Category Archives: Sports

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!

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!

Ruidoso Downs Horse Races

This post contains lots of photos, but I think that I need them all to tell the photography story that I want to tell. As you can see in the photo above, it was nearly 5 weeks ago on Friday, June 1, 2012 when Barb and I visited the Ruidoso Downs horse racing track in the town of Ruidoso, New Mexico.

I had never been to a horse race in my life, before this day, but many of the people that we had visited with that week in Ruidoso had highly recommended it. We had spent a pretty leisurely week up to that point, where I had spent most of my time studying the manual for my new Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera. We had only scheduled one “tourist activity” for each day, and today was going to be the horse races.Even though Barb had been there once before, many years ago, frankly, I had no idea what to expect.

Walking only a few yards from where I had taken the photo above (just off the highway), you can see the grandstands across the narrow valley at the base of this small mountain.

Helpful Hint:  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 Gregg’s story.

As we drove up their entrance drive, I just had to stop to take this photo showing the large bend of the oval dirt track.

I was rather surprised that there was no entrance fee, and that the parking was free, too. We only had to walk about 100 yards (meters) from the car to the closest end of the grandstand. That’s where the entrance to the Jockey’s Club was. I just assumed that the entrance that we went through in order to pay to get into the grandstand.

The friendly group at the door let me know that we were welcome to pay to come into the Jockey Club, but if we just wanted to get into the grandstand, we just needed to walk 20 yards to our right. We did exactly that, and I was completely surprised that we could just walk right in – for free – and sit wherever we wanted to!

We had arrived just as the first race of the day had finished. There is a 25 minute delay between each race. (I think there were going to be 9 races that afternoon.) During that delay, they water down the track, and then drag an implement behind a tractor to get the dirt just how they want it.

While we were waiting for the next race to begin, an usher asked to see our tickets. Tickets? What tickets?

I know that I had a dumb expression on my face as I told him that we never encountered anyone asking us to pay for a ticket. He told us that we were sitting in “Reserved Seating” and that if were welcome to sit in the bleachers down below – which were indeed free.

OK, so we moved about 10 feet closer to the dirt track, but our legs were in the direct sun.

And they’re off!  What the heck?  The next race had started and I hadn’t even prepared my camera! Just get what you can…. I raised my camera to my eye, saw the that Olympus instantly focused on the lead horse, so I snapped this photo just as they crossed the finish line!

Wow! We were 30 feet (10 meters) or so from the track, and you could FEEL the horses pounding the ground with their hooves!

Checking the OLED display on the back of my camera, I saw that I had indeed caught the lead horse just after it had crossed the finish line, but wait just a darned minute… horses do not have 8 legs!

Hmmm… The camera was in my default settings: ISO 200, f/8.0, aperture priority, which resulted in a shutter speed of only 1/160 second. No wonder that fast moving horse had 8 legs!

While the grounds keepers prepared the track for the next race, I had some time to think about which camera settings I wanted to change.

I had read in the camera owner’s manual that the camera could shoot 9 frames per second (fps), and this seemed like a great place to try that out! I also changed to Shutter Priority mode, and set the shutter speed to 1/1600 second. To keep a good depth-of-field I didn’t want a wide aperture, so I had to increase the ISO to 800 just to keep the aperture to f/10. I also changed the autofocus to Constant autofocus mode. Lastly, I changed the Image Stabilization to mode IS2, which is for horizontal panning when following moving objects.

After the water truck and the tractor, the jockeys and the horses for the next race always ride past the grandstand and then double-back to get to the starting line.

The races today did not go around the oval track. Instead, they were straight line races, just like at a dragster race – but with about 10 horses at the same time!  As they got the horses into the starting gate, I simply walked down to the railing at the edge of the track, and positioned myself so that I had a good view of the finish line. I zoomed my 12-50mm lens all the way out to 50mm.

