Featured Image – Brushing Chisos

The Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Texas

©2011 Tom Haymes

I have been very remiss in keeping this page up to date so I will be playing some catch up in the coming weeks (I hope). This image was taken on a photo expedition mounted with my friend and fellow shooter of almost 30 years, Alex Suarez. Every year or so we attempt an expedition out into West Texas.

This shot was taken at the end of a long day of offroading around Big Bend National Park over the Thanksgiving 2011 holiday. A cold front had just passed through and had dropped some rain on the desert. Just before sunset the sun dropped below the clouds lighting up the Chisos Mountains to the east. For those of you familiar with the park we were right by where Maverick Road ends at the ranger station at the west entrance to Big Bend National Park.

It was one of those perfect moments landscape photographers dream for. I shot this with my Tokina 12-24, which does a great job with these kinds of clouds. Overall, a very satisfying end to the day and my favorite shot from a trip filled with great shots.


Heritage Bank Building framed by clouds

Image ©2011 Tom Haymes

One of the things I really like about the fisheye (10.5 mm) and the ultrawide (12-24mm) lenses I have are what they do to clouds. They transform interesting clouds into really interesting clouds. In the case of the fisheye they introduce otherworldly curvatures that are reminiscent of alien worlds. In the case of the 12-24 (which I almost almost always shoot at 12 mm) it can create this awesome streaming effect that can just suck you into the photo.

In this case, I was able to combine that otherworldly effect with a strong terrestrial object (Heritage Plaza in downtown Houston, Texas) to create what I thought had shades of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Normally, I wouldn’t have been able to get away with this much backlighting but I was aided by Nik Software’s excellent package of software tools (in this case Silver Efx) which allowed me to make precise adjustments to the image without a huge amount of PhotoShop work. Black-and-white had the effect accentuating the clouds as well as strengthening the effect of the “monolith.” Overall, I’m pretty happy with the effort.

Speaking at Inner Loop Photography Club, April 12, 2011

Texas Capitol at Dawn

© 2011 Tom Haymes

I will be giving a talk at the Houston Inner Loop Photography Club at the Museum of Printing History on Tuesday, April 12 from 6:30-8:30. I will be speaking about composition in Architectural and Landscape Photography. I will be sharing some of my experiences from almost 30 years of photographing and what gets me exciting about one image over another. Admission is free so come on out.

The image above is one I shot last month in Austin on a pre-dawn walk. I often get some really nice shots at that time of day and, given that I knew clouds were going to be the rule of thumb that day, I decided to take advantage of that fact and use the light to counterbalance the lit Capitol building. I’m pretty happy with the result.

Regensburg Danube Waterfront

Regensburg, Germany waterfront in winter

Image © 2010 Tom Haymes

Travel photography is always a tricky artform. You are working against time (you never seem to be anywhere long enough) and the fact that photographers who actually live in the area you are photographing start off with a huge advantage. They can study the light, see how it evolves through the seasons and throughout the day, and plan out where and when the optimal shooting time for a given location is.

I was able to mitigate against this somewhat in Regensburg because my family is from there and I spent a lot of my youth wandering the city. However, most of my time spent in Regensburg was during the summer months where the shooting environment is totally different than in the winter. Winter in Germany is also a challenging environment. In the entire 11 days I as there in December, I think we had maybe 1 1/2 days of real sunshine. Also, because of its northern latitude, the days were rather short. (This shot was done about 4 pm.) With two kids in tow and a visitation agenda, this created a lot of challenges for me as a photographer.

This shot was a product of that one afternoon where I was able to take off on my own and wander the town and during which the light finally cooperated. I was still dealing with a lot of backlighting since I was shooting in a southerly direction for many of these shots. However, the right clouds helped me get around this to a point. So, I guess my best advice is to be as patient as a you can and grab whatever opportunities you have. You may be working at a disadvantage but you never know when you’ll get lucky.

If you are in the Katy area and want to join me for a photowalk, I and doing one with the Katy Area Artists on Saturday, March 26th at the Katy Heritage Park. For details click here.

