Category Archives: CowParade Austin

Decorated 10 foot cows on public display around Austin in late summer and fall 2011. The cows were auctioned off in November, and all proceeds benefitted the Dell Children’s Hospital of Austin.

CowParade Calendar – December – Flamencow

If you have my 2012 CowParade Austin calendar, or if you are a regular visitor to my blog, you probably flipped the calendar over to December and saw the image above.

This cow, named Flamencow, was created by Elizabeth C. Sullivan. Flamencow was on public display at the corner of East 5th Street and Neches Street, which is the northwest corner of the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin.

Elizabeth was also the artist that created the cow named Cowjunto Music, which I used as “Miss April” in my CowParade Austin 2012 calendar. You can check out Elizabeth’s web site here.

Elizabeth also has a very nice web page that shows her two cows at the various stages of her creating them, and you should check that out here.

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I don’t really have much of a story to accompany these photos, other than the difficulty that Dad and I had in hunting this particular cow down so that we could shoot it.

We had originally mapped out our route to photograph this cow a few weeks earlier. The directions that we had said that it was located at 500 East 4th Street. That would be south entrance to the Hilton, nearest The Austin Convention Center. There was no cow there. We circled the hotel, and did not find any cows there.

We asked the bell hops outside the main entrance on the west side, and asked if they knew of any CowParade cows, or any other cows that were residing in the area. One of them seemed to remember seeing one recently, but couldn’t remember where. We went inside and asked the concierge if he knew anything about any cows on display in the area.

Well, yes, he had. They had taken inside to a storage area, and were waiting for the artist to come get it. We were somewhat taken aback by that answer, and asked why it wasn’t on public display.

It seems that late the night before, some drunks returning from a late night of partying on 6th Street decided to rock the cow back and forth until they succeeded in tipping it over onto its side. Apparently one of its ears was severely damaged, and the artist was coming to get it and attempt to repair it.

Dad and I were completely disgusted that someone in our town would do something like that. I don’t care how drunk they were. It wasn’t like they stumbled into the cow and just happened to knock it over. No, they rocked it back and forth until it toppled over. Probably laughed loudly as they stumbled off afterwards, too (purely conjecture on my part).

We came back a week or two later, and still the cow was not on display. We returned again on September 17, 2011, and there she was! Flamencow was all decked out in drag! (Is that possible, since it was a “she”?) That was one smokin’ hot….  no, make that one flaming, cow. I love the fishnet hose, the garters, and the hair net! I’m not quite sure what to think about those nipple rings, though (ouch!)

It was an overcast morning, so I didn’t have to deal with any direct sunlight issues. I did not use any fill flash on any of these photos of Flamencow. The only thing I remember trying to do was to get a view with the least distracting background. I simply circled this cow, waited for several pedestrians and cars to “get out of my way”, and snapped off these 5 photos of Flamencow in just over 6 minutes.

I knew right from the start that I was going to include this cow in my CowParade Austin 2012 calendar, and in the end, it was the red and green Christmas color scheme that made it an easy choice for “Miss December”.

This is the last month of my CowParade Austin 2012 calendar, but there were s few photos of other cows (inside front and back covers, and on the back, etc.) that I might tell about sometime in the future. Right now I’m getting tired of writing a story at the beginning of every month for something that happened well over a year ago. When I look at these photos, I think that they are “pretty good”, but can’t help but think that maybe I could do a little better now. But then I remember that for all of these cows, we simply had to photograph them wherever we found them, under whatever lighting conditions that existed at the time that we were there.

You can always find all 72 of the CowParade Austin cows here on my website by going back up to the top of my home page, and directly under the banner with the 3 thumbnail images of Austin scenery, clicking on the link for “Photo Gallery” and selecting CowParade Austin 2011. Or you can just click here.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!


CowParade Calendar – November – Texas Moosicians

If you have my 2012 CowParade Austin calendar, you probably flipped it over to November and said to yourself “Hey, what’s up with this cow? It’s different than the others!”.

This cow, named Texas Moosicians, was created by Mitch Brookman. Mitch evidently is a very talented artist who specializes in mosaics.

