Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Samantha’s Zone Concert

I know I should be washing dishes, washing clothes, or finishing my taxes but I couldn’t wait to look at these photos from last night.  Last night was Samantha, my niece’s, Zone concert.  The “Zone” concert is a concert where the 6th, 7th and 8th graders have a group concert.  Each grade played two pieces and then they played America the Beautiful together.  This is her first year to play the violin.

Here she is warming up.

Here is her class.  The blue shirts are her classmates.

Here is everyone.

Samantha getting ready to play.

Samantha playing her first piece.

Samantha playing the second piece.

The end of their second piece.

Watching the older students play.

It was a nice concert.  Her class has improved so much since the first concert earlier this year.  To see photos from all of her concerts go to

BTW.  Seeing her wearing heals makes me feel old.  It seems like yesterday when my sister brought her home from the hospital.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Gossiping Ducks

OK.  I was going to wait until I had gotten through all the rest of the photos that I took at Hermann Park during lunch.  But this one made me laugh.  Both Monday and Tuesday this week, I got lunch and ate it at Hermann Park.  Each day at the South end of the reflection pool, I’ve seen these same ducks.  Each day the one on the right has been just been chatting away.  My first thought was of two co-workers gossiping at lunch.  Now that I think about it, they could be an old married couple.  In that context, you have the wife on the right talking away and the husband on the left just nodding his head, “Yes Dear, Yes Dear.”  Not knowing much about birds, I don’t know if they are male or female. 

Have a great Friday.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Great Weather in Houston

This week we have had some great weather in Houston.  So great that  I’ve take my lunch to Hermann Park twice and ate on the patio at Buffalo Wild Wings once.  Of course I couldn’t go to the park without my camera so here are some of the photos that I’ve taken this week for those of you that are stuck in your office and can’t get out.

I took many duck photos and haven’t had a chance to look through them yet.  There are several great ones to show you once I get done. 



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Directions to the Baytown Eagle’s Nest

Since I have had several request, here is where the bald eagle’s nest is located in Baytown. 

View Photography Shoot Locations in a larger map

The easiest way to get there from Houston is to take I-45 South to I-610 East.  Exit on Hwy 225 East toward La Porte.  Hwy 225 ends at Hwy 146.  Stay on the left side to head East on Hwy 146 over the Fred Hartman Bridge.  Once across the Fred Hartman Bridge, take the first exit for Hwy 146 Business.  Stay on Hwy 146 Business until you come to a 4-way stop sign at Hwy 99 Grand Parkway. Take a right. The next intersection is Tri-City Beach Road.  Take another right.  Once you see the golf course on your right, you are there.  Pull of the side of the road and park.  Someone has been kind enough to tie a white handkerchief to the chain link fence on the golf course side of the road.  Stand in that general area.  Look across the road.  In the distance about 200 feet away, there will be a tall pine tree with several branches that come down to a point.  That is were the nest is. 

Below is a photo of the nest that you are seeking.  It is a close up.  Next time I go by there, I’ll take a wide-angle shot to give you a better idea of the scene.

Take some binoculars to be able to see it better.  It is a very large nest.  When the mother is sitting on the eggs, you will not be able to see her until she stands up.  You might also want to take some supplies like a lawn chair, water or snacks if you want to wait until one of the eagles is outside the nest.  I have not see this but many others have said that the eagles like to stand on a tree very near the road.  Each time I have been to see the nest, I have not been able to stay more than an hour.  If you really want to see the eagles flying, plan your time so that you can stay longer if needed.  I am told that the male leaves the nest in the morning and flies back during the day and before sunset.

Hope this helps.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Bald Eagle Hunting

After the trip I took with my Dad to see the launch of STS-130 Space Shuttle Endeavour, I still had some time left on my lens rental.  I had heard and seen photos of a bald eagle’s nest in Baytown, Texas so I decided to go hunting, photo hunting that is.  For this particular safari I’m using a Canon 300D with a 500mm F/4L and a 1.4 tele-converter.  Here’s me and the gear.

I got a little turned around in Baytown so it took me about an hour to find the nest on the first day.

Here's a little fellow that I found near the nest.

I stayed for about an hour and a half until it started raining and sleeting.  Facing a drive through downtown Houston in the evening traffic, I decided not to wait any longer thinking that I would just come back the next day or on the following weekend.  Well the weather didn’t cooperate the next day either and Friday and Saturday I spent time with my nieces.  That left me with Sunday.  Sunday morning I got up early hoping to catch them both at the nest first thing in the morning.  Evidently I was not early enough.  When I got back to the nest, a lady that was already there told me the male eagle had flown off ten minutes prior.  Darn!  I waited as long as I could but again no luck. 

