Category Archives: Events

Photos of the people and places of social gatherings.

Marcia Ball at The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar


Well, it has been quite a while since I put up my last post here – over 6 weeks, actually. A lot has happened, but I am not interested in writing a 2000 word blog post filling in that 6 week gap….  However, something happened in the last day that has brought me back to my keyboard, where I finally feel that I have something meaningful to say, and to show you. (But you have to read to the end to know what that is.)

Since this web site is dedicated to “Gregg’s Adventures in Learning Photography”, I must mention that after weeks of debating in my own head, I took the plunge and on December 14th, Barb and I headed on down to Precision Camera here in Austin, and bought the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera along with two new Olympus lenses: the 12-40mm f/2.8 and the 75mm f/1.8.

After a full week of evenings sitting around reading the manual and trying out all of the settings and (way too many) menu options, it was time to take this new camera out and start shooting with it! Every December, for the past 7 years, we have met some of our good friends at a local restaurant for a meal and then afterwards we head over to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and enjoy seeing a local Austin band perform in a rather intimate setting.

This year we met our friends at Threadgill’s Restaurant on Riverside Drive for brunch/lunch on Sunday morning, December 22, 2013. We then drove drove the 2 blocks over to the Palmer Events Center, where the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has been held for the last 4 or 5 years.

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is one of those things that helps “keep Austin weird“. It is a place where all sorts of artists come together to sell their wares to those who are shopping for different or unusual Christmas presents.


As a means to help draw in more shoppers, they have local musicians perform 2 or 3 times a day. The talent that they bring in is great! In the photo above, you can see the colored backdrop of the small stage where the musicians play. (That photo was handheld with a shutter speed of 1/13th of a second!)

We came specifically to see Marcia Ball play.

When we arrived, the band named Sons of Fathers was still performing their set, so I wandered over toward the stage just to have a look.


I had set the ISO to 800 and the aperture to f/2.8, and since I was shooting in aperture priority mode, the camera would choose the shutter speed, while I just had to change the exposure compensation setting – which is very easy to do with the EVF (electronic view finder) and Olympus’s Highlight and Shadow information display.


Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

The camera was choosing a shutter speed of 1/30th or 1/40th of a second, and I knew that the 5-axis image stabilization would allow me to shoot even slower, so I never saw the need to increase the ISO above 800.


I enjoyed the Sons of Fathers enough that I bought their most recent CD, “Burning Days”!  After Sons of Fathers left the stage, there was nearly an hour before Marcia Ball’s show was to begin. Even so, the best that we could do to get 5 seats together was on the 4th row. Thankfully, I got a seat on the center aisle.

David Carroll, the bass player, was the first musician to get setup and work with the sound board guy.


Marcia Ball is an outstanding piano and keyboard player. I have seen her several times over the past 25 years or so, and she always delivers a lively, energetic performance.


For the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar performances though, she does not bring her regular band for the show, but always invites other musicians to perform with her. (I distinctly remember a “Pianorama” show a few years back.) This year she had invited not only David Carroll, but Chris Gage and Christine Albert (aka Albert and Gage), and Sarah Elizabeth Campbell. We did now know this before we saw them come out onto the stage, but we were thrilled! We have been to 4 or 5 Albert and Gage shows over the years, and have ALWAYS enjoyed them immensely.


That’s Chris Gage with the electric guitar, and his wife (I’m pretty sure…) Christine Albert on the acoustic guitar.


I only brought the 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, but I was wishing I had also brought my new 75mm f/1.8 lens. The photo above was made by a very tight crop of a much larger field of view photo.

Here’s the entire band, including Sarah Elizabeth Campbell (in the center).


I understand that Christine Albert, David Carroll, and Sarah Elizabeth Campbell had a regular gig playing together at El Mercado restaurant on Monday evenings.


My last sentence was correct in using the past tense. I took these photos on Sunday, December 22nd. Christine, David, Elizabeth, with guests Slaid Cleaves, and Butch Hancock (who was in my 32 year old slide at the Armadillo World Headquarters blog post) played at El Mercado on Monday evening. Sadly, yesterday morning, the day after Christmas, Sarah Elizabeth Campbell passed away after a battle with liver cancer (obituary is here).

