Sunset on the Pedernales

On Her Own Terms

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Last week I lost Hermonie, my side-kick black cat of 14 years. Hermonie became my pet (or the other way around) in 2002. My wife and I had just married, moved to a new city, and went to the rescue center to get a cat. There was one cage with a litter of kittens. A rowdy, jellicle-cat stuffed her black and white paws out at my wife when she walked by, and my wife was hooked. My wife pointed the cat out and the attendant pulled her from the cage. The other cats in the litter were all black, and my eyes fell on the tiny runt in the back corner with her limbs folded easy under her body. As the attendant was handing the jellicle cat over to my wife, I asked her for another, for the runt in the back. The jellicle, who survives her sister, is named Meow. The runt was named Hermonie.

The jellicle, Meow, continued her wild, insatiable streak. The reserved, Hermonie, grew into the typical cat that doesn’t bend to the human. She initiated petting by giving a bite on the hand, and then another bite to indicate pet time was over. She wouldn’t be held, and wouldn’t sit in your lap if it was the last place on a burning Earth. She didn’t sleep in the beds bought for her, but would sleep in fresh laundry baskets and inside clean linen closets. She sprung the door stoppers at 3am when hungry, and slapped the blind strings when she wanted others to awake to join her. She scurried off the bed when you went to bed to only come back later and sleep (and snore) on your chest. And then the other things, like pooping next to the litter box and her stringent, merciless job of unwinding toilet paper rolls.

Nine months ago, and somewhat overnight, Hermonie fell ill. The vet ran blood tests and reported end stage renal failure. She told me she had a week left, tops. I opted to take her home for one more day to say goodbye, and scheduled the euthanasia the next day. That night she ate deli turkey (her favorite), and then slept next to me purring all along. The next day was better. And then the next was even better. By the next week she had dropped needed weight, and was moving around more than she had in years. She kicked the dog out of his bed and was jumping up on counters and tables again. Of course, I knew that she wasn’t magically healed. I knew this was a burst. Everyone says they will let you know when it is time, and she was clearly telling me there was more stuff in the tank.

That ninth life burned out two weeks ago. She went blind, and then eating and drinking became difficult. I pledged against suffering and selfishness. I scheduled another appointment. The night before, my aloof cat, jumped into my lap when playing video games, curled once, purred, and slept. A damn lap cat, fourteen years in the making.

So of course I chickened out again on the next appointment. But another week went by and our evasion was over.  We had ran far and hid well, but death scratched incessant at the door. It was time. I picked her up from her food bowl, sitting next to her sister, Meow.  We went to meet it and she left on a sunny Texas afternoon–in trailing clouds of glory.

But enough about the end. This runt cat survived the pound. She slept on the desks of college newlyweds. She walked across the keyboards during thesis writing. She watched us form careers. She traversed 5000 miles and lived in three different states. She saw all three babies came home from the hospital. She watched her family grow. She slept at the feet of her human sisters, and hissed at them when they tossed and turned. And then when told she had to leave it, she doubled down for another nine months. On her own terms. Always. She lived them. She ended it on them.

Farewell my friend.

 

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Foggy Woods

Laurel Falls

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Taken at Laurel Falls, Smoky Mountain National Park, one foggy morning.

Early hours

Mottled

Smug couple

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I’m stepping away from the expansive landscape tonight to the close up. The above is an orchid, and can’t help but see a smug couple at the center. Have a great week.

Sunset in the Balcones

Dusk in the Hills

Afterglow

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Too often when doing sunset timed landscapes photographs, I focus on getting that last starburst of sun before it retreats into the horizon. Over time I have actually enjoyed the afterglow, that twilight time before it goes dark. While serene, the quietude didn’t last long as what sounded like a hundred coyotes started in with their howls on the hilltop to the left. My truck was parked at the end of that gravel trail, roughly two miles away, so I had to get going.

Prickly Pear II

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We’ve had a mild winter without a hard frost. The green already out in February is surprising.

A snake crossing

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I was hiking down a trail when I froze in my tracks over this great, fearsome snake that was crossing. He must have reticulated an entire 10 inches. Here he is below standing his ground and about to unleash his hell. 20160218-2-Edit-1

Dusk in Hill Country

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Photo here was grabbed at the end of hike through the Hill Country area in Texas. Behind me was a near full moon rising that I think added some good light.

Creek

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Unnamed creek (to my knowledge) found running through Balcones Canyonlands, Texas.

