Saturday, May 23, 2015

More Hill Country Adventures

Some friends and I had an excursion out to Texas Hill Country. We camped at Inks Lake State Park, visited Longhorn Caverns, and a winery (with a promise of winery cats...).

A couple of friends and I went out earlier on the first day (we will call this Team Alpha) to select a good camp site and set up the tents prior to nightfall. While exploring the park, we found a shaved ice stand.


The sunset over Inks Lake was rather peaceful compared to the daily hustle and bustle back in Houston.

Tranquil waters

The golden hour was so nice out there, I could not help but take some macro shots before it was too dark.


The state flower is the blue bonnet. In spring, the hills in central Texas are covered in both these and Indian paintbrushes. The roadside along 290 was covered in blue bonnets as well as people pulled over, squatting over the flowers taking selfies. 

Texas Blue Bonnet

As night fell, Team Alpha played a few rounds of Texas Hold 'Em, using shells as chips, as we waited for Team Beta to arrive. 

Take all my shells.

The next day, we took the shorter walking tour through Longhorn Cavern. This cavern was formed by an underground river with a lot of very interesting wear in the sandstone. I would like to do the "wild" cave tour on my next visit that involves knee and elbow pads, headlamps, and a lot of mud.


After the cavern, we had a long lunch at the campsite and got lost looking for a winery down a dirt road. We then hit the water in canoes and I tried my darnedest to ram the others as much as possible.

Watersport sunset

While hanging out on the fishing dock, I noticed that mayflies were molting all around us. Here is a series of photos of one particular mayfly...

The last morning we were out there, I woke up prior to dawn (no alarm!) and headed down to the lake for some sunrise experiments. Unfortuantely, it did not go well... I fit in an attempt at a panoramic, then had the 2 minute bathroom warning. Admittedly, I had a hard time deciding whether to pack everything up or leave it there. Luckily, my kit is light, so I packed and made haste to the closest bathroom. By the time I got back, it was too bright for me to take the longer exposure images I was hoping of the water prior to sunrise. The colors were still quite nice and it was really nice to listen to the other campers wake up and busy themselves with breakfast/packing up.

Inks Lake waking up

The trip was a much needed break from work. It was really quite refreshing to spend an extended period of time with non-engineers. It made me realize that work-life balance also includes a balance of my social interactions.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Enchanted Rock

One of my favorite places in Texas is Enchanted Rock State Park. It is located in Hill Country and is a very well maintained and operated park. Growing up in an urban area, I had not encountered a park that was so open to adventuring off the beaten path as this one seems to be. Also, there are massive granite formations that are fun (and occasionally painful) to scramble up and down.

The images below were all taken with my EM-10 and 60mm lens. It is interesting to see life in this scrubby part of the world.

Natural fractals

No way through


Meerkat fern



A different perspective

Adventure time!

The weather is changing

Pheidole hard at work before the rain

Houston Flower Exchange

A good friend of mine is getting married in September. To prepare, a few of us took a flower arrangement class at the Houston Flower Exchange. I did not really know what to expect -- we learned how to make bridesmaids bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and a flower girl crown. The class was informative, but walking through the cooler was the most interesting part.

The following images were taken with my EM-10 body with 17mm attached. This is currently my favorite walk-about lens as it is fairly low profile with a minimum focus distance that allows me to fill the frame with a single subject while still being wide enough for landscapes. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Photo Journal


I started this blog to share my photographic hobby with friends and family. It also conveniently doubles as a journal of sorts to which we can look back on in the future.

My camera kit:

I converted from a Sony Alpha 350 DSLR to an Olympus mirrorless kit last year and have never looked back. The Sony was my first upgrade from the pocketable point and shoots and served me well for 7 years. But the discrete size of the mirrorless kit has been good on both my back and my ability to always be ready for a photo opportunity. I believe that my kit is as complete as it will ever need to be:

Olympus OMD EM-10
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ Lens
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 Lens
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 Lens
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 OIS Lens

First Images:

The following shots of Minerva the foster kitten were taken with the 60mm macro lens.

Minerva the foster kitten

Isn't she adorable?