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2017 Southwest Photo Shoot June

Week Of 06-25-2017

Sunday 06-25-17
This morning we attended church services at The Sunrise United Methodist Church. Then went to Cracker Barrel for Brunch. After that we returned to the Coach and began getting ready to get underway to head to Las Vegas tomorrow. While in Phoenix we are staying at the Phoenix Metro RV Park. Other than the intense heat, the Park was good. It is a 55+ RV Park. We had full hookup with 50-amp service. We also used the WIFI. The WIFI worked well but it was a little slow. The sites can be a bit close together but fortunately we picked a site where no other RV parked on either side of us. Most sites are gravel but the drives are black top. Which makes them extremely hot for pets. We have 2 Corgis so I made sure I kept them in the shade of the Coach when I walked them. I believe there was a dog run but not near our Coach so we did not use it so I am unable to verify this. There is very little shade other than the man-made shade created by the permanent residents at their sites. We did not use the pool. There are dumpsters for trash and recycle. The restrooms and showers were clean and a key was required to use them. The laundry room was also very clean with a number of washers and dryers. The management was very friendly and caring. There is a shopping center with a Walmart within a mile of the Park. We would rate this park as a 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it.

Monday 06-26-17
Traveled to Las Vegas. The GPS took us out US 60 to US 93 then 515 into Las Vegas. There were sparse services along the way but the views of Saguaro Cactus Joshua Trees and mesquite were plentiful. We left early and arrived about 2PM. The first thing I noticed is that it is just as hot here as it was in Phoenix. We spent the rest of the day setting up the Coach.

Tuesday 06-27-17
About a week or two ago we signed up with MOJO Market Place (WordPress Live) to help us build a new website with themes that have templates we can manage. Today I spent the day on the phone with them getting things setup and understanding how to work with their support teams. Also drove into the Las Vegas strip in the evening. We explored Cesar’s Palace. On line yesterday we found that Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn were appearing at the Coliseum there and bought tickets. We picked them up tonight and get the lay of the land.

Wednesday 06-28-17
Continued working with working with WP Live. Yesterday we got the High-end Theme with the Photographic child downloaded onto my PC. It took several tries to get it downloaded. For some reason, I could not download it to my PC so they ended up emailing it to me and I loaded the apps up from the email. The folks at WP live are very helpful. The only issues I have are they only work 9 to 5 and they are limited to a 25-minute help time. After the 25 minutes, you need to wait a few minutes while the notes get updated then call back in. So the chain of events may need to be repeated to the follow-up person. However, we did have one issue that the support person was having difficulty resolving and he did stay on the line past the 25-minute mark.
This evening, after dinner at Carmine’s in Cesar’s, we went to the show mentioned above. t We purchased our tickets through American Express. We have purchased tickets through them in the past when we needed last minute tickets. They provide a great service and always seem to have good seats at the last minute. The show was fabulous. The performers were very energetic and it was two hours of non-stop energetic spot on entertainment.

Thursday 06-29-17
Continued working on the new web site. I am still having problems moving images up to the new site and having the sliders appear the way I want them to on the front page. I also down-loaded images from the camera and backed them up.

Friday 06-30-17
Traveled to the valley of Valley of Fire State Park. Valley of Fire is located in the Mojave Desert approximately 58 miles Northeast of the Las Vegas Strip. Valley of Fire is the oldest Nevada State Park and was dedicated in 1935. Valley of Fire State Park covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres. It was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago (Mesozoic Era). These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. Other important rock formations include limestone, shale, and conglomerates. There are also many areas formed by lava ash.
To get to the Valley of Fire we took I-515 to I-15. Then took I-15 to the Valley of Fire Highway. There is a Ranger Station upon entering the Park and there is a $10 a day admission fee. Amenities include several rest rooms and picnic areas throughout the park plus a welcome center and a park store.
Valley of Fire is dominated by creosote bush, burro bush, and brittlebush. Cactus species such as beaver tail and cholla are also abundant. The springtime blooms with desert marigold, indigo bush, and desert mallow. We’ve been told this makes the park look especially spectacular in the spring but we were a little late for this display of God’s grandeur.
Valley of Fire is teeming with wildlife, but most of the animals that reside in Valley of Fire are nocturnal. There are many species of lizards and snakes, as well as coyote, bobcat, kit fox, skunk, jackrabbit, and antelope ground squirrel. It is always a nice treat to see desert big horn sheep and you are likely to see sheep in the middle of the day. The desert tortoise is a rare species and is protected by state law. We were lucky enough to see a Desert Sheep Ram and a Desert Sheep Ewe.
The park is very Older-Photographer friendly. It is possible to get right up into the rock formations without hiking miles. We entered the park from the west and we stopped several times to capture images before we even got to the official park entrance. In this heat, the subjects close to the road are heaven-sent.

