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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Inside San Fernando Cathedral

Since the interior shots from the missions were so popular, I decided to try to capture a few internal shots of churches around the area, the first being inside the San Fernando Cathedral. The cathedral is located next to the Bexar County Courthouse, however it is a few blocks from the area of downtown that is most visited (around HemisFair Park, Rivercenter Mall, etc), so not as many tourists walk those few extra blocks to get a look at the church. The church was founded in 1731, and in 1868 the size of the church expanded due to the addition of a gothic structure. In 2003 the church underwent a $6 million restoration (you can read more about the church here).

Inside San Fernando Cathedral

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alligator Farm - St. Augustine, Florida

As a precursor to THE football game of the weekend (Florida vs. Alabama), I used Topaz Adjust and DeNoise to modify some of the pictures that I took back in 2007 at the Alligator Farm, located in St. Augustine, Florida. The highlights of the park are Gomek Forever, Maximo, and the albino alligators.

(While these photos were not created using "true" HDR methods, I think you will agree they are pretty eye-catching)

Friendly alligator would like you to come closer

Albino alligator

Want to go for a swim?


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Koi at Japanese Tea Garden

This photo is of the koi at the Japanese Tea Garden, Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas. Despite signs advising against feeding the koi, they gather near the edge of the water whenever someone stands close, practically begging for food. So naturally I stood close to the edge and got a photo of the koi clustering in hopes of getting some food!

Koi at Japanese Tea Garden

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dragon Bridge and inside Mission San Jose (again)

The bridge is located in the Japanese Tea Garden, Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas. It looks like a dragon going across the water, and I think the ripples in the water helps capture the essence of what an interesting place the Japanese Tea Garden is.

Dragon Bridge

The next shot is another photo taken inside Mission San Jose, this time I was closer to the front of the church, and was able to get more detail compared to the previous picture (using DeNoise5 helped retrain the details of the photo as well, I cannot believe what an amazing job it does removing noise while retaining details!). I tweaked the overall light and colors until I got the "supernatural" look again, and am quite pleased with the results!

Close-up of inside Mission San Jose

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Japanese Tea Garden

This series of photos is from the Japanese Tea Garden, located with several attraction in Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas. The park was opened in 1918, but during World War II the owners were evicted, and it became know as the Chinese Sunken Garden. It remained this way until 1984, when it was re-dedicated. The park is under-going a restoration at the front entrance, but it remains open to the public (and there is no admission charge to walk around the park).

View from opening in pagoda


Waterfall and bridge



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Old photos...made to resemble HDR, thanks to Topaz Adjust

The products from Topaz Labs are EXCELLENT for processing photos, and playing around with some of the modifications in Topaz Adjust you can make photos that look HDR-ish, without really being a "true" HDR photo. Having taken photographs of most of the places that the military has taken me since enlisting in 1998, I went through the photos I have and processed several of them, with varying results, using Topaz Adjust.

In the end, I picked six photos that were taken:

- back home in Indiana in 2004
- Mosul, Iraq in 2005
- in Norfolk while waiting to go to Baghdad in 2006
- the flightline at Baghdad International Airport in 2007
- two photos of Babylon, Iraq that were given to me by my roomate's nephew who was a Kiowa pilot and took the photographs (probably the safest way to get the photos of Babylon is from the air).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy them! As always, if you have any thoughts, questions, or comments, I appreciate any feedback. Thanks for looking!

Castle-home in South Bend, Indiana

Strykers parked outside of the bombed out palace (formerly belonging to Uday and Qusay Hussein) Foward Operating Base Freedom, Mosul, Iraq

USS San Antonio, Norfolk Naval Base, Norfolk, Virginia

Apache on the flightline, Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq

I did not take these two photos, I merely was fortunate enough to be able to receive copies of them and processed them using Topaz Labs products

Babylon Amphitheater, Babylon, Iraq

Aerial view of Babylon, Babylon, Iraq

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Air Force One (sort of) and Pave Low

've been wanting to take a picture of the Air Force One look-alike (a painted KC-135 refueling aircraft) that is on the Medina Annex of Lackland AFB for awhile. Today I finally got around to it. What I learned (earlier in the day) was that the Air Force One look alike was actually in the movie "Transformers", as a sort of "stunt double" for the real Air Force One.

In honor of that, I also took a shot of the MH-53 near the Pararescue training area, in honor of the opening minutes of Transformers where Blackout (transformed as an MH-53 Pave Low) flew to the US SOCCENT Forward Operations Base in Qatar. I hope you enjoy the shots!

Air Force One look-alike

MH-53 Pave Low

(And, the sign that talks about the history of the KC-135 painted to look like Air Force One)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

San Antonio HDR Photos at night -- Part V

These two shots re-visits two of my favorite shots, the waterfall outside of the Grand Hyatt, and the river-taxi dock outside of the RiverCenter Mall.