Prickly Pear

On the inside

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Was messing around with the seed head of a dandelion. The complexity of the seed head can wreck havoc on the focusing motor. I thought the somewhat back focus came out interesting here.

Fat Tuesday

In honor of Fat Tuesday, here are some fat rocks.

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Little River

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Little River spot found in the Smoky Mountain National Park.

Facehugger

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Species was found in the Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas Hill Country.

Corn

Galaxy of Suns

“When the peacock has presented his back, the spectator will usually begin to walk around him to get a front view; but the peacock will continue to turn so that no front view is possible. The thing to do then is to stand still and wait until it pleases him to turn. When it suits him, the peacock will face you. Then you will see in a green-bronze arch around him a galaxy of gazing haloed suns. This is the moment when most people are silent.” – Flannery  O’Conner.

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Tired Of

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This goat was tired of my shit…and from this look, most likely everyone’s.

Searching For A Network (II)

Tis the season…

Cheers to this holiday season.

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Texas Haze

Austin 360 on Summer Night

Brushy Creek

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Small fall near Brushy Creek, Cedar Park. Only encountered one snake and one gigabahgillion mosquitoes.

Definitely dinosaur bones…

Obviously a found brontosaurus at Bull Creek in Austin, Tx.

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Wordless Wednesday

Mount Bonnell

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Quiet summer dusk on Mount Bonnell in Austin.

Sunset on Lake Austin

Pedernales River Panos

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I haven’t done panoramic photos in quite some time, and I am definitely out of shape in the process. Both of these were suppose to be much wider but I must have not lined the individual shots up correctly. When I tried to stitch them together in Photoshop, it was a hot mess. So I had to drop out some frames to get them to work. Both of these are roughly 5-6 stitched images. The top one were a series of long exposures take before dawn. The latter was about 45 minutes later…testament to how quickly light changes in the early morning.

Wordless Wednesday

Pedernales #6

pedernalesPedernales Falls again. I took several from this angle at different exposures, and decided to go with the slightly underexposed as it brought more color to the photograph. Have a great weekend.

 

Dawn at Pedernales Falls

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This is one of those earned photographs. I woke at 4:30am and hiked about 2 miles in the dark by myself to find this spot a bit above the falls. Totally worth it.

Willow Loop Wildflowers

A few snags taken from a drive around Willow City Loop, a scenic drive near the town of Fredericksburg, Texas. I moved to Texas in the dead of winter, and heard much about the wildflowers of spring. Come spring time, they lived up to the stories. At the peak, it’s hard to find any area not teemed with the wildflowers, especially the blue bonnets (which seem to be closer to purple than blue in my opinion…but blue-bonnets does sound better than purple-bonnets or lavender-bonnets).

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Green VW

Bikes

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Old bikes off a sidewalk in Fredericksburg, Texas.

An Old Shed

In the evenings, I have been attempting to run down the energy of our Labrador with a combination of running and exploring the wooded areas near our house where he can go off leash. Below is a forgotten farm shed I had came across before, but returned today with a camera…and dog, who is usually nervous and did bark and raised back hair once towards something that bothered him…that I couldn’t see. A bit unnerving.

Also of note, Lightroom rolled out it’s new update, and this time included it’s own HDR and Panorama merge (always had to pump out to a plugin or Adobe Photoshop before). I AM DIGGING the HDR merge in the new release, and highly recommend to those seeking a more natural “exposure fusion” approach to bracketed photographs. I like most HDR, but most often, shoot in brackets to get the full dynamic range, to get what you can’t get in just one shot. Before HDR programs, I use to load my bracketed shots into layers in Photoshop, and then mask and brush between those layers to get the full range of light…the HDR. It was tedious and took a great amount of time, but I found you could teeter on the nexus point of perfect exposure and the surreal. Going too far into the latter has given “HDR” some bad rap. What I love most about the Lightroom HDR Merge is that it retains the control of RAW. In other words, files aren’t converted into TIFFs or JPEGs before entering an HDR processor. What this means is when the HDR is sewn together, you still have much leeway for adjusting exposure, white balance, tone curves, color levels, etc. It’s like it spits back to you an HDR file in RAW format (actually .DNG). Then you can apply any preset you have created or go slider pulling. In the below, I went to a preset I use that mutes the tones, warms the image, and drops the exposure a bit. Both were bracketed shots at -2/0/2 @ f11. Again, I really dig the natural approach in the new Lightroom update. So check it out if you like more of that “exposure fusion” look.