Saturday 07-01-17
We returned to the Valley of Fire to continue shooting. We finished shooting the Scenic Loop and headed towards the Domes and the Rainbow Vistas. The canyons, domes, towers, ridges and valleys of Rainbow Vista were carved from sand deposited 150 million years ago, during the time when the dinosaurs walked the earth. Rainbow Vista is a viewpoint in Valley of Fire State Park, where the road reaches the top of a low ridge revealing a vast area of multicolored rocks stretching for many miles northwards, rather different than the dark red cliffs found further south. The panoramic view from Rainbow Vista is a great place for photos.
While in this area I saw a scene I simply had to capture so, I backed up then pulled off to the shoulder of the road. Did I tell you that the road has a soft shoulder? Well I got a little too far off into the soft sand and got my Chevy 2500 with the 4:10 posa-traction rear stuck in the sand. After determining that I was terribly stuck (both Rear Wheels to the Axel) and having no phone signal, I left my wife in the Truck to guard our photographic equipment while I tried to get a ride to the Visitors Center which also acted as a Ranger station. Fortunately, within minutes, a kind passing motorist gave me a ride to the Ranger Station in the Visitors Center. I spoke with a Ranger and fortunately there must be several folks like me. He did not seem the least bit alarmed. He simply radioed his peers and help was immediately on the way. The Ranger drove me to our truck but on the way we found another person stuck in the soft sand. The Ranger retrieved a shovel out of his truck and dug a trench for the front wheels. After emptying out the 7 passengers from the SUV, we pushed the SUV out of the soft sand. I was thinking to myself this was nothing compared to the hole we were in. But the Rangers were undaunted when we finally got back to our truck. We discovered another Ranger had already been working on the truck and he had already dug out the passenger rear wheel. The Ranger with me immediately started digging out the driver’s side rear wheel. Within 5 minutes, two more Rangers arrived. One had me sign a waiver, the other backed his truck up to mine and attached a tow strap to my hitch. Within 15 minutes of arriving back at the truck we were out of the sand trap. If I had to call for a tow we would have been there for 4 to 6 hours. THANK YOU NEVADA VALLEY OF FIRE RANGERS.




Week Of 06-18-2017

Sunday 06-18-2017
We are staying at the KOA in Anthony right along RT 10. The sites are all pull-throughs, very Large and very convenient for hooking up (There are 3 sewer connections to accommodate any size Coach). There is 50 AMP electric and full service at each site. There is no shade anywhere so it can get hot during the summer. The entire surface of the campground is small white gravel so it is a very dusty and uncomfortable for the dogs to walk on. It is convenient to shopping and restaurants and about two miles up the access road is a Loves, a Flying “J” and a Pilot. There is also a Camping World right in front of the campground. And a WalMart not too far away…. A very convenient spot.
We attended church services at the Anthony United Methodist church. The congregation was very friendly and the service was lovely. The church is conveniently located on Franklin Street just off South Main Street. Lay Pastor Missy Scott gave a very moving Father’s Day message. There were refreshments after the service and members of the congregation took us to lunch. I would definitely give the UMC in Anthony TX/NM a 4-star rating for friendliness and for spiritual enlightenment.
We are also making preparations to get underway tomorrow. We will be leaving for Phoenix, AZ in the morning. We will be hooking up with Fred Newman. He owns the View Camera Store online. I have purchased some items and attended workshops given by Fred. He also provides photography trips in the Utah area.

