Friday, December 30, 2016

A Whole New World - At The India Market


Down the street a new India Market opened a couple of weeks ago, so we had to check it out.

Besides all the offerings (some obviously quite new to me) I was really impressed with the natural and artificial light-flow in the new building.

Unfortunately my ignorance is quite high when it comes to the different types of flours being offered; as a cook and baker, (visit my blog - Where In The Hell Is Carlton - for recipes) I love to make my own breads. Maybe some reader may enlighten me, what to use. Being raised in Europe where slightly different flours may go for different breads, the flours generally offered in US stores are of the "all purpose" variety.

A great plus was to actually find a store which has pastry dough (or puff pastry - mille feuille) on sale, which upto now was only available seasonally at Trader Joe's over the Holidays.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pincushion Cactus In Bloom


Originally hailing from Mexico (Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Puebla), Globe or Pincushion cacti are a favorite succulent to be grown by gardeners.

Be sure to plant the cactus into a porous fast draining soil (with small pebbles) and give the cylindrical plant enough direct or indirect sunshine. To put them into a North facing window will not give them enough exposure of sunlight. If fertilizing use one rich in potassium and phosphorus, but low in nitrogen, as with almost all cacti. Repot every 2 to 3 years and enjoy their May, April bloom.

They got their name from Latin mammilla, "nipple", referring to the tubercles that make the distinctive features of the genus.

Sources: Wikipedia, CactiGuide.com,

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Remember The Alamo


The Alamo or even its battle cry "Remember The Alamo" are not only known in the United States, but thanks to movies by and with John Wayne in 1960 and a historical more accurate version in 2004 helmed by Ron Howard, almost all over the world. It depicts part of the Texas Revolution or in other words the fight for independence for an area then owned by Mexico. The former mission, then fortress "The Alamo" is the most visited tourist attraction in the Lone Star state.

Before Mexico's independence in 1821, the Spanish ventured from Mexico all the way into today's Wyoming. On their way North in what they called New Spain, they built missions for the purpose of spreading Catholicism as well as the Spanish way of living and therefore obedience to the crown, among the indigenous inhabitants of the land. One of these missions was named San Antonio de Valero, built by Franciscan monks east of the San Antonio River around 1724.

In 1793 the mission was secularized, the land around given to Spanish settlers. The former mission was fortified and became a military fortress to defend the presidio of Bejar (also Bexar). A military company stationed at the fortress was called "La Compañía de Alamo de Parras" and over the years the company name became the name of the fortress, now known as the Alamo.

European settlers (mostly Anglo Americans) started to move into the area and settle down mostly under the federalist rules of the Spanish governor in charge. After Mexico's independence and the later rise of military general become president and then dictator, Antonio López de Santa Anna, the self proclaimed "Napoleon of the West," people started to rise up and form their own independent republics, even in today's heartland of Mexico. The Republic of Texas being the only one that succeeded.

In December of 1935 "Texians" took over the Alamo fortress and sent the Mexican troops South. Santa Anna was enraged and called for the execution of all the "pirates" that opposed his rule. With a large army he headed North, put a 13 day siege onto the Alamo and finally beat and slaughtered the undermanned occupants of the fortress on March 6, 1836. The battle cry was born and a new formed Texan army under Sam Houston followed Santa Anna and beat him in April of the same year in the Battle of San Jacinto. Santa Anna was captured and only released with the condition that the new Republic of Texas was granted its independence.

Before joining the Union (USA) in 1945, Texas was an independent republic for nine years;  the only US state to have been its own "country." A renovation and revitalization program for the whole Alamo complex is in its planning stages, a master plan and public hearings are supposed to take place in early 2017.

Sources: http://www.thealamo.org/, http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/ccbn/dewitt/adp/toc.html



Monday, December 19, 2016

Five Mile Dam - old Instagram


Cleaning up my photography files not only on my computer but also on all the different social media sites, where I regularly (or more irregularly) post, I stumbled upon this Instagram originally shot in May of 2012, with a Motorola Droid. I couldn't remember, that this was my first picture I also published on Viewbug.

Unfortunately I can't remember what filters I used with my phone - these days I normally published onto Instagram as is, without using the filters. Exceptions may be stuff on the road, sunsets, neon signs to make more "artsy" contribution. The resolution could be better, but for a first generation smart phone this was quite amazing and yes we have come quite some ways since then.

