Friday, July 12, 2019

Studio Lighting

My friend/neighbor Harry and I joined a Houston area photography club earlier this year. The group meets twice a month, for technical training and for print photo competition. This months technical session was on studio lighting. Most amateurs cannot afford nor justify the large outlay for quality studio lighting. Especially since we take most of our photos outdoors.

The club begged and borrowed a half dozen professional lights, invited a few models to come sit, then turned us loose to practice and learn how the various lights affect the final image.

Here's Harry sitting for another club member. Handsome guy, he's Italian.

Some joked and prodded the models, others asked the model to look up, look down, left, 
right, smile, don't smile, do this, do that... 

I watched, listened, clicked the shutter button a few times.

A few club members posed in front of the lights while the models were busy elsewhere.

Me... am not model material... ,
nor do I enjoy taking portraits. 

So I did what I do best, took street photos of other people doing what they do.
In this case, snap photos of photographers taking photos of models 
who pose for photos by photographers.  (say that five times without stuttering). 

I found the interaction between the photographer and the model to be an interesting dynamic.

Had a total of four or five models. Some children, some grandchildren of club members.

This shot was difficult for me to achieve the desired relationship in editing. Faith, the model on the far right would look to her mother on the far left for support. When two or three people are pointing big camera lens at you, telling you to do this, do that, etc, it can be unnerving to a young person.  
The two would look at each other, mother calming her daughter while ignoring the noise 
and activity going on in between them.  

I wanted to show that link, the connection between them in spite 
of being on opposite sides of the photo.

Had to fiddle awhile in editing to gain something. It's all a learning process. 
Learned something new to apply in future situations. 

Between shots, Faith would quietly wait as the shutterbugs tried to figure out their light meters, set apertures, fiddle with ISO, swap lenses, adjust lighting, etc. etc. She is very poised, learning to model, a volunteer too. 

Waiting for the next body hidden behind a camera to ask for a smile... ,  ... ,   ... ,

click, click, hold, hold, hold... Click!

In the end I did snap a few shots that could be considered portraits.  
Took them home and played with some portrait settings with photo editing software.

Here is Faith... with a glamour filter.

But what I consider my best shot of the night is of a club member who was waiting 
while they were setting up the lights. All natural, no makeup, no forced smile,  200% real... 
with a hundred things on his mind.

The Real McCoy

Next week I get back on the road. 
Riding up to northern Idaho for the National Sidecar rally. 

Am looking forward to get some good photos from the road and at the rally.

Ride safe ya'll


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Northern New Mexico in June

Being in New Mexico for the last two weeks has been a challenge, moving from a multi-level condo to a one level unit. Stairs are the bane of those getting older.

Nevertheless, did get out with the sidecar rig and camera to visit a few of my favorite old Spanish missions. Not too early though as temperatures were down into the thirties in the mornings.

Just south of Taos lies Rancho de Taos where the San Fransico de Asis Mission is found.

These old stucco missions are in constant state of repair. The mud and straw bricks don't last long if they get much rain.  The walls are as much as six feet thick.

In Las Trampas, is the San Jose de Garcia Mission..

The setting sun turned the adobe walls a rich golden color showing the cracks in the mud walls.

Found a new old building to photograph in Truchas, NM. 
Looks like an old school house, the sign now says Art Gallery.

This weekend is Balloons over Angel Fire, so looking up this is what one sees...

Picking out a few of the more colorful ones

Mount Wheeler makes a great backdrop for the colorful hot air balloons

Rising higher...

Here comes another drifting by...

Not sure how many personas are in the basket. Maybe two....

When out taking pics, is important to look down once in a while too....  

spotted colonies of dozens and dozens of Gunnison's Prairie Dogs, also called marmots. Though wikipedia shows marmots as having long tails like ground squirrels. These critters have very short tails.

This one was keeping watch on me... 

Twin sentinels, mama teaching her young to look both ways before crossing.

Kissing' Cuzins

Tomorrow I head back to Texas, but will return again in July for more exploring and photos.

Ride safe, ya'll


Friday, May 24, 2019

Anderson's Ohio River Ferry

NOTE: If using SAFARI as your browser, have discovered that comments posted to this blog will not appear, but will disappear. When using SAFARI, even my replies to your comments disappear. Apple and Google are not communicating with each other. 

I suggest you use CHROME or any other browser to post comments here. I apologize if you wondered why I never responded to your comments. I did but they disappeared. 


