Friday, January 28, 2011

Historic Houston Majesticity

Majesticity, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.

The Majestic Metro. Currently, it's a venue for weddings, parties and corporate events; but long ago it was a silver screen era theater (and I believe it's the only one of it's kind still standing in Houston).

I was "on assignment" on downtown Houston exploring Main St (when I say "on assignment", I mean trying to get pics for one of my favorite flickr groups, Assignment Houston), when on my way back to the car I stopped at the Majestic and started shooting some pics. That's when the manager stepped out.

At first, I thought I was going to get the "sorry sir, no pictures please" but to my surprise he was a very nice person and actually allowed us to go inside to know the place and let us know some of the history of the place.

Unfortunately for me, I'm still working on my people skills... and I was too shy to ask for permission to take some pics of the inside (not to mention I was worried they wouldn't come out anyway because of the low light) so I know I miss a chance there, but is just one of those things I'll need to work on.

Still the outside was nice and I got a nice story out of it so all in all it was a good experience. I was going to elaborate on the history of the place but Cinema Houston has a very comprehensive history so I've better point you that way in case you're interested.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Heights Opera

Halt!, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.

Opera. I can't say I'm a fan... in fact, I've never been to the opera before... and I probably wouldn't have gone unless I got invited to take some pics at the rehearsal of the current performance being presented by Opera in the Heights: Don Carlo, from Giuseppe Verdi.

I have to admit I liked it a lot. I couldn't follow all the plot because I was a bit to much looking through the viewfinder instead of looking at the captions, but I got the gist of it and it was a wonderful show, with great music and very good performances from the singers so I would really recommend it if you're in the Houston area on January 27, 28 or 29, and February 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 pm on Lambert Hall in the Houston Heights area.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Carnival times past

Hidden, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.

On November 2010 I was in Florida for work reasons and I was on my way back from my usual sunrise sessions I sneaked in before going to the office when I noticed the carnival setting up and not just any carnival, but the nation’s largest traveling carnival: Reithoffer Shows.

I obviously got excited thinking of the opportunity to shoot something different than the beach while in Fl, but then I noticed the dates and my excitement turned to disappointment: The carnival's first day was the afternoon when I had to head back home. Bummer right? Well, not entirely.

I thought to myself: I might not be able to come when it's open, but I might be able to take some shots from the street. So I went there the night before I was meant to go, I parked on the parking lot, got my gear and... well, I noticed there were no fences, no entrance, no gate, no "no trespassing" sign...

So... I started to get close... slowly at first, I took some shots from the parking lot (this included), then a little closer, a little more... until I found myself in front of the ferris wheel. Then I started wandering about (not to far though) and I started to enjoy the advantages of being on the Carnival when it's "off duty".

I wasn't alone though. I never really asked who they were, but I saw some people walking around as well. Most of them ignored me, but three guys (separately) walked up to me to ask what I was up to, and I explained all three how I was there for work reasons and I had to go back before the carnival opened but I didn't wanted to miss it so, I at least took a look at the carnival one night before.

In a way, I think it worked out wonderfully. I got to photograph a carnival in a way I'm not used to seeing it. And it wet my appetite for carnivals so I ended up looking up a local carnival in Houston to which I could go while it was open so I got both points of view.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time to rock!

Here we go, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
I just got my tickets for the Linkin Park concert on the mail today! Granted, they might not be the best tickets you could find (as a matter of fact they were the cheapest tickets I could find), but let's just say that when I realized the concert date and when the tickets went on sale I got really happy about still finding this tickets.

This will actually be my first mayor concert, and by that I mean in a big venue (like the Toyota Center). I've been to some concerts here and there, but they were usually on more modest locations (and they were not for a band like Linkin Park!!) so I am pretty excited about having the chance to go.

I'm hesitant about checking the camera policy for the Toyota Center since I think it will be just deluding myself to think that as far as I'll be from the stage, as dark as it'll be and with the energy, excitement and... well, the crowd from the concert I could capture any photos worth posting but... still, even if it's just with a point and shoot I'll try to get some pics to capture the moment.

