Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Wish for Peace and Love and all that other stuff

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
This is the time I'm supposed to sit down and reflect on the past year and tell you how thankful I am to have been so busy and to have been such a big part of the lives of so many people. I am thrilled really, but I'm not finding much time for sitting down, reflecting, and writing about it.

I do have a few minutes now. Although, I have some gingerbread in the oven, a child at my side begging me to play Buffy the Vampire Slayer with him on PS2, and about 16 GB of photos needing editing and sorting.

The holiday rush is almost over. I have a couple more sessions scheduled before the end of the year and a few more orders to fulfill and then I can call it a year. I really am thrilled to be so busy. It doesn't feel like work to me because I enjoy it so much. I'm thankful to be able to provide my children with gifts this Christmas when so many others don't have that luxury. I'm especially thankful to be able to help other families preserve the memories of their children and loved ones.

This year I've been a part of many weddings -- shared precious private moments with couples in love and their families. I've been honored to be present at the birth of a child, captured the senior portraits of some beautiful children as they enter into adulthood, and shared some precious moments with teeny tiny babies only moments old who are now walking and running and exploring the world. I am honored.

Once again, this Christmas I will turn my camera on my own family and record those priceless moments of wonder on my childrens' faces Christmas morning. I'll record my mom in the kitchen, with her Christmas apron, as she bastes the turkey and decorates her famous apple pie. I'll record my mother-in-law as she sets out acres of side dishes and mixes up her amazing slushy punch. I'll record my husband Jayme as he wrestles with the thousands of twisty ties that hold the toys in place. God forbid any piece of the toy not be tied with triple knotted wire to the inside of that box! I'll capture our little kitty Summerlove, seen in the photo I'm sharing above, as she pulls the garland, yet again from the tree and shreds it to pieces.

And I remind you to pull out your own camera and capture those moments in your family as well. Because even though the toys will eventually get old and be thrown out or passed on. And the food will be consumed and forgotten, and the sweater you got for your Aunt will eventually be out of style and discarded, the photos will live on. And they will always bring those precious memories back.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some gingerbread to pull out of the oven and some vampires to slay with my son.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The smallest subjects {New Braunfels Photographer}

Howdy folks, Jayme here again. We've already had several freezes here as winter makes its gradual approach, but the other day a flash of bright green on one of Lisa's rose bushes caught my attention. Looking closely, I was more than a little surprised to discover an automeris io caterpillar munching on some rose leaves (it was chilly, so it was munching very slowly!). These little fellows grow up to be beautiful io moths:


We have more than our share of caterpillars around the house, but this is the first I've ever seen this species outside of a book. It's got impressive tufts of defensive spines that will give you a nasty sting if you touch it, and rad white-and-maroon racing stripes running the length of its body. I instantly became obsessed with photographing it. I grabbed the 5D and my makeshift macro lens--a Nikon 50mm 1.8 AI-S mounted on a reversing ring--and set to work.


It ended up taking two days to get shots I was happy with. The little caterpillar was shy, and kept hiding its head in a defensive position. The chilly wind didn't help, nor did the heavy shade on that side of the house. I finally set up a strobe with a diffuser about 8 inches to the right, with a reflector to the left and after a good bit of waiting, captured some images I was happy with.

The thing I absolutely love about macro photography is that it opens up an entirely new world that we can't otherwise see. Look at the caterpillar's spines: You can actually see the tiny, venom-filled needles extending from the spines. And the hairy feet (caterpillars have hobbit feet? Who knew?). And the yellow spotting on its face, which simply looks like a uniform green to the naked eye. Photography is a window into another world, and I can hardly wait to look through it and discover new wonders!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Child is Born {New Braunfels Birth Photography}

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
One of my most exciting sessions ever played out early in the wee hours of the morning Saturday. One of my former students from the New Braunfels Community Education classes asked me to shoot her maternity session and then her birth when the time came. She was having a home waterbirth with a midwife present, although her husband would actually catch the baby, just as he'd done with their first child. Amazing!

I have been considering offering birth photography for a while now so I jumped at the chance. I knew that it would involve basically being on call the days around her due date. I didn't have any weddings on the calendar around that time -- the only thing that may have prevented my being able to arrive when I'm needed. What could possibly stress me out?

I got the first text from this mom early Friday morning, her labor had begun while I was in the midst of setting up a massive photo shoot with Santa and hundreds of pre-schoolers, kindergarteners and first graders at the elementary school near my home. My mind immediately started swimming with the stress of the moment. Oh my gosh! She's having her baby! It's happening! What do I do! Imagine the sitcoms that play out when one of the characters goes into labor and all the other characters run around, boiling water, getting suitcases, creating havoc. That was me. Santa Claus sat in front me along with a line of children waiting patiently to have their portrait made with him.

So I did the best I could to pull myself together, made a few calls, arranged for childcare, arranged for Jayme to take my place at the school if I needed to run. And then I began shooting and waiting. Shooting and waiting. The shooting ended after a few hours and then it was just waiting. And waiting. At the end of the day she texted me to tell me it probably won't happen. Labor had stalled out. Nothing happening.

I made the mistake that night of staying up late to read. I regret those precious few moments I missed when I got a text at 2:45 a.m. telling me her water broke and the baby's coming. How do the midwives handle it? All I wanted to do was close my eyes again and go back to sleep! I pulled myself together and ventured out into the cold night, where the fog made driving difficult and I had a seriously hard time reading the road signs to her home.

Once I got there I was impressed by the peaceful environment of her home. Mom is surrounded by her family and her doting husband, the lights are down low (thank goodness for the high ISO capabilities on my 5D), soft music plays. The moment of birth came soon after my arrival. I had a pool-side seat to one of the most peaceful entrances into this world any baby could hope for.

Today I'm sharing an image I captured during that golden moment. You moms can relate. The pain is over, replaced by the realization that your baby is here as he's placed on your belly. The joy at his birth coupled with the end of the pain, the sweet sounds of his first cries and the end of the long months of waiting -- not to mention the heartburn.

This baby boy was welcomed into this world by his father's hands, his mom so joyful as well as his grandmother and grandfather, his great grandmother and his big brother. All surrounding him and celebrating his arrival. This photo captures that moment I was so honored to be a part of. Silent Night soon plays through the speakers. An appropriate song, for this peaceful night.

I left the home a few hours later after photographing those first kisses, those first cuddles, that first exam, the first nursing and the first dressing of this sweet little boy. His mommy drifts off to sleep with a smile on her face, cuddling her new baby when I slip out the door as the sun comes up on another beautiful December day.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Beagle Has Landed

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Santa came a little early this year in our home. Actually, I should say he sent his most trusted elf. At least that's what the note said that was attached to the box with a big bow on it that was left on our front porch the other night.

The doorbell rang three times. My oldest daughter checked the door and found a quivering, whimpering box with a big red bow.

We have a history with boxes on our front step. Some of you may recall the box that was left two years ago. Out of it popped our darling Siamese, Holly. It was only fitting that our newest baby made an entrance in this grand fashion as well. We still miss our Precious. She disappeared the Fourth of July and, after papering the neighborhood with fliers and knocking on doors, we came to the conclusion that she was stolen from us. Santa decided it was time to move on.

Enter Polkadots -- at least that's what the boy is calling him. He's a chewing, peeing, yapping machine. But the kids love him so I guess we'll keep him. It's nice having an instant floor cleaner in the house. I spilled some corn flakes, in comes, Polkadots, mess is gone. I dropped a chicken nugget, enter Polkadots, mess is gone. Cat threw up under the table -- enter Polkadots -- okay now that's just gross.

