Tag Archives: Sylvia

Rainbow Connection

Sylvia acts out with T-bird for a photo I texted to JJ and Grace, who have moved.

While I was sitting with my fab, long-time neighbors Sylvia and T-bird last Friday evening on T-bird’s driveway, an odd thing happened: The sprinklers suddenly turned on. Most people irrigate in the early-morning hours, but for some reason, these sprinklers were set to go off later. Right next to us.


As we jumped up and moved our chairs, I noticed that there was a rainbow where the sprays from two sets of sprinklers were converging. Naturally, I whipped out my iPhone 4S and snapped a photo.

Getting wet was well worth it!

Little Guys Strut Their Football Stuff

Bryce is ready to rumble.

When my neighbor Sylvia told me that her younger son Bryce was playing youth football, I immediately wanted to watch him in action.

Of course, when I say “watch,” that means snapping a couple hundred photos with my Nikon dSLR.

Sam battles an opposing lineman.

Once I reached the field at a nearby high school and got in position close to the action, another neighbor, Tish, called my name from the stands and got my attention.

“Sam is number one,” she said. That gave me a second shooting target.

The opposition kicks off.

Bryce and Sam play for a second-year youth football league called GridIron in a division with third- and fourth-graders. It was started by Bucky Richardson, who was a star quarterback for Texas A&M and endured a so-so professional career. The kid teams (through sixth grade) are affiliated with the high school squads with the hope that some of these players one day will wear the same colors as freshmen. Which is why the little guys’ uniforms look like the big guys’.

Running and pursuing is the same as with the big kids.

I hadn’t shot youth football since my younger son went on to play in middle school after the sixth-grade age limit; I’m now used to the bigger high school kids. But even though there’s a size difference, football—Texas’ state religion—is football no matter what level.

Runner and defender size each other up.

The sport is still about offense and defense, although there are few passes at the younger level. And the blocking can be a little spotty, because sometimes the little kids aren’t sure which way they’re supposed to go.

Players tackle with passion.

But the younger set plays with as much emotion as their older counterparts. Winning still is more fun than losing, and all of them want to score a touchdown.

Of course, there is one thing that the small fries have over those bigger lugs:

Bryce trots onto the field.

They’re so darned cute!

Buds to Bursts

Hi, Bud!

Meet Bud. He and his family have been sprouting in our front landscaping most of May. In fact, on May 4, one bursting bud was my photo of the day.

It’s crowded in there!

I’ve watched with photographic and gardening interest as the green buds opened up and started to literally spill their guts among our Knock Out roses.

Whatever it is, it’s purple!

Where were these blooms going to go once they left the friendly confines of their green shell? How large would they be and what would be their shape?

Room to grow!

More importantly, what the heck are they?

The plants on one side of the front grow wilder than on the other side.

I finally got my answers by 1) watching Bud change almost every day and 2) via text message from my neighbor Sylvia, who complimented me on our agapanthus. To which I replied, “Are those the big purple flowers?” Yes, they are!

Bud is all growed up!

Of course, I wiki-ed “agapanthus” to get more information. This so-called “lily of the Nile” is native to South Africa. Yet it’s growing well here in southeast Texas! Pretty cool.

Bursts of agapanthus populate our front landscaping.

What I’ve really enjoyed is seeing plant life in our front garden go from green buds to bluish-purple bursts in less than a month. Now I’m wondering how long they’re going to survive!

Practicing for a Light-Filled Photo Shoot

A cute inflatable

When I volunteered to help with a hayride last Saturday, I, of course, had an ulterior motive. The event was run by the ProGrad committee at my sons’ high school in an attempt to raise money for its lock-in the night of high school graduation.

Sidebar: Project Graduation is a supervised, all-night, alcohol-free party for grads where they get fabulous prizes and have a great time. Even the hardly social #1 son plans to attend. Surprised me, that’s for sure. Which meant I had to volunteer.

Snoopy serenades our neighborhood.

The hayride (aka trucks pulling trailers filled with hay bundles) travels through a nearby community, Pecan Grove, that’s renown for its December lightfest. Most of the houses participate in making the many streets look festive and bright. I knew I’d want to go on one of the trucks after my volunteer duties and snap photos of the beautiful houses. I also knew that I’d better practice in my own neighborhood first, so I’d know what to anticipate once the hayride was rolling.

Lit-up snowpeople

My equipment choice was easy: I opted for two low-light champs, the Nikon D700 paired with the Nikon f/1.4 50mm lens. A fast lens like the 50mm lets in a lot of light, enabling me to keep my shutter speed high enough to, hopefully, not blur what I’m shooting.

Why not use flash, you ask? Because it wouldn’t look like you were photographing at night! Everything would be much too bright.

As I walked around my neighborhood, I experimented with exposure compensation in order to deal with the cluster of lights, like with the above snowmen. Without accounting for this extra light by going to an exposure comp of –.7, the snowmen would be blown out and almost unrecognizable. Too much light, just like too little light, can be a bad thing photographically.

Sidebar: Neither my neighbor Sylvia nor the Mister read the above three paragraphs. Their eyes started glazing over once they read “My equipment choice.” I fully understand . . . that’s how I feel when people talk about spreadsheets or computer code. Or cooking without following a recipe.

Two bears and a seal

Walking around the neighborhood taking a multitude of photos (each time I would try different settings to see what worked best) was a great experience. Although I’m sure some of my neighbors were scratching their heads at my odd behavior.

Blue snowflakes

I even found myself wishing that some of the snowflakes I was photographing were real. No, not lots and lots and lots of them. Just enough to make it seem like winter here in south Texas.

How many white trees are there?

Every now and then I found a reflection photo op. Those always are my favorite.

Love these peppermint lights!

My neighbor Tish put out some of the most-intriguing and fun lights to photograph along her sidewalk. They look like big peppermint candies!

Red peppermints

And they change colors! Too cool!!

Santa travels in style!

I really was getting into the swing of photographing well-lit things by the time I finished experimenting. The settings that seemed to work best were ISO 1600-2500, f/2-3.5, and an exposure comp of –.3 or –.7. I was ready to take on the Pecan Grove challenge.

How did I do? Tune in again tomorrow to find out!