Archive for January, 2009

January 27, 2009

Hi-Ho, it’s off to work I go…

by Kyle Smith

With my recent job change my commute has completely changed. Before I would head north on Hwy. 288 and battle the Pearland and Pasadena traffic. Thankfully I really didn’t have it that bad, but compared to now it was rough.

Now, I think I would consider my commute peaceful. The only “traffic jam” I encounter is the intersection entering Richwood. There’s a school zone so everyone slows to the marked 35 mph and it kinda clogs up at the intersection, but by clog I mean you have to sit through maybe two lights at the very most, I know get jealous.

I think my favorite part is the scenery. I begin my journey on C.R. 48 which is a road less traveled running parallel to Hwy. 288. This morning was especially nice because there was a dense fog. One of these days I’m going to actually pull over and take some shots with a real camera.

Just as I reached 288 from 48 the sun melted away the morning fog. I was glad of this b/c entering 288 from 48 is a little hectic if you can’t see on coming traffic. The rest of the way was just a nice wintry morning drive. Gray skies with shreds of sun light illuminating the patches of fog in the farm land that encompasses 288. I decided to snap some photos on the cell phone to at least give ya a glimpse of what it’s like to commute going the opposite direction of the traffic.

And for my fellow Lumberjacks, or proud Texans, I pass Stephen F. Austin everyday and throw him the Axe ‘Em Jacks, gotta keep it real with ole Stephen F.

January 13, 2009

On top of the world…

by Kyle Smith

Over the Christmas break I hung out with my unemployed, recently graduated (as of Monday(yesterday)) friend who has managed to find a sweet place near Rice Village. How he gets to live in the heart of Houston with no job amazes me and makes me slightly jealous. I mean who wouldn’t want to live down there with nothing else to do except explore! Although I’m sure it would get boring after awhile, and of course then there’s the whole funding issue. But anyways, that’s not what this post is about.

Well we decided to go exploring, and exploring we did. I’ve lived in Houston since I was 8 months old, except for a few stints to England, and I really thought I had done pretty much everything in Houston. WRONG. I guess you could say I’ve done almost everything in the suburbs of Houston. But I’ve never really checked out downtown.

So, we headed down to Hermann Park, which is funny b/c our first obstacle of the day lies within the destinations very name…park. There was absolutely no parking, I mean NONE. So we circle like buzzards prowling for an empty spot. We thought we had one, but to our dismay someone beat us there. So we ventured a few blocks over to the Museum District to find parking. We circled, encountered a few flocks of democrats, and finally found a spot at one of the hundred churches there in the area.

Now, do we walk back over to the park or conquer downtown? Downtown it is. We stroll across the street and hop of the rail in front of MFAH. Next stop…wrong direction. In haste, I had us jump on the first train thinking it was taking us towards downtown, and away from the Med Center. Nope.

So we hopped off at the Rice U station and jumped on the next train heading back to the Museum District. Next stop…Main Street Square. We exited the train and headed towards the Theatre District. Strolled around, didn’t really see too much going on and decided we’d walk to the other side of downtown to Discovery Green. I’ve actually been wanting to check it our for a while, but walking through parts of downtown were definitely not on my to-do list. But since someone is with you, you somehow have the courage that you typically wouldn’t have…not that you’re more courageous, but that you just don’t want to look like a wuss…so we headed to Discovery Green by way of Minute Maid Park. To my surprise the walk was actually very nice. We didn’t get mugged, democrats didn’t hit us up for money, I wasn’t sweating, it really wasn’t as far as you would think, and I’m exercising (kinda).

So we make it to Discovery Green. Up until this point downtown was fairly empty. There were your typical suits and ties walking around with leather man-purses, but not really any touristy people, like ourselves. Well we found them ALL when we arrived at Discovery Green. Every single family decided that day was a good day to go to Discovery Green. I finally found a pit-stop and ducked in out of the chaos. I enjoyed the fancy hand dryers in there (You should check them out, name brand… Dyson (like the vacuum)).

