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.