Monday 06-19-2017
Traveled to Phoenix. It took approximately 7 hours to travel to Phoenix from El Paso. We have a Piolet/Flying “J” credit/rewards card we use when traveling. It gives us an additional 3 to 7 cents off the published price of gas. Also, the Flying “J” stations have special refueling and dump station areas for RV’ers. So if you are an RV’er, the Pilot/Flying “J” stations have recognized your special needs AND offers you added discounts. GREAT!
While traveling along the interstate recently, I noticed a piece of edge molding on our Grand Design Imagine RV flapping in the breeze. This was the second piece of edge molding that came loose. The first piece that come loose was on the front edge of the passenger side of the RV. When I saw it, I pulled over on the interstate and worked it back into the track. Luckily, we have a telescoping ladder in the bed of the truck. If we did not have that I would not have been able to reach the top of the RV and work it back into the track and I’m sure it would have ripped off by the time we reached our destination. The edge molding stayed in the track while we finished our trip that day. However, a few days later, again while traveling along the interstate the same piece of edge molding popped out again. So I pulled over and again worked it back into the track. In order to fix this issue, I purchased a tube of clear silicone and ran a bead of silicone along each side of the track. That piece has not come out since.
Problem solved? Not quite! A week or so later I looked in the side mirror (again while traveling down the interstate) and saw that the roof molding on the driver’s side was flapping in the breeze. This latest piece that came out ran the whole length of the Coach’s roof edge. So again we got the ladder out of the truck and set it up to fix the problem. I highly recommend carrying one of these ladders. It is compact when not in use and works great when you need it. It telescopes to 14 feet, just right to reach the top of the Coach. The circumstances were not very good….I had to work 35 feet of edge molding into the track with traffic whizzing by. Oh, did I mention this was on the driver’s/traffic side and that it was 120 degrees in the shade but there wasn’t any.. I don’t know who had the worse job, me working 14 feet in the air on a ladder with the Coach swaying every time a car or truck went by or Mary Lou making sure I did not get hit by waving at the traffic so they would see us. Unfortunately, due to the heat and flapping in the breeze for God knows how long, the edge molding had stretched and had about 6 extra inches that also needed to be worked back into track. So after I got it back into the track I used the clear silicone in a few areas along the track to keep it from coming out again. I will need to do a better repair when we get to some place a little cooler
Speaking about heat, when we arrived here the inside of the RV (Travel Coach) was like an oven. We travel with vents and windows open but it is crazy hot here. It took about 6 hours to cool off the RV.

Tuesday 06-20-2017
It is very hot here. Today it topped out at 117 on the trucks outside temperature. Tomorrow it is supposed to get hotter. HOTTER!!!! Can it get any hotter? It is so hot the RV’s two air-conditioners cannot keep up. The temperature on the thermostat is set to 77 degrees but it gets up to 89 degrees in here at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I am thinking that the air conditioners are undersized for this unit.
We have the main air conditioner set on Auto so the fan can change speeds as necessary. However, the fan actually stops to change speeds. The fan stops but the compressor keeps running sounds weird when it happens….
Reviewed a few images and found an image I liked but is not as crisp as I like. I worked on it most of the day. I worked on it in the JPEG format because I want to include it in my Blog. When I capture images, I do a JPEG and a RAW image. I usually don’t need to do too much work to get an acceptable image for a blog posting. However, as you may know, raw images are another story.

Wednesday 06-21-2017
Today we traveled to Scottsdale to visit with a fellow photographer, Fred Newman. Fred runs an online business called “The View Camera Store”. I took a large format workshop delivered by Fred around 2000. Photography has changed dramatically since then. We were both doing large format and using the “Beyond The Zone System” (BTZS). Fred owns the rights to that system and still works with Large Format photographers showing them the benefits of the system and providing them with the latest tools for using it.
We have a lot of mutual acquaintance’s in photography and it was good to catch-up. Fred has become a Leica Dealer and, like me, has dismantled and ceased using his dark room and is instead using a scanner to make pictures from his large format negatives. Fred also has a large Epson Printer (I’m jealous). I am still using my old 3800. So if anyone is interested in Large Format or a new digital Leica give him a shout at ”The View Camera Store”.