This summer, while on our cruise to The Bahamas, I read Zack Arias’s excellent book “Photography Q&A”. On page 62 Zach writes “This may sound weird – every time I photograph someone I think about their funeral. It is my goal to get a great photo of whoever is in front of my camera, one that is worthy of being enlarged and placed next to their casket. Everyone needs a great portrait. Everyone is going to leave it behind. The portrait that gets left behind needs to be the best that it can be. I’m serious; I think about this on every shoot.”

I think about those words often. I thought about them as I took our usual family photos during Christmas. I didn’t think about such wise words as I played with my new camera at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. I had no idea that I was photographing someone who would no longer be with us less than 90 hours later. That is a haunting thought.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth. Rest in peace.

Thank you for visiting my (infrequent) blog.

Spinning the State Flag of Texas


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.


Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

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!


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


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


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!


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


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


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


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

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Zilker Kite Festival


Last Sunday, March 3, 2013, was the 85th annual Kite Festival held at Zilker Park here in Austin, TX. Barb had an engagement with one of her friends for that afternoon. Since the weatherman said it was going to be a spectacular spring day, I headed downtown to catch the shuttle.

I was travelling light. I brought only my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, with the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, a circular polarizer, and my hat. No camera bag, no tripod, not even a spare battery.

I only had to stand in line for 45 minutes before boarding the yellow school bus. The ride to Zilker Park took more than 30 minutes, in what would normally be a 10 minute ride at 1:00 PM on any other Sunday afternoon. I took the photo above just moments after I got off of that school bus. Even though the trees still haven’t yet leafed out, it definitely felt like springtime, and it was a great day to be outside!

Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

My first reaction was to get close and try to photograph some of the more interesting kites.


Zilker Park is just across the Colorado River (and slightly west) of downtown Austin. As you can see, there were a lot of people and a lot of kites!


It was definitely a warm, springtime day. The TV news and the newspaper both reported that 20,000 people made it out to the park that afternoon.


The circular polarizer can make the blue sky a unnaturally dark. I usually tried to rotate is so that the sky wouldn’t appear that way, but sometimes the action just happened so fast….


There were hundreds, if not a thousand kites in the air simultaneously. With that many kites in close proximity, there were bound to be some entanglements.


Some kites just never seemed to get off of the ground – it was usually the ones without a tail that didn’t seem to take right off.


Note the condition of the grass in that previous photo. While I wouldn’t say that dust was a problem for the people, but with all of the wind, the dust that was in the air was quickly accumulating all over my camera – and especially the front of the polarizer. I kept blowing it off. I was glad that this camera and lens combination is supposed to be weatherproof. I was also glad that I had only brought one lens, as there was no way that I was going to be changing lenses under these conditions.

This tree seemed to be a very popular final resting place for many of the kites. I was wondering just how many Charlie Browns came out to the park today.


After a while, I found the official Kite Contest Field, where people would enter into actual kite flying contest. I think they have different contests for smallest kite, steepest angle of flight, a 50 yard dash (where you kite must remain in the air). When I got there, they were about to start the contest for the largest kite.


I positioned myself with the downtown buildings as my backdrop and waited for that black “balloon kite” to take off. This is as high as I saw it get.


While I was standing there watching that black blob of a “puffer fish”, I noticed another animal was watching me. The owner told me that this is an African Grey Parrot.


Everyone was watching that black balloon kite roll around in the dusty field, including this other kite!


After an hour and a half, I decided to start heading out of there. But first, just one more look northeast towards the downtown buildings, with all of the kites up in the air.


During my one hour wait in line to get back onto the shuttle bus, I took this parting shot looking to the northwest.


It was certainly fun to get out and enjoy the weather, photographing something completely new to me.

Thank you for visiting my blog!

The Austin Lounge Lizards at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_111This blog post will be quite a bit different from my previous posts – and it might not stay up long. If asked to, I will remove the photos of the band, but I’ll just leave my story here in place.