The picture depicts "Five Mile Dam" in Hays County, Texas - between Kyle and San Marcos. I've seen this river from dirt dry, no water at all to raging floods, sweeping parts of houses and even whole cars away. But in general it's a lovely spot to visit, especially in summer, when you can swim behind the dam.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Snow At The Ranch


Winter and especially snow are quite rare in Central to South Texas. Yes it can get pretty cold, actually below freezing. But ice-storms are more common than actual snow fall, which only happens about every three to four years. So to see snow on cedar trees is the ultimate winter experience for us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Strange, To Wander In The Fog


It's that time of the year. Gray in gray is in fashion again. Where are the greens of spring, the dark yellows of summer and the color splotches of fall. All gone. Disappeared and replaced by different shades of nondescript.

People are hiding inside, deserted are the streets. Even the pooch wants to get in as fast as she's done her business and hibernate on the blanket.
Fortunately these days are rare. Fog can and does happen, but often it is just for a couple of days and then either a front from the north cleans it up, or a cloudy, humid and warm front from the Gulf of Mexico pushes it back to where it came from.

From middle school I remembered that famous poem "In The Fog" by literary Nobel prize winner Hermann Hesse (1877 - 1962), he was just 28 years old, when he put these famous lines down. As a teenager I was petrified. My first profound experience with existentialism even though Sartre, Camus and Kafka didn't follow till later on paper and me growing up or trying to, in high school.

But despite the forlorn melancholy in these lines, there is also a certain beauty. It's part of life and s ok to be alone, as every individual is to a certain degree at any certain time. It's not about sucking it up buttercup, it's about embracing and enjoying it. It's only through self evaluation, that me as I am, can take control of my life and try to live it meaningfully.

And as far as I know that tree is still standing there...
Im Nebel

Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern!
Einsam ist jeder Busch und Stein,
Kein Baum sieht den anderen,
Jeder ist allein.

Voll von Freunden war mir die Welt,
Als noch mein Leben licht war;
Nun, da der Nebel fällt,
Ist keiner mehr sichtbar.

Wahrlich, keiner ist weise,
Der nicht das Dunkel kennt,
Das unentrinnbar und leise
Von allem ihn trennt.

Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern!
Leben ist Einsamsein.
Kein Mensch kennt den andern,
Jeder ist allein.

In the Fog

Strange, to wander in the fog.
Each bush and stone exists alone,
No tree sees the other,
Each is alone.

My world was full of friends
When my life was filled with light,
Now as the fog descends
None is still to be seen.

Truly there is no wise man
Who does not know the dark
Which quietly and ineluctably 
Separates him from everything else.

Strange, to wander in the fog,
To live is to be alone.
No man knows the next man,
Each is alone.
Sources: Image (Hesse by Jorma Komulainen, Creative Commons), Poem: Hermann Hesse

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Lights At The Comal County Courthouse In New Braunfels, Texas


Every year, the Comal County Courthouse in the middle of New Braunfels is decked out with Christmas lights. Several festivities, like the Wassailfest, where merchants serve hot Glühwein to the Christmas shoppers and strollers and a Christmas parade prepare the people and visitors from around the state for the upcoming Christmas celebrations.

The Courthouse in its Romanesque Revival style was designed by James Gordon and completed in 1898, and most of it, is still original, besides some doors and the roof that have been replaced over the years. In 1991 it was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.





Saturday, December 10, 2016

Three Roses In The Garden


Strolling through the garden, these three roses were smiling at me, so I tried to capture them contre-jour (against the light).

A shot like that would normally ask for your aperture to be small (high in numbers > f/16), to enhance the "grainy, dreamy" feel of it, I also pushed my "film" sensibility to iso 800 - therefore I needed a really fast speed (1/1000). I also want to make sure, that you overexpose the picture by at least one f-stop, to make sure you don't have the three roses as black silhouettes My final f-stop (aperture) was f 5.6, strong enough to still produce and show some of the spider's web. I also tried to use the so called diagonal method (DM) as a composition guide line, rather than just play around with the rule of thirds.

Tell me what you think.