After playing with the hand dryers, only one thing was on both our minds…lunch. So we scope out the park and found two options. The hectic cafe that serves overpriced frozen food junk, or The Grove. So we head over to The Grove. Big mistake. You know when you watch movies of really rich people eating in restaurants and you think man how cool would it be to be that rich and eat at a place like that, well we found that place. We stroll in (wearing jeans, hoodies, and hats mind you) and immediately can tell we’re the po’est folk in there. So we try to be cool and still act like we’re interested and we’re just those rich people who look like crap all the time (you know like Jack Black). The bartender must have x-ray vision b/c she saw right through our act. She asks if we’d like to see a menu and then walks away. At first I was kinda confused why she walked away, but then it hit me, she was letting us bow out gracefully without embarrassment (how nice, tip well if you ever sit at the bar at The Grove (notice too how I make sure and capitalize the name, it’s just too fancy not to)).

Now we’re in search for affordable cuisine, I tell Paul of the underground tunnels and I knew there was a mall right around there so we head in that general direction (you know the underground mall direction). We get to the mall and enjoy us some Potbelly’s (A Wreck all the way is AMAZING, seriously, I’m not lying). After inhaling the sammiches, mmm….we head out with Cherry Cokes in hand. We decided to explore the tunnels on our way back. And that’s just what we did. The first section was the suit and tie section and slacker 20-somethings did not belong there (all those suits and their ‘I’m better than you looks’ (well let me just tell you suits and ties, i was on a two week vacation, so while your drudging away at the office, i was getting lost in the tunnels enjoying a Cherry Coke, beat that Brooks Brothers shoppers)).

We finally surfaced and headed to the Chase Building where you can go up on the 60-something-ith (my mind is aging (i know how depressing for a 23-year-old to be forgetting such things)) floor where they have an observation deck. Sure Paul whatever, thinking to myself, there’s no such thing…I’ve never heard of this…I’ve lived here all my life…what a Houston noob.

Dang, proved me wrong.

We arrived at the Chase Building where there’s a gigantic Miro outside (he’s an artist for all you non art history people). We walk into this immaculate building (again dressed like slackers to the business world (and carrying our Cherry Cokes still)) and I assured Paul there was a trash can at the door so we could dispose of our “hey we’re tourists” drinks. Nope, no trash can.

Thankfully the concierge had a little bucket at his desk and disposed of them for us, pfew. We took the elevator to the 6X-ith floor and looked out to the entire SW side of Houston. After 23 years in Houston, I’ve never seen the city from that prospective, it was amazing. We saw some meat heads up there from the Western Michigan’s football team, who were in town to recieve a beating from Rice. I snapped a shot on my phone:

All in all it was a great day in Houston and I would encourage anyone to get out of their house in the suburbs and take a stroll around downtown, it’s worth it.

January 9, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action…

by Kyle Smith

Our office is incharge of producing all the publication pieces for the college’s biennial report to the community. With an office of three, we’ve divided up the duties and I’m on the photography/design side of it, mainly all portraits for the publication. I know, no writing!! Well our theme is Texas-y so we were wanting to go with a Texas Monthly feel. I checked out some of the more recent editions from the library and we decided on the October 2008 cover with Matthew McConaughey. We liked the style and colors and figured it’d fit what we’re wanting to achieve.
The next step was to figure out how the shot was lit. We have 3 Alien Bees, a ring flash, two continuous lights, and a reflector to work with. And don’t worry we used every single item. I’m sure we could have achieved the look without using it all, but why not?
Although we didn’t light the photo exactly like the cover and it’s really not very Texas Monthly-ish, the general idea was still there. Here are a few shots from the shoot (I added a vignette to mine, the others are no photoshop):

And here’s a photo of the studio:

As we progress on the project I’ll post more updates…