Thursday 06-22-2017
I am working on creating more room and cataloging Images. I know I said I would never do this but, due to the large size of the images of my 5DsR, I signed up with a cloud storage company. The company I am using is Backblaze. They came highly recommended by Kelby One. Backblaze backs up all PC files for about five dollars a month. I also back up to an external drive and to a jump drive. But right now I am basically out of PC memory. So I am working on eliminating some of the older files. However I capture images faster then I am deleting them. Also my older images were taken with a 24meg camera and the newer images are taken with a 50 meg camera. So it is like trying to empty the ocean into a hole using a seashell. I think I need to breakdown and purchase another backup drive.

Friday 06-23-2017
We have been trying to get into a campground in the Flagstaff area for several days. However, they are all full and there is no hope of getting there within the near future. It is very unusual that we cannot get into a campground near any area in which we would like to photograph. I think the reason we cannot get in to a campground in the Flagstaff area is due to the extreme heat here in Phoenix. So far it has been over 115 degrees every day. So with just a few days of our stay left, we decided to work out of Phoenix. Today, we took a tour to Sedona and to the south Rim of the Grand Canyon. We spent a lot of time in the bus but as a result of the tour we determined that we wanted to return to but not to the Grand Canyon. Sedona was only about an hour and a half away and had more of our type of photographic opportunities although not less tourists.

Saturday 06-24-2017
Returned to Sedona. Our plan was to get to Sedona in the morning. From our location in Phoenix we took I-17 to Rt. 179. The first town you come across is the Village of Oak Creek. The area between the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona along 179 provided good photo opportunities. One side of the formations are lit by the morning sun and the other side by the afternoon sun. There were pullovers that were not crowded. However, if you wanted to park it was necessary to purchase a five Dollar day pass. We traveled along 179 stopping to photo as we went along. The pull over areas also have trail heads that allow you to get closer to the formations. After we got to Sedona our plan was to travel out 89A then come back and photograph all along 89A because on yesterday’s tour we determined that that would be the best time of day to photograph this area. Well that did not work because the Sedona shopping area and all along 89A was absolutely jammed with people and cars. We could not find any pullovers that were not already overfull. We could not even stop to get out of the truck. I think everyone from Phoenix was there trying to cool off in the Oak Creek. So after a nerve racking drive on 89A, we headed back into town and we drove into the residential sections of Sedona to see if that would prove fruitful, and it did. We found very few people and very little traffic. Surprisingly, by going to the residential sections we could get up close to some of the rock formations. There were some areas where there were vacant lots for sale that allowed us unobstructed views. So we spent the rest of the morning there because the morning sun was best there, and after lunch we spent the afternoon shooting along 179 between Sedona and Oak Creek Village photographing the formations that were lit by the afternoon sun.



Week Of 06-11-2017

Sunday 06-11-2017

System Administration, worked on images and general Housekeeping


Monday 06-12-2017

We ventured into Big Bend Ranch State park.  This proved to be another treasure trove of landscape opportunities.  Texas 170 runs through this park and it basically follows the Rio Grande.  There are several trails, camping, and picnic areas in the park.  There are also several areas where there is river access.  There is one spot in the park that is a picnic area and was used in several films over the years.  We drove through the park stopping frequently to capture some images and continues to the town of Presidio TX.  This town was a thriving Metropolis with a population of 5,000 compared to the town of Trelingua with a population of 58.   On our way back to the campground we again drove through the park and captured several more images.  Our plan it to return tomorrow and take a few more photos.  Interestingly at one of the picnic areas there was a marker placed there by the par service.  It stated that the following were filmed there. 

  • Uphill all the way
  • Gambler 5
  • Streets of Lerado
  • Rio Diablo
  • Dead Mans walk
  • The Journeyman
  • My Maria (Brooks & Dunn Video)

Tuesday 06-13-2017

We returned to the Big Bend Ranch State Park.  After our day long visit to the park yesterday we had a better idea of how the lighting for the area.  We spent the better part of the day again shooting the park.  Did I say it is hot here?  There are several thermometers along the desert floor.   When we stopped to view them they were pegged at 130 degrees Fahrenheit so we did not do much in the way of hiking. The terrain here is very rough and not very forgiving.  Only the very tough survive here.  It is had for me to imagine what the early settlers must have endured trying to make a homestead here. 