Ready To Cook



Unfortunately not my set-up, this was actually shot at a restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas.

The grill is roaring and ready and the bell-peppers just look to inviting to not be used. What about a great pork tenderloin to go with this and on the side we fix a roasted bell-pepper cream sauce. What about an iron-cast pan full of roasted rosemary potatoes to go with this.

Darn now I'm hungry and have to go fix me something.

Resting - Easily Scared Variegated Fritillary



Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) taking a rest. Closely related to the Speyeria Fritillaries, there are still some differences, as having 2–3 broods per year vs. one for the Speyeria, they are also nomadic vs. sedentary and use several host plants instead of just one. Because of their use of passionflowers there are also taxonomic links to the tropic heliconiians Euptoieta (Greek for easily scared) describes that they are really diffcult to approach, even when resting or taken nectar in.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Supermoon


Obviously the moon was already pretty close this morning when it set - actually wish I would be at the "ranch" (our house in the country tonight) to see the full "supermoon" rise. I actually put the "" around the name, as supermoon is not an astrological term with a clear defintion what it constitutes of, actually offering another supermoon next month, even though that one will not be as close as the one today. Actually Nasa made quite an intriguing video explaining the Supermoons, the closest (perigee) and farthest (apogee) points as well as Syzygy.

I shot with a Nikon D3300 - 1/60, 5.6, iso 3200 with a 300mm lens. Not that satisfied with the result. Maybe tonight when the moon rises again a try with some different settings - any input from some other photographers?



Sources: Nasa.gov

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Serenity Amongst Thousands of Fair Visitors


At the State Fair of Texas, even amongst the ten of thousands of daily visitors - on average it's roughly 100'000 a day - you may find a bit of serenity and peace of mind. While the area around the rides and games at Midway may be too crowded for you, just take a leisurely stroll on the fringes of the park, on Kid's Boardwalk.

Not only is there a calm, no name "lagoon" with a Texas Loch Ness monster, but there are also a couple of benches and green space to sit down, stretch your legs and relax for a little while, while watching the Texas Star © Ferris Wheel in the back slowly turning its rounds.

Sources: bigtex.com

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tulip and The Story of Shirin & Farhad


Not liking the current rainy fall weather at all, I was looking for some more positive energy and decided to edit a picture of a simple tulip I have taken in March.

Tulips are named originally after the Persian word for turban, dulband. After the Islamic revolution in Iran, the sun and lion in the middle of their flag got replaced by a stylized monogram not only showing a tulip, but also meaning that there is no god but God. The region (from Turkey to the Hindu Kush) is the origin of this flower before she was introduced to the West, and where we now associate spring and the Netherlands with the bloom of it.
There are many versions of the traditional story of "Shirin & Farhad," but one version puts the princess and the mason together at the same place, where they independently commit suicide; Farhad after falsely being told that Shirin has died, and Shirin after finding Farhad dead. And the legend says that where the blood has been flowing, a single tulip grows every year. And I guess, that is one reason, while tulips are considered a sign of re-birth.

The story of Shirin and Farhad as told by Johnathan Richman, worth listening to, even though in his story the tulip is missing.



Sources: YouTube, Wikipedia (Flag of Iran, Shirin & Farhad), Museum of Islamic Arts mia.org

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Big Tex Says Howdy Y'All


Big Tex, the greeter at the State Fair of Texas in all its glory. After its predecessor burnt down in 2012, a new, bigger and taller Big Tex was built at a cost of $ 500'000. 55 feet (16.7m) tall, a chest that spans 33 3/4 ft (10.3m), with hands the size of 5 1/2 ft (1.7m) and a boot-size of US 96 (Euro 129) - if my calculation is right, there isn't an official shoe size converter for that size of shoe, sorry cowboy boot with a height of 12 ft (3.6m). BTW, he wears top notch Lucchese boots, and his cloth are made by Dickies. The pants won't fit into a commercial washer, they weigh 100 lbs (45.4kg) and normally last three seasons, before they have to be exchanged. He is so famous, that even the website for the State Fair of Texas simply uses bigtex.com as their URL.

Can't wait till next year to go say "Howdy" to Big Tex again.

