Thursday, September 24, 2009

San Antonio Day 5 -- Thursday 17 Sep 2009

Thursday was my last full day in San Antonio. I had nothing specific to do, the customer had left town and my coworkers all had their own stuff to do. I had expect either customer meetings or further meetings with my collaborator on the specification we were working on, but he too left this day.

Luckily, a lot of people I work with moved in and out of the common areas, so I was able to meet with them off and on all day. Not at all wasted.

I managed to catch images off and on all day, and to take a nice walk later on, so I will focus on that for this blog post (as usual.) The day dawned brilliantly bright and sunny ... and I finally got the chance to photograph a building across the street that naggingly brought imaged of the Thames and London to my mind. Guess why ...



Ok ... the answer is that the Thames' south bank is a famous tourist walkway that I've spent massive amounts of time on ... my hotel is almost always within minutes and I just like the atmosphere along the Thames. Anyway ... this is not the South Bank ... well, ok, it is ... but not that one :-)

Looking down on that jazz club in the back of the hotel from above, the umbrellas look terrific in formation.


And looking at the roof of the building across the street (South Bank :-) we see a really cool sign that says "Save the Planet" ... I don't know who's responsible for it, but it's neat.


Zooming back out, this Hyatt has floor to ceiling windows everywhere, and the little Fuji loves blue sky.


Rather decent detail on the vine-covered walls ...

Looking inward from lobby level, we see the nice pools on the river level ...


And across the way, the lobby bar hangs peculiarly from the lobby level ...


I shot a couple of closer images of the pool ... one at higher ISO to freeze the water ...


And one at lower ISO to blur the water ...


I'm curious if anyone noticed that there is 3 stops difference between these images .... the first was at 1600 ISO and the last at 200 ISO (to slow shutter and blur the water.) The cam is pretty remarkable at high ISO ...

There's a really nice plant above the falls with very nice smooth leaves ... kind of a wet suit texture ... rich ...




I shot the other image at 1600 ISO and the difference is apparent in the less "liquid" feel ... it simply looks more "digital" because of the extra grain. And yet, had I shown only this image, would anyone have really noticed?

Sometime later, I went up to my room for something and, you guessed it, shot those buildings across the street for a couple of minutes :-)


I had not noticed that this was a court house until this day. At 270mm, it resolves the roof details pretty well.


And then that building to the left with those lovely bricks and details ... shot it several times now.


But this time, it occurred to me to try the digital zoom. I don;t quite remember how much zoom it has, but it goes pretty far ...


Tell me you aren't impressed :-) I've shown the street before, and the bottom of that specific building. It's pretty far away ... yet full DZ brings it fairly close, if a bit crudely.


Ok, I decided to really show the difference ... first, here is a fairly ugly wide angle image.


Note two things in that image ... the truck, and the flag top right. Now ... the truck at full optical zoom is pretty impressive (10x) ...


But at full digital zoom, wow.


And the flag ...


Ok ... end of that test segment. Although the digitally magnified images are not spectacularly clean, they are fun. I think I'd get a better image by cropping ... but I'll have to test to be sure. Fuji have been getting pretty good at this aspect. One thing, I prefer to work on the noise before it is magnified.

Later in the evening, I decided to take to the streets to check out the village ... La Vilita. Another historic area, like the Alamo. Since it was on the Alamo's street (which has Alamo in the name), I took the usual passage from the hotel. Shooting the mini river level from above, the scene is rather lush.



And of course Losoya still protects the passage with this really big gun ...


There is a map of the area that might be useful here ...


And of course another crack at the flowers and the falls ... this one is quite dreamy ...


The waterfall I like to shoot is the perfect bath for pigeons ...


There's a nice shot of a simple water feature with nice plants in front. Of course, I can easily isolate a nice scene with the big lens ...


Oh ... more flowers :-)


And looking up this time ...


I chased a bunch of pigeons around and got a lot of blurry shots. But I caught one just the right way.


And then I arrive at the street, facing the Alamo. First thing I see is good ole 102 coming up the street.


Then I shoot across the street to show the area in front of the Alamo and the mission on its left. The big umbrella is a hot dog stand that sits there most of the time.


A little out of this image on the left is a huge monument.


Designed by Pompeo Coppini, an Italian sculptor transplanted to Texas, the Alamo Cenotaph stands a mere 60 feet above the pavement.

