Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jesse works the camera {New Braunfels Glamour Photographer}

If you're not already sitting as you read this, I suggest you find a chair. What I am about to tell you may come as a shock: I don't only shoot landscapes and macro. As hard as it may be to accept, I do indeed shoot real, live people on occasion. With all the weddings Lisa has been booking that call for a second shooter, I'd be pretty useless to her if I couldn't photograph people. I've no desire for her to put me out on the curb!

Austin, New Braunfels glamour photographer

Last week I had a photo session in Austin with Jesse. She's a part-time model who loves creating different personas in front of the camera, but wanted to add some diversity to her portfolio. We met on location near Town Lake, and despite the sweltering heat, Jesse really gave it her all. The lighting was just about as close to perfect as you can get, and you can see from the rich, juicy colors that just pop in her shots.

Austin, New Braunfels glamour photographer

I also got to play with Lisa's new 85mm 1.8 lens for the first time. I have to say, I am in love. I don't think I've ever had the pleasure of using any lens that focused so quickly or so accurately, time after time. It's extremely sharp, the colors it conveys are saturated and the background blur it creates is smooth and creamy. And as a double bonus, it functions perfectly on my infrared-converted camera, with no hot spots or shifting focus!

Austin, New Braunfels glamour photographer, infrared photography

Jesse said she wanted something different, but she never expected me to photograph her in infrared. Have I mentioned I'm in love with the effect this type of photography has on people portraiture? Skin become smooth and flawless, the eyes get darker and foliage is ghostly white. The end result can range from stark to ghostly to ethereal, depending on how the image is handled afterwards. The image above is one of high contrast with an urban edge, while the image below is dreamy, straight out of faerie land. It's a whole heck of a lot of fun when the subject first sees themselves in such an unusual light, but that's usually all it takes for them to become fans of infrared glamour photography. That's what Lisa On Location is all about--always pushing the boundaries to bring our clients more!

Austin, New Braunfels glamour photographer, infrared photography

Lisa On Location Photography

Thursday, June 23, 2011

... and then we were probed by aliens. The final installment of our journey.

Area 51 Museum aliens, Roswell, New Mexico, New Braunfels destination photographerWell it's about time I wrapped up this vacation series. Stick a fork in it, it's done. Our final stop on the long road that would go down in the family history books was Roswell, New Mexico. I absolutely loved our trip to Roswell 15 years ago when the International UFO museum was just a small little space in an old corner storefront with fake aliens on lab tables and a research library that Fox Mulder would be proud of. Today it's a thriving big space in an old movie theater with fake aliens on lab tables and a research library that Fox Mulder would be proud of -- but it's also got a bigger junk shop. Not to mention the sign that says "the proceeds from the sale of all items goes to making the International UFO Museum bigger and better," or something like that. So we can feel good that the money we spend on the little green slimy "grow your own alien" eggs is going to a good cause.

Myself, I purchased a souvenir spoon and a T-shirt with an alien face on it and bought the kids an assortment of water bottles, pencils and bouncy alien balls with alien slime inside. We did our part for the good of the museum.

Area 51 Museum aliens, Roswell, New Mexico, New Braunfels destination photographerAfter we toured the prestigious International UFO Museum we made our way down the street to the less than perfect but quite campy Area 51 Museum. We paid a mere $3 a person (the kids were free) to look through what can only be described as a year round Halloween Haunted house without the drunk teenagers and cheap soundtrack. A retro diner with badly worn alien props greeted us next to a recycled McDonald's play area with alien faces painted on the side.

We took advantage of having the place to ourselves and set about posing with the adorable alien creatures.

There were aliens sitting on outhouse potties, aliens barbecuing in a backyard setting, aliens serving beer behind a bar, aliens talking on the phone, aliens crashing a motorcycle into a light pole. Those aliens totally had run of the place. And what was so great about this place was they had a groovy junk shop too and their prices were cheaper than the official museum down the road. Darn it, I'd already spent my cash at that place! Oh well, I thought I might as well help out the local economy even more and get more silly T-shirts.