The CowParade Austin website, which is still semi-functional, lists Mitch’s website as, which does not seem to be valid at this time.

Doing a little searching using Bing and Google, I was able to find an interesting news post from The Oasis Restaurant out at Lake Travis, where they were having a contest to name Mitch’s cow (this was in July 2011).

I could also locate this web page, which appears to be on Facebook, but you do not have to be logged in to Facebook to see the photos there.

If you open another web browser window and login to Facebook, you can then come back to this web browser window and view Mitch Brookman’s Facebook page by clicking on this link.

And here is his Texas Moosician’s Facebook page:

It was late on the Saturday morning of September 3, 2011, when Dad and I arrived at the location where Texas Moosicians was on public display. It was at West Willie Nelson Blvd (2nd Street) and Lavaca – which was at the base of the stairs leading up to the Moody Theater at the Austin City Limits Studio.

This was the 19th of 24 cows that we photographed that morning – by far the most we visited in any one day. We arrived at exactly 11:00 AM. The sun was high in the sky, and it was a very hard light. I photographed the plaque first, and then started from the left front side of the cow.

The Texas musicians shown on the left side of the cow, from front to back, are Buddy Holly, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, and Janis Joplin.

Buddy Holly was born in Lubbock, TX in 1936 and died young in an airplane crash in 1959. From Wikipedia: Holly was among the first group of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2004 Rolling Stone (magazine) ranked Holly #13 among “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

Lyle Lovett was born in north Harris County (the county that Houston is in) in 1957. His musical career took off while he was attending Texas A&M University. I have been to two Lyle Lovett (and his Large Band) concerts, and really had a great time!

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The Willie Nelson statue now sits in almost the exact same location that Texas Moosicians was on display at. Willie Nelson still lives just west of Austin. Barb and I took Dad and Rita to see a Willie Nelson concert at Riverbend Church for his Father’s Day present last summer.

Janis Joplin was born in Port Arthur, TX, but her musical career took off while she was attending The University of Texas at Austin. Janis could really let loose, and was a superstar in the late 60’s – she even performed at the legendary Woodstock music festival in 1969, as one of the main attractions. She came on stage late on a Saturday evening, and performed in front of a half a million people until well into Sunday morning.

Although seeing this cow was very exciting, photographing it was very challenging. The hard, harsh sunlight was directly above. The background was very busy, and even though you still see some parked cars behind the cow, I did my best to wait until there were not also pedestrians and other vehicle traffic on the street. Note also the steel railing of the fence behind the cow…

That railing meant that any photograph of the other side of the cow was going to include the railing, or using some difficult to achieve photographic technique. I wasn’t going to leave without at least trying to get a photo of the other side of this very interesting cow!

To get this photo, I closed the 3 legs of my Gitzo tripod, so that they came together, and raised the center column all the way – which essentially turned it into as tall of a monopod that it could be. I put my Canon 5D Mark II into live-view mode, zoomed my 24 – 105mm f/4 lens to as wide of a field of view that it could go (24mm), and shielded the rear LCD of the camera from the direct sunlight, and stood on my tippy-toes to see the composition on the rear LCD. I used a fairly small aperture, which combined with the 24mm focal length gave me a fairly deep depth-of-field.

The musicians that Mitch Brookman put onto this side of his Texas Moosicians cow are (from read to front): Selena, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Roy Orbison, and Billy Gibbons.

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was born in Lake Jackson, Texas, in 1971. According to Wikipedia, Selena was named the “top Latin artist of the ’90s” and “Best selling Latin artist of the decade” by Billboard for her fourteen top-ten singles in the Top Latin Songs chart, including seven number-one hits. In 1995, when Selena confronted the president of her fan club for embezzling money, the accused woman shot and killed Selena as the singer tried to flee.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas in October 1954. Stevie moved to Austin when he was 17 years old. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan play 3 or 4 times live – and it was up close and personal. He was the lead guitarist in a band called Paul Ray and the Cobras that played weekly out at the Soap Creek Saloon that used to be out west on Bee Caves Road in the mid-to-late 70’s. That joint could hold maybe 150 people, and we would sit at a table 20 feet from the band and drink beer by the pitcher…. A few people would dance, but almost everyone would just enjoy the music and stare at the band.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was a huge influence on my music listening. I still have several vinyl LPs, and a handful of CDs of his.

