was very bright indeed.  I noticed later on a couple of male relatives with red lip marks on their cheeks.

H5T9962_Team HOCO

Introducing Team HOCO (made up of the first two letters each of Juliana’s and Andrew’s last names).

U9A7211_Mr & Mrs - VIGNETTE

And then it was on to the bride & groom photos, the reception, the toasts, and the cake cutting.

H5T9973_Juliana and Andrew

H5T9973_Juliana and Andrew-Blue Dawn effect

H5T0053_Swept Off Her Feet

At the gazebo, Andrew turned to Juliana and told her he wanted to sweep her off her feet.  I told him to go right ahead so I could get a photo of it.

H5T0060_Gazing From The Gazebo-Vignette

H5T0069_Julie Looking Back

H5T0108_Looking At Each Other

U9A7348-2_A&J Behind Tree

U9A7350_A&J at Mansion

H5T0128_A&J-WideAngle Mansion Door - Without Cape

Julian wanted a photo taken without the long black cape she was wearing.  It was a bit “nippy” outside and you can tell in this image.  Good thing she had Andrew’s warm arms around her.

H5T0133-2_A&J-Mansion Door-Closer

U9A6907_Tablesetting

6300_HOCO Tablesetting & Guests

U9A7531_Gifts and Guest Register

H5T0240_Wedding Roses

H5T9666_Wedding Cake

H5T9586_Cake Topper

A cake topper made by one of Juliana’s friends.  I’m told she and Andrew first met at Petco.

U9A7398_Welcoming The Newlyweds

U9A7507_A Toast To The Newlyweds

U9A7516_Cutting The Cake

U9A7524_Feeding Each Other Cake

U9A7319_A&J At Gazebo POSTERIZED

I’m thinking about doing this same “posterized” special effect to copies of a number of other photos, and then creating a little comic book/graphic novel for Andrew and Juliana.  I think any bride that wears red suede shoes with her wedding gown would appreciate something like that – don’t you?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Photographer’s Note:  I used every single one of those lenses at one point in time during the trip, but the three lenses I used most at the wedding were the 16-35mm for the wide-angle shots, and the 50mm prime and the 24-70mm zoom.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about these lenses.  Canon makes awesome glass in the form of their L-lenses.

While I used the flash occasionally, both with and without the Lastolite softbox,  the majority of my images were taken without the flash (I don’t really like using flash much, to be honest, although I know flash has its place and is quite necessary in some instances).  Instead, for my interior low-light images, I increased the ISO, and then used a noiseware reduction plug-in with CS6.

If you would like to see more photos from the wedding, please take a moment and go over to my Facebook Photography Page. And if you like what you see there, then please, feel free to Like me and follow me on my continuing photographic journeys.

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Filed under Equipment, Life, Photography, Washington State, wedding

Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy

Mommy Reading To Becky

I published a post honoring my father on Veteran’s Day, so in this post, I want to honor my mother on Mother’s Day.

I was what one person called “a mid-life surprise”.  Mom and Dad had two daughters already, and although they tried for one more  child, nothing happened, and the doctor told Mom to be happy with the two children she already had.  Fourteen years later, when Mom turned 36:  surprise!

Picnic

Mom and Dad were high school sweethearts who married while Dad was serving in the army during WW II.  During that time, she stayed with Dad’s mother (Granny) and Granny would take photos of  Mom to send to Dad.

Bicycling Mom

Moms Sexy Lingerie

During my years growing up, the family went through some difficult times, but Mom was always there to make things better.  Mom has always been an optimist.  Not the rose-colored-glasses kind of optimist, but more the practical kind of optimist.  I like to think I inherited my positive outlook from her.  Mom could always make me feel better back then and still does today, at 87 years of age.  Mom is the glue that binds our family together.

After Babys Bath

Love you, Mom! Red heart

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Roses For The Wedding Cake

Roses for the Wedding CakeDuring a wedding I photographed at a winery, I caught sight of them finally bringing out the “nude” wedding cake. The woman in charge of the whole thing had with her a newspaper photo of a similar wedding cake that she used as a go-by in placing the roses and adding the finishing touches. When photographing a wedding or any event, for that matter, it’s the extras like this that add to a memorable photo shoot. And the technique of focusing in on an object (or objects) in the foreground while leaving the background sort of “bokeh’d” makes for a more interesting image than just a straight all-in-focus shot.

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It’s The Little Things That Add To The Whole

Special Fortune Cookie

At the recent wedding I photographed, each guest received a special little fortune cookie party favor. Inside each cookie was a message of Love. This was the message in my fortune cookie.