It looks like he's here to stay, barking and chewing, and all. Welcome to the family Polkadots.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Must be Willing to Get Dirty {New Braunfels Photography}

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Today I thought I'd share a photo of a couple of my favorite kiddos. This was one of my Christmas card sessions. By now my clients are starting to figure a few things out about me. One of those little things is that I don't tend to stay on the pavement. Present me with a manicured lawn or park and I usually tend to go out into the edges, where the grass is not mowed and the flower beds are not maintained. Meet me at a lovely little quaint setting and I'll probably drag you out and down the hill where the wild things are. I've started wearing boots to my sessions whereas I used to wear sandals. Getting my toes bit by fire ants and poked by sticks has taught me to expect the rough and tumble. The rough and tumble, as it turns out, is where all the best shots are.

I've started beginning many of my sessions with the phrase "is it okay to sit on the ground in that outfit." In family sessions I make a mental note of which people are ground people, which are knee people, and which are standers. I take note of who's wearing sandals, who's wearing white slacks and who's afraid of snakes. All these things play a part in deciding how to proceed with the session.

Brides are always the most particular about cleanliness. At least before the wedding. Once those vows are exchanged there's an immediate change in the stress level of keeping that dress clean. That's when the best images are captured.

The children of my sessions love my untamed set-ups. I tell them we're going exploring and that they are adventurers. They giggle with excitement as they traipse into the long grass with their Sunday best on.

Life is not clean and neat and tidy. Portraits about life are not either. But if they must be, Photoshop is excellent at removing stains. Now, who wants to take a walk in the woods?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

And so the season begins {New Braunfels Photographer}

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
I'm taking a deep cleansing breath now. It seems the big Christmas card rush is subsiding. Most families have had their session, ordered their cards and prints and are now working on getting those cards out before the end of the year. I can take a bit of a breather.

The photo I'm sharing today was taken on Thanksgiving morning. It's one of the few times this family could get everyone together so I didn't mind shooting it on a holiday. Plus I really like this family! They're a lot of fun so it's not like it really feels like working.

I also had a chance this Thanksgiving weekend to chill out and catch up on quality time with my own family. I ate until my pants got tight and didn't feel guilty. I love this time of year. I love shopping for my loved ones. I love getting presents. I love eating. Notice how I didn't say cooking or baking, but eating. I'm an expert cookie taster. When my mom used to bake Christmas cookies for all the parties we went to growing up she would let me eat the ones that broke while I scraped them off the cookie sheet. I managed to break a lot of cookies back then.

We managed to get the tree up this weekend as well. I moved the pumpkins off the front porch where they'd attached themselves to the pavement in a moldy, sticky way and scraped the remains of the jack-o-lantern from the sidewalk. The Christmas lights are going up on the eaves -- the ones that were actually taken down from last year that is. It's always a nice surprise to find that some areas still have their 2009 decorations up.

Now I'm enjoying a nice cappuccino while I listen to the sounds of children squabbling over toys in the living room. Not to worry. I have Santa on speed dial and I'm not afraid to text him any time of day or night. It's the trump card when it comes to empty mommy threats. I love this time of year.

Here's to a pleasant holiday season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Thankful for .... You!

Christmas Cards
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Thank you! It's the time of year for us to give thanks but that's not why I'm writing this blog -- I'd be writing it no matter what time of year it were. I'm taking a break after an extremely busy weekend to write a little thank you note to you. My friends. My family. My blog readers. My clients. Thank you for supporting me in my dreams to run my own business and be successful. I could not have done it and not continue to do it without you.

Most of you know I retired from the world of journalism and photojournalism roughly 11 years ago to stay at home with my babies and be a full time mommy to them. It was a tough choice to make, but one that I've never regretted. I picked up the camera again two years ago with the intent of going at this full time once my little boy starts kindergarten next fall. The response I've received lately has been overwhelming. My weekends are filling up with sessions faster than I ever thought they would and I recently expanded to weekday sessions to allow me to make time for everyone who wanted a session. Thank you. I can't thank you enough for referring me to your friends and for trusting me to photograph your family. I know it's a huge honor. Whether it's been to photograph your wedding, your pregnancy, your babies, your event or your family -- it's an honor and a responsibility that I don't take lightly.

Much of the business side of Lisa on Location has been learn as I go. I have developed friendships with many photographers who I admire and have taught me a lot. If you are one of those -- thank you. I've met with some of the most brilliant marketing and business experts in the field and am amazed at how much I still have to learn -- although I feel I've learned so much already. If you are one of them -- thank you.

I'd especially like to thank my husband who has taken up the slack for me playing the mommy and daddy roles when I was buried deep in mountains of work. I'd like to thank my children for their patience with me and for understanding that mommy has dreams to fulfill too. Their maturity in supporting Lisa on Location has filled me with pride. I'd like to thank my friends and my family for helping me with childcare -- you know who you are.

But mostly I'd like to thank YOU. Every time you allow me to photograph your family you are helping me achieve my dreams. Every time you pass out my card or my website address to your friends you are helping me achieve my dreams as well. I couldn't do this without you. From the bottom or my heart, I thank you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I love my camera {New Braunfels Photography}

ISO demo
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Canon 5D Mark ii? Well I do. I want to draw silly doodles on my notebook "I *heart* my camera" and "Lisa plus Mark ii = luv 4/ever."

I love it when I shoot a wedding or event and the videographer drools over my equipment. I love it when I bring it along to my kid's school functions and people move out of my way and part the crowds. "Let her through, she's a professional." They'll say. Yes, I *heart* my camera!

I thought I'd make a little demo photo to show some of my students in class when we talk about ISO and camera quality. And I'll admit, my demo photo loses a lot of it's impact when shrunk down to web size and put in the blogger. But it's really amazing to me and will be amazing to the students who can get up close and really look at it. Go ahead and click on it and bring it up to your full screen.

I dusted off Jayme's old Rebel XTi with it's crop body and 10.1 megapixels to shoot a little demo. It's a good camera. A large percentage of my students use this camera or one of equal quality. I like this camera for what it's worth. I also pulled out my little baby -- the Canon 5D Mark ii with it's full frame sensor and it's 21.1 megapixels. To be fair I used the same lens in both shots -- the nifty 50 (50 mm, f1.8), and the same settings -- ISO 1600, F1.8, 1/320. I didn't feel like setting up an elaborate shot so I just used the window for lighting and shot the centerpiece on my table. It's a bowl full of fall ornamentals arranged so delicately by my 9-year-old. It's not an ideal set-up, but it'll work.

The top is the shot taken with the Rebel -- I enlarged a piece of the center and slapped at the top left corner so you can check out the noise in the image. The bottom I did the same with my 5D. The first thing you'll notice is the colors. The colors from the 5D are so much richer and vibrant. The second thing you'll notice is the noise. The fact that there's pretty much the lack of any noise in the image taken with the 5D while there's quite a bit of it in the Rebel image.

Canon has made a lot of improvements in the Rebel line since this camera. Among others, the T2i is making lots of waves in the camera world right now. This newest model has 18 MP -- still in a crop body camera, but much better noise reduction in higher ISO settings. A lot of my students are starting to come in with these later generations of Rebels and I'm very impressed with their abilities.

Before long, they'll make a camera that will steal my heart away from the Mark ii. I'm mature enough to admit it's not a forever love affair. But no matter what the future of the camera industry brings, Mark ii will hold a special place in my heart. What was that I just heard -- a Mark iii is coming out next year. Hmmm.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A word or two (or 200) about family: {New Braunfels Photographer}

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
I had a rare honor on Saturday. I was able to photograph two different families in two very different stages of their lives. The similarities between these two families was amazing -- love, happiness, togetherness, a little sibling rivalry and horsing around. And the differences were vast as well -- like say a few decades vast.

The first family was this young family in the image I'm sharing. They are so excited about adding a son to the family that already includes them and their darling little girl. Mom is due in just a few weeks and they can't wait to meet him. The other family I photographed included mom and dad celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary and their three grown children -- all in their 50s.