Stevie died in a helicopter crash along with 3 members of Eric Clapton’s band when leaving an outdoor concert in Wisconsin in August 1990.

Roy Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas in 1936. Wikipedia reports: Roy’s greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top Forty. … In 1988, he joined the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. Roy dies of a heart attack in December of that year, at the zenith of his resurgence.

I really liked the Traveling Wilburys, but the song that I still get chills when I hear it, is a song called Crying that Roy Orbison did as a duet with K. D. Lang in 1987. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it #69 on their list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. I don’t know about such rankings, but it is a beautifully powerful song.

William Frederick “Billy” Gibbons was born in the Tanglewood subdivision of Houston, Texas in December 1949. Billy is best known as the guitarist of the Texas blues-rock band ZZ Top.

The only time that I ever saw ZZ Top perform live was during their Worldwide Texas Tour at the 1974 Labor Day show at Texas Memorial Stadium here in Austin. The concert was the last to be held at the stadium for two decades, as the artificial turf was damaged by rowdy fans. Also performing at that show was Santana, Joe Cocker, and Bad Company. Jay Boy Adams and Jimmy Page also showed up to play. An aerial photograph of the crowd in the stadium was later used as the record sleeve for ZZ Top’s 1975 album Fandango!. If you ever see it, I’m sitting with my buddies on about the 35 yard line, southwest of mid-field, and yes, we were roasting in the mid-day Summer sun. :-)

When I look at the metadata embedded into the 5 photos that I took of Mitch Brookman’s cow named Texas Moosicians, I find that I was only there for 6 short minutes photographing it. It is simply amazing how such a work of art can bring back so many wonderful memories from decades ago.

The photos that I show here are not full of highly saturated colors, like most of the other cows that I was drawn to, but the colorful musicians shown on the sides of Texas Moosicians made this an easy choice to include it in my 2012 CowParade Austin calendar.

CowParade Calendar – October – Blazing Bovine

Today is October 1st, and if you have my 2012 CowParade Austin calendar, you probably flipped over to October, saw a very colorful cow, and headed on over to my blog site to see what the story is with the cow named Blazing Bovine, which was painted by Doug Naugle.

If you “dig” this cow, then you might also enjoy visiting Doug’s web site, which has the URL of “Dig Doug’s Art” in it, or you might want to check out his Facebook page.

On Doug’s web site, he says this about his art: “With my acrylic paintings, I like to create patterns out of chaotic lines while letting my subconscious be the guiding force. With bold bright colors and stark contrast the images buzz with electricity. The outcome of my work is like lightning striking the canvas and electrifying the soul.”

Blazing Bovine was on public display here in Austin, TX during August through October 2011 on the west side of South Congress Avenue, between Gibson St. and Elizabeth St. at Guero’s Taco Bar.

Unfortunately, I really don’t have much of a story to tell about my experience in photographing this cow.

This was the last one of eleven cows that Dad and I photographed on the morning of September 10, 2011. As a result, we didn’t get to Blazing Bovine until 11:30 AM, and the cloudless Texas sky had the direct, harsh sunlight doing some serious blazing of its own.

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This cow was positioned near the edge of a very busy sidewalk, with parked cars very close to it. The photo above was taken from the west side, and so this is the shady side of the cow. I did use my Canon 580EX II flash on top of my Canon 5D Mark II camera to take that photo. You can clearly see how close the parked cars were to it.

I was determined to get a photo of both sides of this cow, so I struggled around a bit and finally got my tripod positioned down between the parked cars and took this next photo of the sunny side of the cow.

Even though I was still very close to this 8 foot long cow, I did manage to back-up between the parked cars far enough to get my 24-105mm f/4.0 lens zoomed out to 55mm. (I was trying to avoid the perspective distortion that occurs from being too close – and using a wide anlge lens.)

The photo above was the one that I used for my calendar. Why did this cow end up as “Miss October”? Because the color scheme seemed to be a Halloween color scheme, with the strong blacks and brilliant orange.