Area 51 Museum aliens, Roswell, New Mexico, New Braunfels destination photographerWe were all set with our moolah and hit the McDonald's down the street before hitting the road. It was a fun end to a long week of travel. The road to home was still more than 10 hours long. And we hit a snag in the home stretch with a blow-out just east of Comfort near midnight. But by the time we made it home, the kids were asleep and easily moved into their beds. They would wake the next morning with pleasant memories of the long road and an appreciation for just how big and great our country is. I hope it's not another 15 years before our return to some of the places we saw, but the truth is that there's so much more to see. Who knows what next summer may bring. Am I being called west again or east this time? I hear the Great Lakes are lovely in summer. Then there's that big mouse in Florida who loves to call our names. We'll see.

Lisa On Location Photography

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where there's smoke there's fire {New Braunfels destination photography}

Wallow Fire, as seen from outside of Springerville, Arizona, on U.S. 180 June 3, 2011. New Braunfels destination photographerAfter leaving the squabbles of Petrified Forest and enjoying the sanctioned silence from the backseat, it wasn't long before a plume of smoke could be seen on the horizon. We had passed some fires previously on our trip through Arizona and had seen a little news coverage of the problems Arizona was facing with wildfires throughout the state. But the fire that we were approaching in the Alpine area was one monster of a creature.

We passed about 20 miles to the north of this smoke stack but it seemed like it was breathing down our necks for a couple of hours. We have since heard that this, the Wallow Fire, became the largest forest fire in Arizona history and it continues to burn more than three weeks later (it had already been burning for almost a week before we came upon it).

We passed through the town of Springerville on the edge of the Apache National Forest. The people of the town went about their daily lives with the blackest sky I'd ever seen in the middle of the day to the south and the bluest blue to the north. I shot a photo of the statute of the Madonna of the Trail against that black sky.

Wallow Fire, as seen from outside of St. John's, Arizona, on U.S. 180 June 3, 2011. New Braunfels destination photographerThe stretch of highway from Springerville and across New Mexico border was some of the eeriest driving we'd ever done. The sky got black with a ghostly red horizon all around us. The words "apocolyptic," and "spooky" were used. Logically, I knew for a fact that the road ahead us was clear and that we were getting away from the fire. Yet, there was still that thread of worry as everything around us turned darker and more ominous -- the five of us strapped in our seats as we, perhaps, unwittingly made a wrong turn onto the highway to hell.

Wallow Fire, Madonna of the Trail, Springerville, Arizona, on U.S. 180 June 3, 2011. New Braunfels destination photographerThe air finally started to clear as we reached the interior of New Mexico and were able to turn around and see the scary plume of smoke in our rear window. It was suddenly late afternoon again after our brief trip through midnight in the smoke cloud. The Very Large Array lay a couple of hours ahead of us and we wanted to make it there by sunset. We sat in silence for a while, fearing for the safety of the townspeople we'd seen in the little communities we'd passed. How big would this fire get? Turns out it got pretty darn big. It has burned 825 square miles of forest and forced evacuations of 10,000 people so far. It's only about half contained right now. Only time will tell how bad it really got.

The view along U.S. 60 in New Mexico, beneath the Wallow Fire smoke cloud, June 3, 2011. New Braunfels destination photographer

Lisa On Location Photography

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When are we going to get to the forest? And other squabbles from the backseat {New Braunfels photographer}

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, New Braunfels PhotographyMost of you who happen to be parents have had moments like these. Your children are squabbling and picking on each other very loudly in a public place and you wish you could disappear and be anyone but who you are. You think "maybe if I look at them as if I don't know them" nobody will know they're mine. "Maybe if I just walk away and pretend I'm with those other children over there who are holding hands and being little darlings, people will assume those are mine instead."

"Mom," my child screams, "I was here first! She pushed me!" Yes, she was looking right at me, I'm afraid. My failed attempts at looking behind me to see who she might really be referring to as "Mom" weren't fooling anyone.

My children were having a meltdown in the middle of the Petrified Forest and there was nothing I could do about it.

The squabbling started shortly after we left Meteor Crater. The large crater in the earth seemed to me to be an exciting look at the reality of the universe that put into perspective just how tiny we all are. My children, however, only found joy in playing with the video meteor simulator that gave the impact of various space objects at various sizes. My daughters, being the disaster fans that they are, enjoyed upping the numbers to the point that they were able to virtually blow up the earth with comets time and time again. See photo below.