Sources: bigtex.com

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Texas Star, Food Booth & Midway Entrance


The Texas Star© Ferris Wheel in the back used to be, with 212 feet, the tallest in North America at one point. It was ousted of the top position several years ago, as one in Mexico was taller and now there are several in the United States that are even taller. There is one that is supposed to open to the public next year in New Jersey, and with its 630 feet, it will give you a splendid view of Manhattan.

Texas Star© is flanked by one of the many "fried" food booths at the State Fair of Texas and the entrance to the Midway section where you can go try all the gaffed games odds. I really like the combinations of colors and the framing around the wheel.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

This little pig...


This little pig went to the state fair of Texas.
This little pig fell asleep.
This little pig had it's picture taken.
This little pig saw it on the internet.
This little pig cried "Wee, wee, wee, wee!"
Til everybody gave it a like and a hype.

Free from nursery rhyme - picture was taken during my visit to the State Fair of Texas in the agriculture section for kids, where this little 6 week old piglet was sleeping and probably daydreaming.

Nobody Too Small To Blow A Horn


I discovered this little feller last weekend at the State Fair of Texas. Obviously he had won this shiny metal toy trumpet and had to check it out right at the Fair. Not having any mutes (cup, harmon, plunger) with him, he just stuck his hand into the bell to alter his sound. While the sound it produces is not the same as a professional trumpet, he doesn't seem to care. I hope he soon gets a real trumpet in some years I ran again into him and he's playing with an orchestra or leading his own band, as a famous jazz musician.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Round And Round It Goes


My wife and I visited the State Fair of Texas this weekend. What a great cornucopia of events, products, rides and yes tons of fried foods. Even though we stayed there all day, I can't wait till next year's event is coming to go shoot some more, maybe with a season pass to be there several nights, when all the lights and sounds are in full swing.

This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap, Rabadaba, 8App & Flii.by portfolios and in my Niume photography sphere blog.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Easily Scared - I Caught That Fritillary Anyway


The Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) also belongs to the family Nymphalidae, like the Monarch and Buckeye in earlier posts. Variegated Fritillaries have 2–3 broods per year and are nomadic. Their flight is low and swift, but even when resting or nectaring, this species is extremely difficult to approach, and, because of this, its genus name was taken from the Greek word euptoietos meaning "easily scared". So I'm glad I caught this little guy.

If you know on what kinda plant he's resting, please comment - I was not able to find a natural yellow blooming (wild)flower, blooming in October in Central Texas to name it. Thanks

Sources: www.gardenswithwings.com, insectidentification.org, wikipedia
This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap, Rabadaba, 8App & Flii.by portfolios and in my Niume photography sphere blog.



Differential Grasshopper - Greeting The Sun



Differential Grasshopper (melanoplus differentialis), also called American Grasshopper is warming up in the morning sun on a decaying thistle (Cirsium), ready to greet the day.

Sources: http://www.insectidentification.org, wikipedia,
This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap, Rabadaba, 8App & Flii.by portfolios and in my Niume photography sphere blog.

Buckeye Riding On Top of Leavenworth's Eryngo


A Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) resting on top of Leavenworth's Eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthii also known as false Thistle) on our "ranch" outside of Carlton, Texas.They stretch all the way from Canada into Central America and can even be found in Columbia and are endemic to the island of Bermuda. It is said that the eyespots on the wings are there to startle enemies, mostly young birds.

The Buckeye belongs to the largest butterfly family Nymphalidae (as the Monarchs do), which has over 6000 species all over the world.


In 2006 the USPS honored the Common Buckeye by putting it on a 24 cent stamp, which was the rate for a postcard at that time.


Sources: www.gardenswithwings.com, insectidentification.org, USPS
This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap, Rabadaba, 8App & Flii.by portfolios and in my Niume photography sphere blog.



Friday, October 21, 2016

Local Kiamichi Railroad In The Sunset



Kiamichi Railroad or KRR is a so-called Class III railroad with an operating revenue of less than $20 million (in 1991 dollars) per year. Headquartered in Hugo, Oklahoma and being a full subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Holding, Kiamichi "only" has a two lines totaling 231 miles.

I caught this General Motors Electro-Motive Division built EMD GP40-2 (cn 38508) on a branch line of Kiamichi between Antlers, Oklahoma and Paris, Texas in Swink, OK. The 16-cylinder engine generates about 3,000 horsepower. I got lucky as the sun was setting and producing rays surrounding the railroad right before a crossing.