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Yee Haw! Houston Rodeo 2012

4270_Fancy Saddle

Actually, it’s the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but we just call it “the rodeo” or the “Houston Rodeo”.  I won a sort of departmental lottery drawing and scored a free ticket to my company’s suite at the rodeo.  It was during a weekday, so I took a half day off and left the office before noon.

The Houston Rodeo is a popular venue as it is one of the biggest and most well-known rodeos in the world.  I love it!  My favorite part is the riding and roping, but there is so much more to the rodeo than just that, as you will see from my photos in this post.

On this particular day that I attended, the place was PACKED!  Of course, it was during the Texas schools’ Spring Break  and it was also Family Day at the rodeo; discounts on tickets and various other items were offered and pretty much the entire city of Houston decided to take advantage.

The first thing I like to do is visit Reliant Arena, where the demonstrations (weaving, bee keeping, milking), shopping, and most of the food is selling.   Wall-to-wall people and kids.  Barely room to move.  Got a few shots, but not as many as I might have captured had I arrived first thing in the morning.  I love the birthing area, but naturally that was slammed.  People can watch cows, sheep, pigs, and goats give birth before their very eyes.  With commentary.  It’s quite educational, and great for city folks who don’t normally spend much time around real live farm animals.

3670_Hand-Yarn-Spindle

3679_Yarn

3695_Feeding Time

3709_Little Lamb

3725_Hats

I never noticed this before, so I assume this is a new thing – flower arrangement competitions.  I could never get a really nice shot – too many people around – so I had to opt for close ups.  Orchids were a huge theme in a number of these arrangements.

3754_Flower Arrangement

4216_Flower Arrangement

4234_Orchid Arrangement

4256_Yellow Orchids

And of course, I always stop by my favorite bronze statue (there are a number of bronze sculptures right next to the stadium).  This year, I was kicked out by a guy at the wine garden because this sculpture is located smack-dab in the midst of the seating, and the wine garden would not open to the public for another 3 hours or so.

3780_Bronze Statue

After an extended period of walking around with no place to sit, my poor feet began hurting.  I do this every year; I like to “rodeo up” and wear cowboy boots, but with the exception of people actually participating in some shape or form at the rodeo, everybody else (i.e. the general public) wears comfortable jogging or tennis shoes (aka “trainers”).  I need to remember to do that next year, rather than try to look “western”.

I wandered through the carnival.

3647_Carousel

3873_Rides

3854_Guitars

4199_Euro Slide

4190_Euro Slide

I bought 10 tickets for $5 (it takes more than one ticket for a ride, folks) and took a nice little ride on the sky chairs  (that uses up 8 tickets) across the length of the carnival.   At one point, the ride stopped while I was at the top – I wonder if they did that just for me so I could get some great shots Winking smile

3878_Sky Chair View

3126_Headed Up

3902_Sky Chair View

3164_View From My Seat

3170_At the Top

3211_The Ride Down

3227_Looking Down

3237_Heading Down

Some of those rides make me nauseous just watching them. It takes an iron stomach to handle them and I just don’t  have an iron stomach.

3844_Wheee

4160_Upside Down

3919_Disko

3930_Wheee

4213_Way Up There

After the sky chair ride, I decided to opt for some quiet time and made my way across the carnival to the horse arena, where a small horse show was taking place.  I don’t know what the judges look for exactly, but this understated  competition required riders (mainly women but there was one young man) to get their horses to walk-jog-lope-walk backward-maneuver around a sort of semi-obstacle course.  I saw some beautiful horses out there (and some pretty fancy riding outfits).

4125_Show Horses

4092_Fancy Mane

4083_Fancy Saddle

4134_Stirrups

From there, I wound my way back to the stadium to wait for the moment they opened the and I could find my seat.  You see, at the time, I didn’t realize I had a ticket to my company’s suite; I just thought I had a ticket to a decent seat on the 2nd level.  Lemme tell ya – that suite is sweet!  Awesome view of the arena, food, drink, in-suite bathroom, a full-time attendant, plus little extras that make life good while watching the rodeo.

3249_View From Suite

3267_View From the Suite

Naturally, I was all about the photography.  For these arena shots, I used my Canon 16-35mm for the wide angle, and the rented Canon 100-400mm for the close ups (love that 100-400; it’s next on my “to buy” list).  Considering I was up in the 2nd level and not right down where the action occurred, I was pleased with the results.  I bumped the ISO up to between 1250 and 4000, so I could get some nice shutter speeds for the action.  Naturally, I had to use a little noise-reduction software on some of these shots (but not all of them).

Before the ridin’, ropin’, calf scramble, barrel racing, and live music performance take place, the Grand Procession parade wends its way around the stadium.