Barb and I have a social group that consists of us and two other couples. We get together every 4 to 6 weeks and rotate whose house we have dinner and play table games at. That is, except during December. Everyone is always so busy during that month that we don’t want to add any extra burden on whose turn it would be. Instead, every year, for the past 6 years, we have met at a local restaurant for a meal and then afterwards we head over to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar and enjoy seeing a local Austin band perform in a rather intimate setting.

This year we met our friends at Threadgill’s Restaurant on Riverside Drive for brunch on Sunday morning, December 16, 2012. We were finished eating by 11:00 AM, so we drove the 2 blocks over to the Palmer Events Center, where the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has been held for the last 3 or 4 years.

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is one of those things that helps “Keep Austin Weird“. It is a place where all sorts of artists come together to sell their wares to those who are shopping for different or unusual Christmas presents.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_022As a means to help draw in more shoppers, they have local musicians perform 2 or 3 times a day. The talent that they bring in is great!

In the past, we have seen some outstanding shows by Marcia Ball, Albert and Gage, Jimmie LaFave, Eliza Gilkyson, and one my very favorites – Ray Wylie Hubbard!

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_021I have brought a camera to a couple of the shows in the past. I have some pretty good photos of Eliza Gilkyson (2010) and Ray Wylie Hubbard (2011) that I took using my Canon PowerShot G12. In 2009, I used my BlackBerry to get a few shots of Jimmie LaFave, but the image quality was pretty darn bad.

Eliza Gilkyson

Eliza Gilkyson – December 2010



Ray Wylie Hubbard – December 2011

After buying my Olympus OM-D E-M5 this past May, I have been able to take what I consider a “nice camera” with me into places that I never would have attempted to take my Canon 5D or 5D Mark II into. Maybe you read my earlier posts about the Tour of Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Complex, my adventures at Ruidoso Downs and Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub in Ruidoso, New Mexico, and the Univ. of Texas vs. Wyoming football game. I am rather certain that I would not have been allowed to bring in a large DSLR camera into any of those places, and take the types of photos that I did manage to get with my little Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera.

In previous years, I never tried bringing in either my Canon 5D or Canon 5D Mark II into the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. I just didn’t believe that I would be allowed to bring it in. On the other hand, when I did bring in my Canon PowerShot G12, I made sure I had it hanging from the strap around my neck – and in plain sight. No one said anything at all about it – not as I entered the building, or when I used it during the show.

So it was with all of this in mind that this year I thought I would see if I would be allowed into the event with my Olympus camera hanging around my neck. If not, I would only have to walk a few hundred yards (meters) back to the car to hide the camera and then return to the Bazaar.

Now I knew that the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens wasn’t going to be very useful in this environment. I was going to need some lenses that would allow in much more light than that otherwise very useful zoom lens would. I put the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens onto the camera, and wrapped the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 and the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 lenses into some Tenba 10 inch square Messenger Wraps, and dropped them into Barb’s suitcase-sized purse.

As we entered the front door, I scanned the lobby for any “No Photography” signs, and didn’t see any. We purchased our two US$8.00 tickets, which I’m pretty sure the only words printed on them were “Admit One”. We walked all of 8 feet (< 3m) from the ticket counter to the person that we handed our ticket to. Everyone was very friendly, and nobody said anything about the camera hanging around my neck.

It was only a few minutes after 11:00 AM, and while the shopping was all open for business, the band wasn’t going to start until 12:00 noon. We headed straight for the area where the stage was. We were in luck, as nobody was sitting in any of the chairs yet.  Barb went straight to the front row and claimed 6 chairs just to the right of the center isle!

The photo below was taken right at 11:30 AM, as the Austin Lounge Lizards were performing their sound check. I show you this photo just to get the “big picture” setting for where we were. Notice the person sitting on the left side of this photo with the orange cap? That chair on the front row, in front of his cap, is where I would be sitting for the show. Barb is the blonde in the front row, and those are our friends Diane and Stan sitting next to her. (Holly and Bryan had to head back to Threadgill’s where they had accidently left their credit card…)

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_020The photo above was taken with the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens. I had the ISO cranked up to 1600, and had the aperture almost wide-open at f/1.8. I had the exposure compensation cranked down to – 2/3 stop. Even with all of that, the shutter was open for a relatively long 1/20th of a second. The 5-axis in-body image stabilization of this little Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera is incredible!