The waterfall is one of my favorite shots to take in San Antonio, just because it is a little bit farther back off the normal walkway, and there is something about the color and detail that draws me to taking the shot. This shot was captured by setting the exposure time to 30 seconds, which really smoothed out not only the waterfall, but also smoothed out the water near the bottom of the waterfall as well.


This is another shot of the river-taxi dock, except this time I was able to capture one river-taxi moving toward the camera, and one moving away from it, leaving the "light streaks" over the water. I really like this effect, and was fortunate enough to capture it at just the right time to capture this effect.

River-taxi dock

A-10 Thunderbolt II

This photo was taken near the parade grounds of Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas of the A-10. More commonly known as the "Warthog" this is one of the toughest planes in the United States Air Force. The plane can still fly (fairly easily) with one of the engines completely destroyed, due to the unique positioning of the engines. A small excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on the A-10:

"The A-10 was used in combat for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991, destroying more than 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces. A-10s shot down two Iraqi helicopters with the GAU-8 cannon. The first one of these was an Iraqi helicopter shot down by Captain Robert Swain over Kuwait occurred on 6 February 1991, marking the A-10's first air-to-air victory. Four A-10s were shot down during the war, all by surface-to-air missiles. Another three battle-damaged A-10s and OA-10As returned to base but were written off, some sustaining additional damage in crashed landings. The A-10 had a mission capable rate of 95.7%, flew 8,100 sorties, and launched 90% of the AGM-65 Maverick missiles fired in the conflict. Shortly after the Gulf War, the Air Force gave up on the idea of replacing the A-10 with a close air support version of the F-16."


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tower of Americas

One more for today, this shot is of the Tower of Americas. The Tower of Americas was built for the 1968 World's Fair, that was hosted in San Antonio, Texas. The Tower of Americas is one of the defining structures to the San Antonio Skyline. The Tower is located near the Riverwalk, and is a must visit destination for anyone visiting San Antonio.

Tower of Americas

RiverCenter bridge and SR-71 (again)

The first picture is of the bridge in the courtyard of the RiverCenter mall, facing towards the mall itself. The second picture is another shot of my favorite aircraft of all time, the SR-71. I walked back and forth on the bridge for several minutes to try to get a good photo to capture it exactly how I wanted. The SR-71 is much more photogenic, I don't think it is possible to shoot that aircraft from a bad angle.

RiverCenter bridge


Entrance to HemisFair Park

HemisFair Park (and the Tower of Americas) were both finished in 1968 as San Antonio hosted the World's Fair. From the Visit San Antonio website:

"...the parks lushly landscaped areas and dramatic, cascading waterfalls offer a refreshing retreat from city streets. The park houses several historic buildings, a playground, the Institute of Texan Cultures and the Instituto Cultural Mexicano. But one of the park's biggest (literally) highlights is the 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas"

HemisFair Park entrance

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sunset on the Hyatt Hill Country Resort

These pictures were taken of the sunset back on the 6th of September (the day before Tropical Storm Hermine dumped a LOT of rain on San Antonio). I re-did a few of the pictures using the latest release of DeNoise from Topaz Labs (DeNoise5), and I think the new pictures look much better than the old ones, so I deleted the old ones and am putting these up for your viewing pleasure. Hope you like them!

Lakes Golf Course 5th green (and in the background, 3rd hole and green)

Lakes Golf Course 6th hole creek bed

Lakes Golf Course 6th fairway and Mirabella at Legacy Trails sub-division

The Little Church in La Villita

This photo is of the The Little Church, located in La Villita in San Antonio, Texas. According to the website, the cornerstone for The Little Church was laid in 1879. As you can see from the picture, the name "Little Church" fits it quite well.

The Little Church

San Antonio HDR Photos at night -- Part IV

This series of San Antonio HDR at night consists of the Quarry smoke stacks.

The smoke stacks at Quarry Market are a defining feature of the history of San Antonio. Near the Quarry Market (which is a very large, open-air market) is also the Quarry golf course. The back nine holes of the course weave in and around an old Quarry, and is a very memorable course to play (I would highly recommend playing here if you have the chance). You can learn more about quarries in the area at the Cementville website

Quarry Market Smoke Stacks

Black and Yellow Argiope

Came across this interesting looking spider while at Mission Espada (there were at least two of them located in the garden just in front of the mission). The wikipedia page has a lot of good information, as does a Google search for "Texas Garden Spider" or "Argiope". Although several articles say the female spiders can grow to about an inch, this one was roughly an inch and a half in size (it was a little smaller than the the width of my camera lens).