Meteor Crater Arizona, impact simulation display, New Braunfels photographerOnce on the road again, however, it seemed the minivan simply was not big enough to contain the tempers and the egos of two adolescent girls and one pre-school boy. Nothing is fair and everybody hates everybody else. Welcome to Day 7 of the Great American Family Road Trip.

We had made several stops before we reached the Petrified Forest that I thought were amusing enough for the children along Route 66. We stopped for snow cones and ice cream in the little town of Seligman -- inspiration for the little town in the movie Cars. We stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. (Of course the children stared blankly at my references to the Eagles song and despite repeatedly forcing them to listen to the song on the CD player, they were still lost on the quaint significance of it and failed to see the humor in our experience). We took a tour through the Wigwam Motel and posed for photos with big flaking, plaster dinosaurs. I thought there was enough weirdness and old Route 66 campiness to entertain the herd that morning. But they were nonetheless, sick of being in the car and sick of each other. So when we got out to look at the petroglyphs during a tour of the Petrified Forest and found only one viewing scope, of course there would be a throw-down. Of course the unfairness of the fact that "she always gets to go first" or "I didn't get to look through it long enough" was going to ruin our tour. Curses to the federal government for installing only one stupid viewing scope at a national park roadside stop that clearly required two or three!

So, needless to say, our ride through the Petrified Forest National Park was not what we'd hoped it would be. My rants of "get in that seat and shut your mouth" are sure to blow any chance of me winning Mother of the Year honors and my refusal to purchase the overpriced Gatorade at the gift shop for the squabbling children will no doubt land me in trouble with the law. But I stand by my decision to be ruthless and callous and not allow any DVDs or MPs players for the rest of the day and force an absolute ban on any sound from the backseat until Roswell. Because I'm the mom and I said so.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, New Braunfels Photography, Lisa Blaschke CPP

Lisa On Location Photography

Sunday, June 19, 2011

At least I didn't pull out a fishing pole -- A visit to the beautiful Sedona {New Braunfels destination photographer}

Sedona, Arizona, New Braunfels photographerWhen I was a child we did the road trip of the west pretty much every year. I've been to Yellowstone National Park more times than I can count and I've probably stopped at every cheap tourist trap between Houston and L.A., and between Phoenix and Seattle. Sounds fabulous now, but not to a child in the 80s with no Nintendo to take along, no portable DVD player and no minivan with plenty of room. Nope we traveled in style in a Ford Escort with a kayak strapped to the roof, sleeping in primitive campgrounds and eating soggy lunch meat and cheese in a can.

I was determined to do things right by my kids and provide them with plenty of activities along the way. They were hooked up with D.S. games out the wazoo, DVDs, books, and only the finest junk food HEB had to offer. They had plenty of room to spread out in our spacious minivan and enjoy each other's company. Yeah right.

Times will change but the only thing that stays the same is children will never be happy with being stuck in a car with their parents for 3,000 miles.

Case in point, my father loved fishing. He packed his fishing poles and licenses and studied where all the best fishing spots were along our way. He'd find a fish-worthy stream of water and put everything else on hold while he pulled out that pole and set to work. Fishing, as most of you know, is not much of a spectator sport. Imagine if you will the scene. My daddy in his cowboy hat and fishing vest standing aside a stream in the deepest parts of Yellowstone National Park with his trusty Ford Escort parked nearby, kayak still strapped to the roof, and his wife and three children still sitting inside, waiting patiently (sometimes for hours) for him to decide that this particular stream of water was not the one he'd heard about after all -- where the trout jump out of the water begging you to feed them your game warden-approved bait so they can be humanely released back into the stream. Yes I spent many hours sitting in that car -- not allowed to get out because my mother was certain bears were within shouting distance and if anyone was going to be eaten by a bear, gosh darn-it it wasn't going to be us.

So I swore to not repeat the boredom of the fishing holes with my children. Easy, you might say -- Lisa doesn't like to fish. That's what I thought too. Until Sedona, that is. As I stood behind my tripod, aimed at the setting sun on a cliff overlooking this quaint Arizona town. I looked back at my children, sitting on the rocks, chins resting in their palms, shuffling their feet in the dirt and playing with the pebbles. They were bored out of their minds. Had the camera to them become what was the fishing pole to me? I was stopping an awful lot to shoot little images along the way. How many times had I said "I'll be just a minute." And I usually did take just a minute. I could have shot so much more. I held back, Jayme held back (although not as much as I did).