Like I said, these families had so much in common, mainly love. It was easy for me to picture the mature family 50 years ago. Mom and dad probably had their hands full with three children. The world was a different place back then. But the family unit was the same. A group of people tied together by relation, a blood bond or an adoption and love. It was also easy for me to imagine the young family in 50 years. The memories of this photo session preserved forever in prints. What kind of adults will these babies be in 50 years. What will they do with their lives, laid out before them.

As I write this I stare at a photo of my own family. Three beautiful children and their parents -- that would be me and Jayme. We aren't the young family I photographed Saturday morning, and we aren't the older family I photographed Saturday afternoon. We fall somewhere in the middle. My children are no longer tiny babies, but I still have my hands full. We squabble and fight but we love each and take care of one another.

I am thankful for family. Not just my own, but yours as well. Families are what keep us human. They drive us crazy, they annoy us, but they also hold us together and support us. Happy Thanksgiving to all my families and yours!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What exactly is Huzzah anyway? A weekend at the Renaissance Festival.

Renaissance Festival
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Almost 16 years ago I had my last first date ever. I went with the man that would later be my husband to Scarburough Fair in Waxahachie. It's a smaller version of a Renaissance Festival -- but similar to the one near Plantersville that runs every fall. Since Scarburough takes place in the blistering heat of May, we often prefer the mild temperatures at the Renaissance Festival. And because our relationship started at one of these silly festivals, we feel the need to return every year and traipse through the pine trees speaking with bad English accents and sampling the tastes of the Renaissance including the Ye Olde' Bloomin' Onion and my personal favorite Ye Olde Funnel Cake. Where the mead of the period is served in plastic Dixie cups and if we pay through the nose we can even wear a ring of plastic flowers around our head.

I don't mock it lightly. I enjoy it. Where else can you dine with Kings of olden days and still take a call on your cell phone from your mother in law.

I gave each of my kids a set amount of money to spend, which I find quite generous yet they still snicker at. It doesn't go as far as I'd like at 3 dollars -- excuse me 3 pounds -- per ride. They boy (pictured above) opted to spend half of his cash having a dagger painted on his cheek. It lasted as long as bath time last night. The rest he blew on a tambourine -- which sounded lovely all the way home -- and a trip through the king's confusion -- a maze of purple fabric. He also got to whack his daddy mercilessly with a pillow and push him into a pile of hay to declare himself king of the log. But I paid for that little thrill.

Another of the other thrills I get to have is to check out the camera equipment of the people around me. I can't help it! I see a DSLR, I gotta get a closer look. Rebels rule the show I have to say, they're everywhere. My husband and I enjoyed wowing at some of the professional equipment with the guy running around with 1D and snicker at the people using the Olympus to take the Ye Olde Time Photos. Camera nerds need their fun too. And it's cheaper than the big pirate ship ride.

If only someone would hire me to shoot a wedding at the Renaissance Festival. I can hope for next year! Huzzah y'all!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Road Tripping on a School Night -- Yeah I Roll That Way

Lost Maples
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke

I hit the road yesterday with my man and my boy for a little sightseeing. We've been talking about hitting Lost Maples this time of year but weekends are just out of the question with the crowds they see. So we both took a day off and hit the road while the girls were in school. We took our time and stopped along the way to shoot whatever caught our attention. The Medina River is absolutely gorgeous any time of year with miles and miles of Cypress Trees lining the banks.

The drive along FM 337 from Medina to Vanderpool is absolutely breathtaking. And the apple pie and ice cream at the Apple Store in Medina made the perfect mid afternoon stop for a snack. The whole day felt lazy and care-free. We haven't enjoyed that feeling for quite some time. It's like therapy for your soul.

I've just started taking a look at what I shot but I thought I'd share one that jumped out at me first of all. I think I'll add a few to my little art gallery. I'll post a link later!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thou Shall not Steal

Don't steal
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
It's a pretty basic request. Whether you believe in God's laws, man's laws or both. It's spelled out pretty simply. So how could something so simple turn into such a huge misunderstanding on the part of one magazine editor who has just learned what happens when you ignore this simple request.

If you're a writer or a photographer -- or both -- you've probably seen the news online. A magazine editor for Cooks Source Magazine -- an editor with 30 years experience who certainly should have known better -- is learning the hard way that writers and photographers don't like to have their work stolen from them. To get you up to speed, take a look at this article from the Washington Post.

So a writer finds her work in this magazine and thinks -- "that's funny, I didn't get paid for this. I didn't even give them permission to use this." So she shoots off an e-mail after attempting a phone call and has a couple of simple requests -- say you're sorry and make a donation to a prominent school of journalism. What she gets in return is an e-mail that sent the internet into a tizzy! The editor claims anything on the internet is public domain and she can copy and paste anything she darn well wants to and publish it in her little magazine.

Their Facebook fan page jumped from a handful of fans to more than 5,000 within a few days time. Not so people could admire the magazine, but so that they could send this editor nasty messages. "Cooksourcing" has become synonymous with "plagiarism" seemingly overnight. Upon further investigation, it seems that pretty much every article this magazine has ever run and probably almost every photo they've ever run was stolen from the internet. Sadly, it seems writers and artists have an awful lot of time on their hands to search the internet and compare articles found in Cooks Source with articles published elsewhere online. Unfortunately it's because many of them are unemployed because editors like these refuse to pay for their services.

As a journalist I am offended. As a photographer I am offended. In this editor's mind, anything we write, anything we photograph, if uploaded online, is free for her to sell and from which to profit.

Not only did this editor steal the words and photos of others. She thumbed her nose at the entire creative community with her reply e-mail that says among other things "you should compensate me" for editing the article. I think she's learning the hard way that the Internet is not public domain.

One of the things a lot of my client's ask me during a shoot is "my face isn't going to end up on a package of yogurt in Switzerland is it." Well, maybe not word for word. But there is a concern that their face could be sold and used out there for someone else's profit. I have gone through every step I possibly can to prevent that. My site is locked meaning it's not possible to download an image. I have my logo splashed across each image. I don't sell my portrait images commercially -- at least not without specific written permission of the client. I can't say it's impossible, however. As long as there are people out there like this Cooks Source editor who think the creative world is their own little private domain, there will always be that fear among me and every other writer, designer, photographer out there that their work could be stolen.

That's why I'll be watching this case pretty closely. This editor allegedly stole from Martha Stewart, The Food Network and Disney. These places have the money to take this magazine to court. The last I heard, the magazine's advertisers were pulling their ads and subscribers were dropping like flies. I hate to hope for the downfall of any publication. But a publication who refuses to play by the rules and pay for what they take does not deserve to profit.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog: (New Braunfels Photography)

John and Sarah
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
"You need to blog." This is the only sentence in the e-mail I get from my darling husband every few days. He nags me to blog. I like to blog. I really do. But some days there's simply nothing to blog about. And other days there's so much to blog about that I can't decide which to do and I end up doing nothing.

Today is one of those latter days. I went to a wedding on Saturday at the lovely McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. It's a popular spot for portraits as the dozens of people wandering the grounds with cameras, tripods and reflectors would attest to. It's also a lovely spot to get hitched. John and Sarah exchanged vows in the gazebo and posed for a few portraits before heading off into the sunset to celebrate. I was honored to play a role in their special day. They were married the day before Halloween, but there was nothing scary about this beautiful couple.

Halloween evening was another story altogether. It's the one day a year I let my children gorge on candy. I tell them enjoy it while it lasts, because come tomorrow, your bucket of candy will be gone. My middle daughter ends up finding out the hard way how little her tummy can handle and throws up before the day is up, my oldest daughter proves how sneaky she can be by hiding it throughout her room to pull out in secret later in the week, and my boy tries to test how many chocolate covered eyeballs he can fit into his mouth at one time. The answer is seven. In the end, I usually toss the kids trick or treats into the stash by the door and give them out to the late night trick or treaters who seem to come until much later on a school night than I find appropriate.