I went to the restroom, just to make sure I wouldn’t need to go later, during the show. On my way back, I stopped to talk to the person manning the sound controls. After a few moments, she walked off to take care of something. Even though the lighting was very dim, I thought the sound board looked pretty cool, so I snapped this photo.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_0231/20 second, f/2.8, ISO 1600 and the sliders in the lower left are due to the depth of field, not due to camera movement during the 1/20 second.

OK, now it’s show time!  The next photo was taken with the Olympus 12mm lens and the aperture set to f/2.8. 1/50 second and ISO 1600. I was sitting in my chair, and I had the camera to my eye. The electronic viewfinder made it pretty easy to tell that I needed some negative exposure compensation to keep the black curtain background black. The 12mm lens could get all four musicians into the frame of the photo, but I could tell right away that it wasn’t going to get in close enough for some really interesting photos….

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_027Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

The Austin Lounge Lizards are a very talented band! They have been around for quite some time, and have gone through a few personnel changes. The current members, from left to right, are: Conrad Deisler (guitar and mandolin), Bruce Jones (bass guitar), Hank Card (rhythm guitar), and Darcie Deaville (fiddle and mandolin). They play some very lively songs that always contain funny lyrics or satirical views. Every song makes you smile – big – and most of them actually cause you to laugh!

During the “sound check” photo that I showed earlier, they were playing a song that explained what was the cause of the sorry state of the American economy today. That song is entitled “Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs”.  Yep, I think that pretty well set the tone for the rest of the show!

After you finish reading the rest of my post, you really should go check out their web site by clicking here, and then clicking on the “Listen” link right above their group photo (but don’t select “Lyrics” under “Listen” – just click on “Listen”). Scroll down to just the 2nd song (highlighted in purple) and you can listen to “Teenage Immigrant Welfare Mothers on Drugs”.  That’s pretty representative of the type of energy that they produced on stage – just a few feet in front of us!

While you are there, be sure to check out the songs “Old Blevins”, “Stupid Texas Song”, and even “Shallow End of the Gene Pool”. Great music with funny lyrics!

OK, so enough of my ramblings… Let me show you some of the photos that I took. Remember this, though. I never stood up, I remained in my chair, and I didn’t dare use a flash!  I put on the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens, set the ISO on the camera to 1600, and took a photo of each member of the band.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_033Darcie Deaville on fiddle – 45mm, f/2.0, 1/60 second, ISO 1600

I left the White Balance setting on the camera at Auto. They all came out very close to the Tungsten setting in Lightroom, so I took the average of all the temperature and tint values, and set every photo in this series to the same values (temp = 2750, tint = +5).

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_036Bruce Jones on bass – 45mm, f/3.2, 1/80 second, ISO 1600

I set the auto focus point to be the area dead-center in the middle of the frame. I would aim the center of the view finder (the frame) right at the musician’s eye, push the shutter button down halfway (which would lock the focus and set the exposure), then move where the camera was pointed to that would give me a more pleasing composition (i.e. not having their face always being in the center of the photo).

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_038Conrad Deisler on guitar – 45mm, f/1.8, 1/60 second, ISO 1600

I left the metering mode set to what Olympus calls “Digital ESP metering”, which is the same as what Canon calls “Evaluative” metering, and Nikon calls “Matrix” metering. That got me close to a “correct” exposure when I had pushed the shutter button halfway (to set the focus). From there I used the extremely useful “Highlight & Shadow Display” mode of the electronic view finder (EVF) to tell me how much exposure compensation to use to “fine tune” the exposure.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_043Hank Card on guitar – 45mm, f/1.8, 1/125 second, ISO 1600

On all four of the previous photos, I had dialed in -2/3 stop of exposure compensation, to keep the blacks in the background very near black. (I didn’t know it at the time, but I would later add back between +1/3 and +1/2 stop of exposure during post processing in Lightroom 4.3.)

What I did realize though, was that I was getting a faster shutter speed than I was expecting. I could drop my ISO to a lower sensitivity setting, which would result in less noise in the image, but it would also mean that I would be using a slower shutter speed. I have shot enough with this camera to know that the image stabilization would allow me to do that. I would just have to time my shots to the moments when the musicians wouldn’t be moving quickly – or that movement would be blurry in the photo.