Wednesday 06-14-2017

Today we prepared for getting underway.  Tomorrow early morning we travel to El Paso TX.  It will take us about 7 hours to get there.  We plan on staying there for a few days to restock and regroup.  We also traveled into the Ghost Town of Terlingua to grab a few departing photographs.  We took the photographs in the late afternoon to try to get some drama into these photographs.   St Agnes Church sits up on a small hill overlooking the Ghost Town.  The late afternoon sun proved to be a great subject.  If you manage to get to Terlingua I would recommend a visit to St Agnes.


Thursday 06-15-2017

We departed Terlingua and traveled to El Paso.  We are actually on the western side of El Paso in the town of Anthony TX. Because we cannot travel at the 70 and 80 miles per hour posted speeds it takes us longer to travel the distances provided by the GPS.  So it did take us just a little over 7 hours to arrive in El Paso.  Spent the remainder of the day setting up camp.  We also had to drive into El Paso to pick up our prescription medication.  So this proved to be quite a long day.

Friday 06-16-2017

Today we spent most of the day inventorying and restocking.  We traveled into El Paso to a Walmart and did some required shopping.


Saturday 06-17-2017

Drove into the Franklin Mountain State Park.  Not a good day for photography.  Very smoggy.  I don’t think the Polarizer can cut through this stuff.  We also took the trans mountain drive and the scenic loop drive around El Paso.  We drove along the border of Mexico and the US and were surprised to find that there is a wall of sorts already in place between El Paso and Juarez.  However, when we were in the Big Bend area there is only the Rio Grande to separate the two countries.  The land in that area is very rugged and very sparsely populated.   Also in the Big Bend area as we drove along the Rio Grande we were in and out of Mexico.  The boarder jumps back and forth from one side of the river to the other. 

We also drove around the town of Anthony.  Parts of Anthony sit in New Mexico and Parts in Texas.  There motto is that they are “The Gateway to Texas”.  We saw more Texas State Troopers along the first 5 miles of I RT – 10 entering Texas then on any other road in Texas.  There seemed to be a car pulled over mile or so. 


Week Of 06-04-2017

Sunday 06-04-2017

Went into Big Bend National Park.  Our intention was to drive the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive from end- to-end to determine if this would be a good place to begin focusing our efforts.  At one end of the drive is Texas 118 and at the other end is the Santa Elena Canyon.  Plan A was to reach the Santa Elena Canyon via Old Maverick Road and then drive back to Texas 118.  The ride along the unpaved Old Maverick Road would have been about a 20-mile drive.  But about 5 miles down the road where the Alamo Creek crosses the Old Maverick Road, the road was washed out completely due to the recent thunder storms so it was impossible for us to continue down the road even with our high clearance truck.  We had to back up about ½ a mile to a place where we could turn around and go the long way around.  That amounted to about 50 miles one way.   Since we never did make it down the Old Maverick road during the rest of our stay, we still do not know what it has to offer. 

The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive should be driven the full length in both directions.  There are abundant opportunities for landscape photography.  Depending on the time of day, the light and clouds seem to come and go all during the day.

I took a few HDR shots along Texas 118 and the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and when I got back and reviewed them I was not happy with the results.  So I plan on doing some testing and calibration tomorrow.


Monday 06-05-2017

I reviewed some photos yesterday and was not happy with the results.  They were not as sharp as I would like so I spent the better part of the day calibrating most of my lenses with my camera.  I am an old large format guy so when I did my calibration in the past I only used f16 and f24.  There never seemed to be much of a difference between these two f-stops.  However, when I did the calibrating this time, I started at f8 (based on a lot of research) and worked my way up to f22.  I was using an ISO of 100 and was in aperture priority and had the camera mounted on a steady tripod.  I photographed in a direction that provided me with 4 elements.  One very close and the last out to Infinity. 