I did manage to save far too many peanut butter cups for myself and intend to send the rest of the candy to the food bank. They actually like to hand out little sweets to some of the kids at Christmas.

Now I set my sites on a busy month of senior portrait sessions and family Christmas sessions. I still have a few slots open for the month, but they are filling fast. Let me know when you're ready for yours!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Bitter Taste of Disobedience

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
I may just lose my lunch. The chili I had was quite lovely, but I can't shake this bitter taste from my tongue. What does that have to do with the lovely photo of an apparently sweet little kitty I'm sharing today? It's her fault I may lose my lunch at any moment. It's her fault I live with the bitter metallic taste of "Bitter Yuck No Chew Spray" on a daily basis.

It all started with the loss of our lovely Siamese, Holly, last December. To fill the void in our hearts we adopted Kody -- the sassy Tortie with a taste for cords. It wasn't long before we found out just how troublesome this otherwise adorable feline was. She started with my daughter's Nintendo DS charging cord. She chewed it into little pieces. Cha-ching (that cha-ching I added in there was the cash register as it rung up the cost of new cord to replace the destroyed cord). Then she moved on to my cell phone charger -- cha-ching. Then she devoured my daughter's laptop cord - cha-ching, then the replacement DS cord -- cha-ching. She wasn't satisfied with those so she continued with Jayme's computer mouse, my computer mouse, the mouse to the laptop, the replacement laptop cord, the cord to my computer monitor, another cell phone charger and another laptop cord -- cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.

All told I've spent a fortune on replacement cords time and time again. Banishing her to my daughter's room didn't help, banishing her to the garage didn't help. Banishing her outside seems to have slowed the mounting pile of ruined cords.

So now back to that horrible taste in my mouth to which I was referring. During the battle of the chewy monster, I picked up this innocent little bottle of yuck spray at the pet store. "Will not sting like other no-chew sprays" the label said. Well then I don't want it, I thought. A little sting sounds pretty good to me for this cat -- and I don't say that lightly. I adore cats and most of their silly antics as you'll see if you read my blog for any length of time. Nevertheless, I bought this yuck spray with the hopes that it would save me from further loss of income at the hands of -- or should I say at the teeth of -- this cat. I sprayed the cords on my computer, I sprayed the cords on my laptop, I sprayed the cords in my daughter's room.

Unfortunately for me, I happen to use my laptop quite a bit. I unwrap the cord, plug it it, then wrap the cord up again and pack it away almost on a daily basis. And every time I touch that cord, little invisible yuck spray is transferred to my fingers only to be transferred to my mouth every time I touch the vicinity of my mouth for whatever reason -- to brush a hair aside, to apply lip balm, to scratch an itch. The yuck that's left behind doesn't disappear easily. It was an hour ago that I pulled an external hard drive from my laptop bag and grazed that cord. An hour and the bitterness remains.

I sat down to blog about the lovely wedding I'll be shooting this weekend, but decided to grouch a little at the bitterness left behind by the joys of cat ownership. Perhaps it's good I didn't get the stinging kind.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ruins in infrared photography: New Braunfels Photography

Howdy folks! Jayme here again. Lisa mentioned the other day about our weekend trip to the South Texas Maize in Hondo. Well, Hondo is just a short drive away from the tiny town of D'Hanis, and right outside of D'Hanis are the ruins of St. Dominic Church, which was built in 1853 and later abandoned in 1914 when the entire town moved a few miles to the west.


Ask almost any photographer, and they'll tell you there's a certain romance to ruins. Maybe they give a place a sense of history--the U.S. is a relatively young country, so we don't have anything comparable to the Roman Coliseum or Greek amphitheaters. Filling that role for us are old Spanish missions and crumbling churches, which, once you get down to it, have a unique feral beauty all their own.


St. Dominic is certainly a fine example of a beautiful ruin. It's been a while since I photographed anything in infrared, but I knew I wanted to try here, since infrared light can bring out details hidden otherwise. Since my camera isn't converted, I had to set up the tripod, compose and focus the image then thread the visible light-blocking filter onto the end on the lens. This takes up a lot more time than you'd imagine. Once all of that is complete, I remotely trigger the camera for a pre-set exposure lasting anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds. Because of the blocking filter, exposures must be very long to ensure an image is formed. Compounding the challenge was the wind--it was gusty like you wouldn't believe. That shakes the camera, which blurs the long-exposure image. At the end of the day, I had far too many wasted shots. But I had a few keepers, too.


Unlike shooting with infrared film (which is challenging in its own right) most of the work on the image takes place after the fact with digital. Unprocessed infrared images are muddy, reddish things that are pretty ugly. I spent about an hour in Photoshop for each of the above, trying different things to bring out the most in each shot--experimenting is part of the fun! The top and bottom shots are different variations on a duotone process, while the middle image is a tritone process--which is a fancy way of saying multiple colors are used to create a warmer, richer black-and-white image than could be achieved using only black and white.

I'd forgotten how much I love infrared. I'm going to make it a point to make a few more photo excursions while the autumn light is still good!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our Adventures at the South Texas Maize

South Texas Corn Maze
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
I took a rare Saturday off last weekend and headed out to the South Texas Maize just east of Hondo. I had never been to one of these mazes before and we were all a little curious. Can you really get lost in field of corn? Is it scary? We were not disappointed. The maze is actually not corn, it's hay grazer. They say the hay grazer is more drought and pest tolerant than the corn allowing it to get really big. The stalks are between 6 and 8 feet tall and are pretty thick at the base creating walls along the maze.

So is it scary? yes and no. We were never in fear of being lost. We knew to follow the sounds of other people and there were plenty of people there. I don't recommend it after dark, however, although I imagine it's popular to the Hondo teenagers after dark.

My favorite part was this spooky tree in the photo. It was actually two trees intertwined -- one dead and one still alive.

After we left the maze we headed into D'Hanis to make a stop at our favorite abandoned church. Jayme took some amazing infrared photos there and he's promised to blog about them soon!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tis the Season for Making Holiday Cards: New Braunfels Photography

Holiday Card
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Every year the number of Christmas cards I send out goes up. And every year the number of Christmas cards I receive in return goes down. Gone are the days I could string them across the living room as part of my decorating.

I need to send Christmas cards. There are so many people I adore who I don't see as much as I'd like to and I have so much I want to tell them. I always write a nice letter with a little paragraph about what each child is up to and what Jayme and I have been up to. Am I corny? Am I old fashioned? I like to think I'm ahead of the game. Christmas cards are big for people like me and there are lots of us out there.

I want to send out Christmas cards to all my clients this year. I've been busy designing the layout, shopping around for print companies and then setting up the image I'd like to send out of our family. I put my own session on the calendar and treated it just like a regular client session. I had to or it would have gotten filled with something. The weather almost chased us away. There was a good chance of rain, it had been cloudy and yucky all day and I feared I'd have to postpone. But just as I was setting up, the sun broke through and shined on the field we were in and I jumped to work. It wasn't easy trying to build the family portrait with me missing. I had 10 seconds to push the button and position myself and of course I couldn't see me so I didn't know how it looked until after the shot when I had to run back to the camera. The girls were restless, the boy wanted to run. I wasn't happy of course with how I looked in most of my shots and had to set each shot up over and over again until I could at least be satisfied that I didn't look like I just ran over and threw myself into the pile.

So there you have it. That's my family. We're low on the formalities and high on the silliness. Now to slap that baby down into one of the card templates I've created and send it off to the printer.

Give me a call to set up your holiday family session! December will be here before you know it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why would she want to trash her dress?

Shawna's TTD
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
When I have a bridal booth at one of the Bridal Fairs in my area I always pull out the image I shot of a bride in an inner tube floating the river. It turns heads, it makes brides and their moms gasp in horror. Why would she want to do that to her dress? They ask.

