Houston Circle

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There are all kinds of cool city scenes to photograph in downtown Houston.

These images were taken at what was once known as Enron Complex (now 1400 Smith street). It is a huge round office complex that is suspended above and circles one of Houston’s busy streets. All around the outside of the circle are these tall skyscrapers.

Houston Circle

Houston Circle Toned

It was Sunday afternoon when I took these photos but the traffic was quite heavy. I had to run out into the street during red lights and grab the shot, and then clear out before the traffic started up again.

On the first two or three trips, I just tried to find the right position and mark it with a piece of tape. Then when I had everything nailed down, I ran out and exposed a whole roll of 36 of 35mm Fuji transparency film on my Nikon F5.

While working on this project, I realized something about traffic lights. When you’re sitting in your car trying to get somewhere, they seems go on forever. But when you are trying to use them to stop traffic while you take a picture, they only last about 10 seconds. I think someone is watching and has it in for photographers.

I did two versions of this image a normal color one and a B&W toned one, which one do you like best.

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Lerma’s Store

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Lerma's Store

This old store is in Pompeii, Michigan.

I knew the family that owned it: a mother and father with a whole bunch of kids. It was back in the 60’s and the family lived above the store. This was quite common in small rural towns back then. Pompeii is a very small town and the family was not very well off financially. The store, a general store, didn’t do well at all. After several years the family moved away (I wonder what happened to them). The building has been vacant for decades. I rediscovered it back in 1996 on one of my trips back home. I was struck by the pattern the windows boarded up formed. The father had hand painted the name of the store on the front. You can still see it.

I am including a link to an old historical photograph of Pompeii. You can see this building way in the back on the left side of the picture.

Like the skeletal remains of dinosaurs, the empty buildings we leave behind mark the landscape of our passage. A reminder that real people once lived here and struggled to eke out a living in a sometimes not so forgiving territory.

Joe Galvan and the B&M Bridge

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GP0000P 0094

This photograph combines everything I like doing best in photography:

  • Photographing interesting people
  • Photographing historical sites

Brownsville, Texas is the second most historical city in Texas. Second only to the Alamo in San Antonio.One of the historical sites in Brownsville is this old Trestle Train Bridge. The oldest bridge in Texas, it stretches across the Rio Grande River from Brownsville to Matamoros, Mexico.

The first B&M International Bridge opened for traffic on December 12, 1910. The bridge was intended to serve all land-based international traffic, including pedestrian, animal-drawn, automobile and rail. On opening day, the Brownsville Herald published an elaborate set of tolls: five cents for a foot passenger, ten cents for equestrians, twenty cents for an automobile with driver (plus five cents additional per extra passenger), and weight- and passenger-based charges for carriages and carts. Additional charges applied to excessive luggage. Livestock and trade goods were also taxed. Children under seven who were accompanied by an adult were permitted to cross the bridge free.

Despite construction that expanded the bridge: it was widened in 1953 and 1992 to accommodate larger commercial trucks, increasing traffic demands made the combined usage of the bridge problematic. Automobile traffic on both sides of the US and Mexican border had to be halted to allow trains to cross. In 1997, a new concrete, four-lane toll bridge was opened adjacent to the original bridge to handle automobile traffic. The old bridge today serves primarily railway traffic, though it was also used for truck traffic before the opening of the Veteran’s International Bridge in East Brownsville. The new bridge features a central concrete divider and a separate pedestrian sidewalk.

Today, the B&M bridge is one of three crossing points between the US and Mexico.

Joe Galvan manages the bridge and all the traffic that crosses it.

Check out my Architectural Photography Portfolio to see more photos.

 

Bruce Aiken

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Bruce Aiken Color

A few years ago I completed a project dedicated to the old timers of Brownsville, Texas. Bruce was one of the most fascinating. Over the years he had become the city’s official-unofficial historian. If you wanted to know something about the city’s history Bruce knew it.

One of oldest structures in the city is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate were the first priests to celebrate Mass in the area of Brownsville in 1849. The present Gothic Revival style building was designed by Peter Yves Keralum. The Oblates operated a seminary in the rectory, which also was a haven for priests who fled the revolutions in Mexico. The first Catholic bishop to reside at Immaculate Conception was Dominic Manucy, the Vicariate Apostolic of Brownsville. The Vicariate became the Diocese of Corpus Christi in 1912. On July 10, 1965 Pope Paul VI established the Diocese of Brownsville from Corpus Christ and Immaculate Conception became the cathedral for the new diocese.

I asked Bruce how He became interested in the city’s history. He told that when he first moved to Brownsville he was working for Pan American Airlines as a ticket agent and one of his customers struck up a conversation with him about the city’s history: “Here was they guy not even from Texas who knew more about my city than I did. Well, I couldn’t have that so from that day on I started packing my brain with everything I could about the city’s history. My first self-imposed project was the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It just kept going from there.”

This is why the Cathedral is a fitting location for his portrait.

Brick Wall

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Brick Wall

People ask me: “Why do you take a certain photograph?”

The answer to that question determines the difference between what makes one an artist as opposed to just someone with a camera.

When I choose a subject it means that I am mentally or spiritually moved by the scene or object in front of me; enough so to want to capture it, and then further enhance in order for it to be reminiscent of the feelings it conjured.

The real art in photography lies in what happens after the image has been captured. You see, very little can be accomplished with the camera alone. The true skill of the artist is brought out in the remaking of the image: making the image you see in your own mind come to life on paper, thus, enabling you to share your feelings and vision with others.

In the case of this image there were a couple of elements that drove me to want to capture it.

This is a wall of an old grain processing company in the small town of Ithaca, MI, where I grew up. I remember that when I was a boy this company always being teeming with activity: farmers bringing their grain at harvesting to be processed before shipping to the buyer. A huge contrast to today as it now sits mostly empty and uncared for. There is a certain nostalgia of a bygone era.

I love the texture of the bricks and the tin roof. You can clearly make out two completely different types of brick work. I find this construction to be very interesting.

Check out my Nostalgia Collection to see more photos.

A New Wing

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Bad Weather

This is the new Cardiology wing at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Sugarland, TX. I am including this photograph to show that when you earn your living as a professional photographer you have to deliver no matter the circumstances or weather conditions of the shoot. I was given one day to create a series of images both inside and outside of this new cardiology wing at the hospital. It was a horrible day: the wind was blowing like a hurricane, it was cloudy and dull, and of course it was raining. Nevertheless, I had to get a shot that made everyone happy. No one cares about the photographer’s problems. So, here is what I came up with. Thank the gods of photography for post-production software.

Auditorium

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Fine Art Auditorium Side Panorama

For many years I earned my living photographing architecture for architects and contractors. It has always been a passion of mine, which is why to this day I still take on assignments I find to be interesting. This photograph is from the New Fine Arts Auditorium at the University of Texas, Brownsville. This type of photography is extremely challenging: getting the perspective right, finding the right composition to show off the scene, and achieving accuracy of color are all extremely important technical aspects to the photograph and I have always loved the challenge of getting just right.