There was a plan to build an enormous monument in 1912, but the $2M could not be raised. Read about that here.



Impressive, no doubt.

Across from where I am standing to shoot the monument, I get a good view of the boarded windows of the Alamo mission. A woman stands waiting for the hubby and kid.


Back of the Alamo is the Crockett Hotel. It's actually pretty far from here, and someone told me that I should never stay there. I like the Hyatt enough that I am quite likely to go back there should I ever visit on my own.


At this point, I begin the walk to La Vilita. I noted the "Space Needle" like structure and it turns out to be much taller than the one in Seattle. They call it the "Tower of the Americas" and it stands 750 feet tall, quite a bit taller than Seattle's tower which stands at 605 feet.


Apparently, the fast elevator ride is quite the rush.

I came to a huge traffic circle ... a few of the trolleys making their way through. I like these things, I don't know why ...


I wander along the street and see a store that pretty says it all ....


I then ran into one of those stores that sells novelty t-shirts ... you know the type. I saw a shirt for budding writers ...


And one for budding doctors ...


Inspiring :-/

Still at the round, I note how nice the "art" is ... I actually like it, although it does tend to kind of stick out :-)


Another trolley blows by ...


I cross and pass a historic sign and ... well ... whatever. Not quite sure what this is in front of, but there are many significant buildings on this route ... well worth the stroll, even if my brain won't retain ...


As I walk, I cross a bridge over the river walk. This is the other part of the loop. I pause to shoot the scene ... the Chamber of Commerce has its offices here ... a very nice spot.


One of those boats comes out from under the bridge ...


Colorful or what ...


There is a very fine-leafed bush on the right bank by the bridge, so I shoot that at full zoom ...


So how sharp is that lens again?


What a nerd. Great lens though ...

I crossed a street leading to La Vilita and the sun lit it nicely ... so I shot it.


Reminds me of a joke ... hunter walking through woods, sees half naked girl tied to a tree ... he asks "are you game?" ... she smiles coyly and says "yes" ... he shoots her.

Anyway ... I arrive ...


The entrance area is bracket by a right angle of huge potted plants ... lovely.



And a metal horsey :-)



It's basically a small village with narrow streets and small shops. There is a church of course ....




One of the small buildings ...


To quote Eric Clapton ... I fought the CA and the CA won ... I don't mind displaying the image as a memory ... but the above could never make a decent print without painstaking work on the weird blue leaves ...

Here is one of the more clever shop names ... a lot of artists and galleries set up here ...



There's a wicked little jeep behind one of the larger buildings ... kind of reminds me of a great big lawn tractor ...


A shop called Scentchips caters to the new age crowd I suppose ... really smells of pouporri and incense in there ...


I sniffed from outside and so never claimed my free sniffs.

Here's one where I fought the CA and *I* won :-)


Pretty little court yard at the street ... and across from there is a law office run apparently by my eldest ...


Another gallery with a great big plant ...


Facing the street again, a trolley stops behind the trellis ...


Looking down a side street, they decorate in festival style.


One of the buildings in the court yard looks like a church on the outside, but more like a bar on the inside ...


A fountain stands in the court yard, but is only a monument to conservation right now ...


Going around a corner, I see a nicely lit passage going to the River Theatre.


And there it is ...


Through the arch, I see I have arrived at the river walk again, and this theatre must be awesome during plays or concerts. The seats are pretty old school ...


A couple of young ones enjoy the scenery ...


Zooming in on the bridge at the left ...


Looking back up the steps ...


Pretty place to sit ...



Boats traveling under the bridge and away ...


A shot of what I think is the Little Rhein restaurant. It is raised above the walkway. And I lost the CA battle on this one too ... didn't try very hard though.


Walking along, I notice that the duck population has exploded on this part of the river. One fellow taking a rest from swimming.


A pretty female comes pretty close.


A couple of males ...



And one comes right in after a dip ...


I like this pose from what looks like the same duck ...


A female being nosy :-)


A nice view of the men at work a little further down the river ... well, not actually at work. At play somewhere else I suppose.


A water taxi zips by ... I catch the very excited passengers ...


A close up on that way cool Bobcat backhoe thingy ...


Near another bridge I have clearly arrived at the traffic circle again as the art work comes into view ...