Sources: Wikipedia
This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap, Rabadaba, 8App & Flii.by portfolios and in my Niume photography sphere blog.





Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly On The Hunt


I think this is a male Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) dragonfly. Range wise it's not unusual to find them in Texas, even in October or later in the year. Due to the warm weather - the area was "buzzing" with Monarch butterflies migrating back to Mexico, too. What throws me off quite more, is that I took the picture of this Meadowhawk on a rather arid piece of property, with no pond or lake, their normal habitat. But it rained a couple a days before our encounter, so there may have been some small water puddles around.

I like their diet, as they prefer mosquitos, moths and termites and are therefore very beneficial. The latin-greek combination name Sympetrum (together with rock) indicates that they love to sit on rocks and absorb the heat of the early day. Hunting occurs from perches on rocks or bare branches, as the picture snows.

Let me know if I mislabeled the little feller, I'm learning as I go.

Sources: Wikipedia
This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap, Rabadaba, 8App & Flii.by portfolios and in my Niume photography sphere blog.

Meeting of the Kings


Southern winds and warm temperatures into the 90s (30+ C) kept the Monarch butterflies, also called American Monarchs (Danaus plexxibus) longer in the Central Texas area than normal. The butterflies migrating in fall all the way from Canada back into Mexico to reach their winter habitat may show up in clusters of up to a dozen butterflies.

This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap, Rabadaba, 8App & Flii.by portfolios and in my Niume photosphere blog.



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Love More


I love the rigid dichotomy between the broken glass and the graffiti as well as the contrast of the colors. And even though the whole picture has a sense of deterioration, there is hope. Just "Love More."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Through These Doors

Mid-century modern style Municipal Annex building, finished in 1956 by architects Smith & Mills. Once home to Dallas City Hall for 22 years and the Dallas Police Department, the building these days houses the municipal courts.
Most notably, it was in this facility’s underground garage where Jack Ruby fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, 1963, and which still attracts curious tourists fifty years later.

Sources: Dallas City Newsroom
This shot and others are available for publication through photo agency, Dispatch Press Images, DPI. It is also featured in my ClickASnap and Flii.by portfolio and in my Niume photography sphere blog.




Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lazy Sunday Afternoon


All the sailboats are still out. Everyone is still enjoying the breeze on this lazy Sunday afternoon on White Rock Lake in Dallas. Right before the storm moves in again.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sunset At St. Peter's


Sunset at St. Peter's Roman Catholic church in the north Texas small town named Lindsay. The church, originally build in 1903, seriously damaged in 1917 by a Tornado and rebuilt, is now part of the National Register since 1979.

 Extensive renovations in the inside and roof are now completed and the church shines in this gorgeous sunset.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Cruisin' In Oak Cliff


Beautifully restored Lincoln Cosmopolitan 1949, caught cruisin' in Oak Cliff, in the Bishop Arts district of Dallas. This car has 337 cubic inch flathead V-8 with 152 horses and either runs with 4 speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission or three speed manual transmission.

Not sure, as I was not able to talk to the owner, driver if the car was lowered, channeled to make it more of ground hugger. The value range is from about $ 10'000 to $ 50'000 at the top end, with an average of roughly $ 16'000. The convertible version is rarer and therefore more expensive.



8K Helium - Flying High & Fast


Well, yeah I'm a photographer! And I hope, that I evolved parallel with my equipment - all the way from a 16mm Cartridge Pocket Instamatic, then a fix lens 35mm from my grandpa, to my first SLR, a Mamiya something. Then the world changed when I started using Nikon - first, a used F2-A and then in 1981 a brand new F3 to go shoot the Paris Air Salon, my first "big" assignment. With my move to the US, in 1990 I upgraded to a F3-T (Titanium) and several more photo-sensitive lenses (lower F-stops, higher priced), mainly to shoot concert photography (Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, CMA Awards etc.)

No Flash policies, 2 - 3 songs to shoot brought me into the digital era (still with Nikon). And sure enough the world changed again - old watt-eating, planet warming stage lights, which actually could be used creatively, were replaced by cold LED lights - which often look terrible, digitally. Not only in still-photography, but also in the moving realm of TV and movie cinematography, where blotches of light and shadow compete against each other.