I put the camera and the tripod in the car and returned to the hotel with my children. I guess history is doomed to repeat itself each generation. No amount of D.S. games and DVDs will cure the boredom of the parental passtime on vacation. Our kids just don't get us. My hope is that they'll some day appreciate the photos I took and the places we saw on this trip.

And as I write this on Father's Day, I can't help but think about all those hours spent watching my daddy fish. He's been gone for a little over 3 years now, and I think I'd pay just about anything to spend a few more hours in that Escort with him in Yellowstone National Park. Watching him cast that line in the water, as the buffalo grazed in the field on the other side.

Lisa On Location Photography

Monday, June 13, 2011

London Bridge is Falling Down...

London Bridge, snack bar, Lake Havasu City, Arizona, New Braunfels photographerFalling down, falling down, etc etc. You know the old song, right? What it doesn't include, however, is the final verse's modern update that the bridge was actually purchased, dismantled, and taken to Lake Havasu, Arizona, by a millionaire who wanted to build a little town in the desert. This famous bridge was just what it took to bring people into the little oasis and stay for a while.

Lake Havasu City was another stop on our honeymoon 15 years ago so we had to make the trip again. Once again, we find that a lot has changed in the past 15 years. What was once a thriving little lakeside British-esque shopping district is now mostly deserted with a few shops pushing their cheap souvenir British merchandise and tourist junk.

The bridge itself is nothing overwhelmingly spectacular. It's just under 200 years old. There are no towers or cool stoneworkings. It's just a bridge. The fact that it was disassembled in London in the 60s and moved brick by brick to Arizona for reassembly is what makes it so cool, I think. But it certainly is a sight to see in the middle of the desert!

What's so sad about this tourist attraction is the run-down condition of the English Village. It was thriving 15 years ago and from what I'm reading online, it's downfall has everything to do with a squabble among millionaires and town officials. The owner got snippy and shut everything down with a "fine have it your way, I'm taking my ball and going home." Now stepping into the remnants of this village is like stepping back into a deserted 1986 theme park complete with "Karma Chameleon" playing on the loudspeakers. We had lunch at an overpriced pizza parlor that had original Atari video games rigged to require two quarters instead of one (I guess some things have to change with the times).

I got the feeling this town has become more of a spring break party town than a real tourist attraction. Many of the people are coming for boozing and boating and nothing more. I suspect that if whatever squabble led to the downfall of the English Village is resolved and some money is invested into the area, the bridge can once again be a thriving tourist spot for families.

Next stop on our itinerary is the beautiful land of Sedona, Arizona.

London Bridge, British telephone booth, Lake Havasu City, Arizona, New Braunfels photographer

London Bridge, marina, false-color infrared, Lake Havasu City, Arizona, New Braunfels photographer

Lisa On Location Photography

It's About Dam Time! Lisa lets loose with the profanity! {New Braunfels photographer}

Hoover Dam statue New Braunfels photographyIt's about time I wrote this dam blog. While vacationing in Las Vegas last week we had to make the short detour to Hoover Dam. I hadn't been down this particular stretch of road since about 1992 so I was shocked at the dam changes. Back then, we pulled into a little parking area that held about a dozen cars, we got out, took our dam photos, then got back in and drove over the dam and were on our merry way.

What a difference a couple of decades makes. Turns out Hoover Dam is a much bigger dam deal now! We had our car inspected for explosives before being allowed near the dam. We paid $7 for a dam parking space in the dam parking garage, dammit. Ate our dam sandwiches and drank our dam sodas, bought our dam souvenir spoon then headed to the dam visitor center to see about a dam tour. At $30 a person for the dam tour we decided to say "hell no" and instead go up to the top and look at the dam statues and check out the dam view.

My oldest daughter was excited about the visit to Hoover Dam because Percy Jackson visits it in one of his books and the dam statues come to life and fly the heroes away from evil zombies chasing them through the dam. We visited the spot where the gang ate their burritos and started a dam food fight. Saw the water where the opheotaurus called up to Percy. Pretty dam cool, if you ask me.