I know I've seen some articles on DPS (Digital Photography School) about taking pics of bands during a concert but... I won't be reading them for this concert. I do believe the chances of me getting some sort of upgrade to a seat that might get me close enough to the action are astronomically small... but I still have my hopes though =)

Keep on rockin'!!

Dew catcher

Dew catcher, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
This photo takes me back to the good old times... when I got to fly to Florida for free and I could use the free time I could find to go out and take some pictures at the beach. Those days might be gone, but I still have a lot of unprocessed photos to take me back there.

This particular picture, was taken on Sanibel Island. I planed to go to shoot a sunrise from there, but unfortunately, the weather had some other plans. There was a very dense fog that morning, which prevented me from actually taking the shot of the sun rising in the horizon, but since I was already there I wandered about and noticed some strings of web with some dew droplets in them, so I switched to my macro lens and I started shooting.

I have two words to describe the experience of shooting a spiderweb, on a windy, foggy, morning at the beach while handholding your camera with a macro lens... NOT EASY...

I had to manually focus each shot, because the autofocus wouldn't lock on the droplets and I had to be chasing the image because the air kept moving the web all over the place.

I had to increase the ISO speed to 1000, because I needed to take the shots fast (before the wind moved it too much), there was low light, I was using a very narrow aperture because of the macro and I had to work from a distance because the web itself was behind a "restricted area" so I couldn't get closer to it.

I must have shot around 100 pics and I believe this is one of the few shots that could be salvaged from that day, but still, it was a fun experience with some very rewarding results (if I do say so myself).

Had I been more prepared, I might have read this article from digital photography school FIRSTand maybe I could have walked out with a better shot: How to Photograph a Spider’s Web

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rock on

Rock on, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
Pictured here, is the entrance to the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (feat. Aerosmith) in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

I took this picture on my recent trip to Orlando, but I'm sorry to admit I didn't actually got on the roller coaster this time.

This coaster is particularly special to me. It's the first coaster with inverted loops that I ever rode. Before that it was just regular wood, boring coasters (well, I actually know some pretty awesome wood roller coasters, but go with me on this ok?).

This year, instead of riding the coaster, I had to settle with picture taking and a very nice Turkey leg (sold conveniently nearby) but fortunately enough, I've already moved on to other (dare I say better?) coasters... but that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ladders, hoses and little firemen

Future generation, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
Last Saturday January 15 2011, the Bellaire Fire Department held their first Open House since the station was renovated after the demolition of the old fire station on November 2009.

The morning was not all that nice (it was a gray cloudy day with a little threat for rain) but the warmth in the fire station made up for the weather (pun intended)

There was a little bit of everything, the fire trucks and ambulances were out in display, with the opportunity to actually get inside and know the insides of many of the vehicles (if the little ones allowed you of course), we got a tour of the second floor/living quarters which is a rare treat and we got to ask any questions we could thing of to the station staff.

We even got the chance to learn some history by examining the contents of a time capsule for two generations: the original time capsule was made on 1955 and on1983 when the Fire Station was modernized the capsule was opened and some extra items were added.

It was all in all a very pleasant and educative experience that will certainly keep me looking for more local open house events that might provide good opportunities, not only for photography but to learn about new things.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's a girl

It's a girl, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
Recently, a very good friend of mine has been blessed with the birth of a beautiful baby girl and I just had to make a post on it.

Congratulations and I hope the best for you and your family.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Magical, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
Hogwarts Castle! Stands tall at the far end of Universal Islands of Adventure in the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of the park.

The place is really magical, realistic and very well made... and also extremely crowded!! When I was in line to enter, I thought I was in line to enter the attraction that is inside the castle but nooo... I was only in line to enter to the Wizarding section, there was an extra 110 minutes wait to go into the ride, not to mention even the shops had lines just to be able to go into them.