After being stuck in non-moving traffic on I-75 in downtown Cincinnati, frustration finally overcame and I dove onto the nearest off ramp into a local neighborhood. Looking for a sign, I see "US-50 East - West". Hmmm, west is the direction I want to go. West and south back home to Texas.

US-50 follows along the north bank of the Ohio River in Southwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, meandering thru old economically depressed river towns with rusting structures of former industries. Several years back Rudy, David and I rode Russian Ural sidecars from the Atlantic Ocean terminal of old US-50 all the way to the Pacific end in California, but for some reason we skipped over the Cincinnati section of the road.

A small sign on the side of the road points toward the river, saying only "Ferry". Hmm, wonder if one is still operating here. Pulling in behind several other cars waiting, I spot the tariff sign, but no ferry in sight. Looks more like a boat launch than a ferry crossing. Anderson Ferry sign looks recent though.... ?

Looking beyond the sign, there appears to be, maybe... a small ferry on the far bank? 
Prices are affordable, motorcycles - $2.

Not seeing any movement in the distance, start to wonder if a ferry is even running today. Maybe the cars are just picnickers on the riverbank....  though the sign has hours of operation posted.

From the west comes a large empty barge into view, plowing its way up river. A small recreational speed boat zips past the barge.

With the passing of the barge, I spot movement as a small vessel works its way over to the north side of the Ohio where I stand. Its' noisy engine struggling to keep from being swept downstream.

Expertly the Pilot sticks the off load ramp almost on the roadway.

No ropes, no anchors, just the ferry's engine and an experienced riverboat pilot hold the ferry in place so vehicles can quickly offload and reload.

First roll off the $2 motorcycles...

Deborah A will carry us safely across the wide river. The ferry only holds a dozen cars and trucks. The temperature is a warm 80 degrees, sunny, not windy. Can not imagine what it would be like to use this ferry in the middle of a winter blizzard.

There is a story about the deckhand falling overboard several years ago in the middle of winter. He was not discovered missing until the Capitan had reached the other side. There are only two workers on the ferry at any time, the Capitan/Pilot and the deckhand. Riders were bundled up in their cars, staying warm. No one saw the man fall into the frigid waters or know how it happened. His body was found two miles downriver.

As we near the south shoreline, can see there are two older smaller ferries docked.  
One, Boone No.7 is a side wheel paddle boat. 

The Anderson Ferry has been in operation since at least 1817, but they say a ferry operated at this location many years before that. Is now in the historical record books.

I have crossed the Ohio River many times on two, three and four wheels over bridges, but this is the first for crossing on a ferry that I did not know even existed.

On the south shore is the historic Anderson homestead and the main terminal for the ferry operation. Behind the house is an old barn where they housed the horses that were used to power the early ferries across the river. Yes, the early ferries were powered by two blind horses walking on a treadmill, each powering the paddle wheel on their side of the ferry.

The south side landing is more remote and off the beaten path. Historic car collectors favor this old crossing as do motorcyclists. This type of slow leisurely travel I can enjoy.
Slow moving Interstates try my patience. 

Enjoy a small piece of Americana for only two bucks. I never would have found this historic treasure if it had not been for the modern traffic snarl in Cincinnati,... and my impatience with snail traffic.

For more information on the Anderson Ferry, go to:


Handmade tamales

A recent sidecar gathering for Texas and Louisiana sidecar riders, Art and Rosa fed the group homemade tamales.

The rally gathered at the KOA Campgrounds in Rusk, then rode to Alto, Texas for breakfast.

More than twenty-five sidecar rigs line the small Texas town street, in spite of the rainy weather forecast.

Different colors, brands, models and ages, enjoying life on three wheels.

Only in Texas...  
a bit too late to post that, me thinks.

Ride safe and long ya'll


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Big EZ

From the fly-n-ride in bringing Big Ez back home to Texas,  determined this rig needs a few modifications. Specifically a place to stretch and rest both legs on long distance rides. 

Between the bike and the sidecar was an easy fix as had made this particular mod on other rigs. Cut two long aluminum angle bars, pop rivet them together to create a flat ledge. Cut out a notch on either end so it lays flat on top of the subframe bars. Attach it using U-bolts. Adding non-skid tape on the top surface helps with a better foot grip.

Adding a foot rest on the left side in front of the gear shift lever was a little more tricky. The final solution was so obvious, but only after my first attempt failed. Looking through my various surplus parts boxes, found a rear passenger foot peg with mount from a KLR650. Drilled an extra hole, cut spacers and mounted it using the existing two sub-frame bolts. Done.

