Five Minutes of Light in Houston

Taking Photos of Cities

I love these sorts of photos, obviously. But when I am trying to find the perfect spot, I am always reminded about how most people don’t think like photographers. Of 100 people, 97 or so would recommend that I go up in the tallest building in the city. No, I always contend — I want the tallest building to be in the shot, so I need to go up in the 2nd-10th tallest buildings that actually look back towards the west and towards the tallest building. It all requires a lot of 3D visualization and spinning of the city, and I find that most of these conversations end with confusion (and then me going back to Google Earth once again).

Daily Photo – Five Minutes of Light in Houston

When I give talks, I have a rotation of random photos that appear in the background while I talk about all sorts of things. I figure people don’t want to watch me… and a steady stream of photos is more interesting. Anyway, at some point, one of my photos of Houston appears, and I say, “This is about the prettiest you will ever see Houston.” It always gets a laugh… mostly because it’s so painfully true.

This is the 2nd or 3rd photo of downtown Houston that I have processed. There is a quick moment between sunset and dusk when the sky can turn any color… this time it turned purple, so I was lucky!

HDR Photo

The Lime Couches

Daily Photo – The Lime Couches

One of my favorite sites for finding boutique hotels is Tablet Hotels.  They are not an advertiser or anything…  I just wanted to thank them for having an awesome service!  I quite like staying at boutique hotels.  These are usually smaller, quaint, with unexpected interiors.  Often times, I like them better than the huge hotels because they seem more intimate and I sometimes get more personalized services.

This hotel is The Magnolia in Houston.  At least, I am 95% sure that is the name of the place!  It was one of those I found on Tablet…  give it a try next time you travel and let me know if you like it too!

Industrial Storage in Houston

On the drive back from Houston to Austin, I pulled over to a small town just outside the sprawl. One of them had a bunch of old industrial tanks, pipelines, towers, chutes, and other mysterious bits and pieces. The light was getting just about right, so I started walking around to explore it with my tripod. I set up here and fired away.

Industrial Storage in Houston

The Roadside Beauty Salon

Are you ever driving down the road and you see something that looks like it might be an interesting photo? But then, you start thinkin’ about turning around to take a photo, and then you think about it some more, and then by the time you get around to really asking the question in a serious way, you’ve discovered you’ve gone much too far and it would be silly to turn around now? Well that almost happened to me here… but I trained myself a while ago just to immediately turn around and not ask questions. This is a similar phenomenon to the “just 5 more minutes in bed” problem, which is also a slippery slope.

I found this beauty salon one evening when driving between Houston and Austin. It was just sitting there, all neglected…. and I felt like someone needed to pay attention to it, so I did for a short while.

The Roadside Beauty Salon (by Stuck in Customs)

Houston at Dusk

I’ve had (the pleasure) to go to Houston a few (too many) times this year.  I always end up staying downtown, which affords me some good opportunities to take photos at dusk.  Usually I am busy (being drained) and can’t actually get out to shoot at sunset, so whenever I have a chance, I do my best to get a good one.

This was shot from the top of the Magnolia Hotel, which is a very cool place to stay, if you ever make it down thataway.

Houston at Dusk (by Stuck in Customs)

Join me by the fire?

I notice that good interior design, once rare, now is pervasive. Something has happened in the last 10 years that has enabled the best interior designers in the world to get their work spread widely. It’s snowballed because now everyone has high expectations everywhere they go.

When I stayed in Houston, I went to The Magnolia hotel, since it was recommended by Tablet Hotels, which is my favorite hotel booking site. I normally don’t like giant hotels that are impersonal and predictable. The hotels in the tablet line seem to put a premium on good design and are more along the “boutique” specialty locations. Often, I find, they are cheaper than the Hiltons and Hyatts of the world too.

The other half of good interior design is that it is traditionally very difficult to capture in a photograph. Have you ever been somewhere really cool, taken a shot, then gotten home and said, “well it was much cooler in person!”. I think the problem lies in the detailed textures and light levels that change on a small scale. The eye can pick it up, but the typical camera method can’t. Of course, this HDR method I use and describe in the tutorial is perfect for picking up the subtleties of the textures and light.

In other news, the nice people at Fotoflot sent me a sample of their work using one of my photos. I put up some photos here that you can check out.

Join me by the fire

Salsa in Houston

After a few long days with lawyers, I was invited out to go dancing with one of ours. He’s a great guy and, as much as I like to tease lawyers as members of an impenetrable sovereign nation (they have their own superset of rules, their own imports and exports, they live among us, yet exist within a patina of independence), I do like being with them for the intellectual stimulation. From these photos, it’s hard to get any sense of intellectualism, although that’s not really the point. I suppose the counterpoint is the point in this case.

My attorney here is Chanler, the only guy consistently in all the photos! And in the end, I put up a sunset photo of Houston. That’s about the prettiest you’ll ever see Houston.

Salsa Dancing in Houston

Houston and Salsa-2817-March 12, 2009

Houston and Salsa-2776-March 11, 2009

Houston and Salsa-2822-March 12, 2009

Houston and Salsa-2840-March 12, 2009

Houston and Salsa-2863-March 12, 2009

Houston at Sunset

A walk in the garden

I arrived in Houston to meet with a friend a bit early. I planned on spending the morning in the museums, but they don’t open until noon on Sunday. So I decided to head to nearby Hermann Park to the famous rose garden there.

As an experiment, I put on my Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 lens to try some new things out… It’s not my usual stuff, but I’m happy with the results. If you are interested, I have a Nikon 14-24 Review here on the site.

A walk in the garden

The Rose 5

The Rose 2

The Rose 7

The Rose 6

Houston at Sunset

I’m in Houston hanging out with attorneys. Well, I am not really hanging out, but I am definitely with attorneys.

I drove down from Austin a few days ago and the city has been totally overcast and kinda dull-lookin’. But tonight, a coldfront started blowing through, so I went up to the roof of the hotel and took this shot.

I would appreciate your vote for the 2008 Bloggies! I hope you vote for www.stuckincustoms.com in the "best photography of a weblog" category! :)

Houston at Sunset

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