Come See “Skyscraper City” at the Betz Gallery in Houston 12/4 to 12/23/2010

Skyscraper City Flyer

Click Image for Large Version

Come see the culmination of 30 years of photographing Houston architecture with some of my most recent work. Featured will be 5 large-scale metal prints. The show opens with a reception on December 4 from 6-9 pm. Come by for some wine & cheese and a chance to meet the artist. After that the show will run until December 23, 2010 so if you miss the opening you can come whenever the gallery is open. The Betz Gallery is at 1208 W. Gray (between Montrose and Waugh) and is open Wednesday through Saturday  10 am-6 pm and Sundays from 1-6 pm.

Pennybacker Curves

Pennybacker Curves

©2010 Tom Haymes

I was up in Austin recently to speak at a photography group. While there I decided to climb the cliff above the Pennybacker Bridge over Lake Austin. This is a popular spot for photography but I hadn’t shot up there in a long time and I wanted to play with a new lens I borrowed from my friend Alex Suarez. In the end the money shot was with my fisheye. It was late morning so the sky wasn’t all that spectacular (this is a popular spot to take sunset pictures). What really struck me with the fisheye was the overlapping of curves that were produced by the bridge, its shadow, the curve of the lake, and the fisheye effect on the horizon and tree to the right. When I went to post process the image, however, these effects were lost in the clutter of the scene. Brown tree against brown water and a somewhat dulled shadow on that same water. By going with a digital infrared effect, I managed to accentuate the shapes and forms I was after by bringing out the contrast. I am pretty happy with the result.

Right Brain vs. Left Brain

I’ll be speaking at the CapMac Advanced Photography forum this Thursday night (10/28/10) on the intersection of photography and technology. Details are here. The presentation is here. If you’re in the Austin area and are interested, come on by. It’s free and worth every penny. :-)

Heritage Clouds

Heritage Clouds

©2010 Tom Haymes

This is one of those shots where patience paid off. I was watching the clouds proceed across the Heritage Plaza in downtown Houston and this alignment presented itself. I think it has sort of a Magritte feel to it where you don’t really know what’s real and what’s reflection. I also finally found a parking garage where security guards won’t hound you off and got an angle on this building that I’ve never achieved before. It’s usually backed by the rest of the downtown skyline since it is on the western edge of the downtown district but this time I got the shot from behind it.

I got a number of good shots that day, several of which will be featured in my show “Skyscraper City” at the Betz Gallery on West Gray in Houston from December 4th to the 23rd. This photograph will be featured as a 30′X40″ metal print along with four other large images printed on the same medium.

Chisos Fisheye

Chisos Mountains from Lost Mine Trail

©2010 Tom Haymes

This is an image from my latest trip to Big Bend National Park with my friend, Alex Suarez. We decided to do a photographers trek without kids so that we could shoot with minimal distractions. As usual, we had great weather, it being Spring Break. The Lost Mine Trail was a 1200 ft. climb but well worth it.

I had some good effects with the fisheye and I went with black-and-white to defeat the haze but was happy with the results. I really like the effect of dark skies in my black-and-whites as I find this creates a rather dramatic effect. It also helps to accentuate the forms of the cliffs and the rocks which stand out brightly against the darkened sky. One of my favorite shots so far this year.

Dome Vortex

Texas Capitol Dome

©2010 Tom Haymes

I was recently in Austin and did some night shooting with my good friends Brian and Alex. Brian, Alex, and I have been shooting together since the early 1980s when we all attended Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts together.

We decided to do some night photography and I wanted to go to the Texas Capitol to play with my fisheye lens. I decided to try an old trick I learned from a Leica representative from back when I was selling cameras. You place the camera on the floor and use a remote release or self-timer to set it off. I use the trick a lot in churches and it seemed like a good fit for the space.

Lining things up at the Capitol was actually aided by the fact that dead center on the floor is a star so centering things was a lot easier. Getting the angle right was a little trickier but this particular technique is enhanced by digital since you can check your results. The one final thing that you have to watch out for when taking pictures this way is getting out of the shot. I’ve shot quite a few pictures where I thought I was clear of the lens and it turned out I wasn’t. This is a particular problem with superwides like my Tokina 12-24 and, especially, the 10.5mm fisheye.