Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Texas Sidecar Open House

In March, the Texas Sidecar Company hosted its annual open house in Donie, TX. I took advantage of the nice weather to visit with Kent Silk, the owner, and his growing crew. 

One of his satisfied customers arrived with her happy daughter.  
Mom looks pretty pleased with her hack.

Before the workshop was overflowing with visitors, clients, and potential clients,
I was able to capture several images of sidecar rigs in production.

A KTM 690 Adventure rig with an adventure sidecar. 
This is a new sidecar model for TSC.
The sidecar "monkey" does more standing than sitting on this type of sidecar.

This is not your typical blue sidecar rig.
 It is a one-of-a-kind, custom build for a client 
who wanted a sidecar for his Janus 450 motorcycle.
Kent mentioned that this beautiful rig was almost ready for delivery to the client, but 
they were waiting for one more black powder-coated wheel for the sidecar. 
When you build a rig of this caliber, you can't give the customer mismatched wheels. 

This is a beautiful attention-getting town rig. Has that antique vibe. 
Due to dim indoor lighting and strong sun light. you can't tell but the blue and gold of the tub perfectly match the colors on the bike.

A black and silver Harley rig is complete, awaiting the client to come ride it home.
Kent and his crew are sticklers for details and quality work. 

This Indian rig is also complete, waiting for its out-of-state owner to ride it out the front door.

Texas Sidecar does not have an inventory of rigs ready for sale. Everything here is a customer's bike. Either being fitted with a sidecar or having work done on their rigs.

I understood that their backlog of work is currently at six months. If you want a sidecar built 
for riding this summer, you are out of luck. Better order now for summer riding next year.

By ten a.m., visitors started rolling in from all over the State of Texas. 
The weather is beautiful, a free lunch and friendly sidecarists are on hand. 
What more could you ask for?

Rigs were lining up as they arrived. Soon the parking area would be full.
It might be March, but the Spring riding season has already arrived in central Texas.

Of course, as found at any sidecar gathering, there is walking around admiring the different rigs, asking questions, greeting old friends, and thinking about what your next rig might look like. 
So many ideas, so many possibilities, so many questions. 

Anyone who has been around sidecars very long realizes there is no standard look or brand of motorcycle involved. There is no production line that pops out sidecars like a cookie-cutter.
Every sidecar is unique. Unique set up for every owner.  Unique for different purposes.

From the dirt-bashing KTM adventure rig shown above to the smooth Harley highway cruiser 
to the antique-looking Janus town rig. All unique to satisfy the owner's intended use.

Even if it is just to make a child smile.
Memories are made of this.

Well done Kent, Ana, and crew.
The Texas Sidecar business is growing and thriving in Donie, Texas.

Ride safe and long Y'all


Thursday, April 4, 2024

2024 Spring Wanderings

 Though I have been taking a variety of photos this Spring, have been distracted from posting them. 
Time to catch up a little.

Driving across southern New Mexico, captured an image of this abandoned building after a rain storm.

The next afternoon we visited the San Francisco de Asis Mission in Rancho de Taos, NM.
The warm late afternoon sun painted the broad west stucco wall with shadows

Of course, while there, I had to try a couple of B&W shots, too.

Every winter the freezing temperatures cause the abode walls to flake. Each Spring the parishioners gather to hand plaster the stucco for another year.

Someone's backyard door opens up to the Mission Plaza. 
The cold blue gate with the sun warming the inner courtyard caught my attention. 
Felt like you were standing in the cold, looking at a warm, sunny world on the other side.


The failing light cast long shadows across the old Mission's gravel plaza.


A month later we made a trip to Georgia. 
After raining hard all night long, 
a bright morning sun beckoned to explore the woods behind the motel...

...so with the camera in hand, I did.

Among the trees and brush, I tried different compositions, with and without color.

This started with a 'meh' picture, 
Then remembered that a well-known photographer stated, 
"if a photo is uninteresting, get closer... (or crop tighter)".

So I did.
Catching sunlight reflecting off the new leaf growth.

Then again with dead leaves that refused to fall...

...crop tighter. That's better.

We'll wrap up this Blog Post with a moss-covered fallen tree. 

Here I was playing with light and shadows. Letting the sun illuminate bits and pieces of a scene while I tried different camera settings.

What I enjoy about photography, besides satisfying my creative urges, is there is no final destination. It is a never-ending journey of learning to see and try new techniques and different processes. 

One is constantly learning. There is no end game, no graduation, no diploma certifying one is a photographer. Just the satisfaction of knowing one is engaged and learning something new every day you pick up the camera.

Ride safe, ride far my friends


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Barbudos de Castilla y León (Spanish Bearded Men)

Barbudos de Castilla y León
Bearded Spanish Men of Castile and León)


The greatest obstacle to taking great street portraits is not gear, training, or even opportunity. It is something larger, more petrifying, more difficult to confront… that overwhelming dread that stunts us, that holds us back from realizing our potential…  our fear of rejection!


