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Austin Cars and Coffee – 2014-09-14

January 5, 2016 Leave a comment

Yes, that is the correct date. Since moving to a house last year, I’ve been very busy. While collecting photos from 2015, I discovered some from the Austin Cars and Coffee that I never processed. Although I am several minutes closer to it, I have not been back out. After awhile, it’s not that exciting because chances are you’ve seen them all before. I labeled them as best I could, but identifying cars is harder than birds sometimes.

There are only 6 new photos, but I am a completionist, so I had to update. I have alot more free time now, so the wildlife photos will be up soon I hope. Being out in the “country”, it’s much more interesting than the occasional squirrel…

Chevrolet Corvette C6

Chevrolet Corvette C6

Categories: Events

Christmas in July

July 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Every December, Marble Falls rolls out their Walkway of Lights. This is another one of those events I plan to do every year, but somehow it never seems to happen. Last year, there was finally a confluence of free time and mild weather. I booked an award night at the Hampton Inn on the lake, so I could walk over to the lights. That was my one mistake. Although it looks direct on the map, you have to walk through the parking lot to 1st Street and then down Buena Vista Drive. This would be fine except for the lack of streetlights and sidewalks.

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After the huge crowds at Galveston’s lights, I was worried I would have the same problem here, especially on a Saturday night. But my fears were quickly put to rest; it was a very light crowd. Admission is free, but they accept donations. There were one or two concession stands as well. The hot chocolate was quite welcome after the temperatures dropped to the 40s later on. However, it is remarkably difficult to hold a hot drink and take photos at the same time. Do one or the other, not both.

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I have to admit, this is one of the best things I did all year. This is exactly how a lights display should be. There weren’t many people and everyone was very friendly. Marble Falls also uses mostly rope lights, which look much better for displays. I think I would be willing to do this again, but I wouldn’t go out there just for this since it requires an overnight stay.

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The displays covered both of the two 2 wildly different meanings of Christmas. On the one hand, you have the Christian side, and the other is, well, Santa Claus. Penguins and donkeys next to each other! Chaos! :)

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And what is Christmas without penguins?! Penguins are awesome. This is one of my favorite photos of the night.

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After touring the lights, I walked back to my car at the hotel and drove to the other side of the lake for a view of the entire display. There are quite a few photos on the web from this point of view. However, directly across the lake is an RV park, so strictly speaking, one should probably not be there. But then why are there so many photos? Anyway, I only took a couple of photos from my car and then left. It’s not a good photo (not focused well), but you get a good idea of the overall scene.

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I took most of the photos at 1/100 sec, f/2.8, and ISO 1600. Because my lens doesn’t have image stabilization, I would do this again at a faster shutter speed to sharpen things up and lower the exposure. With Christmas lights, you actually don’t want to be properly exposed. The idea is to have only the lights showing, not the frames, wires, ground, or other surroundings. For displays with mostly white or yellow bulbs, I actually had to darken the photos to hide some of the distracting background. I have only posted some of the photos here. For the rest, visit the gallery. With the larger sizes, you can also see much detail. Take a look and imagine you were there. Merry Christmas!

Categories: Events

Moody Gardens – Festival of Lights

February 15, 2014 Leave a comment

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On November 16th (Saturday night), Moody Gardens was opening their annual Festival of Lights. Oddly, after this opening night, it would not actually be open again until the 22nd. I hadn’t really planned on going, especially after a full day of birding, but this would be my one chance. So I made the drive up to Galveston and arrived shortly after the lights were turned on at 6pm. Traffic was not an issue. Parking took a bit longer, but nothing annoying. Figuring out where to go after that was a different story, with the absence of any signs. I more or less followed everyone else to the main ticket booth and proceeded to stand in line for half an hour. I am still not sure if there was a better way to do this. I know the Zilker Trail of Lights in Austin is overcrowded as well, so maybe that’s just how these things are.

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For the next hour, I simply followed the path and took photos. The first half is lights themed after the gardens: fish, plants, aquatic characters, ships, etc. The second half is actual Christmas displays. Most of my photos are from the latter. I used my 6D with the 24-70mm lens left at f2.8 most of the time. This worked well, although with no image stabilization, I seemed to need a shutter speed of at least 1/90 sec.

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There is a temporary ice skating rink which I would recommend skipping unless you are desperate. Food-wise, eat before or after. The food stands were basic junk food. There is a real (but small) buffet at the Visitor’s Center. This was my selection since it was easy.

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There was little traffic on the way out for people like me staying on the island. For the unlucky headed back to Houston, it was a much longer wait. I doubt I would go back again. Once was enough, unless the other nights are much less crowded.

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There are many more photos in the gallery. Of all the displays, my favorites were the lighted trees with lanterns.

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Categories: Events