October 1, 2019

Galveston on the Gulf Coast of Texas

After a Lifestyles Unlimited leadership meeting was cancelled Damon goes to Texas anyway and enjoys Galveston and the beach and the Hasselblad.

Galveston on the Gulf Coast of Texas

Lifestyles Unlimited scheduled a leadership meeting in Houston on Sept 24. I had purchased plane tickets to attend. Then they cancelled it. Mitzi encouraged me to take the trip anyway which was super kind of her. So I decided to stay in Galveston, just south of Houston, near the beach. That's why we rented the Hasselblad, so I could have fun taking pictures with a professional camera.

Mitzi has taught me the value of sweets and treats. We've shared caramel apples and truffles from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in airports on our travels before. So when my Salt Lake City to Houston flight was delayed 2 hours I followed her good example and treated myself -- to a French Vanilla Truffle. I sent her this picture and said it was disgusting. I don't know why but I think she didn't believe me!

This funny scenario played out while I was grabbing a little sandwich at Schlotzsky's for old-times sake. An oldish man and woman were eating lunch together. They were about half done and the woman told the man to go home, that she would finish lunch, and would catch up with him later. He agreed and walked out the door. The second he was out the door she switched seats to where he was sitting and hastily began eating his leftovers.

Comedy Of Errors with Homewood Suites. I purchased a tripod from Amazon to be delivered to Homewood Suites where I'm staying. UPS said it was delivered the day I arrived. However when I arrived, they didn't have the package. Amazon said it was delivered and signed by the office.

I checked with the front desk several times and they couldn't find it. So this morning (the day after arriving), I checked again. They couldn't find it. Amazon said it was delivered and wait 36 hours and if it still hadn't appeared to call them back. Not acceptable, so I called UPS.

UPS said it was delivered but they couldn't help me. They have a contract with Amazon I had to contact them. I said I had and Amazon was useless. UPS said "sorry I'd like to help but I can't" so I called Amazon back and they refunded the money.

On my way out I stopped by the front desk. They fellow there said he had signed for it but couldn't find it and would look, which I appreciated.

Then they called Mitzi and left a message about a package. She texted me. So when I got back to the hotel I asked. The front desk fellow said they had found it with a bunch of boxes delivered to a group having a conference today and that the maintenance guy had taken it up to my room.

I went up to the room – no box. So I called down. The front desk fellow said sorry, he had it, and would bring it right up. An hour later, no box. So I went to the front desk. No fellow. Back to the room. Call the front desk. Front desk fellow says sorry I got totally swamped. I said no worries, I'll come right down and get the box.

I go down. Fellow gets the box and apologizes several times. Apology accepted, I was finding the whole thing amusing.

At the elevator I hit the up button. Nothing happens. At this point I fully expect the elevator to be broken, the stairs to be blocked, and the hotel to be going up in smoke all conspiring so I will never get to see this tripod.

Happily that wasn't what happened. The elevator eventually came, I returned to my room, opened the box, and got the tripod setup. Phew!

For an early dinner I went to Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar. Wanted to try their Gumbo, of course! Sat at the bar and told the waitress after she gave me a sales pitch about their local beers, "I don't drink." The gumbo was ... mmmmmm.

Here are pictures from the Hasselblad I took around Galveston today:

After going to church in the Galveston Ward, I went over to Seawolf park to check out a World War II submarine that is preserved there. People like to fish at the park, and the submarine is amazing. The diesel engines still work, the periscope works (I put the camera up to the eye of the periscope which was pretty cool , and most of the original equipment is there. The machine was built in 1943 and sunk one of the Japanese aircraft carriers that had participated in Pearl Harbor.

I felt overwhelmed after touring through the sub for an hour. There are so many machined parts, so many subsystems that had to be designed, tested, manufactured, installed, and operational for that machine to do its job. Human creativity and genius is amazing. So much raw material and human capital had to be used to design, build, test, and operate these things. Then multiple that by the warships, airplanes, tanks, trucks, and so many other machines, and all the resources required for those. The scale of what we do as humans is so large in the aggregate I don't think my mind can conceive of how much bounty and abundance and opportunity there is in the world.