My first response is well, it's not really a bride in a dress in this particular case. That was a friend of mine who is a model and that's a wedding dress I paid $15 for in a thrift store. The dress was obviously so important to the original owner that she donated it to a thrift store.

My favorite thrift store is overflowing with wedding gowns. These brides may have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on their gowns, but in the end -- probably for those particular ladies who donated them -- the dress was only worth to them as much as the vows that were taken in them. I'm assuming the marriages are no longer intact. I could be wrong.

Whatever the case may be, I stocked up on used wedding dresses when they knocked them all down to $10 a piece. They weren't selling, I was told. Brides don't want to wear used gowns for their wedding. The only people who buy them are salvaging them for parts or using them like I am. And this is what I do with those gowns. I use them. Over and over again. I assure you they are getting used and appreciated more than most wedding gowns that grace the pages of Modern Bride. I have a concept, I call one of my model friends, we make that concept a reality.

Sometimes, however, the concept is not mine at all, but a real life bride really truly wants to destroy her wedding gown in the most fun way possible. That's what happened this weekend.

Some of you may remember the bride I shot on the beach of Galveston last year. As heartwrenching as that shoot was for the bride's mother to watch -- she gasped in horror as the hem of that gown graced the sand -- this one would have given her a heart attack. Shawna -- the bride in this shoot -- is not a victim to tradition. She's a country girl at heart. She knows how to work hard and she knows how to get dirty. This concept was all hers. She told me about it before the wedding. She fantasized about all the hideous things she could do to her dress. She loved her dress. She tried on dozens, she pored over bridal magazines for hours. But she realized something so many brides forget. It's just a dress. Just fabric and thread sewn together to be worn once. Just once.

Shooting weddings, I've seen brides stress and cry over little things when it comes to their dresses. There's a thread loose -- oh the horror! There's a spot from their lipstick -- OMG! There's a tiny rip near the seam -- "you have to demand you're money back" a bridesmaid will say. Not Shawna. She assured her mom that the sand would come out at the cleaners. It did. She got a little spot on it getting out of the car. It came out with club soda. She got wedding cake on it at the reception, a little cold water did the trick. No stress, no worries, she knew all along where this dress would eventually end up -- in the mud and the muck of a little country pond.

When I first started mentioning this trash the dress shoot -- first in my blog last week, then on my facebook page, I got several e-mails and phone calls from people. "Why would you do that to this bride?" they ask. "Because she asked me to," I'll say. "Why would she want to do that," they'll ask. "Because that's who she is," I'll say.

Shawna's not done with her dress yet. When she took it off she was very careful to not disturb the mud. She wouldn't let anyone hose her down. She gingerly wrapped it up and carefully tucked it away. Halloween is near. She wants to dress up as the Corpse Bride. I'd say her wedding dress is probably getting it's money's worth. It's been worn more than most wedding dresses -- except maybe for those that are hanging in my closet. And the vows from that marriage? Still as strong as they were a year ago if not stronger -- no signs of this marriage ending any time soon. I'd say Shawna's gown was worth a lot to her. Beautiful images of a bride on the beach -- check. Beautiful images of a glorious wedding day when she married the man she loves -- check. Fabulous, fun photos of the day she hung out with her friends and family and got dirty in the mud and had a blast -- check. Still on the list, Halloween night with the coolest costume on her block. Shawna knows the value of a good wedding dress.

Friday, October 15, 2010

In honor of Halloween, I present for you Frankenstein's Baby...

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Okay, calm down. I know that title is going to rile up some of you. Rest assured that I'm not implying in any way that this baby is anything other than a sweet, beautiful little girl who I absolutely adore. But I will for the purpose of this blog call her Frankenstein's Baby because this image is actually made up of three different images. I didn't do any grave robbing to build her, I used my mad "scientist" skills.

Working with 1-year-olds can be a nightmare worthy of the scariest horror film for photographers. Almost as much as working with 2-year-olds. Flipping through the images I shot for this photo is much like looking through a blooper reel. She didn't want to sit there and smile, first she wanted to fuss because I put her down, then pick her nose, then tug at her ear, then she wanted to look over there, then over there -- anywhere of course except me. And smiling? Forget about it. In fact the only way I managed to get her to smile was to say "where's that silly Miss Lisa?" which would of course get the smile I wanted, but she'd also raise her hand to reach out to me, which I did not want.

So after firing off no fewer than 30 shots in a mere minute and a half, I decided to let Photoshop help me out on this one. Found the smile I wanted from the photo of her reaching for me so I snagged that and put it on the pose I wanted where her expression said "get me off this pumpkin right now or I fill my pants!" Once the smile was successfully placed I noticed her right eye was squinting quite a bit so I pulled an eye from another image and pasted it as well.

So now this sweet little face is made up of three different images of that same sweet face. If I can't get this darling to give me the look I want I'll just build it myself gosh darn it!

Next on the blog roll, zombie babies from Mars. Calm down, I'm kidding!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Event is in the Bag

Jack Ingram
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Last weekend was looking pretty routine this time last week. I had a couple of sessions, my photography class, a visit with family on the calendar. Then I get an e-mail from a friend of mine with the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce. The Gruene Music and Wine Fest was in need of a photographer to shoot the event for publicity and promotional photos. Could I handle it? On such short notice?

What do you think? I love wine, and I love music. Sure I had a couple of sessions on the calendar, but I could certainly work around those.

I ended up spending roughly 12 hours over the weekend hanging out with musicians, wine drinkers, and the fun-loving folks in Gruene and shooting up a storm. Was it hot? Sometimes. Was it exhausting? Of course. Was it hard to see hundreds of folks partaking in delicious glass after glass of wine without enjoying a single sip for myself (I don't drink on duty). Heck yes!

The results of my adventures can be found here. I also got to meet the great Jack Ingram, who's as normal a guy as any other patron of Gruene Hall, along with a handful of other amazing country music artists.

Now I'll be turning my attention to this weekend, when a beautiful bride will be trashing her dress in the most muddy way possible. Check back next week for photos from that shoot!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What a Great Way to Celebrate a Birthday

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Another year older already. I can remember blogging about my birthday last year and it seems like just a few weeks ago. Can it really be another year? There's a cake in the fridge right now that I am under strict orders to not touch until everyone is home. It has a big number 3 and a big number 9 on it. I'm going to have to save those two numbers so I can use them for a few years. Nobody will notice if I keep pulling them out every year, right?

And what better way to celebrate the big 3-9 than with wine, food and music. The Convention and Visitor's Bureau of New Braunfels and the Gruene Historical District have asked me to shoot the Gruene Music and Wine Fest this weekend. I'm excited about it. I've always wanted to attend this annual festival but work has always popped up. Now the festival is my work so what better excuse to go!

Gruene is fast turning into one of my favorite locations for shooting portraits.

I'll kick off my birthday weekend with dinner at the Gristmill tonight in Gruene -- after I take the kids to gymnastics and piano lessons of course, then I'll hit the wine and music tomorrow and the rest of the weekend -- professionally speaking of course. Everyone is invited to come out. Say hello if you see me!

On another note, I spent last weekend shooting the Canyon Lake Gorge. This place is amazing. You know how the Grand Canyon is said to have been carved over a period of millions of years? While this place doesn't compare at all to the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, it's still pretty impressive. The Canyon Lake Gorge, however, was carved over the period of about two weeks during a massive flood in 2002. It's a geology paradise. Fossil hunters would salivate at this place as well. But no taking of souvenirs is allowed! This gorge is closed to the public except by private tour, which we took.

You can take a tour as well if you contact the Canyon Lake Gorge Preservation Society here. It's worth the effort.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tis the Season

Capital shoot
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Most people think June is the busiest month for weddings, but they would be mistaken. I was surprised to hear that from one of the San Antonio bridal guides with which I've been considering advertising. It seems October is the busiest month for weddings. It's the busiest by a pretty big margin. I can understand why, living in Texas. October is so pleasant and June is just hot. (I was married in June. I tried desperately to not be married in June, I was shooting for May, but our church simply had no openings in May. We took what we could get. But I digress.)