Digital post processing often reveals black tones as being unable to remain smooth, they often appear as grainy remainders of low light, high iso (film speed) and the fight to get most of the available light.

But now comes 8K shooting, and manufacturer RED just released their new 8K Helium camera backs with a huge sensor size: 29.90mm x 15.77mm (33.80 diagonal) and a pixel capacity of 8192 x 4320 at 60fps, which demands - if my math is correct - over 2 GB of storage per second. That's about 16 times better of a resolution than the standard HD with 1080, which is in common use right now.

The result is absolutely stunning. RED boss Jarred Land gave cinematographer Mark Toia the new "toy" to experiment with it. And Toia had some fun, as you hear in his commentary. Land is quoted as saying that Toia edited the 6 minute clip on a laptop during a flight, is almost unbelieveable. The result is simply stunning, but watch for yourself.



Well the 8K Helium will not appear in my sortiment of cameras to use in the near future - with a sticker price of $59'000 it's a tad above my budget, but they should start being available this month.

Sources: Screenshot from video, redsharknews.com, vimeo

Monday, October 3, 2016

Answer Is Blowin' In The Wind


Almost lost, in the middle of nowhere, well not completely, actually in Bakersfield, Texas. Population by now, around 30 spread over miles and miles of acres and acres of Lone Praire.

There is actually not a house to be found anymore in Bakersfield, when the Oil Boom bust, houses or at least their building materials were carried away to where ever they were needed. At the peak of the boom there were over a 1'000 people living here,

Bakersfield had it's own school and post office. Now a sign on the road simply alerts "No Services Ahead," the only remaining building is an unmanned gas station serving IH10 traffic going west through the desert.

But the place, as empty as it is, also demonstrates change: the slow death from fossil-based energy to environmentally safe natural resources. Windmills on the cretes of the Indian Mesa of the West Texas mountain range are part of over 40 wind power projects all over the state, making the Lonestar state the biggest producer of that energy source in the USA. By now almost 10 percent of all the electricity generated in Texas originates from wind.

The Desert Sky Wind Farm in the back, covering 15 square miles, produces up to 160 megawatts (enough energy for 40'000 houses) with 107 turbines. The electricity is fed into the City Public Service of San Antonio (now called CPS Energy), 266 miles (430 km) away. So there may not be any local services ahead, but the energy generated in this remote part of the state, keeps the River Walk's lights on.

Sources: AWEA (American Wind Energy Association), desertskywind.com,















Friday, September 30, 2016

Keeping Score At The Double Ringer


Unfortunately by now they almost belong on the endangered species list in Texas. We are talking about old fashioned Honky Tonks, the dive beer joints, the bustling saloons, which by now have mostly disappeared from urban areas. Some isolated ones, mostly hiding in the country, can still be found. Their habitat, even though shrinking, lies from Central Texas going south towards the border, the buckle of the bible-belt up in North Texas was just too tight, with only Fort Worth and it's legendary stockyards being an exception.

This specimen, the Double Ringer (lat.: Duplex dingding), can be found about 25 miles northeast of San Antonio on your way to Seguin.  Drive south off IH-10 on 2538 or 325 and you should find it nestled into the woods in an old German town called Zuehl. The Double Ringer has a history, it used to be primarily a meat market and a bar on the side in the beginning, these days it pretty much sticks to the selling of libations. But if you are lucky - and chances are way better than the odds of the Texas lottery - the owner Billy may cook something for his guests, either frying fish or barbequeing on one of the many grills outside.

Double Ringer refers to the game of Horseshoe pitching, where you try to throw horseshoes around a stake. If your shoe completely encircles the stake and a line can be drawn from both ends of the shoe without touching the stake, you score a ringer. If you repeat this with your second throw and both shoes are lying around the stake, then you score a Double Ringer.

And if you walk in and nobody is in the bar, the patrons are sitting outside, below some shade trees, telling tall tales and lore and enjoying some cold ones. If you need a sports bar, are on the prowl to chase the other gender or not flexible to mingle with people - this bar is not for you! Obviously they are also biker friendly.