Hoover Dam, Colorado River, New Braunfels photographerI'd say the most exciting thing about the dam was rubbing the toes of the dam statues for luck. I also liked the dam bathrooms on the dam. They were retro enough to capture my attention. The men's room was in Nevada and the women's room was in Arizona.

The whole time we were at the dam, we took the opportunity to insert the word dam into our sentences as often as possible. My daughter enjoyed it a little too dam much if you ask me. She was given the green light to use profanity and she took advantage. "I'm taking a dam video mom," she'd say. "I need some dam water from the dam fountain, mom... Somebody spilled their dam soda all over the dam sidewalk... Can I have some dam ice cream from the dam snack bar"... you get the idea.

So after walking across the dam and back, we opted to head back to the dam car and move on. It was fun for a while, but it was getting pretty dam hot. We still had a lot of vacation touring to do. Next up on our list was London Bridge.

Hoover Dam restroom stairwell art deco, New Braunfels photographer

Lisa On Location Photography

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Las Vegas with the kids {New Braunfels destination photographer}

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas sign, Las Vegas Nevada, New Braunfels destination photographySo we packed up and left the icy coldness of the Grand Canyon. On the way out of the park we drove right past the mounds of snow piled up around the trees that had us so excited on the way in the previous day. We passed the spot of our spontaneous snow ball fight. It had seemed so fun the day before. Now we were just ready to be warm again.

We hit Las Vegas -- and the warmth of the concrete oasis in the middle of the desert -- by mid afternoon. The kids perked up at the sight of our hotel, the Excalibur. It was a massive castle looming amidst the tall buildings. We were right across the street from the Statue of Liberty and the Sphinx and a short block away from the Eiffel Tower. My boy asked me if that was the real Statue of Liberty.

"No," I told him. "It's a fake. Everything in Las Vegas is fake right down to the grass," I said as I pointed down to the astroturf lawn around our hotel.

After checking into our hotel, we took a little tour of the strip, being sure to point out the massive billboards promising hot girls at your door in 20 minutes. "Look children! Half off admission to the Striptease today only!" We opted to forgo the cattle call that is the all-you-can-eat buffet at the hotel and instead chose a nice old Carl's Jr. where the homeless man panhandling outside held a sign that read "Why lie, I need a beer."

Homeless man, Las Vegas Nevada street photography, New Braunfels destination photographerWe took advantage of the hotel pool as much as possible to relax after being on the road for so many days. But when the sun went down, I tucked the kiddos into bed and left Jayme in charge while I strolled out on the strip with my camera. Vegas at night is one big freak show. It's where intelligent college girls (and guys) go to behave badly so they can blame it on the liquor and the lights and be assured by their counterparts that "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Except that is when it ends up on my blog or Youtube. One of these drunken sorority girls grabbed Jayme's bottom and giggled to her friends "I totally just grabbed that guy's butt!"

A flaming homosexual man kissed me and told me he loves me -- even after I failed to fall for his sales pitch and go inside for a collagen injection. A cowboy on stilts asked me to marry him and THE Captain Jack Sparrow tried to get me to pay him $10 to pose for a photo with him. I was offered a foot massage for $20, free jello shots and "tits" lots and lots of "tits." But despite the sin my delicate eyes absorbed, I was assured by the preacher at the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and E. Flamingo that a few dollars in his prayer pot would grant me eternal salvation. Halleluja!

Captain Jack Sparrow Las Vegas street performer, Las Vegas Nevada street photography, New Braunfels destination photographerGlitter Gulch, Las Vegas Nevada street photography, New Braunfels destination photographerI was disappointed to see the closing of the Sahara -- it's magnificent empty shell stood silent and dark. It's one of the last remaining old classic hotels, from the heyday of the Las Vegas Rat Pack era. The hotel we stayed at 15 years ago, The Stardust, was demolished a few years ago. I suspect the next to go will be Circus Circus, a remnant of the early 80s when Las Vegas tried unsuccessfully to market itself as a family destination.

Before leaving town, we made sure to visit the famous Las Vegas sign, where a nice Elvis impersonator charged us $10 for a genuine autographed photo of himself on cheap cardstock and posed for photos alongside his authentic pink Cadillac.

