Category Archives: Univerisity of Texas

Spinning the State Flag of Texas

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On Saturday, November 2, 2012, Barb and I attended the (American) college football game between the University of Kansas and the University of Texas. It was a home game for the Texas Longhorns, and was the first daytime game of the season, so I thought it would be fun to take my camera with us.

The University of Texas athletic department has a policy of “no professional cameras with interchangeable lenses”, but I didn’t have any trouble getting into the stadium with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera. I had the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 “kit” lens on the camera, which was hanging around my neck. In Barb’s bag, I had stashed my Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens.

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I took about 140 photos that afternoon before, during, and after the game. When I was culling through them to see which ones that I wanted to include in my next blog post, I still had way too many photos to show. I couldn’t help but to notice this little “story within a story”.

Before the game actually begins, and right before the national anthem is played, they bring out this huge flag for the State of Texas onto the football field.

That is one very impressive (in size) flag. But wait, there’s more!

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The students holding that flag begin to bunch it up from two opposite ends.

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Eventually, when the two groups meet in the middle, the flag naturally takes on a circular shape.

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They then begin to rotate, or spin, the flag on the field. Notice where the blue section is now, and follow it as it changes position!

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It doesn’t take them very long to get it around.

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I would guess maybe 30 seconds to do the full revolution.

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And once it’s made the full revolution, there isn’t much else left to do, but to turn it back into a rectangle.

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All of these photos were taken with the 12-50mm kit lens zoomed to 45mm (which is 90mm equivalent on a full frame camera).

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Austin Shutterbug Club at The University of Texas

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A week ago, on Saturday, March 16, 2013, the Austin Shutterbug Club had an outing where we met at 8:30 AM at the base of the Main Tower on The University of Texas at Austin campus. The outing was being lead by John Patterson.

As John was handing out maps of the campus, and filling us in on what we were to be looking for, I snapped a couple of photos of the club members. I was the only person without a DSLR camera. I brought my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, with the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens mounted on it. Even though I had three great prime lenses in my camera bag, since I had also brought my little Gitzo GT1542T tripod, I never bothered changing lenses that morning.

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I had an Olympus camera, two people had Canon DSLRs, and everyone else was shooting Nikon. Many of these people are very accomplished photographers, and really know what they are doing…. Some of them asked about my camera, but I don’t think that any of them actually viewed it as a “real” camera. I realize that my photography skills are going to sway any of them to think otherwise. :-) One of the ladies had a Canon 5D Mark II, and when I told her that I also had that same camera, she looked at me in disbelief as if to wonder why I would leave that at home.

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We met at the base of the steps to the main administration building, generally referred to as “The UT Tower”. Here is a photo looking up towards the tower. Note the inscription “Ye Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Set You Free”. Well, at least you can see the beginning of it.

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Although this event was not a scavenger hunt, we were asked to take photos of patterns, windows, doors, perspective, architectural detail, textures, and extreme/unusual views. In a few weeks we will be asked to submit what we felt were our best photos in each of those categories, and some committee will select the best 3 or 4 from each, and then the entire club will vote for their favorites. As a result, I will not be showing what I consider the best photo that I took in toward each category – not at this time, anyway. Never fear, when I have participated in such events in the past, none of my photos have ever been chosen as one of the best 3 or 4 from any category.

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I decided just to have fun, and mingle as best an engineer is capable of mingling. :-)

Since it wasn’t even 9:00 AM yet, I decided to head over to the east side of the tower to see how well it was being lit by the morning sun, even though it was very overcast. (The clouds were predicted to go away by mid-morning, and they did.)

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These were my very first sighting this year of any Bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas.

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Just to the left of the Bluebonnets, I liked the textures of the rounded rocks, and the lone weed looked kind of like it was struggling for its space among them.

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At 9:15 AM, we were to meet outside of Calhoun Hall. On the south side of this building is a rather interesting walkway.

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We hung around here for several minutes. Brian Loflin, the founder and president of the Austin Shutterbug Club gave a little talk and demonstration of different perspectives of the same scene. This is Brian on the left.

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We walked to the end of that “tunnel” you see in the photo above, which brought us out into a large courtyard behind the building, and next to the Harry Ransom Center and Sutton Hall.

Sutton Hall is a rather colorful building, quite unlike any other building on campus.

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Going under the archway above the main door, and looking straight up, you can see some of the elaborate artwork that decorated the ceiling.

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It can be a bit surprising when you realize that in the center of the photo above, that there are three “curly-Q” fluorescent light bulbs installed in the hanging light fixture.

Just outside of that same doorway I thought this huge tree limb looked rather unusual. My camera was pointed almost directly into the direction of the sun, so that’s why the photo appears to be somewhat hazy.

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I walked over toward the Harry Ransom Center to get a few photos of Dobie Mall, and when I turned around I saw this photo of the UT Tower, framed by the tree limbs. The clock says that it is now 10:25 AM.