Sources: National Horseshoe Pitching Association,
This shot and others are available for publication through photo agency, Dispatch Press Images, DPI. It is also featured in my ClickASnap portfolio and in my Niume photo sphere blog.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Keep Cool


There's a joke in Texas about the seasons, that the Lonestar state basically has two - a hot summer and a mild summer. Mild meaning, temperatures into the 80s (30 C) and that can actually happen year round. I remember days in the middle of "winter" as in January, where people would try to get comfortable in their swim suits.

And yes it can get scorching hot - where it's almost mandated to stay indoors while the AC is buzzing, as the quicksilver raises well into the 100s (>38 C). Not too long ago, we actually broke a record in Austin, where we had over 60 days of 100+ degree weather. Just a tad too hot to do outdoor chores, like digging a hole, spreading dirt.

This shot and others are available for publication through photo agency, Dispatch Press Images, DPI. It is also featured in my ClickASnap portfolio and in my Niume photo sphere blog.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tip Toeing (Thru) The Tulips


A Dutchman came to Texas and missed his tulips so much, that he decided to grow his own and start the Texas Tulip Farm. Situated in North Texas near Pilot Point (about an hour north of the DFW area) if offers an amazing sight of a huge variety of the flowers not native to the Lonestar State.

During blooming season, late February to end of March, try to make it out on a weekday if you can. Saturday and Sundays can be quite populated and you may have to wait in line to park and get in. They charge $ 2.50 a head to get and then you can stroll for hours between the different beds.

It's also a great opportunity to take family pictures, put please don't put your children in the middle of the tulip beds and therefore crushing the flowers. Actually this is not an amusement park and children should be kept on a "leash." Also don't show up in your stilettos, it's a farm, so the ground is uneven, wear rugged pants so you can actually kneel down in the dirt if you want to take close up shots.



You can take (cut, or hand pick) tulips home, but at a rather steep price. To make your tulips last, pick them while they are still closed, they will last much longer at home and  will give you enjoyment for a couple of weeks.

This was the first year we went there and I know I want to go back next spring, tip toeing not thru but next to the tulips.



Sources: texas-tulips.com
This shot and others are available for publication through photo agency, Dispatch Press Images, DPI. It is also featured in my ClickASnap portfolio and in my Niume photo sphere blog.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Meeting


As urban communities grow more and more impersonal, where you hardly know your neighbour anymore, it's important to have public spaces where you can convene with other people and exchange more than pleasantries and simple hello.

Theaters, music halls, galleries etc. are great places to expand the horizon not only culturally, but also in a sense of community and meeting space.

The Courtyard Theater in Plano is such a place. Their offering of a Texas Music Series, in a seated, smoke free, listening environment helps to bring together all shapes of the community, who certainly share one thing in common - the admiration of the artist that invited them that night.

Lovely renovated from an old gym into a theater venue, it's quite dazzling. Reflecting the old agricultural background of the small town Plano, which by now is an bustling urban suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, with the use of aluminum siding with normally frames a Wilson livestock trailer. It combines old with new, and gives the whole room ample space to breath.

In this year's Texas Music Series, there are still two concerts scheduled - singer/songwriter Max Stalling (10/6) and country rockers Confederate Railroad (11/3), latter ones touring on their recently released album "Lucky To Be Alive" with a re-recording, a 20th anniversary version of their hit, the Chris Wall penned "Trashy Women." Besides music they also try to get a theater company into the building to offer the public a great variety of cultural events, who in end bring the people back together to meet.

Sources: plano.gov, wilsontrailer.com, maxstalling.com, confederaterailroad.net
This shot and others are available for publication through photo agency, Dispatch Press Images, DPI. It is also featured in my ClickASnap portfolio and in my Niume photo sphere blog.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Big Illusion .


"To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances." (Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray -1891)

A great provoking (and in the summary of the book sarcastic) paradox of Wilde, but spoken at a point where Dorian needs be sold in to believing in the never ending beauty and youth by Lord Henry.

So have we as a society arrived at the point (roughly 125 years after that quote) where commerce plays the role of Lord Henry on a daily basis and tries to seduce us, into the false world of artificial appearances while denying the community, the reality of the true life cycle.