Early dinner was Tex-Mex. They had this most amazing dip for the chips: cilantro jalapeños something or other. I'd never seen this kind of dip before and it was so good. I know Mitzi will love it, if we are ever here together I must get it for her! I asked for Mahi Mahi tacos but I'm not sure what I got, it might have been pork. I should have sent it back but was feeling timid and decided not to.

Got up early-ish this morning (day 4) and captured some sunrise photos. That last one cost me some blood. To get closer to the house I walked through a marshy grassy area. So focused on taking the picture was I – that I didn't notice my arms and legs were covered with mosquitos. Like an antelope I bounded out of the marsh while slapping my legs and arms and amazingly not dropping the camera or tripod! It's a nice picture though :)

Early dinner was phó (well technically Vermicelli is what I got, not the soup which is actually phó, but the place is called Phó Tài), a food I got to introduce to Mitzi and we love love love it. I tried a new place I'd never been to and while it looks a bit run down on the outside, the service was friendly and the food ... excellent! I'll probably go back today, my last day. Yes it was that good :)

I switched to a different hotel yesterday. This one has a balcony facing the ocean and is higher, on the 5th floor. I wanted to get some tripod photos off the balcony. As luck would have it I was awake at 4a. A perfect time to experiment with time exposure shots.

It was a bit challenging because the balcony has a very bright light that cannot be turned off. Also there was a lot of ambient street light coming from buildings, signs, lamps, and cars. All things considered these shots were okay. Most importantly it was fun to play around with different shutter speeds and aperture settings. Those little lights out on the water are huge oil and cargo ships waiting their turn to get into the port.

ISO 100, 91 sec, f3.5, 45mm
ISO 100, 16 sec, f3.5, 45mm
ISO 100, 45 sec, f3.5, 45mm
ISO 100, 45 sec, f3.5, 45mm

What I'm learning about photography is that pretty much all the best pictures are post-production. The important work with the camera is primarily composition and focus. After that you just need to be in the ball park for everything else because most of it can be adjusted quite a bit in post-production.

Given a decent photo straight out of the camera, post-production makes it razzle-dazzle. It's almost guaranteed that an amazing photo of anything has been processed by Lightroom, Photoshop, some phone app, or in the case of Hasselblad, Phocus.

Knowing this takes a lot of pressure off when I'm working with the camera. I don't have to get things perfect when I'm shooting with the camera. Thinks like ISO, fStop, and shutter speed. Just a good enough base to work with.

It's kind of a curse though that everything has to be post-processed now to make it look good. That's more work! It's worth it for just the best pictures out of a batch.

I took 287 pictures on the Hasselblad. I published 39 on this blog (between this post and Zion's and Playing). That's a hit rate of 13.6%. Most of them I post-produced, a few I didn't. Roughly for every 10 pictures I take I'll be spending time in post-production on one of them.

Back in the day with film there wasn't much post-processing that I'm aware of, so the skill and talent of a photographer meant much more. Photographers could distinguish themselves more by the use of the camera and lighting and composition and all that jazz. Now a mediocre photographer could had their pictures to a skilled post-production person and come out with amazing pictures.

Well that's my opinion based on almost zero information except 6 days with a Hasselblad! :)

I shipped the camera back to LensRentals.com where I rented it from. It was so fun to have it. I'm looking forward to taking the newer upgraded X1C II to Chicago and Missouri in a month. It's an improvement over the X1C and I'll have a really nice zoom lens this time.

And I went to Phó Tài again for dinner and got the exact same thing. Except one Spring Roll instead of two since I really didn't need that second one :)

My room has a retro vibe and I really liked the mini-fridge. The brown building is where I shipped the Hasselblad back. I had a nice walk on the beach today. And spent several hours at the pool reading and resting and sleeping a bit. Delightful all!

Tomorrow I head back home to Mitzi and look forward to being in her company again. She was super supportive of me doing this little get away, I love her for it – she brings me joy and stability and peace and love and companionship and I'm privileged to share life with her.