CowParade Austin Calendar – April – CowBella

The “April Cow” in my 2012 calendar is the gracefully beautiful CowBella. The artist who painted CowBella is Jan Heaton, and she was sponsored by The Leipsner Family.  CowBella was on display at West 2nd Street & Lavaca Street – at The W Hotel here in Austin.  You will definitely want to read this post to the end, as I asked the artist Jan Heaton if she would like to participate in this post!

The morning of Sept. 03, 2011 was very busy for Dad and I as we photographed most of the CowParade Austin cows in the center of downtown Austin within 4 hours. The EXIF metadata embedded in the photos reveals that my first photo of CowBella was taken at 10:52 AM, and the last one was taken just 5 minutes later at 10:57 AM. By that time the sun had risen pretty high in the still-summer sky.

Fortunately, CowBella was located on the south side of a wide support column at The W Hotel, so she was still completely in the shade. That was the good news. What wasn’t very good (for the photographer) was that the bright sunlit sidewalk was getting very close to CowBella, and I would only be able to photograph one side of this beautiful cow.

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You can see the bright sunlight washing out a step in the sidewalk in the lower left corner of this photo. I suppose I could have done something in Photoshop to eliminate that, but I wasn’t planning on submitting this photo to any contest or anything….

After taking the “broadside” photo above, I moved a bit to my left and to where I could see some of the front of CowBella’s face.

Now you can see the bright sunlight both in front and behind the cow. I did use the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom to bring the exposure down in both of those areas by 2/3 of a stop. This is the photo that Barb and I chose for the “April Cow” in the calendar.

OK, so I moved a little further to my left to get a “front shot” of CowBella. I really like the way that Jan painted the eyes on CowBella.  It looks like she’s looking at me looking at her!

The “tricky” part of making this photo was getting the tremendous amount of depth-of-field. Everything from CowBella’s nose, all the way back to the buildings over her head are in focus. That requires a small aperture opening (high f/stop number) and a wide angle lens. For this photo, I used an aperture of f/20 and a focal length of 45mm (on a full-frame sensor camera).

Now I had 3 areas of the photo with bright sunlight to deal with: in front of CowBella in the lower left corner, directly above her head, and the sidewalk and building behind her. Once again I used the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom to reduce the Exposure in 2 of these 3 areas: -0.4 stops in the lower left corner, and -0.43 stops in the sky directly above her head. (I did not need to touch the buildings above her head, because the sides of those buildings were also in the shade.) I also got that splash of sunlight on the circular column right above where CowBella’s right horn meets her head.

I really liked the way that CowBella was “looking at me”, and so this photo was paired up with another cow that was “looking at me” on the front cover of the calendar. That other cow is Mooquet, who was painted by Terrell Powell, and was sponsored by Breed & Co. (That is the only photo of Mooquet in the entire calendar.)

Now I have never met Jan Heaton, but we do have a mutual good friend, Barb Huffman. When I first took my photos of CowBella, I had Barb forward them to Jan. She responded that she liked them (she was just being polite). After we had the 2012 calendars printed, we gave one to Barb Huffman, and asked her to give another one to Jan Heaton when she got a chance. As a result, I again heard from Jan that she liked it (again she was being polite!). Since I now had Jan’s email address, I asked her if she would like to contribute anything to my “Cow of the Month” post – since it was her cow!

Jan very quickly responded, and here is what she graciously provided for you:

Hi Gregg:
Happy to participate. Here is my press info on CowBella!

About CowBella
One year ago, professional artist Jan Heaton visited Umbria, Italy.
The region’s spectacular art inspired her to create a series of watercolor paintings titled Tranquillo.
Translating the serenity of the paintings to a three dimensional cow seemed like a natural fit.
CowBella’s design is inspired by the intricate indigo hued ceramics of Deruta, Italy.
Her design was painted entirely with watercolor brushes, and varied transparent color glazes of one blue pigment color only.
In the process of designing and painting CowBella the artist became quite attached to this sweet heifer.

CowBella’s Measurements
Height (including horns): 57”
Neck: 42”
Waist: a petite 83”
Length: (nose to tail): 95”
Hoof Size: a dainty 5”
Weight: 100 #
BMI:19.6 (No added growth hormones.)

About Jan Heaton
Jan’s paintings offer a personal viewpoint that celebrates nature, and then abstractly reaches beyond the obvious.
Heaton’s watercolors are inspired by the structure, color, line and pattern of elements in nature that are often overlooked.
Her work isolates details and exposes the viewer to an everyday object or place seen from a new perspective.
She incorporates her background in calligraphy and graphic design to create sensuous organic forms.
Jan is a faculty member of the Austin Museum of Art School, and a Signature Member of the National Watercolor Society.
Jan’s artwork is represented by art dealers in Austin, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Laguna Beach,
London, and San Miguel, Mexico. In Austin Heaton’s artwork is represented at Wally Workman Gallery.
Additional info on the artist can be found on her website,

So there you have “the complete story” on CowBella. Be sure to visit Jan’s web site and check out her remarkable works of art!