OK, so I dropped the ISO sensitivity from 1600 to 1000, and opened the aperture as far as I could, which is f/1.8 for the 45mm lens. After reviewing the photos later on my computer, I was really glad that I had changed the ISO to a lower setting. When viewing the images at 100% magnification on my 24″ monitor, the amount of graininess is much less, especially in the facial skin areas of the musicians. You probably cannot see the difference by viewing the small, highly compressed images here on my blog post, but the difference is certainly noticeable when viewed “large” (on my monitor and on 19″ prints).

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_055Hank Card on guitar – 45mm, f/1.8, 1/80 second, ISO 1000

Bio from their web site: Hank is one of the founding Lizards. He grew up in Oklahoma City, went to Princeton, where he met Conrad Deisler, and graduated from The University of Texas School of Law. Hank is one of the main songwriters of the Lizards.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_059Darcie Deaville on mandolin – 45mm, f/1.8, 1/50 second, ISO 1000

Bio from their web site: Starting at 16 as a street performer in Toronto, Darcie Deaville is an accomplished actor, singer, writer, producer, musical director and coach. She’s collaborated with artists including Ani Di Franco, Tom Paxton, Ray Wylie Hubbard, John McEuen, David Lindley, and Eliza Gilkyson. Darcie’s toured from the Yukon to the Yucatan and throughout Europe.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_066Darcie Deaville on fiddle – 45mm, f/1.8, 1/40 second, ISO 1000

Now you can clearly see the motion blur in the photo above, and it gives you a real sense of just how smoking hot of a fiddle player that Darcie is!

OK, that gets us to intermission, where I put the 12mm f/2.0 lens back on.12mm, f/3.2, 1/15, ISO 1000

I agreed with my previous assessment that even though I was very close to the stage, it was just too wide angle of a lens for this situation. I later learned something very valuable about this lens when I had this photo up on my computer monitor. Nothing in that photo is very sharp. It is supposed to be a very sharp lens. The depth of field on a wide angle lens usually extends from just a few feet away, all the way out to infinity. The aperture was set to f/3.2, which should give the equivalent depth of field that a 24mm lens set to f/6.4 on a full frame sensor camera would.

It should, but it wasn’t. What I later learned, by reading a review of this lens by Ming Thein, was that this particular model of lens has a ring around the barrel that you move back and forth to change from auto focus to manual focus mode. As you are putting this lens onto the camera, it is very easy to move that ring back towards the camera, which puts it into manual focus mode. That’s what happened, and I didn’t realize it until after I was at home.

Still during intermission, I changed back to the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_08125mm, f/2.0, 1/40, ISO 1000

I then wandered to the back row of the seating, and waited patiently in the small line to purchase CD and other souvenirs of the band. While I was standing there, I took this photo, looking back into the shopping Bazaar. You can see just how big of a place that we were in.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_08325mm, f/2.5, 1/25, ISO 1000

I bought two of the Austin Lounge Lizards’ CDs: Small Minds (1995) and Employee of the Month (1998). I’ve listened to them both several times now, as still enjoy them very much. I played them in the car when we went to Barb’s sister’s house the weekend after Christmas, and Barb quickly recognized the songs that we had heard them play live, just two weeks before hand. The lyrics just make you laugh out loud at times!

OK, intermission is now over, and the band is back on stage! With the 25mm lens, the field of view was now wide enough to get two musicians into the frame, so I took a few photos of the musicians in pairs.

First to my right….

