The Broken Spoke Bus for the Texas Top Hands Western Swing Band

Outside of the famous Broken Spoke in Austin, Texas, sits this old, dilapidated bus. I don’t know how long this thing has been sitting there, but it looks like quite a while. If it wasn’t for the rust, I guess you can assume its age from the phone number only having 7 digits. Remember that? 7-digit phone numbers now seem so quaint, like browsers without tabs.

I wonder if this bus still works. I know we have a lot of smart Texas readers who can probably tell us the answer to that little piece of trivia! Under the photo of the bus, I put up the older picture of the Broken Spoke dance hall that was taken about 20 minutes later as the sun was finishing it’s daily duties.

The Broken Spoke Bus for the Texas Top Hands Western Swing Band

Broken Spoke

It’s Recital Season for Kids… and a new review of the Nikon 70-200mm Lens

My 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, has been dancing around all night for me, getting ready for her big event tomorrow. It’s her first dance recital.

Her outfit is complete, her spins are looking almost 360, and her beauty sleep is currently in full-force. The epic event is at 4 PM tomorrow. Who has recitals at 4 PM on a weekday? I don’t know. Isabella does. That’s who. I’m not allowed to take photos, so say the ballet-gestapo that run the event. Should I organize an email campaign to make an exception?!!?!? Maybe we can get a 100-200K emails sent over there in protest! hehe…

This first photo below was included in the recent Newsletter, in which I gave an advance link to the new Nikon 70-200 Review. It’s a great lens, and there are a bunch of cool pics from that camera in the review. This piano photo was taken while my 8-year-old was practicing for his recital. He got to play on his first grand piano, and it was cute because he had trouble reaching the pedals because they were so far from the bench.

The second photo below is Isabella is from a few weeks ago when we went to the Greekfest here in Austin… she had her face painted like a unicorn… it was her first face-painting ever, so of course I was there with the camera. That one was taken with the 50mm – I have more info on that one over at the Nikon 50mm Review.

Texas Shots-12106-June 06, 2009 (by Stuck in Customs)

Isabella as the Unicorn (by Stuck in Customs)

The ROT Biker Rally of Texas

Every year we get thousands of bikers that descend on Austin for a few days during the big ROT Biker Rally.

They cruise up and down 6th Street and close fill the streets with incredible bikes and works of art. It’s an amazing place for photography, so I was able to take a break this evening and go down and shoot for a few hours.

I remember when I was growing up that bikers where just about the scariest people on earth. But now, everyone I have met seems to be much nicer and more affable than the average joe. They love having pictures taken of their bikes and generally seem to love life. That’s cool.

The ROT Biker Rally in Austin (by Stuck in Customs)

Green Fins in Austin

See how cool American cars used to be? And then they started getting designed by committees and focus groups and marketing experts… Did anyone see that Simpsons episode with Poochie the dog? I think about that episode a lot whenever I see a boring product flounder its way onto the scene.

Anyway, none of that has anything to do with anything… other than just as a talking point when looking back at old American cars and how much personality they used to have. This was shot at a classic car show here in Austin, which is always a great place to take the tripod for some HDR goodness…

Green Fins in Austin

Hanging out with Altus in Austin

Today Altus, my good friend from Japan, came into Austin with his family. They crashed at my place and it gave us a chance to go out and do some shooting… I feel lucky to be able to go out and shoot with another great HDR photographer! I can add him to the collection! Here are some other greats I have shot with… and I’ll be sure to add Altus to the list soon.

After we went to a secret spot, we ended up at The Oasis on Lake Travis. Here is a shot of Altus leaning over one of the decks to get a shot using his famous fisheye. And here is one of his shots of his hometown of Tokyo.

Altus in Austin

It’s Summertime for Little Girls, and are the new ads too annoying for ya?

I don’t think I realized a big difference in clothes and seasons for little girls until I had one of my own. Every single outfit choice is as dramatic as the final night of American Idol. The histrionics that ensue is the selection of shoes could be stage play of epic proportions. But, once the outfit is complete, then it’s time for summer.

Now, some of you may notice (and have noticed) that I am experimenting with new ads on the site. I will leave them up for 24 more hours and see what your feedback is like. If you find them very annoying, I’ll take them down. Feel free to give me frank comments down here below. The site gets between 300K and 350K visitors per month, and the only ad hitherto has been the banner on the right for B&H Photo, who sponsor the site. So, anyway, I value your regular readership, and I have no wish to annoy you! Lemme know… thanks!

It's Summertime for Little Girls (by Stuck in Customs)

The Deep River in Austin

This spot is about 5 minutes from my house.  Why don’t I go up here every night for sunset?  I don’t know.  I really don’t have a good excuse, because every time I go up there, I come away with something different.

On this night, I walked up there with my son right after the sun dropped below the horizon and we watched the day turn to night together.  One of the planets was brightly lit (Venus?) and appeared right above that cool-lookin tree that sits atop.  People from Austin know the one I’m talkin’ about. :)

The Deep River in Austin (by Stuck in Customs)

Her Evening Elegance

A Texas sunset settled on the farm as we patiently waited for the sky to repaint itself every few minutes.

It was a very relaxing hour, watching the sun slowly descend through the clouds, interrupted on occasion by a stressful swapping of lenses.  I hate to get dust in the chamber, so the changing of lenses is always a high-anxiety event!  But the anxiety faded away pretty quick as we started watching the sunset again.

My friend Leslie had invited me out to her parent’s farm near Brady.  She’s an actress, a model, a photographer, and a bunch of other creative things…  so I had told her I would spend equal amounts of time shooting the farm, her animals, and her. It’s the old 33/33/33 rule of farm-shooting.    Anyway, I am sure some of you would rather see photos of her…  and still others of her animals…  but I can’t make everyone happy at once, so you’ll just have to wait a few weeks for me to sprinkle those in!  Until then, I hope you enjoy the sunset.

Reaching for the Sky

Street Scenes from South by Southwest

South by Southwest is a huge music, film, and interactive festival down here in Austin. People from all over the world come here to what has become known as the music capitol of the world. Many streets shut down for all kinds of interesting activity. I went out an evening ago to get some shots of some of the action on the streets to share with you all. I usually don’t do these sorts of shots, but I wanted to mix it up a little so you could see a local slice of life right here in my hometown! :)

Street Scenes from South by Southwest

Musician Loading and Unloading at SXSW

SXSW is a big deal down here in Austin! I missed the first few days in Chicago, and when I arrived back I see it was just as crazy as I expected. Our studio is right on 6th street, which has been pretty much a nonstop party for the past week. Of all the various locales where the top bands play, this is one of the better-known ones. It’s called Emo’s, and a closeup of the little sign there (might need to zoom on flickr to original size?) will show a special rule for the elite musician class of Austin who might be surprised to know they get their own sweet set of traffic laws.

Musician Loading and Unloading at SXSW

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