Category Archives: photography

Shooting Up (Photo Gear)

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It’s hard to see, but I’ve circled my Nikon 1 V2 camera that was attached to my CamelBak strap while I hiked the Grand Canyon.

When I started my research for my South to North Rim crossing of the Grand Canyon, naturally I was as concerned about the photographic end of it as I was the hike. I wanted to snap those iconic pics of the Big Ditch as much as I wanted to successfully trek across it.

The first question, of course, was which camera to use besides my trusty iPhone 7 Plus. I didn’t think the iPhone would have the image quality I needed to do a great job capturing the beauty of the Grand Canyon. But I wasn’t about to carry the camera that does have great IQ, my beloved Nikon D610, which is way too heavy and too valuable to risk dropping it to its possible death.

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The Nikon 1 V2 is hanging from its Peak Design Cuff tether. Arrowed is the Peak Design Capture, which held the V2 when not in use.

So I decided to buy a used Nikon 1 V2 mirrorless camera . . . even though I have an even-older Nikon 1 V1. I liked that the V2 has a built-in flash, better image quality, and better build. And it’s a great size for hiking. I added a Nikon 1 6.7-13mm wide-angle lens and was hopeful I’d be getting amazing shots. By the way, Sony seems to be producing the best mirrorless cameras these days. Hikers really like them.

The next question was how to best tote the V2 and keep it out of the way when I was hiking with my trekking poles. I experimented with a small camera bag, but it was too awkward on my CamelBak Sundowner 22. Fortunately, I already owned the answer: The Peak Design Capture. This handy device allows you to securely clip a camera (using an included quick-release plate) to straps and belts. One push of a button frees the camera for easy use. I practiced with it before the crossing and felt it would do the trick.

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A close-up of my CamelBak’s tethering system: “A” points to the oval link attached to the strap and the Cuff (“B”). “C” is the V2 on the Capture.

Of course, being a mom with a mantra of “better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it” (as my sons well know!), I wanted to tether the camera to the CamelBak strap just in case it slipped out of my hands. I didn’t want the V2 to tumble down into an abyss, never to be seen again.

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An Indigo Marble camera strap tether

My first step was to see what Amazon had to offer. The Indigo Marble camera strap tether looked interesting, so I ordered it. Unfortunately, the rope on the one I received was defective, so I sent it back. But seeing what the metal carabiner was like made me realize that I could come up with my own tether setup that would be sturdier. A mere buck or so bought me a 3/16-inch quick link (it twists open and closed) at Home Depot. I added a Peak Design Cuff wrist strap and voila! My homemade tethering system was born. And it worked great! The V2 was secure both on and off the clip.

Looking at my hundreds of photos, I was pleased with the performance of both the V2 and the iPhone 7 Plus. Both helped me capture and remember an epic experience. With a bigger sensor, the V2’s photos are more detailed and will look better in larger sizes. But the iPhone definitely has a terrific camera that’s always handy.

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Some of the trillion steps on the South Kaibab Trail descent. (Snapped with the V2)

Pics like this one will look great in the Grand Canyon photobook I intend to make . . . one of these days!

One-Word Wednesday

I’m back shooting disc golf now that my thumb joint feels better. Here C.J. tees off.

I’m back shooting disc golf now that my thumb joint feels better. Here C.J. tees off during yesterday’s Southwest Handicap Mini at Community Park.

Return!

The Mister putts.

The Mister putts.

Eric tests the wind direction.

Eric tests the wind direction.

My baby boy sails in a par putt.

My baby boy sails in a par putt.

Making Good On a Promise

C.J. is ready to blow out the candle on his mini pizookie at BJ's.

C.J. is ready to blow out the candle on his mini pizookie during lunch at BJ’s.

Every so often, my ever-lovin’ though sometimes ornery younger son will look at me and say, “Remember my birthday last year? I still can’t believe we didn’t go to Dave and Buster’s.” Then cue the fake sigh.

As I cue my own real sigh, I must admit that I do feel bad about last year, even though C.J. and the rest of the Core 4 seemed to have a great time at Tilt Studio. Which is why I had promised him an eventual trip to D&B. Yesterday I fulfilled it.

The guys walk towards their world of fun.

The guys walk towards their world of fun.

Yep, my newly minted 19-year-old got to spend his birthday with his big brother and Ricky, Jared, and RJ at Dave and Buster’s in Houston. The Mister and I went along to act as chauffeur and ATM. Plus we always enjoy watching the guys have a great time. Which they did!

Sharpshooter!

Sharpshooter!

Most of their $20 Power Cards were wasted spent on a couple of basketball games that they played numerous times. All five of them love to hoop it up.

Lotsa tix

It’s a handful.

One of the best parts for them, besides trash talking each other, was racking up tickets. Once all the money was gone, it was time to see how much they had earned.

As a veteran mom, I knew that most of the prizes were going to be lame and cost lots of tickets. D&B, after all, is just Chuck E. Cheese’s with better food and games and without the rat. But the guys still enjoyed checking out the store and picking out their rewards (except for Jared, who is saving up his winnings).