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_085Hank Card and Darcie Deaville – 25mm, f/1.6, 1/60, ISO 1000

And then to my left.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_086Conrad Deisler and Bruce Jones – 25mm, f/1.8, 1/50, ISO 1000

I was pretty sure that I had at least a few good “keepers” by now, but just for good measure I put the 45mm lens back on and occasionally took a shot when things seemed to get “interesting”.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_097Conrad Deisler on mandolin – 45mm, f/1.8, 1/50 second, ISO 1000

Bio from their web site: Another founding Lizard, Deisler has been monkeying around with music and electronics since the first grade. One of his earliest memories involves singing along with his mother’s Electrolux vacuum cleaner. His first paying gig came in eighth grade. In 1974, he woke up at the Union Grove Fiddlers’ Convention in North Carolina. Since then, he has been devoted to bluegrass and (real) country music. Influences include George Jones and Spike Jones, Frank Zappa and John Hartford, and Bela Bartok and Emmylou Harris.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_098Conrad Deisler in ski mask and on guitar – 45mm, f/1.8, 1/60 second, ISO 1000

The Austin Lounge Lizards really have some unique entertaining talents!

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_103Bruce Jones on bass guitar – 45mm, f/1.8, 1/125 second, ISO 1000

Bio from their web site: The newest Lizard is Bruce Jones, a Texas Songwriter who spent 16 years playing bass with Omar and the Howlers. This involved a lot of bad behavior, close calls and lucky breaks, including an album on CBS records and tours around North America and Europe with artists including Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Johnny Winter. In 2004, he released his first album of original songs, including “Fight Like a Girl,” which won Second Place in the Austin Songwriter’s Group Songwriting Contest in the “Rock” category. In 2008 he released another album of original songs called “Rough Tough Game”.

Lastly, this next photo with Bruce Jones really “getting down”, is one of my favorites of the whole bunch. I suppose that I could have cropped out Conrad and Hank, but in the end I chose not to do that.

20121216_Armadillo_Christmas_Bazaar_106Bruce Jones on bass guitar – 45mm, f/1.4, 1/100 second, ISO 1000

Man, Bruce has played with some GREAT Austin bands. Omar and the Howlers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Wow! I have at least 2 CDs from each of these three artists.

This post has taken me quite a while to put together. I went to the Austin Lounge Lizards web site and obtained their email addresses to contact them. On January 3rd, I sent a message requesting their permission to post these photos on my blog. After I didn’t get any response from them, I sent a follow-up message on January 7th. I never got a response to that request either. After another week, I had changed my thinking to “well, they didn’t say yes, but they certainly didn’t say no, either”. If I am ever contacted by the Austin Lounge Lizards asking me to remove their photos, I will do so without any hesitation. If you have read this far and you do not see the photos that I referred to in my blog post, now you know why you don’t see them!

I certainly hope that the photos stay. We really enjoyed the show, I continue to enjoy the CDs that I bought, and I hope that others that see this blog will someday go to an Austin Lounge Lizards concert. I am sure that you will enjoy the show as much as we did!

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Texas Longhorns vs. Wyoming Cowboys Football Game

On Sunday, September 2, 2012, Barb and I drove to northern Oklahoma to spend the week with my Dad, his brother, and his four sisters that all met in the little town of Beatrice, Nebraska (which they grew up near). I will probably make a post of that trip in a week or so. This is my explanation for why I didn’t have a new blog post last week.

The day before we left on our 780 mile (1255 km) drive, was the day of the first Texas Longhorn football game of the 2012 season. The University of Wyoming Cowboys were the visiting team.

I have had Longhorn football season tickets every year since 1984.  Every Saturday when the Texas Longhorns will be playing a football game, I go out to our front lawn to put out our spinner. Barb and I truly believe that the faster it spins, the more points the Longhorns will score in their game. 🙂

The University of Texas athletic department has a policy of “no professional cameras with interchangeable lenses”, which has always prevented me from taking a “real camera” – especially a DSLR. I have taken a camera to only a handful of games over the years. The last time I took a camera to a Texas football game, it was when Ohio State University came calling on September 9, 2006 for a night game (OSU won 24-7). The camera was a 4 Megapixel Olympus C-770 Ultra Zoom, and the auto white balance needed lots of color corrections later in Photoshop – due to the color of the stadium lights.

Now that I have the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, I thought that I would see if I could get into the stadium with it and a single 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 “kit” lens. I did, and here’s my story.

We usually meet our friend Greg Ringer about 1hour and 40 minutes before the game at the UT intramural fields where we get on the bus that will take us to the University of Texas campus.

The bus lets us off about 4 blocks north of the stadium, where we have to walk past all of the tailgaters.