4277_Purty Cowgirl

4356_Grand Procession

4325_Rodeo Flags

No event is complete without a mascot.  I don’t know what his name is, but he’s the “H” symbol for Rodeo Houston.

4319_Rodeo Mascot

And what event is complete without cotton candy (aka candy floss).

4334_Cotton Candy

Then the lights go off and we all stand for the National Anthem.  This evening, it was sung beautifully by a local boys choir.  While the anthem is played, a lovely young lady (usually a blonde) races around the stadium riding bareback and holding the American flag from which spew fireworks near the end of the Anthem.

4387_American Flag

3285_Star Spangled Banner

3286_The Fireworks Begin

“….and the rockets’ red glare….”

3289_The Fireworks Begin

3304_Rodeo Fireworks

And now the action begins.

First:  Bareback Bronco Riding

4451_Bareback Bronco Riding

4457_Bronco Riding

4547_Bronco Busting

I would have loved to have been one of those photographers down there.

4588_Photographing The Bronco

After the bareback bronco busting came  the  calf roping.

4579_Calf Roping

I only got one shot of this because I got into a conversation with one of the other suite attendees and I didn’t want to be rude.  Sigh.  Unless you are a photographer, you can’t realize the pull and desire to have it be all about the photography; to try and capture every moment that you are able to with your camera.  Oh, this is not a “forest for the trees kind of thing” – the camera wasn’t up to my eye for every single move – I did remember to take the viewfinder away from my eye and just watch the action.  But, I did want to make as much use of the situation as possible, and that precluded conversation, for the most part.   That’s just the way I am.

After the calf roping came the bronco busting (with saddle ).  The events alternated ends of the arena, with the bareback bronco riding, the saddle bronco riding, and the bull riding taking place on my end, while the calf roping and steer wrestling took place at the other end of the field.

FYI, for the bronco busting, they specifically train these horses for their role.

4593_BroncoBustin

4605_Buckin Bronco

4611_Hanging On

4613_Bucking Bronco

Steer wrestling.

4640_Steer Wrestling

4646_Steer Wrestling

4649_Steer Wrestling

Clowning around – this particular rodeo clown is a fixture out there and has been working the Houston Rodeo since God was a little boy.

4651_Clowning Around

Now comes the bull riding, which is when you see those rodeo clowns.  In addition to being entertaining and even acrobatic, the role of the rodeo clown is very important, and pretty dangerous.  Once the bull rider is finished – be it by falling off, or actually making it through the entire timed event – it’s the job of the clown to pull the bull’s attention away from that bothersome human who was riding on his back, and guide the bull back to its stall (although usually the bull seems to know where its stall is and it goes there on its own without any help).

These bulls are BIG and MAD.

4658_Over The Top

Send in the clowns!

4667_Send In The Clowns

4690_Bull Rider

4704_On Camera

Next comes the calf scramble, which everybody loves to watch.  Thirty high-school-aged young men and women are out there to try and catch one of 15 calves.  They then have to harness the calf and walk (drag) it back within the white square.  If they manage to do that, then they are given a calf to care for during the year and enter in competition the next time the Houston rodeo roles around.  It’s chaos out there, and very entertaining.

3357_Calf Scramble

4729_Calf Scramble Chaos

The final event before the scheduled music for the evening is the barrel racing.  This is an awesome competition to watch.  Women riding their horses ninety-to-nothing come racing out of the gate, circle around three barrels (trying not to knock them down) and then race back through the gate in a timed event.  The riders and horses act like a single unit, and must be able to round corners on an extremely small turning radius in order to make the best time.

4735_Barrel Racing

4759_Barrel Racing

4782_Rounding The Barrel

4793_Rounding The Barrel

4819_Action Shot

After the competitions, the music performance gears up.  Big names – and smaller venues – perform at the rodeo, including Reba McIntire and ZZ Top.  That evening, it was a sibling group called The Band Perry.  They don’t like people to photograph the entertainment (especially with big lenses like the one I used), so I put my camera away.  I left shortly after the performance began because I have a long drive home, it was late, and I had to go to work the next morning.

Got home at 11PM, got to bed at 11:15, fell immediately asleep and was rudely awakened at 4AM to start my work day (keeping my eyes open was a little tough that day).  Needless to say, I didn’t start working in earnest on these photos until Friday.

Once again, I had a fantastic time at the rodeo.  If any of you are ever in the area during the last week in February and the first three weeks in March, you ought to try to attend this event, for the sheer experience and – if you love using a camera – for the multitude of photo ops.

Yeeeee Haw!!!

YeeHaw_Profile

(Note – different hair color, different year – it just made a good ending photo for this post) Winking smile

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Filed under Events, Houston, Photography, rodeo