So now I find myself in the midst of October, the busiest wedding month of the year, and I find myself quite booked with weddings. Well, actually two were in late September and one is in October so technically September was my busy wedding month. Regardless, I try to not shoot more than two a month -- I need a family life too.

But as I shot these past couple of weddings I couldn't help but fully grasp the importance that a wedding photographer plays on that day. My own wedding photographer did a horrible job and I've often speculated that that may be one of the factors contributing to my own desire to do such a great job on weddings. When faced with a decision on a client's wedding day I find myself asking "what would our photographer have done?" and then doing the opposite. The wedding photographer becomes a very intimate part of the wedding party. I get to know these brides and grooms in a way few wedding vendors do. I'm there with them during some of their most private moments -- the moment the bride puts her dress and veil on and catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror, the moment her father takes a look at her for the first time in her gown, the moment the groom and the best man exchange nervous smiles before she descends the aisle, the moment right after they leave the altar and are whisked away to a private room while their guests file out -- I'm there.

It's really an honor to be able to take part in these moments with them. And I feel a touch of sadness when their car -- or horse drawn carriage as it sometimes is -- pulls away from the curb to take them to the Bahamas, or Las Vegas, or Hawaii.

But I get an even more exciting destination -- putting together the wedding album that they'll treasure forever.

Watch the skies!

Howdy, folks! It's Jayme here to share a bit of coolness from this morning's commute:

I have to confess, sadly, that the above image isn't from this morning's commute. It's from a morning commute back in 2008, when I was just starting out on my grand photographic adventure. Over the early-morning skies of San Marcos I spotted the colorful balloon, and as I entered town, I watched it cross over Interstate 35 and languidly follow the course of the San Marcos River. I, of course, pulled over and took as many shots as my feeble skills allowed at the time. The results were pleasing, even looking back now and being painfully aware of my limitations.

The balloon was back this morning, following the same general course as it had two years before. The early sun was illuminating it in glorious fashion. It floated gently, an inviting, multicolored subject if ever there was one. And me without my camera.

I keep telling myself that I need to carry my camera with me everywhere I go, but I invariably forget. Maybe this will teach me a lesson.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Boy Loves the Chicks

Chick chick
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
He's only four years old but my little boy already has the chicks flocking to him. Literally. Or maybe it's the other way around. The chicks have the boy flocking to them. Whatever the case may be I spent the better part of the day last Thursday hanging out at the baby chick spot at the Comal County Fair. My boy desperately wants a pet of his own -- because four cats, a dog, a rabbit, three birds and some fish aren't enough for our household. The boy wants something to call his own and to bring to his bed to sleep with him at night.

He's tried to sneak in crickets, grasshoppers, fireflies, snails, toads and lizards (most of which we did eventually find and return to their outdoor homes). His big sister won an iguana at the fair and pleaded with us to let her give it to the boy, but mean old mom and dad insisted it would be happier at someone else's home along with the mealworms she brought home from a science project.

The county fair is really the boy's best bet to cuddle with the fluffy little feathery things. So I didn't mind spending my time waiting away the hours as he captured and cuddled chick after chick after chick.

Eventually they had to throw us out. They don't allow us to sleep in the chick pen and after a while I was craving eggs. So we made our way home, but I assured the boy that the fair would return next year and maybe, if he was lucky, we find those missing fireflies before then. I'm sure they're in here somewhere.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For Rent: Photographer with Really Cute Shoes

Wedding Bliss
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
I learned a valuable lesson last weekend. A lesson that's sort of a no brainer for most people who work on their feet -- and deep down I knew it, but I thought I'd chance it anyway. I paid for it for two days. What I'm talking about is putting "looking cute" ahead of personal comfort in the form of sensible shoes. But I really love my little strappy black heels with the shiny bling up the top of the foot. They're so trendy, so stylish, so hot, and so incredibly painful after about three hours. The wedding I shot went on for four hours. I knew they wouldn't last long on the comfort scale. I thought they were 4-hour shoes. I took a risk, I lost. Lesson learned.

I usually wear the more sensible shoes when I shoot a wedding. Shoes with proven staying power. Shoes that are always, inevitably a little lower on the trendiness scale. But this was a shorter affair than most of the weddings I shoot and I got cocky about my ability to endure. It won't happen again.

But on the bright side, I'm really happy with the images I captured while under extreme discomfort. My throbbing feet did nothing to slow me down.

Nick and Megan threw a beautiful bash and it's always so nice to see two people who love each other so much celebrating that love.

This wedding gave me a chance to break in my new Canon 5D Mark II. I needed a camera to use for low light conditions that will give me excellent quality even at high ISOs and I believe I've found that in this new camera. This particular wedding officiant had a policy of no flash photography during the ceremony and the lights in the church were horribly dim during the service. Of course when he says no flash photography, he's only talking about the pro photographer, because flashes from relatives and friends were blinking throughout the service. I never understood those policies, but who am I to argue. I'm just happy to be there.

Thanks for letting me be a part of this special day Nick and Megan!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Papa Bear says "This porridge is too hot!"

Ghost Chili
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Today is my darling husband's birthday. I'll be nice and not tell you his age, only that he is in fact older than me. It's a tradition in our family to let the birthday boy or girl choose a place to eat dinner as a family. Most of us choose along the line of normal -- Chuck E. Cheese if we happen to be under 5 -- Cracker Barrel, Mamacitas, or Rudy's are some popular choices for those of us old enough to expect decent food instead of mind numbing noise.

My darling Jayme, on the other hand, opts for the outrageous. He makes it his goal every year to choose a birthday dinner that consists of strange and bizarre food items that have never crossed his lips. There was the dive that served Jamaican food but the chef wasn't there so nothing was available except plantains. Then there was the all you can eat Indian place that would have been decent if I hadn't been 3 months pregnant and suffering from severe nausea. Not a pleasant ride home.

Each year about September 17 he starts planning for the next year's birthday feast. Scouring the internet for the strange and bizarre -- within a short drive from home of course. He found the strange and spicy in Chunky's 4 Horsemen burger. Jayme likes things hot. He makes his own salsa because he's never found a salsa hot enough for his tastes off the shelf. A meal is rarely satisfying to him if he's not sweating at the end. So these people at Chunky's order this pepper from Northern Pakistan that is so hot it's among the hottest peppers ever discovered. It ranks higher than a million on the pepper hotness scale whereas jalapenos rank around 3,000 or so. He decided last fall that he would be eating a ghost pepper by way of this burger on his next birthday.

So we show up at the restaurant and see a banner boasting their visit last fall from that show Man vs. Food. In that episode, the man won. He ate the burger. But he did it with a whole lot of milk.

Inside the restaurant we're greeted with a "wall of flame" where the photos of a couple hundred smiling men -- and a few women as well -- stare back at us with red eyes and haggard smiles. These are the people who were able to eat the 4 horsemen in under 25 minutes and not puke or drink anything for 5 minutes afterwards.

Jayme places his order at the counter, "I'd like a 4 Horsemen please." The waitress stops cold. "Do you know what that is?" she said. There's cold silence from the dining room and the kitchen as the fry-cooks take notice. Somewhere in the distance, a fork drops to the floor.

The waitress pushes a waiver to Jayme as the shock wears off and activity resumes. Jayme signs away his right to sue if he gets sick, has a heart attack, becomes pregnant with a deformed baby or dies. He also agrees to pay a $20 clean up fee if he barfs anywhere other than his designated puke bucket.

When the ghost chili burger is brought out, the first thing one notices is the size. It's huge. The waitress sticks around to watch the show. Others poke their heads out of the kitchen, the heat is on, literally. Jayme takes a bite. He's okay. He takes another bite, still okay. After the third bite the sweat starts. He turns red in the eyes. He sucks down his Pepsi in one slurp. He runs to the fountain for more.