Reminder: You can always view any photo at a larger size by just clicking on it. You will then need to use your browser’s “Back Button” to return to my story.

Playing with my camera, I ran a few yards ahead, and waited to snap this photo of Greg Ringer and my wife, Barb, as they caught up with me.

The Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium is just ahead, to the south. Our seats are in the upper deck on the west side. That is at the top of the white concrete portion on the right side in this photo.

Before we go into the stadium, we go to the alumni center, which is directly across the street from the stadium.

I rarely drink beer, but I almost always have a Shiner Bock before a home football game.

While drinking our beers, I raised my camera to take a photo of the west side of the stadium, and Greg decided that the silhouette of his hand needed to be in the photo….

After a beer (or two), we cross the street to enter the stadium. They inspect every single bag that people carry in (no backpacks are allowed). I decided that I might look more innocent if I simply wore my camera around my neck, rather that appear to trying to hide it in Barb’s bag with our seat cushions. The kid at the gate did give this camera and the rather long lens a very thorough look, but he never said anything to me. I acted as if I didn’t realize that he might not allow me to enter with it. I didn’t linger around while they inspected Barb’s bag. I kept moving, and didn’t give the inspector any extra time to think about my camera. (If he didn’t let me in, I would miss at least the 1st quarter of the game while I took the round-trip bus ride back our car at the intramural fields.)

We take the escalators up to the 11th floor.

When we got to the 11th floor, we walked over the wall that overlooks the campus. The sun will be setting just to the left of this photo.

We are about 15 minutes earlier than our normal arrival time – as I wanted to allocate a little time to walk around to take a few photos. We walk to the south of the upper deck (which is on the right side of this photo), and look down onto the field from the northwest corner of the stadium.

The field, and our seats (in the upper deck to the right) are already in the shade, but the seats on the east side of the stadium are still in direct sunlight – a very high contrast scene, which is difficult to photograph nicely.

I zoom my kit lens out as far as it will go, just to see how large the players will look. I don’t expect Sports Illustrated will be calling me anytime soon….

Looking across, I take a photo of the seats on the east side, and make sure that I get the part that lists the years that the Longhorns were the National Champions. The shadow of the west side stadium lights are beginning to crawl up the seats on the east side.

Since it is still nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit  (37.8 Celsius), we purchase 3 bottles of water. If you come down to the concession stand during the game, you can still see the game on the TV screen while you wait in line.

We head into the stadium, and walk up the 12 rows to our seats, where my crazy cousin Mike is already there. Mike is always early. Really early.

We are halfway up the upper deck, on the north 10 yard line. We never miss seeing a play, and even if we do, we can watch the replay on the giant TV in the south end zone. The clock under the TV is counting down the time until the game starts (26 minutes from now). The person in the center of the TV picture is Darrell Royal, who was the Longhorn football coach when they won the National Championship in 1963, 1969, and 1970. He was on a golf cart, waiting to be taken to the center of the field for the coin toss right before the start of the game.

Up until two photos ago, I had the ISO setting on the camera at 200, but now that everything of interest was in the shade, I changed it to 400 to gather one more stop of light.

I knew that the lighting was going to be changing on me a lot – from sunshine, to shade, to twilight, to stadium lights. Here is a look to the south from my seat that shows the evil stadium lights that I would have to deal with later.

Looking across the stadium, the shadow of the upper deck that I was seated in was quickly climbing up the seats on the east side.

People wear all sorts of strange items to show their support for the team.

Twenty minutes before the kick-off, the Longhorn Marching Band enters the stadium through the opening near the north end zone. Here they completely fill the end zone.

They begin to march, and quickly spread out and cover 50 yards of the field.

And then they get into the “UT emblem” formation.

When the band plays the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, we always sing out loud – and everyone else around us does too.

After the nation, the focus of attention changes to our state of Texas. We’ve got a huge state flag that they bring out and spin around before each and every game.

Next comes the school song, which is entitled “The Eyes of Texas”. The fans who are loyal to the school raise their arm and give the “Hook ’em Horns” sign while they sing the words to the song!