Well if we can stay "Forever 21." Unfortunately working long term on three times 21, I have not met anybody, that got stuck at that age. I don't want to be 21 anymore. I would miss all my highs and lows, all my successes and failures - that so lovely frame our lives. And I hope there will be more highs and lows to come for a long time - even so it's not indefinite.









Sources: "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (Oscar Wilde).
These two shots and others of mine are available for publication  through a photo agency, Dispatch Press Images, DPI. The pictures are also featured in my ClickASnap portfolio and in my Niume blog.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Prada In The Desert


For over ten years a high fashion nonfunctional Prada clothing store is smack dab in the middle of the West Texas desert between Van Horn and Valentine, but associated with Marfa to the south. Originally built to desintegrate over the years and to become nothing again But it had to be repaired, as vandals broke into the store, stole the luxury purses and shoes (only right ones were on display.) It needed another fix when a Waco artist broke into the building, spray painted the walls and protested against another clothing manufacturer.

But else the building has been there for over ten years and still attracting visitors from all over the world. The fate of the installation wasn't clear for a long time, as the Texas Department of Transportation considered it to be an unlicensed and therefore unpermitted billboard on the side of a state highway. A reclassification of the building into a museum with Prada, Marfa being the only exhibit, safed the fate, so now it can peacefully disintegrate and become nothing again.


Sources: www.powwows.com

Both shots as well as others are available for publication through the photo agency, Dispatch Press Images, DPI. This photo can also be found in my ClickASnap portfolio or in my Niume Blog.

Beat The Drum Slowly

Pow Wow - Austin 2014

Pow Wows are the Native American people’s way of meeting together, to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships, and making new ones.  This is a time method to renew Native American culture and preserve the rich heritage of American Indians.

A drum circle is as important as the singers and dancers to pass on the traditions; nt only to Native American people, but to everybody who likes to attend a Pow Wow. It's more than an educational experience, it's very spiritual and may open some hearts and minds.

So if you want to go on the Pow Wow trail or just visit one in your town or find the closest to where your are at, visit www.powwows.com

Sources: www.powwows.com
This shot as well as others are available for publication through the photo agency, Dispatch Press Images, DPI. This photo can also be found in my ClickASnap portfolio or in my Niume Blog.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Are You Looking At?

Differential Grasshopper (melanoplus differentialis), outside of the US also known as American Grasshopper. In swarms deadly to new crops and therefore considered a pest to agriculture.

This female subject (you can see the ovipositor) can grow upto 5cm (2inches) and can lay up to six egg masses in soft soil, each of which can contain 40–200 eggs . The nymphs will hatch early the next summer and will reach adulthood in 32 days.

They are not uncommon even in urban areas, where you may find them on a vacant lot. But normally they prefer grasslands, corn, fruits, forbs and sunflowers.

Sources: http://www.insectidentification.org, wikipedia,
This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap portfolio, and as a blog in the photography sphere on Niume.

Composition In Blue, Orange And Brown

Close up of a house detail: wall, window, fascia, evoking a Piet Mondrian composition, even though only in geometrical form. I'm actually guilty and have to confess, that I occasionally love to indulge into abstract, abstract urban, minimal abstract or even a combination of all of them. Some of the results probably will never hang on a wall, but sure enrich the process of doing and trying. 

The above "scene" did trigger the Dutch "De Stijl" painter, Piet Mondrian, even though using more than just primary colors, reduce the whole thing more to a geometrical celebration of his "stijl".  Originally painting as an impressionist, playing with fauvism and pointillism, he started to reduce, limit himself to primary colors with his famous  "Evening; Red Tree," which I tried to celebrate in photography only in my Niume blog "Rest Is Not Idleness." Joining the art movement "De Stijl" he began abstracting and minimalizing even more: 

"I construct lines and color combinations on a flat surface, in order to express general beauty with the utmost awareness. Nature (or, that which I see) inspires me, puts me, as with any painter, in an emotional state so that an urge comes about to make something, but I want to come as close as possible to the truth and abstract everything from that, until I reach the foundation (still just an external foundation!) of things…"

Here is one of Piet's most famous artworks - Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow

Piet Mondriaan (1930) Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow                                          Public Domain

Sources: Wikipedia
This shot is also featured in my ClickASnap portfolio, and as a blog in Niume