my pictures. my life

Sigh of Relief/Grand Opening
October 30, 2008, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Personal | Tags: , ,

My Aunt just recently had surgery to have a brain tumor removed. The procedure went well, she’s recovering just fine and the tumor is of the benign category! Best news I’ve heard in a really long time.  She is such a sweet Aunt, and so undeserving of something so horrible. Here’s to a ultra speedy recovery!

In other, unrelated news….

I’ve just launched my new website! Feel free to visit. Have a look around. Check things out. Like turn the music on if you so desire. You’ll find a discrete icon at the bottom right that resembles a speaker. Simply click on that, and voila! Music! Oh, and please feel free to let me know if you like it, or if there is something about the site that is REALLY bugging you. – I’m rather excited about this layout!!! (notice excessive use of exclamation points)

One day remains in this month and I am still limited to shooting with two lenses. Found myself downtown again this afternoon. It was an odd time, as there really weren’t many people out and about. I used only the 85mm, which, if you recall, is a manual focus lens. Let’s just say that I still have a lot more practice focusing manually. I’m not as quick as I would like to be. Here’s one from today, taken on Congress and 5th Street – thanks so much for looking! 🙂

Shooting Green!
October 24, 2008, 1:53 pm
Filed under: Personal | Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday, I had the opportunity of shooting a Performance Green Home that was built and designed by several locals in the business. Performance Green Home builder, Matt Risinger, and Architect, James D. LaRue, have teamed up to concoct a beaty of a home that is very smart and very sustainable.  So smart and sustainable that it’s pending a 5 out of 5 Star Energy Austin Green Building rating. And as you may already know, Austin is amongst the top cities in the country when it comes to green an d sustainable living. Below is more detailed information from the Builder, Risinger Homes. They guarantee you will benefit from Performance Green Building in three different areas:

Risinger Homes are designed to maximize thermal and human comfort while also achieving the lowest possible utility bills. This house has been independently evaluated to use 40% less energy than a standard
code built home. We’ve accomplished this through state of the art technology and sound design:
• Window and roof overhangs are designed to maximize the benefits of summer shading, winter solar heat gain, and ample natural daylight.
• Reduced cooling load from the highly reflective Galvalume® roof.
• All ductwork is located inside the thermal envelope, so any air leakage is into the conditioned space of the house. Most Austin homes have their ductwork in uninsulated, super-hot attics.
• 15.5 SEER (seasonal energy efficient ratio) Air Conditioning Units, far more efficient than the standard 10 SEER units on most new homes.
• 93% efficient gas furnaces with combustion air brought from outside and power vented exhaust, whereas most furnaces are only 80% efficient or less.
• Sprayed foam Demilec Sealection™ 500 open cell insulation system fills all voids, reducing air and moisture infiltration.

• Dual Takagi Tankless Water Heaters only heat water on-demand, eliminating standing loss from conventional tank units and providing homeowners with unlimited hot water.                                                 • Compact fluorescent aluminum fixtures with timers for all outdoor lighting.
• Compact Fluorescent recessed lighting and screw-in bulbs for maximum energy efficiency. These bulbs use 1/3 the energy to produce the same light as an incandescent bulb, last many years longer, and don’t produce excess heat loads which adds to A/C costs.
• LED cans and LED rope lights in the master bedroom consume only a fraction of the electricty used by standard bulbs.

The quality of indoor air is stressed by today’s increasing number of synthetic compounds used in our buildings including synthetic carpet, pesticides, plastics, adhesives, sealants, and finishes. These contaminants
can, in turn, be a contributor to health problems such as asthma and allergies. In factm the EPA has named indoor air pollution as one of the top 5 risks to public health. At Risinger Homes, our motto is Build Tight and Ventilate Right. If you have sensitivities to chemicals, dust, pollen or other airborne contaminants,
you’ll benefit from this home’s specifically hypo-allergenic design and will enjoy healthier indoor air because:
• All finishes in the house are water-based and extremely low VOC rated.
• Panasonic super quiet bath fans are linked to a countdown timer to exhaust humid air from baths.
• HVAC system has a damper controlled fresh air input and rigid metal trunk lines with no fiber- glass exposed to the air stream.
• The open-air carport ensures that car fumes are kept out of the house.
• Non-toxic Termi-Mesh stainless steel termite barriers are on all plumbing pipes.
• 86% of flooring in the house is maple hardwood flooring or tile to reduce trapped allergens and dust.
• Natural wool fiber carpet is used in the upstairs bedrooms.
• Aprilaire Pleated Media Whole-House Air Cleaners provides relief from airborne irritants up to 40% more efficiently than standard filters.
• EcoTimber HealthyBond® Flooring Adhesive is vsrtually VOC-free and is GreenGuard® Indoor Air Quality Certified