There were wedding parties galore having photos done in front of the sign and we seemed to keep running into the same bride and groom all over town. The wedding chapels were amusing to us. There was one on every corner. And for just a mere $100 Jayme and I could even renew our vows if we so chose.

When we hopped into the minivan to leave we made sure to pop in Sheryl Crow. There's nothing like a little "Leaving Las Vegas" for that drive down I-15 out of town. So long Vegas. See you soon, I'm sure! Next up, our trip to the damn dam -- Hoover Dam that is.

Elvis impersonator Las Vegas Nevada, Las Vegas street photography, New Braunfels destination photographer

Lisa On Location Photography

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Horseshoe Bend {New Braunfels photographer}

Horseshoe Bend Arizona, landscape, fine art, New Braunfels photographer
In between the sandstorm of Monument Valley and the sub-freezing temperatures of camping out on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, there's one other stop we made that Lisa hasn't told you about: Horseshoe Bend, a spectacular omega-shaped turn of the Colorado River inside Glen Canyon. That's probably because she didn't get any photos there.

Why didn't she get any photos? Several reasons, the big one being that the rim of the overlook is a dramatic cliff with a thousand-foot drop, and the kids all wanted to play "Who can get closest to the edge before-- HEY! NO PUSHING!" Since Horseshoe Bend was always one of my main desires to shoot, she left the photography to me and rode herd on the young 'uns. The other reason she didn't get any photos, and I didn't get nearly as many as I'd hoped, is pictured above right. There were quite a few photographers there already, and they'd staked out the best unobstructed positions. Eventually, without hope of getting my turn at one of the prime overlooks, i got down on my belly and scooched to a precarious perch at the edge of an outcropping of rock. I'm not normally scared of heights, but this position was positively vertigo-inducing. I think my results were worth it, although I confess I hope to go back some day and try again under fewer time constraints (and with less competition!).

Horseshoe Bend Arizona, landscape, fine art, New Braunfels photographer

I also want to share one other image that I'm really quite proud of. During the infamous sandstorm most of the shooting was done by Lisa, since Monument Valley--even a hazy, dust-shrouded version--was one of her big goals to photograph. I contented myself with slipping out of the car here and there to attempt some infrared landscapes. I'd heard that infrared photography can cut through haze that would otherwise obscure visible light photography, but I can assure you that through on-site testing I've determined that airborn sand blocks infrared light pretty darn effectively. During our drive down in the park basin, though, the wind eased up momentarily and I was able to get this gem:

Monument Valley Arizona, Merrick Butte, West Mitten Butte, Sentinel Mesa, infrared, landscape, fine art, New Braunfels photographer

I wasn't sure I had captured anything special to begin with, but as I processed it in Photoshop my excitement grew. To the right is Merrick Butte, with the West Mitten Butte and Sentinel Mesa to the left. The gradient, lighting and billowing dust became more striking the more I tweaked the image. I think it's powerful and evocative. Moody. I'm one of the few photographers that can say he's gotten a good photo of Monument Valley during a sandstorm taken in infrared. Sometimes it's just better to be lucky than to be good. ;-)

Lisa On Location Photography

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Grand Canyon and my most excellent fear of heights {New Braunfels photographer}

Grand Canyon north rim Arizona, New Braunfels photographerI have a fear of heights. It's something I've fought for a few years. I've tried to deny it. But I'm going to just get that out of the way right now. I wasn't always afraid. As a child I could climb the tallest trees with no fear. I went through a brief spell when I wanted to be a tight rope walker. Standing near the edge of cliffs didn't phase me.

But something about becoming a mom changed all that. Suddenly it was scary to carry my child near a balcony railing. What if I tripped and dropped her? What if the edge of the sidewalk collapsed and we fell? Suddenly it wasn't about just me anymore, it became about this darling little piece of me and this incredible urge to protect her from harm. My fear has tripled with the addition of a couple more kiddos and now my extreme phobia is confirmed. I am terrified of high places.

As I mentioned in my last blog, our trip to the Grand Canyon's North Rim is a return from our honeymoon 15 years ago. I wasn't afraid at that time. We walked all the trails and teetered on the edge of thousand-foot drop-offs. This time we did not.