Patterns Etched in Copper

Here are several photographs that I took last week of interesting patterns etched in copper on some printed circuit boards that I have designed over the years. The metal doesn’t have the appearance of the familiar color of a “copper penny” for two reasons. First, a copper oxidizes and tarnishes rather quickly, so the exposed copper on a printed circuit board is plated with some other non-oxidizing metal. Second, a copper penny is an metal alloy that doesn’t oxidize anything like pure copper does.

The photo above has a tin-lead solder finish over the exposed copper, but all of the remaining printed circuit boards in this post used a gold finish.

These photos were all taken by using a 100mm macro lens, with the image captured on the camera sensor very close to the actual size (1:1 magnification). I used two studio strobe lights, in 10″ x 36″ strip boxes brought in very close (less than a foot) on both sides, aimed at 45 degrees from the camera. I then used a piece of common notepad paper directly behind the subject (just outside of the frame) to bounce light back into the scene.

People aren’t very used to seeing bare printed circuit boards before the electronic components are solder to them.

The photo above is actually a lighter color of green than all of the other boards shown in this post. You can have your printed circuit boards (PCBs) fabricated in many different colors, including red, black, blue, etc., but green is by far the most common color.

These two rounded traces are a special RF type of signal known as a co-planar wave guide.

Here are two land patterns that are common.  The four sided one on the left is for a package type known as a Thin Quad Flat Pack (TQFP). The one on the right is for a rather large Ball Grid Array (BGA) package.

To the left of this BGA are two discrete high-speed DDR memory chips.

This footprint is for a very special type of Quad Flat Pack. The center pad is Ground, while the rectangular shapes surrounding it are for the various voltages that this chip requires. The tiny squares on the perimeter of this footprint are for attaching the actual signals of the chip to the board.

So, I’ve managed to keep my engineering role out of my web site up until this point. This post isn’t about my engineering, though; but rather the photographing of it.

Wildflowers in March

We’ve had a mild winter, combined with more than average rainfall. As a result, the wildflowers in Austin are popping up everywhere!  Dad and I went out to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center this morning to take pictures of whatever we could find.

I put my circular polarizer on my 24-105mm f/4 lens, and used my Lastolite 48″ Tri-Grip 1 Stop Diffuser immediately above the flowers that I photographed.  This is not my specialty in photography, but I certainly enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers on a gorgeous day. I hope that you enjoy seeing them too!

The next two photos are of the same scene. The first one has a pretty shallow depth of field, while the second one increases it.

The next two photos also play with depth of field. The first one has a pretty shallow depth of field, while the second one increases it.

The next two photos also play with depth of field. The first one has a pretty good depth of field, while the second one intentionally kept it to be rather shallow.

This next flower is a very rare giant metal species….

I hope you enjoyed seeing the wildflowers!

Austin Sunset Sequence

The photo above was taken on 2/3/2009 at 6:43:57 PM.

Here’s the sequence of photos that were taken before and after that photo. I had my tripod set up right next to the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue, and the camera was pointed towards the northeast. These photos were taken with a camera that I no longer have; my trusty old Canon 5D. For all of these photos, the ISO was set to 100, the aperture stayed at f/11, and only the shutter times were varied. Focal length of the 24-105mm zoom lens was set at 40mm.

The official sunset in Austin that particular day was 6:10 PM.

2/3/2009, 5:37:19 PM

2/3/2009, 5:53:47 PM

2/3/2009, 5:59:47 PM

2/3/2009, 6:08:52 PM

Official Sunset is 6:10 PM

2/3/2009, 6:17:13 PM

2/3/2009, 6:23:04 PM

2/3/2009, 6:30:12 PM

2/3/2009, 6:37:27 PM

2/3/2009, 6:42:58 PM

2/3/2009, 6:49:20 PM

2/3/2009, 6:55:17 PM

2/3/2009, 6:59:24 PM

Good night, and I hope you enjoyed the show.  I hope that you will click on the “Leave a Reply” link below and let me know if you like this type of post. Thanks!

Colorful Umbrellas

It’s been raining for days here in Austin.  That’s great, as we really, really need it – especially Lake Travis. We have right at 2 inches in our rain gauge out on our patio now.  That’s the accumulation for the last 3 days.  The rain is very much welcomed and needed, but it has been very dreary to be outside for the last few days. Sort of leads a person to cabin fever.

The photo above has nothing to do with the rain in Austin right now. It’s just one of my favorite colorful photos.  After the dreary, rainy days I just needed something colorful to cheer things up a bit around here!  This photo was taken last August in Jamaica. They are some vendors who rent “sticky shoes” at Dunns River Falls. What ‘s that?

Dunns River Falls is a section of a river that cascades over a series of rocks while dropping a hundred feet or more in elevation. Someone thought that it might be great fun to “walk up” this rocky stretch of a river. Somehow that got turned into a very popular tourist attraction.

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Now you know why the vendors make a good living renting out “sticky shoes”!

Barb and I didn’t get into the water. We simply walked up and down the stairs next to this mayhem and took pictures.

I didn’t mean to get into a story about Dunn River Falls in Jamaica…. I just wanted to post something colorful to cheer up everyone while the rain continues to fall.  The good news about this rainfall is that we should have a very nice wildflower season this year!

Hey maybe just the act of making this post has helped. I think it’s actually starting to get sunny outside right now.  I think I’ll get cleaned up, grab my camera, and head outside for the afternoon!