Eventually, I did manage to get into the shops, the ride, try butterbeer (frozen and cold), pumpkin juice, the whole experience and I had to admit they were all worth it... once... I hope the hype about this section of the park really goes down by the next time I go to Orlando so I can at least go to take pictures without needing to wait in line first.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Back in time

Dragonflies on lily, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
Today's post is an "oldie but goodie". It's actually from the first photos I took when I received my DSLR and started going out just to get pictures.

I went out that day to a nearby lake because... honestly, it was the only thing outside home that seemed to be any interesting at all.

I went there and I noticed the lily ponds and as I started approaching them I saw that some dragonflies were going from flower to flower so I did my best to get as close as possible without scaring them away to get a nice shot and here's the best one I got (with a little editing done).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

French snack

French snack, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
Here's another pic from my holiday trip to Orlando.

This time it's a tasty pic of the Boulangerie Patisserie in France pavillion at Epcot center in Orlando and also one of my favorite places to eat at Disney.

The line is always lengthy for this small bakery in the middle of the streets of the artificial France but it's always oh so worth the wait to indulge yourself.

My personal favorites are the palmier (Elephant ear), Napoleon and the Rustic ham and cheese tartine (the later just discovered on this trip) but I've had very pleasant experiences with everything I've tried.

If you stop around Epcot and you like to indulge yourself this should be a must stop.

Also, if anyone reading has already eaten here you could share your personal favorites with us.

Here's a sample of the Palmier and Napoleon:
Sweet treats

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cool cats

Cool cats, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
Past saturday (January 7 2010) I stopped by the Magnificent 7 Ice Sculpting competition at discovery green in Houston TX; where 7 of the nation best ice sculptors turn some boring piles of ice into beautiful sculptures.

Pictured here is part of the winners sculpture along with the model used for inspiration. The only title I could find for the sculpture is "Tiger Chasing Rabbit" (rabbit not pictured) and the artist responsable (and winner of the competition) is Buddy Rasmussen from San Antonio, TX.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mischief of ballons

Mischief of ballons
Originally uploaded by ZERO CEM
I had the opportunity to play with a Borrowed Fisheye lens during my last Disney vacation so I tried to get a different perspective on some of the disney parks icons and, here's a good example: a fisheye view to the mickey mouse balloons in Main St USA.

The wind was blowing the ballons down so that allowed me to be close enough to get this shot with a Sigma 4.5 fisheye.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Super Holiday Present

So... the 2010 Holiday season is over and it seems that I might have done something good last year :D
First of all, shortly after starting this blog with Zero my Canon Powershot G3 died somewhere between Florida and San Antonio TX.
We went on a trip to Six Flags a week before Halloween and when I took out the camera to shoot some pictures of the park I noticed every single shot I took was somehow.. completely... white.. at first I thought I must have set something wrong so I started messing with the configuration and since nothing was fixing the problem I switched to the old trusty Auto mode but to my surprise nothing happened... after a while I found out the diaphragm was no longer closing correctly causing every photo to be over exposed.
Being and old camera from 2002 with very low specs for today's standards (4 megapixels) I did not even tried to check how much would it cost to fix it, I have the feeling that it would be cheaper to buy a new point and shot with higher resolution (which we already had).
Well that was it for me and my photography hobby, I tried using the point and shoot a few times but the camera was doing it's stuff and the results were not what I wanted..

Goodbye old friend
Fast forward to Dec 2010, I got a very very very interesting present courtesy of my parents, a new DSLR that would help me continue with Photography.. I'm very exited with the new gear and I will be trying to make the most out of the camera, although in this case the issue is the other way around, the photographer might not be good enough but I'll try to change that.

Xmas & more present
I had to by a few things for the camera, a new bag, a lens hood and a filter but that's the way things are; I still need to get a new tripod, my old one is not made for a heavy camera and maybe a lens or two, if Zero is right this might be the beginning of an spending spree. hehehe..