My Boy is a maker of mischief. He gets into things. He pushes the boundaries and challenges the laws of physics on a daily basis. I had extreme fear of him plummeting from the top of a drop-off into the vast wonder of nature below us. What didn't help matters was my oldest daughter's purchase of the book "Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon" which describes in excellent detail every single death in the Grand Canyon since recorded history, including all the tourists and their children who fell off the very trails we were walking. Definitely the feel-good read of the summer.

So my grip on the hand of My Boy was bruise-inducing and my eyes stayed plastered on the trail before us when I should have been photographing the vast wonder that is the Grand Canyon. I did manage to hand The Boy over to Jayme for a few moments to snap a few before snatching him back into my protective clutches.

Grand Canyon north rim Arizona, New Braunfels photographerOnce we checked out the marvelous view, it was time for us to pitch our tent and make camp. Yes, we did decide to camp out. This comes as a shock to those of you who know me. Remember the family road trips I took as a child that I told you about yesterday? Every year we took two weeks away from home driving the roads of the west. My daddy had a big book called "Free Campsites of the United States" that we carried with us. He knew about every free campsite around the country and we used them. After 18 years of primitive camp sites with snakes, mosquitoes, cold water, no toilets, and rain and snow in my sleeping bag I had had enough camping to last me a lifetime.

Grand Canyon north rim Arizona, New Braunfels photographerYet the children begged. They wanted the experience of roasting hotdogs on a fire, making s'mores and sleeping in a tent with all the night noises. What they didn't anticipate was the low of 27 degrees that night. Their spoiled little Texas toes are not used to the cold. We had planned on spending two nights in a tent at the North Rim but first thing in the morning their words "I'm ready to go to a hotel now" were like music to my ears. We packed it up and hit the road again. Next stop Las Vegas.

Grand Canyon north rim Arizona, New Braunfels photographer
Kaibab National Forest fire Arizona, New Braunfels photography
Kaibab plateau Grand Canyon north rim Arizona, New Braunfels photographer

Lisa On Location Photography

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When Life Gives You Dust, You Shoot it! {New Braunfels photographer}

Mexican ground squirrel, Prairie Dog Town, Lubbock, New Braunfels photographerDust. That's what we saw last week on the first and second day of our trip. We started out of New Braunfels early and hit west Texas within a few hours. The first few dust devils we saw we got excited. "Look at the dust devil Mommy!" gave way to "Yeah, there's another one, whatever."

We stopped for dinner in Lubbock so we could check out a Freebirds that we hadn't been to before. Jayme is a Freebirds expert dating back to the first Texas location in College Station in college. We've since been on a mission to check them off our list. Lubbock, check. There's not much to do in Lubbock plus we were on a tight schedule so we took our burritos to the Prairie Dog town and watched the antics of those cute little rascals.

We finally crossed into New Mexico and made a stop at the grave of Billy the Kid. Or at least one of the graves of Billy the Kid. Turns out there's more than one so it's anybody's guess which is the real one.

Four Corners monument, New Braunfels photographerA quick text to my sister in law who's home state is New Mexico told me we were very near to her and my brother in law. They were in Moriarty for a family reunion and invited us to stop in for a spell. Well, isn't that a coincidence. So we made our first night a stay in Moriarty.

The next day we headed up to Four Corners to experience the joy of being in four states at the same time. The wind was something awful but, little did we know, it was about to get a lot worse.

We hit the desert road of Highway 191 to take us up into southern Utah and back down into northern Arizona. We wanted to enter Monument Valley from the north and experience the scenery of this classic horizon. What we weren't expecting was the dust. Lots of it. In the air. All around us.
Utah sandstorm, New Braunfels photography
Utah sandstorm, New Braunfels photographyIt was so thick we could barely see the road ahead of us in some parts. I had had dreams of shooting Monument Valley. I'd been through it once or twice as a child sporting my old disc camera, but I knew this time would be different. I would capture blue skies, beautiful rich colors and hang out until sunset and really photograph that place like nobody had ever done before. That's what I thought anyway.

But the first glimpse we caught of the monuments ahead us were like ghostly towers emerging from the dust. They had an other worldly look to them. So I upped my F-stop to about 13 to get the detail in that dust and I started shooting.