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We started heading north, and outside of the West Mall Office Building, the patterns of this modern bicycle rack in front of the elaborate ironwork covering the window seemed like it might be good for one of the things that we were supposed to be looking for.

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Directly east of there is Goldsmith Hall, which is built to surround an inner courtyard that contains 4 very large palm trees.

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That’s Kathy McCall at the base of one of the trees. She’s a damn good photographer, and so I thought I’d wander in there and see if I could learn something by watching her!

I got close to one of the palm trees. looked up, and took this photo. Maybe I’ll use that one for the “textures” category.

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We then headed over to the east side of the Student Union Building. I played around with various shutter speeds and depth of field while resting my camera on the limestone shelf. I must have taken 6 or 7 photos, but in the end, this is the only one that I kept.

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I then wandered into the building, and went up a stairwell that had lots of daylight coming in through the windows. I setup my camera on my tripod and played around in this stairwell for 5 or 6 minutes.

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I started wondering if I had become separated from the group, so I went more into the interior of the building to see if anyone else was inside.

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I ran into one of the ladies in the club, and she was looking into this meeting room, acting like she’d like to check it out. I suggested that we go for it! She was getting down low for an “artsy” shot of a row of the backs of the chairs, but I was first interested in a “whole room” kind of photo. Even though there was a lot of light coming in through the windows, I had to keep my shutter open for 8 seconds to take this photo (but I had closed my aperture to a tiny f/22 to get maximum depth of field).

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Right after I took that photo, an employee of The University came into the room and told us that we were not allowed to take photographs inside the building without first acquiring prior approval. We apologized and folded up our tripods and left. (At least she didn’t insist that we delete the photos from our memory cards!)

Back outside, we met up with John Patterson and John Sutton. Our group had dwindled to only 5 people. (We knew that we would meet up with many of the “drop-outs” at the designate lunch spot at 12:30 PM.) John suggested that we head up to 24th Street and take a few photos of the Littlefield House.

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The home was built in 1893, and later bequeathed to The University in 1935. This home has many ornamental architectural features. I liked the lines of the multi colored shingles on the roof. This architectural style is not often seen here in Austin.

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It was now noon, we were on the far north edge of the campus, and our designated lunch spot was at 12:30 on the southwest corner of the campus. On our walk to Schlotzsky’s, we passed by the south side of the UT Tower.

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After we got to the Schlotzsky’s sandwich shop, there were about 10 of us sitting at a long table. We enjoyed lively conversations about photography, the drought, where one can find wildflowers already, and one of Brian’s upcoming Wildlife Photography Seminars. After about an hour, I decided to head back to the house and get ready for the Saturday evening that I had planned with Barb.

I almost didn’t make this blog post. Although I had a fun time walking around with my camera and mingling with fellow photographers, this set of photos didn’t cry out to me that I really wanted to share them. They don’t really inspire me. They are pleasing enough, I suppose, but something is lacking. Maybe it is the absence of color? I’m not sure….

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog today.

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Photo Walk on the University of Texas Campus

20121215_UTexas_Walk_003I’m still trying to get into the new rhythm of how we will operate going forward at the office, but my weekends have been just fine. This past Saturday, on December 15th, before the sun came up, I was in my car headed toward downtown Austin. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was headed, but I was eager to do some of what Robin Wong calls “Shutter Therapy”.

Now Robin lives in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia – which is a densely populated city. As a result, Robin has become an outstanding “street photographer”. I am anything but that. At any rate, I was hearing the siren’s song to go out and photograph whatever seemed interesting to me at the time.

Although it had not rained in Austin since October 26th, it was drizzling enough that I had to use my windshield wipers while heading south on U.S. Interstate 35 just as the skies began to light up from the quickly approaching sunrise. The temperature was unseasonably warm – it was 66 degrees (18.9 C), so even though it was drizzling intermittently, I knew that I wouldn’t need my jacket. I decided that instead of heading to downtown Austin, I would check out The University of Texas campus.

I was glad that I had my weatherproof Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, and the equally weatherproof 12-50mm f/3.5 -6.3 lens. That’s a “dark” lens, and the sky was dark with clouds, so I knew that even though the image stabilization of this camera is outstanding, I was going to use my small Gitzo GT1542T Traveller tripod.

I got out of the car at the Joe C. Thompson conference center parking lot right at 7:15 AM, which was 5 minutes before the official time of the sunrise.

Since I was going to be using a tripod, I set the ISO to 200, which is the lowest sensitivity that the E-M5 allows, and turned off the fabulous image stabilization. I set the mode dial to Aperture Priority, set the focus mode to Single AF, and turned on the self-timer for 2 seconds. I put the White Balance on Auto, and started walking toward the LBJ Library and Museum. I took the photo above at the official time of sunrise, which was 7:20 AM.

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I had no plan for a route. I was just going to go where my feet followed my attention.

This is from the southwest corner of the LBJ Library.