Black and Yellow Argiope

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mission Espada

The last mission on the San Antonio Mission Trail (starting from the Alamo) is Mission Espada. The mission itself is actually located outside Loop 410, but one of the unique features is the Espada Aqueduct, which is the only remaining Spanish aqueduct in the United States. You can find out more about the aqueduct here

Espada Aqueduct

The next image of of Mission Espada itself. The mission was relocated several times, until reaching its current location on 5 March 1731. You can read more about the mission here

Mission Espada

Mission San Jose

These two photos were taken as part of a series of pictures taken on a trip to the last two missions on the San Antonio Missions trail, Mission San Jose and Mission Espada. I will be working on the Mission Espada pictures shortly and will hopefully have them up before the end of the weekend, but until then, here are two shots of Mission San Jose. You can also visit the National Parks Service official Mission San Jose website, located here

The first shot is the exterior of Mission San Jose. This mission was rebuilt several times over the course of it's existence, the reasons for rebuilding ranging to lightning strikes to possible vandalism in the 1930s. If you only have the chance to visit one mission in San Antonio, I would recommend this one. It isn't far from "downtown", and I feel there are more interesting stories about this mission than any of the other missions.

The second photo is of the interior of Mission San Jose. I played around with the lighting quite a bit to get the shot to "glow", and give it a slightly supernatural feel to it. I also wanted to highlight the marble walls, which was also accomplished by changing the light and color saturation.

As always, I appreciate any feedback (good or bad) so please let me know what you think!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tin Statues Gathering Hay

This photo was taken just off of Ashley Road (near Mission San Juan). It is a tribute to hay gathering in the area. The statues were created as part of a project by a local school (I can't recall the exact details, I will fill it in when I get back there though).

Mission Concepion

This image was taken of Mission Concepion, located in San Antonio, Texas. It is one of the missions on the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. From the website:

"This handsome stone church was dedicated in 1755, and appears very much as it did over two centuries ago. It stands proudly as the oldest unrestored stone church in America. In its heyday, colorful geometric designs covered its surface, but the patterns have long since faded or been worn away."

PS: I tried a new detailing technique to try to make some of the smaller details come out better, I think it looks much better (and slightly more realistic) this way. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

San Antonio HDR Photos at night -- Part III

This photo was taken of the Riverwalk seating area of the Little Rhein Steak House, located in La Villita in San Antonio, Texas. A little bit about the eatery, directly from the website :

"The Little Rhein Steak House is situated in the Bombach House in historic La Villita.

The Coahuiltecan Indians founded a settlement here in the 1500s, and in the early 18th century Spanish soldiers and Canary Islanders established a village on the site. The Mexican General Santa Anna encamped here during the battle of the Alamo. During the 19th century, German immigrants designated this area as the Little Rhein district, hence the name Little Rhein Steak House.

In 1847, Otto Bombach, a carpenter, built the first two-story structure here for his family. The Bombach House was thereafter utilized as an early Texas home, a boarding house, a grocery story and bar, a private school, and a hangout for desperados.

The San Antonio Conservation Society purchased the Bombach House in 1950. Soon thereafter, the lower rooms of the building were rediscovered during renovation, hidden under silt. The house served as an antique shop, a historic museum, and as headquarters for the San Antonio Press Club during the following years.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Phelps established the Little Rhein Steak House in 1967."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

San Antonio HDR Photos at night (Part II of ??)

Two more pictures from the trip around San Antonio on Saturday.

The first picture is of Mission San Juan. According to the NPS website:

"Originally founded in 1716 in eastern Texas, Mission San Juan was transferred in 1731 to its present location. In 1756, the stone church, a friary, and a granary were completed. A larger church was begun, but was abandoned when half complete, the result of population decline."

The second picture is of Rio Rio Catina, which is located on the Riverwalk. It's just another example of how bright, busy, and eye-catching the Riverwalk can be, especially on a Friday night!

San Antonio HDR Photos at night (Part I of many)

Tonight I took several night shots of San Antonio and below are the first two photos that I have worked on. Feel free to click on the photos for larger images, and any questions and or comments are always welcome too!

The first photo is of the River Taxi "Tour" Boat Dock, located just outside the Rivercenter Mall. The tour goes around the "populated" portion of the Riverwalk, and takes about 35 minutes from start to finish.

The second photo is of one of the lit-up horse-drawn carriages. These can be found right outside the Alamo, and will take you pretty much anywhere downtown that you wish to travel.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Initial Post

So...I am working on getting this blog off the ground, and hopefully can learn a few things and meet new people along the way!

This is going to be a blog where I will update (as often as I can) the latest pictures that I have taken, the latest HDR stuff I am working on/with, and possibly get some ideas for pictures to create!