East Side Represent

John Nova Lomax invited me to go on one of his Sole Of Houston walks. This time he was hitting the east side. The plan was to just sort of meander out to 75th Street and then head north to Canal and then head back to town. It was VERY interesting. We started about 9:30 am and finished about 4:30 pm. We covered a LOT of ground. You can read the story here: Sole Of Houston: East Side Story — Trains, Tequila, Dogs & Grief. There’s several more of my photos in the posting.

Proud New Father

The new baby has arrived. Lensbaby that is.

The above image may look like one of my Photoshop fake miniatures, but what you see is what came right out of the camera. The Lensbaby is a poor mans tilt/shift lens. And yes, I know the Lensbaby is NOT a true tilt/shift lens, but it’s also not $1500 to $2000 and happens to be available for the Sony/Minolta mount.

The Lensbaby is a manual focus lens that lets you focus on your subject and then utilizing the ball and socket design, move what they call the “sweet spot” of focus anywhere in the frame so that your subject is clear and everything that surrounds it is blurry.

My Sony Alpha 700 will shoot with this lens in aperture priority mode which helps with the light metering. Actual aperture is controlled by magnetic aperture discs that go in the lens

The Magnetic Aperture Set with the magnetic wand aperture removal tool and custom storage case ships with the lens. The discs allow apertures of f/2 (no aperture disk installed), 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, and 22

I’m struggling with the manual focus but the lens challenges me to take my time and think about what I am doing. It’s light weight and rugged so it’s easy to add to the photo kit, just in case you see something that lends itself to this style of photography.

I Got A Basketball Jones

I was commenting to some friends at one of the recent Geek Gatherings how it had been awhile since I’d been to a basketball game. I’m not a huge huge fan, but Cynthia is. I enjoy it well enough but the real joy is watching Cynthia watch the game.

Turns out the person I was talking to was a season ticket holder and he said that he could hook me up sometime as he didn’t go to every game. I didn’t think too much of it until a few weeks later when he contacted me and offered tickets to the Rockets VS. Mavericks game.

The tickets are at the Red and White Wine Bistro, an upscale all you can eat restaurant and wine bar. Food was included with the ticket but you paid for the wine. And the seats are right on the balcony with a great view of the court.

The Toyota Center has a 4 inch limit on lenses so there was no bringing my long zooms. I settled on my 11-18mm with the idea of capturing some wide angle shots like this one:

Click to see the larger version and check out the detail.

And although I know it is getting more and more passe and trite, I took the opportunity to create a fake tilt-shift miniature:

Again, the larger version is much more enjoyable.

The food was excellent, the seats were great and we had a blast! The Rockets even won!

Thanks for the use of your tickets, Alan!

Urban Development

The folks who brought you The Continental Club, Sig’s Lagoon, Tacos-A-Go-Go and Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge are at it again. This time right next door @ 3600 Main.

The derelict building that sits next to The Continental club has been vacant for years and was recently acquired by the same folks that own the property @ 3700 Main and innovation is well under way. I was asked by Pete Gordon (manager of The Continental Club) if I could swing by and snap some “before” photos or what promises to be a very cool space in the not too distant future.

As they are working to demo the building they are finding that a very interesting art deco style facade was simply covered with stucco by the previous owners.

Pete tells me that the intention is to try and preserve as much of the original exterior as is possible which is very commendable.

If you squint just right and imagine it with some paint to bring out the original design you can just make out what a wonderful space this is going to be. There’s already plans for a coffee shop and a pizza/burger joint and if Pete has his way, a new club called “Wallpaper”…

In these interesting economic times it’s heartening to see the hustle and bustle of new development. As I was taking pictures numerous people stopped to see what was going on and one woman waiting on the train was misty-eyed as she spoke of her own personal joy at seeing something being done not only to restore this old building, but also of her optimism in seeing something that demonstrates growth in this city while the news outlets continue to issue their dire warning doom and despair.


Around 4:00 yesterday afternoon it began to snow here in Houston. A freak weather occurrence, to be sure. It didn’t really “stick” as the ground temperature was too warm for that and frankly, I thought it wouldn’t last too long.

Cynthia called me from the road as she headed home. She said it was definitely snowing out west as she proceeded to the beltway. I wasn’t headed home right away as I had my Wednesday commitment and was hanging back at the office. I was pretty disappointed that I wouldn’t be seeing it for myself.

Prior to heading over to KPFT to do my radio show I met up with Owen for a pint at Rudyard’s. I did see some snow as I drove over, but it was super light.

As Owen and I sat and chatted, the snow started falling harder and harder. It was quite the cozy scene as we sat in the warm pub and watched as our fellow revellers went outside to marvel at what passes for a winter wonderland around these parts. We heard some young lady exclaim “It’s a miracle!” I don’t know about that, but it was pretty cool!

After a few pints Owen and I parted ways so I could get over to the radio station. The snow was kicking up pretty good at this point, and while not treacherous driving in terms of road conditions, you still had to be careful as many drivers were stricken with a case of “deer in the headlights” syndrome as they gawked and the magical white stuff drifting from the sky.

The radio show goes two hours and the studio is pretty sealed up where you can’t see the outside easily so we were somewhat taken aback when we wrapped for the evening and proceeded out to the parking lot…

There was enough snow accumulation on my car for phliKtid to write a message on my back window:

As I headed home around 10:30 the snow event was mostly over. This morning as I write this, it’s just cold and there are reports of some iced over roads, mostly overpasses and such.

According to the weather forecast, the temperatures will be back in the mid 70’s by this weekend.

Gotta love Texas…

Via Colori 2008

To be honest, I was only peripherally aware of the Via Colori festival prior to being contacted by Greg about The Flying Fish Sailors performing at the event.

Via Colori is a licensable special event that any given charity can “lease” for the purpose of raising funds for their organization. Here in Houston the annual event is held in support of the Center For Hearing and Speech.

Basically you (or your company) can purchase a square to be painted with chalk. Donations for the square range from $500 – $1,500, depending on size. You (or your company) get a placard next to the square with your name on it indicating your patronage and an artist of your or the festival’s choosing then paints the square over the course of the two day event.

All in all, not a bad deal. There were some 175 companies/organizations/individuals represented by artists who spent the weekend on their hands and knees transforming a small patches of asphalt into works of art that ranged from benign to magnificent.

If you do the math, that’s a sizable # of donations for the well deserving Center For Hearing and Speech.

As a whole, the event was very interesting and the weather could not have been more cooperative in terms of temperature and, more importantly, lack of precipitation.

Before and after my band’s performance, Cynthia and explored the festival and shot pictures. Watching some of these artists working in chalk, knowing their creations would be washed away by Sunday night was, well…compelling.

Additional photos of mine can be found here