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Stairs heading down.

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Reflection of UT Tower

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There was nobody around. I literally mean nobody. The street beside the Performing Arts Center was like something out of a post apocalypse movie.

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This is where the Texas Longhorn play football. It is the Darrel K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. This is the view of the northwest corner of the stadium.

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Across the street, out front of the Performing Arts Center is the interesting arrangement of bells.

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The official name of the stadium.

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At this point, I decided to do a custom white balance in the camera. I use a simple WhiBal card to do that.

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This photo was taken just after I set the custom white balance in the camera. I might just need such a photo to see how closely the camera and Adobe Lightroom agree. I also used this photo to set the white balance for the photos that I had already taken (but I didn’t do it for the opening photo).

High on the east side of the stadium.

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To take the photo above, I had climbed up to the top floor of a parking garage across the stadium. I had never been up there before, so I walked to the south while still on top of the garage. As I approached the south end of the stadium I got a pretty nice view of downtown Austin, which is about 15 blocks from where I was.

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Going just a little further, I could now see the Texas State Capitol Building, which is about 8 blocks away.

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Looking back toward the stadium, I was surprised at just how much I could see “inside” the stadium!20121215_UTexas_Walk_055

 

Here’s a view of the inside and the outside of the east side of the stadium.20121215_UTexas_Walk_062

 

This is the back side of the GIANT scoreboard, which is also a video screen.20121215_UTexas_Walk_064

 

Back down on the street, I looked back to see the garage I was on top of, and the stadium across the street from it.20121215_UTexas_Walk_070

 

Walking around the south end of the stadium, I passed the truck that carries the football team’s equipment to many of the away-games.20121215_UTexas_Walk_071

 

Pedestrian ramps on the west side of the stadium.20121215_UTexas_Walk_081

 

Time to leave the stadium, and head west on 21st Street. Across from Gregory Gymnasium, I caught this view of the UT Tower.20121215_UTexas_Walk_085

 

As I passed the Red McComb’s School of Business, this statue in front of the autumn colored trees caught my attention.20121215_UTexas_Walk_088

Another 1/2 block took me to the east side of Littlefield Fountain, which is a monument by Italian-born sculptor Pompeo Coppini.

The fountain was built with money from a $250,000 trust established by Major George W. Littlefield as a war memorial.  It was unveiled in 1933, at a time when the Old Main Building was still in use.20121215_UTexas_Walk_100-Edit

The bright gray sky and the light stone tower, with the dark live oak trees, seemed like I good opportunity to play around with the camera a bit. The photo above is an HDR photo.

A view from the side shows the cascading fountains.20121215_UTexas_Walk_127

Up the stairs to the tunnel of trees.20121215_UTexas_Walk_112

 

The main administration building is at the base of the UT Tower.20121215_UTexas_Walk_155

 

Turning around, you see the George Washington statue in the foreground, and the Texas State Capitol Building, 9 blocks away.20121215_UTexas_Walk_157

 

This is an HDR photo of the southeast corner of the UT Tower.20121215_UTexas_Walk_159-Edit

 

Architectural details are always interesting!20121215_UTexas_Walk_166

 

Rusty balls (with pennies glued to them).20121215_UTexas_Walk_169

From the East Mall Fountain, which is under renovation, I saw this view of the northwest corner of the stadium. It was 10:15 AM, so I had been out for exactly 3 hours – and my camera battery had finally ran out. After I changed the battery, I decided to try and get a better photo of the stadium from this position, but I was shooting almost directly into the direction of the sun, and the sky above the stadium was very bright, while this side of the stadium was in the shade (well, as shady as it gets on a very overcast day). The result was the rather unartistic HDR photo.20121215_UTexas_Walk_181-Edit

 

At the base of the northwest corner of the stadium, it is revealed where the “Texas Memorial Stadium” name comes from.20121215_UTexas_Walk_189

Here there is a statue of a World War I soldier, and on the wall behind him is a metal plaque (bronze ?) that has etched into it all of the names of the American soldiers that were Texans that died in World War I.20121215_UTexas_Walk_201

 

Walking across the north side of the stadium, you pass the emblem of The University mounted on the doors to the north entrance.20121215_UTexas_Walk_209

 

As my journey was coming to an end, I stopped and took another look back towards the UT Tower.20121215_UTexas_Walk_215

 

Up the stairs at the base of the LBJ Library and Museum.20121215_UTexas_Walk_225

 

My lonely Honda was waiting patiently for me, after my 4 hour walk.20121215_UTexas_Walk_231

This was certainly not my usual aerobic Saturday morning walk, but it was a fun one.  I like being a tourist in my own town.

Later that same evening, the Lady Longhorn volleyball team won the National Championship, by beating the lady Oregon Ducks in 3 straight sets. Congratulations!

Whenever a team wins a national championship, The University of Texas will light the entire UT Tower top-to-bottom with orange colored flood lights.

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