Wall of color

One of the particularly nice things about Austin’s River Walk is that if you catch a boat taxi, you can just sit as it carries you past all sorts of beautiful and photogenic scenery — take this view, for example:

Wall of color

Of course, you’d better have your wits about you.  Things come up fast, and you can miss a number of interesting sights in the time it takes to swap lenses.

Nasturtium

A.k.a Pohe Haole (Tropaeolum majus), brought to you by the Limahuli Garden & Preserve (part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden system) on Kaui, Hawaii:

Nasturtium

The Limahuli Garden and Preserve is a neat little place to stop by should you ever find yourself up on the north end of Kauai (get to Hanalei, then continue west until the road ends).  Beautiful views, lots of great plants and flowers to see and shoot, and you get a bit of history in the mix as well.  Nasturtium was introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s, so this was shot in the “Plantation era” part of  the garden.

Vibrant

A bit of color for your week, courtesy of a planting on the stairs up to the Coit tower in San Francisco:

Vibrant

If you’re passing through San Francisco and looking for a workout, there are few to beat the stairs up the east side of Telegraph Hill from the Embarcadero to the base of the Coit Tower.  You’ll climb some amazing, steep steps from either Greenwich or FIlbert St.  Along with the exercise, and the beautiful views over the Bay, the local residents take fantastic care of their flowers along the way.  So keep your camera handy for a little flower photography when you’re pausing to catch your breath!

Unwelcome visitor

This is a Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica), in case you’re unfamiliar with them — beautifully colored, with their iridescent shells offset against the flower petals’ colors.  But hell on roses (and grapes, and birch trees, and…).

Unwelcome visitor

Japanese beetles are apparently not a big problem in Japan — they have many predators that help keep their numbers under control.  But since their arrival in the U.S. early in the 20th century, they’ve been expanding their territory from their original “beachhead” in New Jersey.  Courtesy of the warming climate, they made it to Colorado a few years ago.  Luckily beetle traps are available via the internet, since local home and garden stores apparently haven’t taken notice of their arrival.  Yet.

Seen in the War Memorial Rose Garden; Littleton, Colorado.

Protea

Seen at the Ali’i Gardens in Maui, Hawaii:

Protea

My apologies for the dearth of posts lately, but my computer’s hard drive has been getting flaky (bad enough to cause issues, but not bad enough to make the source of the problem obvious), and finally died yesterday. Its replacement should be online within a few days.

Hosting a photowalk — my experiences

About two weeks back, I hosted a local photowalk — as part of the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk for 2012.  I’d never done it before, so just wanted to pass along a few of my experiences (bottom line: I dramatically overthought things going into it, but everybody had a good time).

The basic idea is to just spend a couple of hours as a group, walking (2 miles or less) through some photogenic sights.  As is my usual tendency, I did all sorts of research in advance (even though I’ve lived in this town for 22+ years now), and collected a pile of trivia about various places along our route.

A veiled beauty

In retrospect, this was largely a waste of time, since walking 24 people along sidewalks means only a handful will be in earshot at any time — and even then, leading photographers is a whole lot like herding cats.  Within a few blocks, your group will be spread over a large swath of terrain.

So my main bit of advise is to not overdo your research — pick a route with good sights and concentrate on getting your group through it safely (we had traffic to contend with).

Feeling a bit hung up

One thing I did right was to make a detailed map, and give everybody a print-out of it at the start of the walk.  This way, those that aren’t familiar with the area you’re walking in will be able to get back to the group if they get… distracted.

Hanging on for dinner

What I wasn’t expecting to be so challenging is that in the Kelby system, the leader of a local photowalk chooses the “best” image that his / her walkers took on the walk.  I’ve never played judge before, so had to learn how to deal with the apples-and-oranges nature of this task.  There’s a really good street photograph, and a really good nature photograph, and a couple of excellent environmental / detail shots — which one is “best?”  You’ll have to go to the photowalk page to see what I mean.

Going out blazing

In any event, the weather cooperated, the walkers all seemed to enjoy the tour, and I know I enjoyed showing them around my home turf — so definitely, I’d recommend this to anybody!  And as you can see, I had fun playing with my (still-)new 60mm lens.

Sievers Mountain South

Captured from the trail to / around Maroon Lake — near Aspen, Colorado:

Sievers Mountain South

On our “fall colors” road trip through the mountains, we only made it to Aspen in the late afternoon — so the lighting was much better for shots on this side of the lake (vs. the more traditional / popular shot of the Maroon Bells themselves). I just love all the color in this frame!

Fall colors

A little scene, captured along highway 82 in Colorado, west of Twin Lakes on the road to Aspen:

Fall colors

A fun little story goes along with this shot. The landowner where I spotted this scene has the cleared part of his / her land set up picture-perfect, almost as if to invite photography. Old barn, old windmill, old tractor — it’s all there just waiting for a “calendar shot.” When we slowed down so I could grab a few shots, someone was already parked in the driveway. I pulled alongside him, and he left — to be replaced about 30 seconds later by another visitor. After I was done shooting, yet another photog took my place.

If the landowner set out a tip jar, they could collect some serious cash (more if they had pre-signed property release forms)!