Tag Archives: texas

Now This Is A Real Texas Longhorn

Most of the time when I take pictures of cattle, they show concern or, at the least, concern about my presence.  They look at intensively with their ears cocked forward wondering what I’m going to do next.  Not this Longhorn.  This darling of a Texas ranch really did not care about me at all.   That was an attitude I could really appreciate.

Of course who could blame him?  Weighing in at around 1200 pounds and standing 4 or 5 feet tall at the shoulder this big boy does what he wants when he wants.

That description doesn’t even include the huge rack of horns on his head. Those horns can reach lengths of 80 inches or close to 2 meters across. They are the signature item of this breed of cattle. The Texas longhorn is a true creature of beauty.

Longhorn
Longhorn

Once again I found a perfect use for the white vignette on the border of this work. It enhances the details of the steer and yet dramatizes the lush green grass around him. The trick to this work was getting the white of his hide to not be a pure white. There are touches of brown and black in his coat and I did not want to lose those shades.

I’ve seen longhorn with different markings and colorings before, but this is the first opportunity I enjoyed with one of these magnificent animals this close. The white and black in his hide and the brown nose come together to form indelible impressions of what Texas ranching is all about.

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The Strange Case of The Striped Cow

Going out on a photo shoot takes time, concentration and, now and then, a bit of luck. The general idea is to carefully notice everything around me and look for potential angles and light displays that captivate my inner artist.  It could be the light of the early morning sun as it hits a bird in just the right way, or the shade of a palm tree protecting a flower from the harshest of the sun’s rays.

But, as hard as I try, sometimes I do not realize what I have captured until I get home and start intensively critiquing and processing my raw work. Such is the case with our new piece of art Striped Cow.   The pattern of stripes and color on her head and flanks was simply mesmerizing.

Striped Cow
Striped Cow

She turned her head in my direction giving me that classical bovine look of curiosity with ears propped up listening to see if I was a threat to her peace and quiet. In the field I noticed she turned her body slightly to get a better view of my approach.  She was only interested in what I was going to do. More than likely worried that I meant her or her herd possible harm.   I always find it humorous that cattle do not seem to think that the same fence that keeps them from harming you also keeps us from approaching and harming them.

In any case,  it wasn’t until the final stages of processing these pictures that my attention caught the unusual.   I was working on the edges to give it that classic overexposed vignette when I noticed the anomaly.

It appears out indelible friendly cow only has 3 legs.   It’s not true of course.   She had four legs when I took the shot, however, the angle of her far right front leg matches up perfectly with her left front leg.   Further adding to the illusion is the blackish striping she has at the top of her leg. It makes her shoulder appear to camouflage into the rest of her flank.

A strange illusion indeed and definitely not one that you see everyday.  Sometimes it is the hidden illusion in a picture that add that sense of wonder to a piece.  I believe this is such a case.

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The Bridges of Ellis County

There exist areas of Texas that do not seem to have changed much since the 19th century. Old homesteads and farms still populate the vast countryside outside the massive cities and quaint little towns. Usually these farms connect to civilization only by tenuous barely paved roads. The bridges of Ellis County bear tribute to one such road.

Fit only for the mightiest of farm trucks and tractors you won’t see any Ferraris out on these bridges. The roads are a mixture of crumbled Texas clay and gravel. The two bridges are spanning the local creek and offer an easy way to cross. It’s obviously not without danger though. The bridges are wooden and don’t even muster the protective feel that a guard rail would offer you.

You can imagine the panic of going over one of these bridges in the dark hours of the night. There is no street light and the over grown trees and foliage would easily block any light from a helping moon.   One slip up and you spend a long night waiting for a tow truck. Assuming you could even find one to come out that far. Good luck finding with even finding phone service out here.

Bridges of Ellis County
Bridges of Ellis County

While traveling that forgotten path one Sunday morning, the memory of old childhood stories involving trolls living under the bridge flooded my memories. One can easily imagine that these bridges, or ones similar to them, are the nexus for such stories.

Indeed this is where the wild things are. Besides the obvious danger that the bridges offer, you need constant diligence against running into a spooked deer, opossum, raccoon, coyote and even a loose cow. What hides in those few dark wooded areas along this unprotected path? Have caution my friends when visiting the Bridges of Ellis County.

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Before DART: The Texas Electric Railway

For this next piece, Blue Texas Railway,   I took the image of a historical railway sign and added some modern flair.  The Texas Electric Railway was a streetcar rail line that existed in Dallas in 1917.

According to the Texas State Historical Society, “The company operated three routes out of Dallas, one to Sherman and Denison, one to Ennis and Corsicana, and one to Hillsboro and Waco. With a length of 226 miles, the Texas Electric was the longest interurban between the Mississippi River and California.”

The company finally stopped service in 1948. The cause of the failure was the increasing competition of people owning personal cars and trucks. A strange twist of fate because one of the leading reasons for  Dallas Area Rapid Transit or DART is the heavy traffic and desperate need for a metro line in Dallas.

The image of the rail sign and indeed the sign itself  is originally black and white. While this would provide great contrast to the image alone, I couldn’t let it be.  Like a child with a new toy, I’ve been looking for the perfect image to try out a new yellow and blue filter process that would give an image an electrifying tonal change. The stark contrast of the filter applied over a slightly underdeveloped original produced the extremes I was looking for.

Blue Texas Railway
Blue Texas Railway

 

My feeling is that while black and white art is much more traditional and classic, there are plenty of occasions where a burst of color will produce a much more satisfying emotional response in the picture.

 

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George C. Werner, “TEXAS ELECTRIC RAILWAY,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqt13), accessed April 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Understanding our Latest Work: The Alamo

If you live anywhere in the state of Texas then the subject of their new work really needs no introduction.  Visiting the Alamo at some point in your life is almost a culturally required pilgrimage.

Staying in a city like San Antonio with over 1.4 million people has a profound effect on the things you notice day in and out.  I love to take shots of unusual historic buildings to send a unique message of mankind’s progress, or lack thereof, in its continual struggle to understand science and ward of the effects of nature.

A historical structure of slowly decaying history, such as the Alamo,  speaks volumes to me about the impermeability of man and his toys.

Alamo
The Alamo

With the Alamo, I chose to focus mainly in black and white. The tonal blacks give a definite age look to this magnificent structure. The real color of the mission is various stony shades of brown placed against a stone tiles that people walk on. The picture in color loses some of the definition as the dominant historical feature that it truly is.

The features of rough stone, brought out to the viewer using the classical ideas of dodging and burning, are then coupled with a more modern approach of adding slightly colored filters to give it the final characteristics I was looking for.

( Artist Note:)   San Antonio is fabulous historical city to visit and the nearby Menger Hotel is literally within walking distance.  It’s the place to stay on your Alamo adventure.

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