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20150421-10-HDR-EditOh, and in my absence, I have finally dedicated the time to building a website. Check it out at http://www.brandonbrasseauxphotography.com. It’s still a work in progress, but finally moving forward.

Perndales Falls

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I think all of us, on this hemisphere, is a bit tired of the winter.  Above is another from Perndales, and I can’t wait until spring offers a bit more color.

Wordless Wednesday

A passing through

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If I can get away with one more…

These egrets were never-leavers. They stayed the whole year. Pelicans, a litany of ducks, and smaller waterfowl would teem this peer on the river. These egrets would fly, swoop, and roost with all of them. But then they all went home. It warmed up, and the summer suffocated the air, The egrets could still be found at the peer.

Weary traveler

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Continuing my black and whites, a heron at dawn on the edge of a horseshoe lake. I was happy to slip in on this guy, but he didn’t seem happy about much at all.

Give the crowd everything they want

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This is another old, and hopefully not a redux. I can guarantee if it is a re-post, the image didn’t look like this as I did a good bit of editing to get it to this point…and it’s one of my favorite black and white pieces I’ve done to date.

Like my previous post, I enjoyed the composition but it teemed with distracting elements. I removed most of them, and when finished, liked the way it added enhanced the spotlight of the elephant. Of course, by removing the crowd elements it evokes a sadness, a depression to the subject.

Gesture without motion

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I captured this one from my father-in-law’s horse farm a few years ago. The horse was standing at the entrance of the born, and probably wondering why I had not given him any feed yet. Maybe. Horses always give me the evil eye no matter what I am doing.

This is another photography I kept but never touched. I probably kept it because of the horse’s presentation. The original had the blackness of the barn, but many other distracting elements. I enjoyed processing this one as it demonstrates less can be more, and with the processing tools we have now, it’s to easier to simplify a distracting original.  I converted to grayscale, dropped the exposure, and then cloned out the stuff that was distracting. Then I went ahead and cloned out everything save for the horse. This one seemed to be about expression, and not the ancillary barn ropes, posts, etc.

What came over that hill

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I have been spending some time cleaning up old photographs down in the photo basement. Not a real basement, but that directory on your computer that is tantamount to a real basement of boxes spilling over with junk you either don’t know what to do with or of stuff you find valuable even though you can’t explain the reason. Since I moved to Austin, it’s been nice to explore the new geography and fresh photography frontiers, but with that lingering mess in the basement, it’s hard to focus on the new. But in most arts I’ve dabbled in, the adage proves true—art is never finished. Only abandoned.

 I have a room I want to decorate with black and white photography so I have been perusing those bloated, misshapen boxes. Above is an elephant from a zoo (I honestly don’t remember the one) I pulled this one from the archives, and I’m not sure why I haven’t processed it previously. Texture has always been an element in photography I’m drawn to, and elephants seep it in leathery folds.

Austin

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A bit obligatory, but here is an Austin skyline. The skyline from this side of the river is a bit more expansive, but those buildings were full of cranes. What has been incredibly interesting about Austin is how this area is so empty at night when contrasted with the infamous 5th & 6th streets. Have a great weekend!

Hamilton Pool

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Captured at Hamilton Pool, a natural pool and grotto located about 25 miles west of Austin. Despite striking scenery all around, it proved to be a difficult place to photo. For starters, the dynamic range is wide—from dark cave to the direction sunlight. I was able to grab it all with 3 stops down and 3 stops up.  The preserve doesn’t open until 9am so that added to the difficulty of a morning visit. I’m really looking forward to returning in the spring and summer to shoot again…and swim!

Wordless Wednesday

Amicalola Falls

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Some story commentary for this one. A few months ago I was traveling on company business, and ended up with some extra time at the end of the week. I was around Jasper, Georgia–a small town maybe 30 minutes from the Tennessee border and near the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.  Surely there was a good photo spot near, so I hit my Google search and found a buzz about some nearby waterfalls. My navigator took me to someone’s house, who did not want unexpected company (there were some falls, but they were on his property). By that time, the evening light was slipping away so I drove feverishly through winding roads to Amicalola Falls, a road that led me to the top of the falls. I descended on a trail for about a half hour to get to the location shown in the above photograph. The late light allowed me to pull off a long exposure but then had to climb all the way back up in the dark (and a hot summer night).

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