I, of course am capturing the whole episode with my camera and am sharing the images with you here. Happy Birthday dear!

In the end he was only able to finish half the burger. The waitress consoles him by telling him more than 4,000 have attempted to finish one and only a couple of hundred have survived -er - I mean finished it.

I, on the other hand, finished my delightful guacamole burger in excellent time and am now relaxing with a glass of wine. Jayme was unable to drive home and has been popping the antacids like candy.

I have posted a before and after image above as a lesson. Boys and girls ghost chilis are dangerous. And I want you to remember this face before you decide to try one for yourself.

Update: It is now more than 12 hours after the demon burger and poor Jayme is still feeling the effects. He was up every hour last night with dry heaves and severe cramping. His body is trying desperately to reject the toxic chilis. Will he ever be attempting another ghost chili burger -- NO!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Support of PPA

I just renewed my membership with the Professional Photographers of America the other day. It's something I insist on doing every year. It's not an option for me. I was curious so I did a search on their Find-a-Photographer site and was shocked to see that only 15 photographers in New Braunfels are listed as members of PPA. You do a Google search and you'll find dozens of photographers in New Braunfels -- yet only 15 are members of PPA. I can't understand why a photographer would operate without the protection and support of PPA.

I'm sure they'll be happy to know that even though they aren't a member, PPA is still supporting them with their efforts at protecting copyright and upholding copyright laws in Washington. Because of PPA, they have laws protecting their work and their rights, without paying their membership fees.

But PPA also provides valuable services to photographers who bother to pay those fees and join their organization -- like liability insurance and discounts on equipment. They have free webinars and training programs. They provide access to thousands of learning opportunities and mentor programs, business education and competitions.

These learning opportunities are extremely important to me. I feel like a sponge and am constantly trying to absorb knowledge and improve my skills. Every session is a learning experience for me and I can honestly look at my work from a year ago and say "I can do so much better than that now." And PPA plays a huge part in that.

I've only just tapped the surface of their programs. Every month I discover some wonderful new benefit that I never knew about and get excited all over again.

Right now PPA is gearing up for their annual national photography convention and I'm thrilled that it will be taking place in San Antonio in January. So I don't have to pay for airline tickets or a hotel! Yeah me!

The annual fees PPA charges are nothing compared to what a professional photographer gains. And what that photographer gains makes them a better photographer. Please look for that membership whenever you hire a photographer. It demonstrates that they're serious about photography and about providing you with quality images and service.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where should we shoot our portraits in New Braunfels?

A few days ago I started a series about where to have your portraits done in the central Texas area. I told you a few of my favorite places in San Antonio in this blog (you click on those words and it'll take you to that blog. Isn't that cool?)

Now I want to share a few of my favorite places here in New Braunfels. Of course I always recommend New Braunfels because I don't have to drive far so I'm biased for these locations.

New Braunfels, Texas:

Landa Park: I had to put this one first because it's such a popular photo spot. There are dozens upon dozens of possible back drops in this park. I think my very first photo session was done at this park years ago and now it's an old standby. Here is a link to the official Landa Park page. And here is a link to a session I shot there most recently. And another I shot there a few months before. There are more, but that should be enough for now. The rules are simple. There's no shooting fee. Obviously respect your environment and leave the place better than you found it. This place gets really packed on weekends during the spring and summer so avoid it during those times. I've found it's quite lovely at the end of autumn when the leaves are golden. Sunset in November is perfect for a session at Landa Park. As is the early spring when the trees have grown just enough to be green, but the people haven't begun to flock by the thousands.

Dry Comal Creek Winery: This one is a sweet little location tucked away off 46. The nice people at the winery offered me their venue when we chatted at a bridal fair. I promptly took them up on their offer and met one of my brides there for a bridal session. The results can be seen here. Since I first did this blog they did start charging a fee for photo sessions at the winery. Give them a call to check on that and reserve your time.

Greune: If you're looking for rustic, country, outdoorsy, this is the place for your session. So many of the buildings have that beautiful old barn texture going for them. The Guadalupe River provides a nice water back drop on days when it's not stuffed with tubers. There are even a number of nicely manicured Bed and Breakfasts in the area that provide pleasant images as well. Here is a session I shot in Gruene recently, and another. And here's a page about the community. There are no fees for most of the area, but keep in mind all this space is open to the public and the public is everywhere. The area owned by the Gruene Mansion Inn does require a $25 fee and a reservation. They will ask you to leave if you don't have a reservation and pay the fee. Please be respectful of their rules and you shouldn't have a problem. Update: Here's the latest session shot in Gruene as well as the Faust Street Bridge, which is just a couple of miles away and also provides an excellent backdrop.

The Faust Street Bridge: Since I mentioned it, let's talk about this little spot as well. The bridge provides great leading lines and is near an old factory that serves as a nice urban grunge backdrop as well. There's a brand new event center right next to the bridge that has some of the lushest grass this side of that nasty drought. I took a family here recently and here's what we shot. You are not allowed to trespass on the property of the Milltown Historic District venue or on the property of the old mill. Please respect the "no trespassing" signs and stay on public property.

The Comal County Courthouse and the Square: I shot a session with an attorney at the courthouse and discovered that I never realized how beautiful this building is. Here's that session. The courthouse is conveniently located right across from the gazebo, offering you the opportunity to attempt to cross the street -- be careful it's crazy -- and shoot some images on the square. I shot this session in the gazebo recently. Update: Here's another session I was able to shoot around downtown. Downtown also can provide little mini sessions tucked into any area. This young lady just wanted a session in front of the Brauntex. They came out great even though we stayed within a small space. The back alley areas can also provide some interesting urban images like in this session.

Cypress Bend Park: This park is just lovely any time of year. The cypress trees growing along the river give it a gorgeous canopy. What I love about this park is that it seems like a secret little park that not many people know about. It's rarely crowded. There's always wide open spaces and plenty of parking. Here is a session that was shot partly at Cypress Bend Park, partly at Hinman Island Park, which I'll discuss some more next. And here is a session of my own family at Cypress Bend. And a session of another gorgeous family at the same place. This father and son session even ended up in the water thanks to a fun rope swing.

Hinman Island Park: This is very near Landa and is often considered part of Landa, but it's actually its own little gem. Avoid this one at all costs during the summer months. It's the entry point for people tubing the Comal and it's always crowded during the summer and many times the people can be quite undesirable. There was some violence here this summer and I've heard lots of complaints about rowdy behavior. I include it on my list because I have had successful sessions there. See the link above in the Cypress Bend section. I once shot a bride tubing in the water, but it was done before tubing season got started so it was the perfect time.

Walking Trail near Dry Comal Creek at 337: I shot a session with a model at this location because we were looking for a wild, savage setting. We didn't want manicured lawns and landscaping. This area was perfect for what we were looking for. Take a look here. Occasionally a jogger or walker would happen by but we pretty much had a pretty easy time with setting up each shot. This spot was great for what we needed.

The Little League fields: I debated putting this one up here because it's such a specific interest but I had to. I shot a session there that turned out to be one of my favorite sessions. Check them out here. If you love baseball, the backdrops are perfect. Be respectful of the property and don't make a big production about it and you should be fine.

The drainage ditch near Landa Street and Loop 337: I only just discovered this location during bluebonnet season because the flowers were so thick and beautiful. Here is a link to one bluebonnet session, and another here. I'm hoping the bluebonnets return in full force next spring at this spot because it was so nice. {Update: They did not return I'm afraid, but I was still able to get a nice session in with the flimsy excuse for bluebonnets that 2011 provided. See that one here.} It's a lot bigger than it looks from the road and there's a nice little creekbed at the bottom of the hill. If you're lucky you'll see some deer. Be careful about staying away from the loop, those cars can fly by. And watch for bull nettle and snakes. I didn't see any snakes, but this environment is perfect for them. This little gem may disappear soon. I heard a rumor about the city designating it as a future dog park. Can't shoot portraits with the fear of stepping in doggy doo. But for now it can be our little secret spot.