For my landscape photography, I try to use prime lenses.  The lenses I have are a 14, a 24-ts, a 45-ts, and a 90-ts mm that are my primary landscape lenses.  As stated, I started at f8 and worked my way up to f22.  I set the camera to the f-stop being tested and turned the middle of the infinity mark on the lens f-stop ring to the appropriate f-stop on the lens.  I then took a photograph.  I did this for each f-stop for each lens. 

I then moved the images into my computer for analysis.  I used the Canon Digital Professional 4 to perform the analysis. This tool let me pin one image and compare the other images to that image.  As a result of this analysis, I found that each lens had the same sweet spot.  The sweet spot was f8.  When looking only at the mid and distance focus, both f11 and f8 appeared to be identical.  However, when looking at the closer distances f8 was clearly the winner.  At f8 all the closer items were clearly in better focus than f11.

This was a complete surprise to me with my long time large format photography experience, I was accustomed to using f32 and f64 to make sure everything was sharp.  I found that f8 was the stop to use.  So, if anyone is getting images that are not as sharp as you would like,  I would recommend that they re-test their lenses.

In the afternoon, we set out to shoot some local stuff so we could review the images to make sure they were in fact what we wanted.   We shot Bee Mountain, Cigar Mountain, and Wild Horse Mountain.  We also stopped by the local cemetery and Ghost Town in Terlingua.  We took several photos of the cemetery but did not shoot anything in the Ghost town.  If we have time, we will shoot the Ghost Town at a later date.   We were pleased with these images so we are ready for tomorrow.


Tuesday 06-06-2017

Very Sick today.  I have had the onset of a cold for several days but now I have a fever so I believe it is a little more than a common cold.  Stayed close to home base all day and worked on a little catch-up.


Wednesday 06-07-2017

Today we reshot Texas 118 and the beginning of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  We made it about halfway down this beautiful road.   The afternoon light seemed to be working very well for us.  The morning light seems to be very hazy but as the day wears on, the haze burns off. 


Thursday 06-08-2017

Feeling more myself today so we finished shooting the Maxwell Scenic Drive then drove 118 to the Chisos Basin Campground road.  This Road also provided us with abundant opportunities for landscape images.  Lighting for the opportunities along this road were more susceptible to the time of day than along the Maxwell Scenic Drive.  We have found that shooting from the road is very convenient.  There are areas to pull over and the road runs close to the opportunities.


Friday 06-09-2017

Today we spent the day completing the photographing of the Chisos Basin Campground Road.  We drove into the campground and walked along the service road.  The service road provided excellent photographic opportunities.  While walking along the road I tripped over my shoelace and I went flying in one direction and my camera and tripod went in the other.  I somehow managed to catch my balance just before I went crashing face first into the gravel.  I walked back and picking up my camera I expected the worst because the camera did go face first into the gravel.  Fortunately, the lens glare cover took the brunt of the fall and I ended up with just a few small scratches on the lens.  I will need to review some of the images to see how badly the scratches will affect the images.   Which was very reassuring since the thought of an accident up in these hills was a little scary.  We also went to the lodge and had lunch.  There was a little trail there called “The Window Trail” which we walked along.  Got some really nice shots without being in the heat too long. 


Saturday 06-10-2017

System Administration, worked on images and general Housekeeping


Sunday 2017_05_28 to Saturday 2017_06_03


             San Antonio River Walk Water Fall

We have decided to post Blogs weekly. The reason being we just can’t keep up with the daily posts and keep our busy photography schedule as well as some days there is not much going on other than housekeeping chores and the like.