In the bright sunlight, it is difficult to really see the picture on the LCD on the back of the camera, so just in case my first photo wasn’t exposed optimally, I went back to the other side of the cow. I dialed the flash exposure compensation down by -2/3 of a stop, and took this photo.

There is nothing appealing with having all of those parked vehicles immediately behind this (or any) cow, so I just made sure to get a photo of the plaque before we packed up our equipment and headed home for lunch.

We had only been there for 10 minutes, and I had spent the majority of that time simply waiting for people to get out of my way. Even then I never really got what I thought was a “great” photo of Blazing Bovine, but in the end, I did think that the photo that I took of the sunny side of the cow was worthy of being in my CowParade Austin 2012 calendar.

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CowParade Austin Calendar – September – Partying with Pi-COW-sso

If you have my 2012 CowParade Austin calendar, you probably flipped over to September, saw a very colorful cow, and headed on over to my blog site to see what the story is with the cow named Partying with Pi-COW-sso, which was painted by Allison Gregory.

I count 14 artists that painted 2 cows, no artist painted 3 cows, and Allison Gregory was the only artist to paint 4 cows! I thought I’d use this opportunity to show all 4 of her beautiful cows in this one post. As you will soon see, Allison not only produced in quantity, she also excelled in quality!

You can visit Allison’s web site here, and you can see what she has to say about her herd of cows here.

Besides at the Preview Party in late July 2011, the first time that Dad and I found one of Allison’s cows on public display, it was on the very hot morning of August 20, 2011. It was a cow named Partying with Pi-COW-sso, and it was on display of the front lawn of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Obviously this cow’s name involves a play on words involving the famous artist Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973).

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This was the same bright, direct sunlight that I talked about in my previous post about the cow named Cowmaro.

I really liked the bright colors of this cow, but didn’t like how the harsh mid-day Texas sun was washing out those colors.

The next time we found one of Allison’s cows was 2 weeks later, on September 3, 2011. We found 2 of them that morning. The first one was named A MOO-sical MOO-saic.

This was one of only a handful of cows in the entire herd that were in the laying down position.

This colorful cow was located on the west side of Congress Avenue, just south of 6th Street, and at the front entrance of One American Center

Even at 9:35 AM, the Texas sun was wreaking havoc with my attempts to photograph the left side of this cow. When I went around to the cow’s right side, it was in the shadows, so I put on my external speedlite and took this photo.

I would have loved to had the opportunity that Kirk Tuck had to photograph a cow such as this using studio strobes and white seamless background. All of the specular highlights from the reflections on this cow really do an injustice to Allison’s work of art.

About 40 minutes later, we found Allison’s cow named “A Psy-COW-delic COW-ssword Puzzle”.

There is a discrepancy in how this cow’s name appears on the plaque underneath the cow, and how Allison spells it on her web site. The plaque uses the word “Crossword”, but her web spells it “COW-ssword”. I’ll assume that the plaque is incorrect.

This cow was located at 419 Colorado St. – at Emmis Radio (KBPA).

Wedging myself right up against the corner of the building, and looking at the cow from the other side, the bright background was incredibly bright. I dialed down the exposure compensation by 1 full stop, and took the next photo. I still had to use some Highlight Recovery (+20 in Lightroom 3) to somewhat tame the very bright background.

The next Saturday morning, September 10, 2011, about 10:30 AM, we found Allison’s cow named “MOO-sy In the Sky with Diamonds”. (I’m sure that’s a play on words from the title of a Beatles song from their psychedelic era.)

This cow was located at East 1st Street & San Jacinto Blvd. – at front entrance to The Four Seasons Hotel. There were a lot of cars, patrons, and bell hops between this cow and the front entrance, which made it difficult to get a photo of this cow without distracting cars or people behind it. I sort of got out in the drive between 2 cars and took this photo with a very bright background. I did use the Adjustment Brush to bring down the exposure by ¾ of a stop on the white car and pavement to the right of the cow.

After the car in front of me moved on, I was able to move a few feet to my right to get this photo with a somewhat more pleasing background. I still had to resort to using the Adjustment Brush to reduce the exposure of much of the bright pavement behind the cow by 4/5 of a stop.