And they’re off!  It doesn’t take these race horses long – maybe 7 or 8 seconds before they get close enough that I push the shutter button halfway and lock focus onto the lead horse, and instantly push it the rest of the way and take the following sequence of photos.

Now that you have had a look at this sequence, I want to let you know that I only showed you every other photo (I skipped the odd numbered photos, and only showed you the even numbered photos). Even at the 4.5 frames per second that I am showing you, you should get a sense of just how fast these horses are moving as they came flying past me!

Also worth noting is that as I kept the shutter button held down, and since I was shooting RAW + JPG, the buffer in the camera filled up, and there was a delay between that last shot and the next shot.

Also worth noting is that I did not understand at the time that when the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is shooting a 9 fps sequence, it locks focus at the time of the first shot – even if the autofocus is set to Constant Autofocus. What saved me here is that my aperture was f/10, which gives a fairly deep depth-of-field, especially on a Micro Four-Thirds sized image sensor.

As we waited for the next race, I reviewed the photos on the back of the camera. I didn’t like my composition. I had kept the lead horse in the center (where my focus point was), and so all of the horses were on the left side of the picture, with the right hand side being empty. I made a mental note to try and improve on that. I also told myself to wait until they got a little closer to the finish line before I started machine-gunning RAW + JPG images onto my UHS-1 speed-class SDHC memory card.

It began to get darker as rain clouds approached, and I refused to increase the ISO setting above 800, but that meant that I had to open the aperture form f/10 to f/6.3 AND lengthen the shutter from 1/1600 to “only” 1/1000 second.

Finish line!

The previous 5 photos were taken consecutively – I did not leave out every other one this time. I reviewed this sequence on the back of my camera while they paraded the jockeys and horses for the next race.

It was raining to the south of us, and those rain clouds were blocking the sun. I was going to have to change my settings to compensate accordingly.

Fortunately, the rain was passing us to the east.

Even so, it was getting darker. I was already at the widest aperture that this lens was capable of (f/6.3), but I had to do something. I lengthened the shutter to 1/800 second, but still needed to do something in addition. All I could think of at the time was to zoom the lens to a wider angle, which would support a wider aperture of f/5.7 that I needed. That resulted in a 36mm focal length, equivalent to 72mm on a full frame camera. (Later that evening, I realized that I should have just switched to my 45m f/1.8 lens!)

I decided that I now felt comfortable enough with my timing to wait for them to get closer to the finish line, that I also decided to change to the “low speed” Continuous Shooting Mode of 3.9 fps.

I can’t remember why I made that decision at that time. Maybe I remembered reading in the manual that the OM-D E-M5 will focus between each shot at this lower speed, or maybe I just got lucky. For whatever the reason, it really helped, because I now had a much narrower depth-of-field due to my wider aperture setting.

And they’re off!

So I follow the lead horse, keeping my focus point in it, until I think I’ve timed it just right.

Things move very fast, and I just saw another horse enter the left side of the frame….

Wow! Horse #10 wins the race!

Too bad that I didn’t even know that horse #10 existed until it went thundering right past me – only 3 or 4 yards (meters) away….But the continuous autofocus had locked onto the front legs of horse #3, not horse #10!

Maybe, just maybe I’ll get a good sequence before we get rained on!

The rain was staying east of us, but it just kept getting darker. I had to to open the aperture some more – to f/5.3, which meant that I was now zoomed to only 28 mm.

I also didn’t like the limited number of frames that I captured when using the “low speed” continuous shooting mode, so I went back to the 9 fps rate.

This is the photo captured as they crossed the finish line.

Notice how the horses change their stride immediately after they cross the finish line. They don’t stop instantly, just like you need several steps after running full speed before you slow down and stop.

We could smell the rain coming, and we didn’t want to walk the 100 yards back to the car in the rain, so we decided it was time to go now.

Just before we left the grandstand, I turned around and took this last photo. Barb and I had been sitting on the bleacher in front of the two guys in the white cowboy hats near the left edge of this photo.