We went to a Methodist Church in Boerne this week. It was a beautiful big building. Very Impressive. However, it was not as friendly as the small unassuming Methodist church in Bertrum. This week’s service was very good and there was time to meet and greet the 2017 graduates that attended the church.
After the church service, we ventured into San Antonio. Our goal was to do a survey of the touristy area of the city for photographic opportunities. We drove into the city and parked in one of the many public parking areas that are close to the Alamo and the River Walk. I was surprised to find that the parking was only $15 for 12 hours and in some places, it was only $5 for 12 hours. I am accustomed to parking in Philly and NYC where it costs anywhere from $60 to $75 to park for 8 to 10 hours. Our parking spot was only 2 blocks away from the Alamo and we had to walk past it to get to the River Walk so we did stop by and grab a few snaps. The main point of interest for me was to find out that the name Alamo is not the name of the Mission. The name Alamo was give to the mission after Spanish soldiers from the town of Alamo were stationed there. The official name of the Alamo is the Mission San Antonio de Valero.
In order to get a fast tour of the River Walk, we rook a ride on one to the river walk tour barges. It provided a great vehicle for reviewing the River Walk in a short period of time and it only cost $7.00 each. We made note of the areas we wanted to revisit after the ride.
After the tour, we noted a church off a square close to where the River Walk Tour started and stopped. We walked up the steps from the River Walk across the square to the church. The church is The San Fernando Cathedral also known as The Cathedral of Our Lady of Candelaria and Guadalupe. In the Narthex we found the Burial Tomb of the ashes of Davy Crockett, William B. Travis, and Jim Bowie. They were initially buried in the Alamo but later moved to this church.
This Church is very picturesque and provides some good photo opportunities both inside and out. I am not a fan of flash photography for my work. So on these excursions I carry a Monopod. It helps me keep steady in lowlight situations and it also seconds as a walking stick. It came in very handy when taking photos in the church.
After visiting the church, we went back to the River Walk and headed back to the areas we wanted to photograph. One of these areas had a waterfall. I usually set the camera on Aperture Priority with a low ISO – nothing higher than 400. To shoot the waterfall and achieve the effect I was looking for I set the camera to manual for a long exposure. Again, the monopod came in handy when shooting here.


Today we returned to the downtown area of San Antonio as there were a few buildings we wanted to shoot and do a better review of the history of the Alamo. We parked in the same location and we were able to shoot the buildings we saw the day before. One of the buildings reminded me of the famous Flatiron building in NYC.
After our return visit to downtown we headed out to the missions. Counting the Alamo (Mission San Antonio de Valero) there are 5 old Spanish Missions right in Sab Antonio. Since we had already been to the Alamo, we thought we might be able to get to all the missions in one day. Turns out, we were very wrong. Each of the missions has their very own personality and we ended up spending several hours at each mission. Also, after driving around San Antonio, I found that there is very interesting architecture out in the neighborhoods. Every time we venture to a place to photograph, no matter how long we stay it seems like there is more to photograph than we have time for.
All the missions are a part of and managed by the National Park Service. From the Alamo we traveled through local neighborhoods to the Mission Concepcion. The church in the mission was open and photographs were allowed. The mission had a National Park Visitor Center but it was closed for renovations. Thankfully the restrooms were not. We spent several hours photographing here. It was a holiday and I was expecting large crowds (similar to the Alamo) but not so. There were very few visitors so feel free to bring your tripods.
At the time they were constructed these missions were actually small towns. The mission consisted of a wall surrounding a large open area. Within the wall could be found a sanctuary, nave, convent and/or abbey, and granary. Since the missions were originally built to protect and convert the native population, this area also contained the buildings where the native inhabitants that worked the fields, did the construction work and worked in other areas of the mission lived.
In 1716 the Franciscan friars established The Mission Concepcion. The Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña was originally called Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de los Hainais.
What I found interesting about this mission was that it had a rotunda which made for some interesting angled photos.
From the Mission Concepcion we traveled along the mission road to the Mission San Jose. Again, there were few visitors and we spent several hours photographing the mission. I especially like photographing old buildings or buildings that are in a state of dis-repair.
One of the featured architectural elements of this mission is the Rose Window. I have copied the writeup on the rose window from the website and have included it below:
“Sculpted in 1775, the Rose Window is considered to be one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in North America. Its sculptor and significance continue to be a mystery. Folklore credits Pedro Huizar, a carpenter and surveyor from Spain, with carving the famous window as a monument to his sweetheart, Rosa. Tragically, on her way from Spain to join him, Rosa was lost at sea. Pedro then completed the window as a declaration of enduring love…..”