Monument Valley Arizona sandstorm, New Braunfels photographyI swallowed a lot of dirt. I had sand in my nose. It got in my ears. I could feel the crunch of sand in my teeth. There's still a layer of red dust on the dashboard of my car. Yes, we got dirty. But I captured a version of Monument Valley that you probably won't see in the travel brochures. You won't see these photos on a calendar or on a postcard. So in that respect, I did capture that place like nobody had done before. And I like it.

Monument Valley Arizona sandstorm, New Braunfels photographerWe paid for our passes into the valley and took a very rough dirt road to wind our way into the monuments. It wasn't long before we decided to turn around and head for Page. My camera was getting covered with sand and I was starting to fear for its safety.

We arrived in Page after sunset and washed all that dirt down the shower drain of that Super 8 Motel. The next night would be spent in the Grand Canyon. I'll tell you all about that next time.

Monument Valley Arizona sandstorm, New Braunfels photographer
Monument Valley Arizona sandstorm, New Braunfels photographer
Monument Valley Arizona sandstorm, New Braunfels photographer

Lisa On Location Photography

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Mother Road calls, we follow. Our adventures down Route 66 {New Braunfels photographer}

Route 66, New Braunfels photographerIt was a family tradition for me when I was a child. Summer would roll around and my parents, brother and sister, would pile into the family car and hit the road. Usually traveling northwest toward Yellowstone National Park.

We hit all the stops on the way year after year. If there's a campground, state or national park, national monument, historic site, or quirky strange tourist attraction anywhere between the St. Louis Arch and Crescent City, CA or in between Glacier National Park and Big Bend. I've been there, done that.

Fifteen years ago I married my man and dragged him with me on the open road for our honeymoon. We hit all the fun stops along the way. It's been a long time coming, but we decided to retrace our honeymoon path with the kids this year in celebration of 15 years of marriage. So we packed up the family minivan (when I was a kid we didn't have the luxury of space in our car often traveling in station wagons or oh-my-lord that little Ford Escort).

Our end target was the Grand Canyon North Rim where we stayed during our honeymoon. We would hit a lot of the stops along the way and circle back through Las Vegas and hit the stops we missed on the way back.

Internet service was patchy and my iPhone wasn't nearly as handy in the middle of a sandstorm at Four Corners so I didn't blog about my adventures along the way, but I took lots of notes and hope to get all my thoughts down in my blog over the next few days.

I thought it appropriate today to share with you a few images of Route 66, along which we spent quite a bit of time the past week.

Route 66 was once the main highway across the United States. A lot of people drove this route going from east to west. Through thousands of miles of plains and deserts, cities and small towns. It was replaced by Interstate 40 and many of the towns that got bypassed lost their main stream of revenue. Remember the movie "Cars" in which Lightening McQueen happens upon the little forgotten town by mistake?

Most of you know I'm fascinated by the old forgotten places and run down buildings so I was in photo paradise during many legs of this trip.Holbrook, Arizona, Wigwam Motel, New Braunfels photography
Holbrook, Arizona, Wigwam Motel, New Braunfels photography
I downloaded my Roadside America app before the trip so I could access little quirky sites along the way. There was an abandoned amusement park near Two Guns Arizona, the famous Wigwan Motel in Holbrook, and how could I drive through Winslow and not stop to shoot a photo of us standing on the corner!
Winslow, Arizona, Standin' on the Corner Park, New Braunfels photographer
Today there are hundreds upon hundreds of abandoned gas stations and old motels in the middle of the desert. Passed by and forgotten in the name of progress and a need for speed. Back in the day it was vital to the survival of these places to stand out and make people want to stop. They boasted billboards along the way to entice motorists to stop and spend their money, "Kodak film and flashbulbs" some of them still said -- paint flaking and the wood rotting yet the colors still strong. "Clean restrooms," "fudge," "souvenirs." Neon signs and interesting structures were once enough to get people to pull over and take a break and drop a little cash.

Our trip along Route 66 was one of my favorite parts of the journey -- even more so than our nights in Vegas. I'll take a big old plaster dinosaur with a broken back over the glitz and lights of Vegas any day.

Stay tuned for more of our Great American Family Roadtrip adventures.

Holbrook, Arizona rock shop dinosaur statues, New Braunfels photographer
Yucca, Arizona golf ball house, area 66, Dinesphere, New Braunfels photographer
Seligman, Arizona -<br />Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In, New Braunfels photographer

Lisa On Location Photography