Below the bridge is some sort of official boat ... almost looks like something you'd find in the Everglades ...


More ducks a little further along ... these are heavy crops, as the ducks were on the other side. They seemed in a feisty mood, so I tried capturing this flapping behavior.


Now, remember that these are also shot at 1600 ISO ... so anything I get here is really impressive from a distance across the river ...


Fairly grainy, but not hopeless ... the next one is very grainy because it was a dark scene and he was really far away. So I pulled a Topaz Adjust and went for an artsy treatment ...


I came across yet another water feature next ...


This feature is under a bridge, and on the other side they built a restaurant. Every bit of space is valuable on the River Walk.


This couple sat there for a long time looking at the phone. Maybe they were shooting images of themselves. It was dark enough that the images would have sucked, although this is ok at 200 ISO.




Across the way, a little mexican band was being stereotypically musical and cheerful.


Ran across another tough guy ...


And now I was hungry, so I made a characteristically bad choice ... the Rainforest Restaurant :-)


This one has the distinction of being the only 3 story one in ... well, I can't remember. Maybe the only one period. The atmosphere is great for kids ... this Gorilla scared the sh*t out of a young one right behind me. I counted at least 6 kids within 10 feet of me. But they were behaved pretty well and it brought back some fond memories.


Here is is when he is quiet.


By the way ... these Gorillas are almost invisible ... it is *dark* in there ... these were shot at 3200 ISO ... not bad for a really small compact ...

After the meal, I popped over to the aquarium on this floor (each floor had a massive aquarium ... I used to have a 70 gallon tank and I'd guess these for at least 6 times that size .,.. perhaps much more.)


Not sure what that was, but the next two are a Clown Trigger Fish. One of my favorites, along with the Picasso Trigger.



Detail and color acceptable for 3200 ISO? It is to me ...

Here's a Niger Trigger ...


And my last shot at the restaurant ... a nice wide view of a Yellow Tang reflected in the back glass ...


At this point it was late and I wandered back to the hotel. And low and behold, a window :-)


Sun was just peeking over the horizon and lighting the tops of the buildings ... I liked the unique and warm light, so I thought I might try to capture an image of that scene for posterity ... along, of course, with the other dozen or two of images ... amazingly, that black truck is still there ...



And that ended Thursday's adventure. A very long walk ... a sore Achilles tendon (frak!) ... and it got a lot worse before it started getting better ... *sigh* ...

6 comments:

Lili said...

Nice series Kim and nice show case for the F70 in its intended use; travel/documentary camera.
The DZ is really quite nice and makes this little camera even more versatile.
The Price is dropping on Amazon as we talk....

Kim Letkeman said...

Wow! You must have seen them within 5 minutes of publishing. I think the cam in an incredible travel cam. I may not bother with the dSLR again unless the location is moderately exotic.

Lili said...

LOL, I just happened to check in after getting home from Dinner.
AS to carrying it to exotic locales, my take is ANY picture is better than none at all.
Granted the DSLR will blow it away in IQ, but this is a much lighter and smaller load.

Kim Letkeman said...

Yeah ... I nearly broke my back carrying the D2Hs, D70s, 18-200VR, 50mm and 10-20 to London and then Stonehenge, Lacock and Bath. I was crippled for days. But it was worth it ... that's the kind of location where the F70EXR is not enough. Although I would certainly have it there and shoot backup images to see if the DR modes make a difference.

Lili said...

LOL, I don't any DSLR as as 'back-breaker' (unless one's got a bad back to start with) but It can get tiring.
Of course on really cool trip such as you describe, a sore shoulder is well worth it for the results.
I've a good friend who ia big Nikon guy. our last outing he had the D2x AND his new D300 and ton of lenses. I took my e410 and both kit lenses. There was a Regatta on Lake Grapevine and 300mm-e just was not enough for me.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/colette_noir/3336266344/sizes/l/in/set-72157607934759506/
This was a fairly heavy crop.
He was getting, despite the flat light, much better results with his Nikon and a fairly huge zoom (I disremember which). On the way back we stopped at wolf and I got my 70-300mm Zuiko.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3559/3367544710_281cccd8a0_b.jpg

Kim Letkeman said...

I didn't mention that I had all this gear in the wrong case ... the CompuDayPack, a terrible case for heavy gear ...