I never really got the sequence of photos that I was hoping to get, but I had a really fun time trying, and I’m still amazed that it didn’t cost us any money at all!

Tour of Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center

Warning: this post is very long and contains 34 photographs. It might take a while to download.

Last Tuesday, on May 8th, I was presented with a very rare opportunity to tag along with a group of retired people that my wife, Barb, spends time with most Mondays at the University of Texas campus. The group is known as the UT SAGE, where SAGE is an acronym for Seminars for Adult Growth and Enrichment. Anyway, this group was taking members who wanted to go on a “South End Zone Tour” at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium.

That’s the football stadium for The University of Texas Longhorns! More specifically, the tour was mainly of the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center, which is where the vast majority of all UT athletes work out, but we were there to see the football player’s facilities.  Now I’ve been in Austin for 40 years this August, and I am a University of Texas graduate, and I have never had the opportunity to see anything “more inside” the football facilities other than buying tickets and attending the home games. When Barb said she was allowed to bring a guest, I immediately said “yes!” and scheduled a day of vacation at work.

Helpful Hint: 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 Gregg’s story.

It was raining most of the day, and when we got there at 3:30 PM for the tour, we still had to use our umbrellas. We met at the entrance to the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Complex, which is at the southeast corner of the stadium. That corner is somewhat open, and as we approached the front door to the facility, we could see inside the stadium somewhat.

Now the photos that I am going to show you are not skilled photography. They are “get the shot and move along with the tour” kind of shots. I was simply trying to document what we were being shown, so I could share it here with you. This was just like being a tourist in my own town.

By the way, I had ordered a new Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera from Precision Camera on May 1st, hoping that I would have it with me for this tour, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Instead, I was going to have to use my Canon PowerShot G12, which is a Point-and-Shoot type of a camera. I knew that if I showed up with my Canon 5D Mark II that there was a very good chance that I would not be allowed to bring it inside the facility (and heaven forbid I even think about a tripod).

I did bring a Canon 580EX II flash with me, but I had Barb put it in her large purse, and I never used it. Instead, I handheld the G12, and shot under all sorts of different lighting conditions. This is the sign on the wall over the front desk, where we gathered to wait for the tour to start. There were tungsten lights aimed down the wall, while there was a mixture of tungsten and fluorescent overhead lights in the ceiling.

This is just beyond the front desk. Here are the 20 or so exhibits, one for each of the most famous players ever to play for the Longhorns.

After spending 5 minutes in that front hallway, we were taken into the Player’s Lounge.

Silhouetted beyond the pool table is our tour guide, Curt. Curt encouraged us to take pictures, and I immediately “got mobile” and started shooting everything that I could!  He watched me at times, but never said anything to me. I thought that he eventually would, as I was taking 5 to 10 times more photos than anyone else in the group.

There were 3 or 4 of these saddles in the Player’s Lounge. I wondered if they were just for decoration, or if the players actually climbed onboard when they got rowdy.

On the other side of the pool table, there is this giant wall that contains helmets of all 28 NFL teams (plus the former Houston Oilers). Under each helmet is a small plaque for each Texas Longhorn player actively playing on that NFL team.  Wow!

We then moved from the Player’s Lounge a few doors down to The Trophy Room. This is my wife, Barb, standing next to the 2005 National Championship trophy. This was very special to me, as my good friend Greg Ringer and I went to that National Championship game at the Rose Bowl on January 4, 2006.

Here is a photo that I took with my 4 megapixel Olympus C-770 Ultra Zoom camera that I took to the game. This was taken from our seat, about 5 rows above the tuba players in the Longhorn Band. Yes, the Texas quarterback, #10, is Vince Young.

Anyway, I just had to have my photo taken next to this trophy. I probably should have traded places with Barb, but I wasn’t looking at the back of the camera, so I didn’t see the huge perspective distortion of having the larger person closer to the wide-angle view camera.

Simply turning around 180 degrees from the previous camera position shows this view.