Is not for standing on. Is a highway peg to stretch and rest the left leg.

This afternoon I took the rig to one of my favorite photo sites near Field Store.
Many trees with lots of spanish moss waving in the wind. 

To cap off the "look",  added a BMW emblem from their line of performance cars.

Ride safe my friends, see you on down the road.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

GSA/EZS Last Day Wrap Up

The last ride day on the road was a long slog across a swath of Texas. 

Started early in Sanderson before most people were up. The streets and town were strangely empty for a Tuesday morning. The schools buses were not even out yet. 

From Sanderson, only 132 miles to Del Rio via Langtry, Home of Judge Roy Bean of Old West Frontier Justice fame. Near the border in Del Rio turn left and head east for Uvalde. Only 54 miles away. Dash gauge shows I've only ridden 135 miles on this tank of gas. Another 54 miles should be no problem. Remember I calculated on the second day that this rig has a 220-250 mile range...
Passing the 24 miles to Uvalde sign, a light on the dash flashes, signaling I have 18 miles of gas left.... Oh, oh... Hmmm, not so good. 

Maybe the gas gauge goes through the second half of the tank faster than it does the first half. 
Or calculations of range when riding a leisurely 55-60 are not the same as when riding at 75+ mph?  
Ya think?

Make note to self... start carrying a spare gas can, preferably full of gas. 

Riding strategy time: stay in sixth gear, drop the rpms to 3000 and hold the speed around 45 in order to maximize fuel economy. Done.

Every 'miles to Uvalde' sign passed says more miles to ride than what the dash information is telling me the bike can do. 

At the border checkpoint, guards ask questions, want to know all about the cool rig. When I ask if anyone there can sell me a gallon of gas. Sorry Charlie, not today. 
Oh, by the way, "Are you a US citizen?"

Spotting a railroad service truck, swing over to ask if they have gas. 
"Sorry, all of our trucks use diesel fuel."

Nursing the bike along, hoping and praying. We finally roll pass the Uvalde city limits sign, coasting into first gas station encountered with 2 miles remaining of fuel. The station is old and run down. Since BMW recommends using premium fuel I select that and try to start the pump. Hmmm... seems no one comes to this station to buy premium as the lever is stuck, difficult to move to open the position. Oh oh, there might be water or contaminants in this stale premium fuel. Decide to pump just enough to get me across town to the newer stations where I can buy fresh premium fuel. 

Back on the road we roll on, passing through heavy congested San Antonio traffic, merging onto Interstate 10 to Houston.

Moving along fine at 75+ passing the eighteen wheelers, pickups and cars for 40 miles until traffic slows down to a crawl... Finally coming to a complete standstill.  Is there an accident ahead? Why the back up?

Sitting on the hot pavement of the Interstate with a 75 mph speed limit, we are moving along at zero mph. Soon the sound of the bike's radiator fan is heard. Engine is heating up, not enough air flow.  

Only later as traffic pokes along do we finally reach a sign that says left lane closed ahead, merge right. Road construction...

By 4:30 that afternoon I ride up the driveway at home in Cypress. With just enough time to unload the rig, clean up, and go to the monthly club photo competition night. 

Took one of my favorite Black and White images, came home with a third place ribbon. Tough competition that night. Were many great entries in all three categories.


Rode 1881 miles from the Pacific coast of California back home to southeast Texas.  The electric heating jacket was needed several mornings and well as sunscreen in Big Bend.
Drank lots of water to stay hydrated. 

Nearing home, took some photographs of the rig's three tires to study for wear.

Rear car tire looks to be wearing evenly across the face.

Looking straight on at the front tire, it appears to be wearing a little more to the left due to the slight lean out of the bike. That is considered normal.

The sidecar tire viewed from behind, indicates a little more wear to the outside, away from the tub. That doesn't seem right but will check with the experts before making a final judgement.

Overall am very pleased with the GSA/EZS sidecar rig. 
It is everything I hoped it would be and more... much more! 
Feels very planted on the road at all speeds. 
Easy to steer and handle.
Comfortable for long hours in the saddle.
Very well built and solid subframe.
The bike has more than enough power to do anything you ask of it.
The sidecar is aerodynamic giving little wind resistance.
The tub body is thick fiberglass, sturdy with a steel cage around it.
The BMW GSA is a huge machine, larger than the GS or any other BMW model, 
but handles smoothly, with little effort.

I can see this rig giving me many, many, many miles of riding pleasure. 

That may be this rig's well earned new name...

Big  Ezy

Ride safe and long my friends,