Today we visited the last two missions. We first visited the Mission San Juan. I believe this is the most photographic of all the missions. Unlike the other missions, this one is white washed and really stands out in the afternoon light. As a matter of fact, all the missions look better in the early afternoon light. Now of course it is summer time here so in the winter that would probably be in the late morning light. The church portion of this mission is only open for Mass. So we were not able to photograph the inside oif this mission. Mission San Juan Capistrano (originally christened in 1716 as La Misión San José de los Nazonis and located in East Texas) was founded in 1731 by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order, on the eastern banks of the San Antonio River in present-day San Antonio, Texas. The new settlement (part of a chain of Spanish missions) was named for a 15th-century theologian and warrior priest who resided in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The mission San Juan was named after Saint John of Capestrano.
Again there were only a few people visiting the mission while we were there. I am really into shooting these types of architecture and could have easily spent a day at each location. Unfortunately, we have a limited time on this earth so I have to push myself forward.
The last mission we visited was the Mission Espada. I found the history of this mission to be quite interesting so I am including a short version below:
Founded in 1690 as San Francisco de los Tejas near Weches, Texas and southwest of present-day Alto, Texas, Mission San Francisco de la Espada was the first mission established in Texas.
Three priests, three soldiers and supplies lived among the Nabedache Indians. The new mission was dedicated on June 1, 1690. A smallpox epidemic in the winter of 1690-1691 killed an estimated 3,300 people in the area. The Nabedache believed, and rightly so, that the Spaniards brought the disease and hostilities developed between the two groups.
Drought besieged the mission in the summers of 1691 and 1692, and the Nabedache wished to get rid of the mission. Under threat of personal attack, the priests began packing their belongings in the fall of 1693. On October 25, 1693, the padres burned the mission and retreated toward Monclova. The party lost its way and did not reach Monclova until February 17, 1694.
The mission was re-established in the same area on July 5, 1716 as Nuestro Padre San Francisco de los Tejas. The new mission had to be abandoned in 1719 because of conflict between Spain and France.
The mission was tried once more on August 5, 1721 as San Francisco de los Neches. As the Nabedache were no longer interested in the mission, and France had abandoned effort to lay claim in the area, the mission was temporarily relocated along the Colorado River in July 1730. Mission Tejas State Park encompasses the original site of the mission.
The mission relocated to its current location in the San Antonio River area in March, 1731 and was renamed San Francisco De la Espada. A friary was built in 1745, and the church was completed in 1756. The relocation was in part inspired by fears of French encroachment and need for more Missionaries to tend to San Antonio de Bexar’s Indian population. The Mission encountered great difficulties in presiding over the Indian population and experienced common rebellious activity.
Several modern churches have been architecturally based on the design of this mission including St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wimberley, Texas, north of San Antonio.
Again all these missions provide great opportunities for architectural photography

Today we got ready for our trip to Big Bend National Park. We created a list of necessities and went to Walmart to stock up. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we also did the laundry and other chores that needed to be done. The trip to Big Bend is going to be longer that our usual tow so we are getting ready to get out early tomorrow morning.
While we were in this part of Texas we were staying at the Top of the Hill campground in Boerne TX (pronounced bur-ney). This campground was perfectly located for us. They have full hookups and the staff and the residents are very friendly. The pool is a 3 footer and they do have a club house with a TV and kitchen. There are clean restrooms and showers. There is also a meeting hall that was locked during our visit. The owners were very friendly and there is a store that has any necessities you may need. Within close proximity is the town with several eateries, a super market and a Walmart. Also within a quarter mile of the campground is the POPO Restaurant. The food was good and the prices reasonable. If you are into decorative plates, this is the place to eat. They have hundreds from all over the world decorating the walls.

Traveled to Big Bend (BB) National Park. We actually traveled through BB to a town called Terlingua where we are staying at BJ’s campground. It took us about 10 hours to travel the 475 miles between Boerne and Terlingua. As we were traveling through the last 150 miles or so we ran into several thunderstorms. The roads became flooded and we were lucky to have a high clearance vehicle. Otherwise we may have had to pull over for the night. Arrived at the campground and set up the necessities and called it a night

Finished setting up the travel trailer and had a down day to rejuvenate after the long arduous tow

Began to familiarize ourselves with the park. We set off to the welcome center at Panther Junction. We got a map of the park and discussed photo opportunities with the Park Rangers. We took a short drive on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to see if this would be a good place to start.


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