Shaking the dust off... by Josh Trudell

This big fellow was one of the highlights of our behind-the-scenes tour at Animal Kingdom.

Shadows dance on the wall as my compatriot raises a lantern, and looks around at the cobwebs and dust covering the stone carvings and ancient murals.

“What happened here?”, Dr. Jones whispers.

I look at my fedora-ed companion and shrug. “I got busy.”

Which is largely the truth for why this space has been dead pixels for the last three months. I’ve been writing (and shooting) too much to be writing.

The biggest project has been a package of stories that has involved talking to a lot of people passionate about what they do. There is a unifying subject behind the stories, but the magazine publishing them isn’t coming out until this fall, so I can’t say much about it.

It took me to some places I hadn’t visited in Texas before, which is always a bonus. It’s a little startling that we’ve been here for 10 years now, and there’s still so much to see.

The biggest event of the last three months was my 40th birthday. Initially, I had had daydreams of going on safari for my 40th, but that ended up getting pushed down the schedule a bit.

Instead, we went to Disney World.

Initially, I was unsure about this trip – spending a 40th birthday at the House of Mouse wasn’t quite the equivalent of spending it on the Serengeti – but it turned out really well.

One of the big highlights was a behind-the-scenes tour at Animal Kingdom, which got us up close and personal with the crocodiles and hippos. It was expensive – like most things at Disney – but the quality was outstanding – again, like most things at Disney.

Also of note: Baseball season had started – the Red Sox are scuffling so far, as is my fantasy team. The first summer movie of the year – Captain America: The Winter Soldier – is out, and it was most impressive. Marvel is building a great reputation as a provider of quality entertainment.

My next big photo trip is Montana in July – I’ve been saving madly for that. I can’t wait to see (and shoot) Glacier National Park.

It's going to be a really big shew... by Josh Trudell

It's been a month of Big Giant Scary Endeavors. Kind of like The Lone Ranger, but hopefully without as many plot holes. The biggest BGSE is the photo show. Or, as it's been clamoring in my head for the past month, "THE OMIGOD HOLY CRAP PHOTO SHOW!!"

If you've swung by my Facebook page, you know that I'm putting on a photo exhibit for the month of September at the San Antonio Public Library's Central Branch.

It initially was going to be in August, which induced a minor amount of freaking out when I looked at the calendar and saw it was already June. Then, it was pushed back to September (pause freaking out)...so it could be part of Fotoseptiembre.(freaking out recommences with extra sauce.)

Fotoseptiembre is an international photography festival held annually in San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country. (The international part is from exhibitions in Switzerland, Thailand and India, among other places.) So, kind of a big deal in the South Texas photography world.

My exhibit (titled "Point the Compass") is the library's entry into the contest. Add to that several other firsts - my first gallery show, my first opening reception, a few other odds and ends - and it's been a little crazy round these parts.

However, thanks to the awesome photo trip earlier this year with Ian Whitehead, (which I still haven't fully detailed here yet, but will), I'm really looking forward to this. I've got my files off to the printer, and things are *knock wood* coming together nicely.


New Camera, New Zoo by Josh Trudell

joshtrudell.com, parrot, photography Some people have work-related hazards such as ergonomically incorrect keyboards or desks that leave them bent in uncomfortable positions.

Others are Iike Maricela, the nice lady at the San Antonio Zoo in charge of the parrot cage. While most of the streaking rainbows buzzed around the cage, Snowflake sat on her shoulder, nibbled on her shirt collar, then finally nestled into her hair.

Finally, Maricela was forced to swing her head side-to-side to shake the nesting bird loose.

The parrot, dislodged but unruffled, promptly hopped back onto her outstretched hand and headed back toward her shirt collar, nibbling on the button hole.

The parrot cage, and the zoo as a whole, is my go-to place for testing new camera gear. In this case, it was my new Sony A99.

My initial verdict is very positive. The images are very, very sharp. It's a little disconcerting to have the LED viewfinder show the image I just shot before going back to live action, but I was getting used to it by the end if the day.

The manual focus option is also different - it can be locked in through a menu, or if you just want it for one shot, hold a button on the back of the body and focus. Take your thumb off the button, though, and it snaps back to auto.

I found the light sensors to be a vast improvement over my A-350, which is forgiving in its own right. Having a sunny day helped, but on shots in dark shade, I was getting good results at ISO 100.

It had been at least two years since I had been to the zoo, and I was more than a little impressed with the number of improvements and additions it has made. The interactivity has increased a lot, especially in the birds area - I nearly stepped on a couple of tiny birds on a walkway through one of the cages.

Zoos are always a little sad after a while - I like to see animals in nature rather than behind steel mesh. But in comparison to other zoos, San Antonio has one to be proud of. The rest of my zoo pictures can be seen here.

Jokers to the left of me, clowns to the right...and me with an iPoint-and-shoot by Josh Trudell

Sometimes being a photography nerd can be painful.

Painful in the wallet when your camera is getting fixed.

Painful when your camera is stuck in a Laredo warehouse, waiting for a part.

And painful when you’re faced with a smorgasbord of photo opportunities and are sitting there empty handed.

Such was my situation this past weekend, with day trips to Padre Island National Seashore and the Sherwood Forest Renaissance Faire.

Malaquite Beach – part of the national seashore – is a peaceful stretch of sand that is rarely busy. I’ve never seen it as busy as nearby Port Aransas. It’s where Superwife and I go when we need to get away from it all, and all we have is a day.

Renaissance faires are a blast to photograph, in my opinion. Everyone is in costume, they’re showing off, there are tons of performances, all kinds of animals – it’s photo heaven. If you can’t see a good photo, you aren’t trying.

Without my trusty Sony, I was forced to rely on my iPhone. Now, this was supposed to be one of the ailments of civilization the iPhone was going to cure – people would always have cameras in their pockets.

Frankly, after a weekend with my iPhone 4, I’m not that impressed. I know for some people I’m verging into heresy here, but I found it pretty average – there was a lot of grain on the pictures, particularly when dealing with less than open sunlight. The zoom resulted in soft focus, too.

Now, I didn’t use the multitude of apps that promise to improve the quality of iPhone photos, and they could make a significant difference. I’ll have to investigate the possibilities there to make a real judgment.

That being said, there were a couple of decent images that came from the day at the beach, including the one above. I like this image because of the sand’s swirling movement headed toward the water. It’s empty, but it leaves room for the viewer.

I like empty space photography – it makes you stop and take a second look, perhaps realizing life isn’t always full of beeping, blinking things.