Any old empty field of flowers: Okay I wanted to mention that I've shot sessions in areas that most people wouldn't consider. Here's a session in an empty field near my home on Morningside Drive. It was gorgeous for a few weeks in April with these yellow flowers. I had to mention it because I wanted to point out that you don't need manicured lawns, landscaping and structures to have a good session. I've shot sessions in crowded dining rooms with an open window, a reflector and a back drop. I've shot sessions in the rain, in a dirty cow field, against an old store in the middle of nowhere, in my own backyard, in my client's backyard, in an alley between subdivisions.

You're limited only by your own imagination when shooting in New Braunfels or anywhere. The sky's the limit. I'll add to this list as well as I discover more hidden gems in and around this amazing town.

Next I'll compile a list of my favorite San Marcos locations. Check back later!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's all about color

HDR attempt
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
I've been reading a few good books lately. Okay, yes, I'm reading the Sookie Stackhouse series and am loving the mush it is turning my brain into, but I'm also reading up on HDR -- high dynamic range -- photography as well as a fascinating book on digital color correction. I decided to play with some of what I've learned and make an attempt at creating some images in HDR.

This is a barn I came across on the way to Cuero the other day, I loved the color of the rust on the roof as well as the clouds and the sky. I think I was being bitten by fire ants at this exact moment. Mental note to self, wear closed toe shoes on road trips.

HDR is a process of taking 3 or more images bracketed in rapid succession and merging them into one. This allows you to bring out details in the shadow areas and details in the highlighted areas in the same image, when otherwise you might be forced to choose the areas that are more important to you -- like should you expose for the details in the clouds or the details in the shadow of the roof? I want my cake and eat it too, so I'm going to go with both.

I also used some of this technique on a bride I shot the other day at the Capital building in Austin. I can't wait to share the results with you, but that will have to wait a few weeks. I can't run the risk of the groom seeing the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding ;-)

Some secrets must be kept!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

So where should we shoot our bridal portraits?

It's a question I hear every time I schedule a bridal session. Or any session really. There are so many places to shoot that the possibilities are endless, but I thought I'd do a few blogs about some of the places I've shot before and even some that I haven't shot just to give an idea to future brides, engaged couples and even families who want lovely settings for portraits. I'm hoping to include links and photos as well and add to this as I find new places.

Let's start with San Antonio, since that's the biggest city I'm closest to, then we'll get into New Braunfels, San Marcos and Austin. I put a lot of miles on my car and have even driven to Fredericksburg and Galveston for bridals so I'll include those here as well.

San Antonio:

The McNay Art Museum. Beautiful setting and dozens of possible backdrops. Here's a link to a gallery I shot at this lovely setting. And here's a link to their page on photography. Basically we're allowed to shoot there if we pay the $20 shooting fee. A very reasonable price considering many comparable places charge 5 times as much. There is no place to change and they ask you not to change in the bathrooms so it's best to show up ready to go. Update: I recently was asked to shoot a wedding at this location and wanted to add those as well. Click here for the latest link.

The San Antonio Botanical Gardens.
Nicely manicured gardens and some cool architectural areas as well. Here's a session I shot there. Well, actually it doesn't show you much because we showed up after the 5 p.m. close time. My bad! But fortunately, the parking lot has some nice areas as well and we didn't need much space for this session. So here's a gallery of images I took at a recent family session. And finally, here's a link to their visitors page. Basically, they charge just the cost of admission to shoot there. Of course they ask you to respect their gardens and don't go trampling any plants. That's just common sense. That rule applies to all these places. Keep in mind that you're a guest on these properties and leave them as nice or better than you found them.

The San Antonio Riverwalk
. This area is pretty massive and has tons of hotels and businesses all along the area. This particular session that I shot here was taken outside the Tropicana. Changing areas are pretty sparse unless you get a hotel room to change in. Some of the businesses may take issue with you using their restrooms to change so it's best to either get a hotel room or come dressed and ready to go.

The San Antonio Missions. Mission San Jose is my absolute favorite setting for a session. It's just simply gorgeous. Here's a link to a gallery of images from this mission. And here's a link to their photography policy page. In a nutsehll, they charge a $100 fee to shoot professionally. The park rangers will see you coming in with professional equipment and dressed in your bridal gown and they will collect it at that time.

The Japanese Tea Gardens. This is a beautiful place for bridals, engagements, seniors, whatever. There is a $20 fee to shoot there, and once again, be respectful of the plantlife. Here's a link to a gallery of images I shot there. And here's a link to their page. I recommend going on a day in the middle of the week around an hour before sunset. The crowds are at a minimum and the lighting is perfect. Try to shoot on a weekend and you'll be battling hordes of people and there's not much room on those little sidewalks to share when you're trying to have your photo taken. Once again there's not really a place to change so arrive ready to go. Update: Here's another session I was able to shoot at this beautiful place.

Breckenridge Park. There are some really nice areas to shoot at this park, especially a bridge near Broadway and Hildebrandt. I'd love to share a gallery of images from this site but I have yet to shoot there. The number one reason is that this park is so packed with people most of the time that shooting just isn't feasible. There are about 4 months out of the year when you can barely move your car through the roadways let alone find a parking space and get out. If you do shoot here, make it during the middle of the week and have a back up plan in mind if you can't park, especially if it's a nice day. There's no fee to shoot here and the only place to change is in the bathrooms -- which aren't very nice.

So that's a start for the San Antonio portion of this list. I'll come back and add to it periodically, and tomorrow I'll get started on a list of my favorite New Braunfels area settings.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Photography Classes are open!

Baby Barker
Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
This is it! It's open season on the community education registration front. Now is the time for all of you who didn't get into the last photography class to sign up for it before it fills up again. I'm offering two basic DSLR classes this time because those are the classes that had the most interest the past two semesters. Those of you without DSLRs are welcome to attend as well because a lot of what you will learn can be applied to your point and shoot cameras as well.

The first session will be on Thursdays and will begin September 30 and the second session will be on Mondays and will begin November 8. They're both the same class so you have your choice on the day of the week. For more information, check out the community ed website here.

The photo I'm sharing today was taken at a session I shot the other night. Darling, adorable little boy who showed me how much he liked me by peeing on almost every backdrop and prop I brought along. Wasn't that sweet! I don't mind. Baby pee lightens the mood and keeps us on our toes. But don't think I'll let anyone who isn't this cute get away with it! I'm finally getting to the end of that laundry pile just in time to head off to another newborn session. Share more later!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

G'Day Mate!

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
So what's with the Australian slang? Well that would be the influence of my Aussie mate Angela, my gal pal from down unda! Alright so I can't speak with a proper Australian accent, let alone type with one. Angela has been staying with me for a while now and today is her last day in New Braunfels. She'll be staying with another friend in San Antonio and then Houston before heading back home next week. I miss her already.

Angela is one of the reasons I've been absent on the blogging front for a few days. That plus the start of school has kept me busy here, but throw in a full week on the photography front and I'm just thrilled to have a minute to sit down. Today I'm sharing a photo I took the other day of Anthony. He's a personal trainer in Austin and needed a few images to get his website up and running. He'll be offering his personal training services and get some boot camps up and running pretty soon. Should be fun.

I'm also dealing with all the drama that is middle school band and a little 4th grade turmoil as well. Those are worthy of blogs all by themselves so maybe I'll save some of that material for later. For now I'll end it here to spend a last few moments with me mate before she flies away back to the land of vegemite (tastes a bit like olives) and wallabies. Where women glow and men plunder. Can't you hear can't you hear thunder. You better run, you better take cover.