After standing in the direct, hot Texas sun for about 4 minutes, I finally had a very brief moment where there were no people, and only the front of one car protruding into the background. This was my only shot from this side of the cow that was worth keeping.

It was a week later, on September 17, 2011 when we once again ran into Partying with Pi-COW-sso at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

This time the light was much more favorable. Even though it was 11:05 AM, it was overcast, and so the sunlight was very diffused. Here you can see the base of the large Texas Star behind the cow. This is the photo that I used for “Miss September” in my CowParade Austin 2012 calendar.

As you can see, Allison Gregory uses bright, bold colors. Her use of pseudo-psycheledic patterns and colors really seem to draw me in – about like a moth attracted to a porch light. I personally thought that all 4 of her cows were outstanding works of art!

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CowParade Austin Calendar – August – Got Color?

For the 45 of you that have my 2012 CowParade Austin calendar, today you probably flipped it over to the month of August and saw the photo above and then thought that you’d head over to my web site to find out more about “Miss August”.

This cow is named “Got Color?”, the artist is Robert R. (Bob) Jones, and the financial sponsor was Milton Verret. Got Color? was on public display in east Austin on Angelina St. (approx. 6 blocks east of I-35) between East 11th St. and East 12th St. at the George Washington Carver Museum.

I wish that I could tell you more about this cow, or about Bob Jones, but my investigations have pretty much come up empty-handed. Even at the CowParade Austin website, which is still up and running, hovering your mouse over the “About” link, and the selecting “Artists” from the resultant drop-down menu, doesn’t help much. It lists Bob’s website as, but that site seems to be a placeholder for future use. Google and Bing searches do not turn up anything, either. It’s almost as if he doesn’t really exist….

That’s too bad, as I really wanted to give Bob credit for his beautiful artwork. Of all 74 CowParade Austin cows, this one is probably my favorite!

Dad and I had a list of several cows that we wanted to hunt down and shoot that day, and this was the 5th one that we got to late in the morning of August 20, 2011. It was 10:55 AM, and I did my usual custom white balance setting in the camera (using a neutral gray card), and then taking a photo of the ColorChecker Passport – just to make sure the colors were correct in post processing.

Obviously, with a cow named Got Color?, I knew that I had to get them all displayed correctly!

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As you can see by the hard shadow, the sun was almost directly above us, with the left side of the cow in direct sunlight, and the right side of the cow in shadows. The cow was positioned in the middle of a large area of stark concrete walkway. I think that helped the lighting on the cow, as the sidewalk was acting like a giant bounce card!

All of these photos were taken with the camera on my sturdy Gitzo tripod. I was shooting in Aperture Priority mode, the ISO was set to 100, and I was using the 24-105mm f/4.0 lens with a circular polarizer.

I really liked how the cow’s tail was a paint brush. Check out that rainbow udder!

Since the right side of the cow was the shady side, I did use my 580 EX II speedlite on the camera (oh no!) as a fill flash.

The fill flash did cause a hotspot reflection on the shoulder of the cow in the above photo.

OK, now that I had circled the cow once, it was time to get “artistic”, so I got down low, zoomed the lens to 35mm, and took my favorite shot of the series.

To get the maximum depth of field (front to back in focus), I set the aperture to f/22, which resulted in a rather slow shutter of 1/15th of a second, even in the bright summer sunlight. That was fine with me, since I was using a tripod.

The photo above is the one that I chose to put in my calendar. Since it was near the end of the month of August when I took the photo, and for no other reason, that’s why she ended up as “Miss August”.

There were a few smaller details on this cow that I thought were particularly clever, so I moved in closer to photograph them. I kept the aperture at f/22 for the next two shots.

Behind the cow’s left ear, was a crayon sharpener!

And behind the cow’s right ear was another type, which looks like an old pencil sharpener – with a razor blade to shave the pencil to a point.

Lastly, I took the requisite photo of the cow’s name plate at 11:08 AM, just 14 minutes after arriving at the museum.

I don’t have much else to add, other than to state once again that this was one of my favorite cows of the entire heard!