Jared, Ricky, C.J., RJ, and Jake pose with Bumblebee.

Jared, Ricky, C.J., RJ, and Jake pose with Bumblebee.

As we were walking out of D&B, C.J. said, “You know, last year’s place was okay. But Dave and Buster’s was a lot more fun!”

Glad you had a birthday that’s as wonderful as you are, my sweet son!

Giving Thanks to Our War Heroes

The flag panel partially obstructs the Remembrance Tower.

The flag panel partially obstructs the Remembrance Tower.

Ever since last September when I saw that an unusual-looking building had been finished in our nearby Memorial Park, I’ve wanted to check it out.

Yesterday being part of Memorial Day weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to drive over with the Mister and finally view the Sugar Land Veterans Memorial.

The Mister is dwarfed by the Remembrance Tower.

The Mister is dwarfed by the Remembrance Tower.

There’s a much-bigger, better-known Memorial Park in Houston, but that doesn’t make our smaller version any less meaningful. Especially now that there’s a true memorial along the mile-long, crushed-granite path that surrounds a manmade lake.

The Army insignia

The Army symbol

The memorial is guarded by a concrete flag panel, which serves as a gateway to the 50-foot, pentagonal tower. Each wall features a branch of the military, with its insignia in the nearby sidewalk.

While the outside of the tower looks impressive, it’s what’s inside that truly matters. The entrance is on the lakeside, away from the potential hustle and bustle of the walking path. I was equally jarred by the imposing quiet and the names etched into four of the five panels (none from the U.S. Coast Guard), those from our small community who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.

#7832-(marine-names)U.S. Marine Corps

#2397-(army-names)U.S. Army

#2399-(navy-names)U.S. Navy

#2400-(air-force-names)U.S. Air Force

I silently prayed for these brave men and their families, as I hoped that our Veterans Memorial never fills up with names.

Every time I pass by the stark flag and building, I’ll always remember that freedom is not free.

One-Word Wednesday

The Mister, Jake, Josh, real mom Cindy, girlfriend Claire, and real dad Charles surround Chase after he graduated from Rice University last Saturday.

The Mister, Jake, Josh, real mom Cindy, girlfriend Claire, and real dad Charles surround our “third son,” Chase, after he graduated from Rice University last Saturday.

Proud!

The bros: Jake, Chase, and Josh

The leaning bros: Jake, Chase, and Josh

One-Word Wednesday

The boys and the Mister gave me lovely plants and a Chipotle gift card for Mother’s Day.

The boys and the Mister gave me lovely plants and a Chipotle gift card for Mother’s Day.

Mom!

Love my guys!

We saw “The Amazing Spiderman 2” and ate lunch at BJ’s. Love my guys!

Another Milestone Achieved

Why we’re in the Alamodome

Why we’re in the Alamodome

Something about “Pomp and Circumstance” makes me cry. Could be because of what it signifies.

You might think that after watching two emotional high school graduations that my eyes wouldn’t tear up when hearing that standard ceremonial march. But you would be very wrong.

Jake shows off his class ring Green Lantern style.

Jake shows off his class ring in Green Lantern style.

Of course, this time there was much more at stake, because it was Jake’s commencement ceremony from the University of Texas at San Antonio. After four years that seemed to be over in a minute and a half, my older son was set to graduate last Saturday afternoon in the immense Alamodome.

As I waited with the Mister and C.J. for about two hours (which did not fly by) before the start of the festivities, I reminisced about how far my beloved chubby, blue-eyed baby had come. I thought about when we got his acceptance letter from UTSA, orientation, and that painful moment when we moved him into his dorm. Talk about your emotional rides!

Jake seems to enjoy talking to a college official.

Jake seems to enjoy talking to a college official.

Even within a sea of graduates (Jake’s College of Business seniors joined those from the College of Architecture, which included his former roommate Ben, and the College of Public Policy), my eyes were focused only on my son. Watching him walk across the stage to accept his faux diploma (he has to wait a month or so for the real thing) was a moment of immense emotion for me. I couldn’t be prouder of Jake!

The smoke from indoor fireworks and streamers rain down on the graduates.

The smoke from indoor fireworks and streamers rain down on the graduates.

Plus our family added its third alma mater (after my University of Illinois and the Mister’s University of Houston). Go, Roadrunners!! We appreciate and value Jake’s college education.

We’re glad C.J. has long arms!

We’re glad C.J. has long arms!

Once Jake finally found us outside and we snapped a few photos, it was time to move on . . . literally in many ways (well, after we had spent about 20 minutes trying to get out of the parking lot). After dinner at Pei Wei, we put all of the graduate’s possessions in our cars and made the three-hour trek back to Sugar Land where we finally ended our long day’s journey into night and then into day again (we started at 9 a.m. Saturday and returned at 12:15 a.m. Sunday). Everyone was exhausted.

Definitely!

Definitely!

Now Jake gets to relax for a couple weeks before he becomes a working man. How will he handle the transition from school to the real world? All he has to do is remember the fortune he got!