With less than 6 minutes before the game begins, the TV screen shows a live feed of the team as they exit the locker room area and prepare to enter the field. All of the players and the coaches swipe their fingers across the tip of one of the longhorns mounted on the wall near the door. (Does this look familiar?)

At the end of a rousing video on the giant TV, the team enters the stadium through a cloud of smoke. The first 3 players always carry the American and Texas flags.

At this point, the stadium is really rocking with excitement and the loud cheers!

The players run all the way to the north (opposite) end zone, where they kneel for a moment in prayer, if they choose to (and the vast majority of them do).

Time for the coin toss to determine which team will get the ball first, and which team will kick-off. They help Darrell Royal shuffle from the golf cart to the center of the field for the coin toss.

Play ball!  The football season is finally under way. Life is good!

As you can see, our seats are on the northern 10 yard line, but we see the entire field just fine.

Cousin Mike sits on the aisle. People walking up and down the stairs in the aisle only block our view of the extreme corner of the south end zone, but only when we are sitting down.

(Honey, Greg Ringer wanted me to take that photo. No, he double-dared me to. Really…)

Half way up the seats in the seats above the northern end zone, they list the years that Texas won the old Southwest Conference, which was dissolved when the Big 12 Conference was formed in 1996.

By now the shadow of the upper deck has climbed almost to the top of the seats on the east side.

Since the light is diminishing in intensity, I change the ISO setting on the camera to 640.

There is still some indirect sunlight coming from the sky, but the evil stadium lights are contributing a larger percentage of the light available.

I cannot see the sunset occurring behind me, but the view to the east is rather pretty, so I take a photo of it.

And again.

Twenty minutes later, the sun had pretty much set, and only the evil stadium lights were providing the illumination needed by the players, and my camera. I performed a custom white balance in the camera, and then took a photo of my ColorChecker Passport.

Here is a photo of Texas kicking an extra point after a touchdown.

At this point, I had increased the ISO setting to 800.

Across the way, I noticed that the moon was rising above the seats on the east side, but it was hiding behind the clouds. Here it finally poked out for just a little while.

Half time. The first band onto the field during half time is from the visiting school – if they bring one. The University of Wyoming marching band made the 1044 mile trip (1680 km).

Then comes “The Showband of the Southwest” – The Texas Longhorn Band.

Here they are, in the center of the field.

The next three photos are a sequence from the same original formation, where they write a cursive “Texas” on the field.

When the half time show is over, it’s time for the players to return from the locker room, which of course is done to great fanfare.

After half time, I changed the ISO setting to 1000.

Here was a play where the ball was on the field directly in front of us. Two players later, the Longhorns scored another touchdown.

By 9:18 PM, the moon had made it above the clouds on the horizon. I used the electronic viewfinder to know that an Exposure Compensation of -1 1/3 stops was needed.

Here’s a photo from sometime early in the 4th quarter, when Wyoming was on offense.

After the game, which Texas won by a score of 37 – 17, the players meet at the middle of the field to shake hands.

Moments later, the players head over to the north end zone, directly in front of the students and the band, and the band proceeds to play the school song, “The Eyes of Texas” for the last time of the evening.

Whenever the Longhorns win by more than 10 points or so, many of the fans leave before the end of the game (to avoid the traffic). We almost always stay until the very end – no matter what the score. (I can only remember leaving early twice in 28 years.)

I played with my camera while on the elevator ride down, and decided that I needed to bump up the ISO to 1600, so that I could keep the shutter speed at 1/25 th of a second. I hoped that the in-body image stabilization would do its magic – and it did.

After walking the 4 blocks back to where the bus let us off, we get into the short line to board the bus for the ride back to the intramural fields. This next photo was hand held with the shutter open for 1/5 th of a second.

This last photo, of the bus before our bus, was taken with the shutter open for 1/8 th of a second. That is still remarkable to me, as I could never do that with my Canon 5D Mark II camera!

I know that this story was very long, with a LOT of photos, so I tried to keep the number of words to a minimum. I thought about splitting it into 2 or 3 separate blog posts, but decided this was a story that would be hurt by doing so. I doubt that very many people have actually made it this far, but for those of you who did, I thank you for reading my blog!