San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo

Last week I received an email mentioning San Antonio, TX and since I had not been there yet, but had been planning to visit at some point, I thought this would be a good time to take a quick trip to Texas. I had heard many good things about the city from friends so, knowing well that a two day trip (even less, once we consider the time spent on the air and in airports) would not do it justice I figured that at least I was going to have a taste of it, and perhaps come home with a good photo or two.
San Antonio, from a touristic perspective, is a city rich of points of interest and is also quite affordable. I was able to book a nice hotel just five minutes walk from The Alamo and Riverwalk for a very reasonable rate.
I wanted to travel very light, with a change of clothes in my small backpack and just my 5D Mark II and its 24-105L lens (which turned out to be a good choice), I also brought a circular polarizer which I ended up not using.

At the Alamo

The evening of my arrival day was spent taking photos of the  Alamo from outside as it was already closed. I tried to be creative in the way I included people, as the location is crowded at all times and I didn’t want to end up with photos of a building surrounded by people but rather with the people telling a story. After that I strolled around Riverwalk taking more photos, and working with some long exposures to catch the movement of the passenger boats that run up and down the river. As I didn’t have a tripod with me I used whatever support I could find. Can you tell from a photo when a wall was used instead of a tripod? I can’t. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite photos I took of the Seattle skyline was shot using a trashcan to steady the camera. Do I encourage everyone to always travel without a tripod? Would I fly all the way to Easter Island without a tripod? Certainly not, but at times, when weight and movement restrictions are the most important things to you, being able to improvise can make the difference between a good photo and a bad snapshot.

Riverwalk

Riverwalk is a vibrant, entertaining location on the sides of the San Antonio river, filled with fancy hotels and great food outlets. That alone, makes you want to go back to San Antonio. Fortunately for me it’s passed high season therefore the city was not overly crowded with tourists and the temperature was comfortably warm, rather than uncomfortably hot.
After a good night sleep I went back to the Alamo for some more photos and this time I was able to get in (free admission, donations appreciated). The courtyard is quite nice and there are many details to photograph, one of my favorite was the lone star on a metal bench. I only had two hours left before catching a bus back to the airport (with a 4 hours layover in Salt Lake City, which I would have definitely preferred to spend in San Antonio) and I wanted to see more of the city. I walked to the San Fernando Cathedral, which is the oldest standing church in Texas, beautiful inside and out. I took some photos of the nearby City Hall building, and then walked to the Market Square where good Mexican food abounds. My day in San Antonio ended with a good and abundant meal at a very low price. Perfect ending, isn’t it?

San Fernando Cathedral

The Basic Illustrated Guide to Cross-Country Skiing

Hello everyone!


My Post Office Box today had a nice surprise: an advance copy of the book “Basic Illustrated Cross-Country Skiing” published by Falcon Guides. This is good news because I have spent nearly a year doing the photography and editing for this book. More than a thousand images were taken and I had to select just over 100 of them to make it into the book. The editing of those images took a considerable amount of time, particularly for the montage. The weight of the project was partially alleviated by new hardware. Let me take you for a minute behind the scene to tell you what I used:

– A new custom built Windows 7 64bit desktop computer with a Pentium i7 3.6Ghz overclocked by 20%, 16GB, GEForce GTX 560 Graphic Card with 2GB or RAM. 120GB SSD to contain the operating system and 4 different Hard Drives in removable trays for software and data, Liquid Cooling.

– Wacom Intuos 5 Large tablet (saved me hours of editing)

– Two 24” HD monitors

– Lightroom 4 64bit (first the beta which was already rock solid, then the final), Photoshop CS4 64bit, OnOne Perfect Layers 6

Some days were spent miserably outside in the cold with winds that would chill us to the bone, other days were warm and sunny and fun. Sometimes we would get the correct shot right away, other times we would have to try over and over before we got what we wanted. For an entire month the weather was so bad I could not do any shooting.
Scott (the author) and I have worked on many projects for ski magazines and the past experience made it easier as we could visualize the scene and know what the end results needed to be without so many words. Having worked for quite some time in Hollywood in movie production I must admit that this was not very different from shooting a movie.

My thanks go to Scott McGee for bringing his positive attitude (and food) to our photo locations, and to our editor at Globe Pequot Katie Benoit, for the constant positive reinforcement and flexibility with our deadlines.

The cover features Scott’s lovely family enjoying a morning of cross country skiing by the town of Kelly, WY

I have a few copies available for sale. The cost is $12.95 +$3 shipping in the US. Credit Cards/Checks/M.O. Ok – email sales@lucadiana.com