This is Ricky William’s Heisman Trophy that signified he was voted “the best college football player of the year” in 1998.

And here is Earl Campbell’s Heisman Trophy from 1977.

After leaving the Trophy Room, we were taken down further into the facility. Along the way, we passed by “The Longhorns” that each player touches as they leave the facility right before heading out onto the field before each game. There is a camera on them as they do this, and it is displayed on the HUGE video scoreboard outside for all 100,000 fans to see. They always cheer wildly when they see this!

Here are some of the trophies from the Longhorn’s major bowl victories. The first 4 pedestals closest to you are from the Cotton Bowl (in Dallas, TX). The next one is the Holiday Bowl (in San Diego, CA). The next one is from the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA – and the game that Greg and I went to).The next one is for the Fiesta Bowl, and the last one is too blurry for me to read now. 🙂

Those Bowl Trophies are at one end of a very long hallway outside the weight training room, and that hallway is just loaded with hundred of plaques and memorabilia of famous players and historically significant victories. Here’s a photo that I put the camera into macro mode, and held it right up to the glass, just 8 to 10 inches from this football.

We then went into the weight training room. Holy Cow!

There were maybe 20 or so athletes and coaches working out while we were in there, but I was very careful to not make them the main subject of these photos.

After the weight room, we were told that we were going to be taken trough the same rooms and route that the players go through immediately before a game.

This is the large auditorium that the players meet in, while the coaches and inspirational speakers get them all pumped up. Our tour guide, Curt, is standing where Mack Brown would be standing. I was sitting in the 4th row, trying my best to keep my camera steady. I had to bump up the ISO to 500, and even then the shutter was 1/5 of a second (f/5.0). My elbows were firmly planted on the arm rests!

While remaining in my seat, and turning to my right, this is what I saw.

Turning to my left, this is what is on the wall.

After leaving the auditorium, we deviated from the plan to follow the route that the players take, and we went down a few doors to spend a few minutes in the medical facilities. This is where they bring the injured players during a game. This is also where all the injured athletes from The University come for physical rehabilitation.

OK, now we are back on the plan to follow the route between the auditorium and the field. This is very much a “grab on the go” type of shot, with Barb blinking while I snapped the shutter of her touching “The Longhorns”. We were moving fast, in a large group, and with a one shot opportunity, sometimes a shot like this is what you end up with….

OK, so they didn’t fill the tunnel with smoke for us, like they do for the players when they run out onto the field. It was lightly raining, but there was no way I was going to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity!

In the next photo, you can almost see our season ticket seats in the upper deck high on the left side of the photo. We are about 6 rows above the white colored seats, in the upper deck, right at the edge of the photo.

After walking out past the 20 yard line, I turned around and took a picture of the large video scoreboard above the tunnel that we had just came out of. You can see the raindrops streaking down in front of the black scoreboard.

After spending 3 or 4 short minutes at mid-field listening to Curt’s stories, the group headed back for the dryness of the tunnel. I called out to Barb to come back so that I could get this photo of her.

The group stood in the tunnel for a long time, and I took several photos looking out of it.

We then walked under the coverings to the southwest corner of the stadium to see the two 8 foot tall statues of the school’s only 2 Heisman Trophy winners. This one of Ricky Williams has only been in place a few months.

And this one of Earl Campbell has been here for a while now (5 years?).

I know that this post was very, very long. I seriously considered chopping it up into multiple posts, but in the end I thought that would not have the storytelling effect that I wanted it to have.

The Canon PowerShot G12 did a pretty good job, as I had about 50% of the photos that I actually took ended up in this post. Viewed up close, there is a fair amount of grain when I pushed the ISO to 400 and even 500. The camera did a pretty good job with Auto White Balance, but I did shoot these in RAW format, and did adjust the color temperature of several of them in Lightroom. The Image Stabilization of this little camera surprised me with how well it performed!

I hope that you enjoyed seeing this as much as I enjoyed being able to tag along with this tour.