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.



Stairs heading down.



Reflection of UT Tower


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


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.


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



The official name of the stadium.


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


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.


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.


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



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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Playing Around at the Playground

This has been a difficult week for me. Yesterday our company laid-off more than 50% of the employees. My boss told me on Monday that Thursday would be “the day”, and asked me to not talk about it. Just knowing about it before hand makes it more difficult. Myself, and the two people that report to me are still there, as are only 13 others. As a result, I’m not in a particularly creative mood to put together any sort of story for a blog post.

Last Saturday morning, on December 1st, the weather in Austin was very mild, and it was overcast, so I thought I’d take my little Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera with the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens with me on my usual normal neighborhood walk.

About 3/4 of a mile from our house, along Callanish Park Drive, is Mountain View Park, and within this park is a small playground area. Here are some photos that I took of the playground equipment.

The Tower

Curvey Stairs

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Aperture at f/6.3

Aperture at f/1.8

Aperture at f/1.8, Near Focus

Aperture at f/1.8, Far Focus

Red Tunnel

2nd Set of Equipment


Blue Spiral


Looking Back

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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!