The issues of resource depletion, longevity and life cycle, and using environmentally preferred materials and products are important to a green built home. Of particular importance to residents in Central Texas is water usage. Residential homes and their thirsty landscapes take a huge toll on our available water sources. Here is what we’ve done to address those issues in this home:
• Original house on infill lot was dismantled by Habitat For Humanity and parts were recycled/re used through their Habitat ReStore. The only items thrown away were roofing, siding, and plaster.
• All new landscape is composed with native drought-tolerant plants.
• Our team of contractors follows an Austin Energy approved construction debris recycling and waste management plan.
• Toto® Dual-Max™ Aquia toilets offer a double flush option, using only .9 gallons on the small flush and saving thousands of gallons over the course of a year
• 1.5 gpm lavatory faucet aerators reduce water consumption.
• Fiber-cement James Hardie Artisan™ Luxury exterior skin offers for maximum durability and re source efficiency.
• Galvalume® metal roof has recycled steel content and a life span 3-4 times the life of a conven- tional asphalt shingled roof while providing a radiant barrier to reflect the Texas sun.

And below you will find the images I took yesterday. It’s a very lovely house. I am not sure the images even do it justice. Boy do I wish I had a million bucks to spare….!

Well…how ’bout that!
October 14, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Personal | Tags:

I survived my first wedding shoot! It was surprisingly easy and stress-free. It’s probably due to the fact that I wasn’t the primary shooter and therefore most of the pressure was on her, rather than me. I can get used to this! It did make for a very long and tiresome day, however. The events took place in Waco, TX, which is approximately 90 minutes north of Austin, so I had to leave for the ceremony at 1:30 to make it to the church by 3:00 to start capturing images of the Groom and his Groomsmen getting ready. The ceremony started about 30 minutes late, which cut into our Bridal pictures time in between the ceremony and the reception. Needless to say, we never got a chance to shoot any of the fun images. Boo! The reception venue was rather nice. Simple, yet classy. All in all it was a decent wedding. The festivities ended at around 11:00 and then I had to pack everything up and drive back home for 90 minutes, exhausted as heck! Overall a great learning experience, and I managed to get some good shots, which I will post below.

Hello world!
October 1, 2008, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Personal | Tags:

Take it easy on me, folks, this is my frist blog entry as well as my first blog! Given the state of our economy and the Vice Presidential Debate looming over us, I will spare you all the politalk and concentrate on photography! How’s that? I have my very first wedding as a second shooter this Saturday, the 4th. Am I nervous? You bet I am! I typically don’t get nervous when shooting others(anymore), but with weddings it’s a little different – you can’t reshoot a wedding. You only get one chance to do a great job on someone’s BIG DAY. I don’t know about you, but the thought of that just sends chills down my spine. However, since I am just a second shooter, it relieves some of the pressure that burdens me so. That said, I am confident enough in my abilities that I probably won’t screw it all up. Probably! In other news, I joined a monthly assignment put on by a Photography forum that I frequent. I’ve agreed to only use two prime lenses to take my pictures for the remaineder of this month. There is one exception. One that will allow me to use more than two lenses for the shooting of the two weddings I have for this month. Now, you’re probably wondering what the heck a prime lens is. It’s pretty simple, actually. It is a lens that has a fixed focal length. A lens that does not zoom. See? That was really simple! For the assignment, I chose my newly acquired Sigma 50mm and a very old, but very good, lens – Nikkor 85mm. We are expected to take photographs daily and post them in the forum for the others to see and critique. This is a great way for one to get really familiar with their current limitations as well as their imagination. Without the versatility of a zoom lens, you have to compensate by moving yourself and your subject. Trust me, it’s harder than it sounds. So, without further adu, here is my first image for the assignment. I took this with the Sigma 50mm.