As humans we all fear rejection, What if they say No?  What if they get mad… even yell?  What if…what if.. what if… and the world moves on as we stew.


Our natural inclination is to shy away from asking complete strangers on the street if we can take their picture. There will be no rejection if we never ask. But then how will we ever get better?


W. Clement Stone, a well-known motivational speaker, said, “Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.” That action was what I was determined to take in 2023. Once and for all conquer my fear of asking strangers for their photo.

***   ***   ***


Last Fall in Spain, three men told me No when I asked to take their picture. The next one hundred and ninety men agreed or did not stop me from taking their photograph. What you see here today are select images from those one hundred and ninety that resulted by taking action to conquer an old fear.


Some are young men with dark beards, others older gentlemen with grey hairs shining through. Some men stopped and posed for a photograph while other images were caught as the men carried on their daily business. In all, this distinguished group represents a portion of the real men of Spain, no actors, no models, no politicians, no fake machismo. All real and admirable.

The bearded men targeted for a photo were those who displayed pride in their facial hair. Making it easy to quickly exclude those who looked like they had forgotten to shave for a week. Clean shaven men and ladies were ignored. Next time ladies...
These Spanish men were accepting and open to being photographed by a stranger in the street. The overall experience was positive and meeting so many wonderful people in Valladolid was enjoyable. I can highly recommend that any street photographer should experience firsthand the welcoming nature of the Spanish people.  

These images captured a thread of a story about the rich visual heritage and culture 
of the Spanish men with beards. Take a look...

...starting with the younger men...

Men with that seafaring look...
though we are far from the sea.

His red beard...

Coffee break for the businessman...

The barber from Bilbao....

Bicycles are common on the pedestrian streets...

Jealous of their flowing locks of hair...

His daily bread...

The bakery chef...

Smoking is still common in Spain...

El abuelo (grandfather)...

Best of friends for many years...

The professor...

If you recognize any of these men, let them know I kept my word.
 Their images are now published for the world to see. 

Obviously, I could not use all 190 images.  Nevertheless, these represent a varied cross-section of the wonderful bearded men I met. These photos will be included in a showing this Fall in Houston.

I plan to return once more to Valladolid in northern Spain for a different photography challenge. 
Maybe we'll meet over a cup of coffee.

Ride safe, ride long


Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Favorite Photos of 2023

Two thousand and twenty-three was both an interesting and challenging year. I had committed myself to only use a black and white camera for twelve months starting in October of 2022. However I still used my iPhone now and then when a camera was not available or when a color image was called for. 

By focusing on black & white, or monochrome images, I forced myself to improve my skills in seeing shapes, lines, forms and texture. All of which are builkding blocks for making a better, stronger image.
In all, am satisfied with the photos captured and the improvements made in 2023.

Now lets see the results, start with a few color images.
Only two photos in the final selection had no people in them. Of late, I tend to photograph people I encountered on the street or at some event. Many strangers will posed for me if asked in a polite way, and others were captured without their knowledge when an opportunity presented itself. Now and then again I'll photograph a landscape or create a travel photo, such as...

 Old Wooden Pier
Seal Beach, CA

and then it's back to... people.
Hempstead Cowboy

Mexican Vaquero
Hempstead, TX

F. Fellini Family Matriarch

Young and Old
Valladolid, Spain

Five thirty AM, where is my choir?
Hempstead, TX

Political Street Demonstration
Plaza Major, Spain

Five O'clock somewhere... Street Cafe
Valladolid, Spain

A tribute to Edward Hopper, 
Spanish Nighthawks
Valladolid, Spain

Hot Havana Nights

Five AM Prayer Time
Hempstead, Texas

Now we get into the monochrome photos.

White Sands Solitude
New Mexico

Small Town Taxi

Young Love
Havana Cuba

Cooling Off
Havana, Cuba

Building Tobacco Drying Shed
Valle Viñales, Cuba

Adapting the new to the old, Oxen Cart
Valles Viñales, Cuba

Childhood Memories
Central Texas

Street and Model Portraits

Red Beard
Valladolid, Spain

Sister Sister
Valldolid, Spain

French Chef
Valladolid, Spain

Retired and Happy
Burgos, Spain

Havana, Cuba

Street Performer
Havana, Cuba

Aspiring Model
Houston, Texas

Jerry Brown, Photographer
Fayetteville, Texas

Juergen, a German Businessman
Havana, Cuba

Porkpie Hat Blows Jazz
Valladolid, Spain

Havana Social Club

Popular Cuban Entertainer
Havana, Cuba

Salsa Moves the Soul
Havana, Cuba

Dancing in Sync
Havana Social Club

No, No, No
Havana Social Club, Cuba

And those are the ones that made the final cut out of the couple thousand photos taken in 2023. 

In 2024 we return to color photography but still occasionally making B&W prints.

Ride safe, see you on down the road,