That evening, while take a scenic drive with my parents, Dad suggested that we go by the nest one more time.  I had all the gear with us so I said “Why not?”   My timing was off that day because just as we got there the Momma eagle started moving around the nest.  Even though I wasn’t ready, I fired off a few shots.  My position was off and I was shooting though brush and trees.

If you look closely you can see a wing and the top of her head at the center of the nest.  Near sundown I got this next one.  The lighting would have made this a perfect shot if one or both of the eagles would have shown up.

The sun has gone down further and the lighting is getting poor.  I have taken of the tele-converter to get another F-stop because of the low light.  I’m ready to go.  It’s getting too dark to shoot.  I take other round and pack everything up thinking that Sunday evening was another strike-out.  I didn’t look at the photos for that evening until the next day.  To my surprise in the last set of photo I took, I found an a photo of Momma taking a look around.  It’s not the best of photos but I didn’t go home empty handed either.

Here's a cropped version.

Click here for a map of the location where I took the photos from.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Father/Son Vacation (The rest of the story)

Well after a night’s sleep in Orlando, we found ourselves with some extra time on our hands.  The tour bus wasn’t scheduled to pick us up until 8:30pm so we had a whole day to kill.   Lewis, the guy who is letting me use his lot to store my sailboat while I work on it, told me about a marine salvage yard in Florida.  He said that we should call Don’s Salvage if there was ever anything that we needed to restore my boat and could purchase it new.  Sounded interesting since we were in Florida and had some time, I looked up the location online.  The salvage yard is located in Clearwater (about an hour away) and is open on the first Saturday of every month.  Great!  So we drove over to Clearwater to take a look.

This guy easily had over six acres of boat parts.

We didn’t really find anything that we needed other than a small stainless steel sheet but it did give me an idea of were to call if I need to find an old part.  Back to the hotel we went.  We ate and got ready for the launch.  The launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-130 is a subject all on its own.  To read about it click here to see my post.

After saying up all night two nights in a row, Dad had to get back to work and it was time to head home.  Monday morning after the launch we got back to the hotel at about 6:30am.  We went to bed and slept until 10am.  We checked out of the hotel and got some gas and food and started the long drive home.  We thought that we would drive until we got too tired to go any further.  Fortunately, we didn’t have the rain or traffic problems that we had on the way down and were able to make it all the way to the west side of Mobile before we stopped.  Being the day after the Super Bowl we again saw numerous New Orleans Saints fans returning home.  Here’s a few of the once that we passed on the road.

I’ve always wondered about this bridge on I75 between Ocala and the Florida Turnpike.  To quote Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection:

The Cross Florida Greenway Land Bridge allows hikers, cyclists, equestrians, and wildlife to safely cross Interstate 75 where it bisects the Greenway. It provides a much needed connection between the east and west sections of the Cross Florida Greenway. 
For more info go to  Other than seeing about a thousand patrol cars, the rest of the trip was uneventful until I dropped my camera in a cooler full of melted ice.  Fortunately I was able to get it out and dried off in time to stop it from permanent damage.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Father/Son Vacation Days 1 and 2

Back in December I realized that the STS-130 space shuttle mission just might be the last night shuttle launch.  NASA had decided to retire the shuttle fleet at the end of 2010.  I started doing some research into what it would take to photograph a shuttle launch.  A some point I started discussing it with my photography friends and family.  Dad thought that it would be fun and a once in a lifetime experience.  So I invited him and he said yes.  Now while growing up my father and I never took a vacation together.  Any trips we took together were to go see my grandparents so this was our first real vacation together. 

We left Houston in the rain on Thursday and it rained all the way to the Florida border.  It rained so much at times that you could barely see the road in front of you.  There were numerous accidents along the way.  Several cars went off the road.  One 18-wheeler turned over in the middle of the road.  The rain was really bad around the Alabama/Florida boarder.  So we stopped in Pensacola for the night.

In the morning, the rain had let up.  It did rain some during the day, but nothing like the downpour that we experienced the day before.   In Gainesville, we came across 3 accidents and witnessed one car spin across the highway and come to rest pointed the wrong way.  One of the accidents was so bad that anyone in the back seat would have been lost.  To me, it looked like the car was hit, spun off the road, and hit a tree from the rear bumper.  The car hit with such force that the trunk of the car was compacted into the backseat. 

Through out our trip down I-10, we passed numerous New Orleans Saints fans going to the Super Bowl in Miami.  Once we made the turn South on I-75 the traffic picked up and we stopped seeing as many Saints fans.  While waiting for the traffic to clear in Gainesville, we even spied a Colts fan in their RV.  I took the picture below to document that there will be at least one die hard Colts fan at the game.

We made it to Orlando with about 16 hours of driving over two days.  I’m looking forward to the launch early Sunday morning.  We have a tour bus picking us up and taking us to the Kennedy Space Center.  From there we will board another bus that will take us to a site that is only 6 miles from the launch pad.  It should be a good time.  Hopefully I will get some good shots.