Category Archives: USA

Mardis Gras Bands 2012


As I mention in my main Mardis Gras post, some of the best parts of Mardis Gras parades are the New Orleans area high school bands.  The best ones are often from the mostly-black high schools.   I started trying to get some interesting pictures of some of the band members as they marched by.  Remember:  I’m a long-time band nerd myself.  These groups had an amazing number of twirlers, pom poms, cheerleaders, drum majors, rifle carriers, sword bearers and everything else.  Good to see that band was apparently considered “cool” at these schools.  I sure thought they were.

The two pictures with several kids acting a little crazy was the culmination of a “duel” of sorts between two big New Orleans bands.  The two bands set up in an intersection, facing one another, and took turns doing their best to outplay their rivals.  They were both great — amazingly so for high school bands who had just finished three-hour parades.  Toward the end, one group ran forward to taunt the other.  I was standing right between the two groups — right in the middle of the craziness.  You can see the New Orleans police standing there as if to keep the peace, but it was all in good fun.



My Kind of Town

I live in Houston, America’s fourth largest city.  Only New York, L.A., and Chicago are bigger, and if I had to choose among those three for a next-choice favorite city to live in, I think I’d choose Chicago every time.  Unless you asked me during the winter.  Let’s face it – the Midwest isn’t a beautiful place in February.  Fortunately, Chicago has more than its fair share of great museums – largely vestiges of two “World’s Fairs” held there (1893 & 1933) – so it’s possible to do lots of sightseeing indoors.



My sister, my mom and I were recently in Chicago to see my nephew in the opening of a play.  It was cold, but I did have one day of nice weather.  I wandered down to Millenium Park, home of the big chrome “Bean” (a.k.a. the Cloud Gate statue).  I met David, the security guard (that’s him under the yellow hood).  I asked if his job was to keep people from stealing the 110-ton steel sculpture; he said it was mostly to keep people from hurting themselves.  I had trouble getting his picture because he kept darting away to scold people for climbing on nearby railings.

I also stumbled across a new (temporary) downtown icon – a 30-foot-tall Marilyn Monroe.  Cheesy, but a fun photo-op.  The blown-up-skirt Chicago statue is racy for a public sidewalk, but the boringly conservative alternative (i.e., Dallas’s version) isn’t worth the plaster.


The blue, high-tech-looking scene is the Museum of Science and Industry — that’s my sister, Jana, controlling the big orange thing.  The dinosaurs are in the Field Museum.  I didn’t get any pictures of the Art Institute that could possibly do it justice.  My mother (Joyce) made me ensure that the snowy street scene photo was dark and gloomy enough to portray her bravery in facing the Midwest cold.  Of course my sister, Jana, gets the photo credit for the group shot of me, Tyler and my mom.



Cowboy James in Moab


I had a little bit of landscape fatigue after four days at the Moab workshop, so for about 20 minutes I wandered over to the “ranch” next to the lodge where we were staying.  I met James, who had worked there as a wrangler/outfitter most of his life.  When James isn’t taking Japanese tourists on dude-ranch style outings along the Colorado River, he’s doing the real cowboy work of taking care of the horses.   He never stood still, but I got some decent shots.

_JJC7475 Cowboy James Profile.jpg_JJC7449.jpg_JJC7458.jpg_JJC7467.jpg_JJC7505.jpg

(Photo nerds:  I used an off-camera flash on the ground in a small Lastolite softbox to get a little light up under that hat.)

Moab Photography Workshop

_JJC7440 Mesa Arch with sunburst

As this site surely implies, in the past year I’ve resumed one of my teen-years hobbies:  photography.  My skills may not have advanced much in the last 25 years, but the capabilities of modern cameras are indistinguishable from magic.

I was privileged to be a part of the last-ever Digital Landscape Workshop, led by a couple of famous photographers:  Moose Peterson and Joe McNally.  Google them — or take a look at or  Those guys rock.  And they really know their, uh, stuff.  So for 15 hours a day, I tried to soak up as much as I could.  As much as anything, I learned that I have much to learn.  Here are some of my pictures from the workshop.

_JJC7175 Peter at DLWS Moab.jpgc70-JJC6860 Broken Arch Signpost 2.jpg_JJC6911 rocks under double arch.jpg_JJC7052 Happy Couple on Double Arch Rocks.jpgc51-JJC6884 SDune Arch No moon 2.jpg_JJC7088 Girl walking under double arch.jpg_JJC7440 Mesa Arch with sunburst.jpgc99-JJC6837 Arches SDune 1.jpg_JJC7425.jpgc21-_JJC6730.JPGc52-_JJC6671.JPGc68-_JJC6710.JPGc96-_JJC6653.JPG

Moose also has an aviation photography website:  Two other instructors (the longtime right-hand-men for Joe and Moose, respectively, have photography websites at and

A few friends from the workshop have their pictures online here, (Dan) and here, (Fausto) and here (Barry).  Here’s a picture Fausto took on the last day of the workshop.  I’m sure he considers it the masterpiece of his lifetime — attributable primarily to the impromptu model.

F Rowlan DSC5519.jpg

Finally, here are  “portraits” I took of Moose (with the moustache) and Joe (in glasses).  They were kind enough to dedicate a good 20 seconds each to posing for these.

c4-_JJC7196 Moose Portrait.jpgc86-_JJC7194.jpg


Hidden Canyon – Moab Mountain Biking

IMG_0523 Bike on Ledge Hidden Canyon Moab

I came to Moab primarily for a photo workshop (more to come on that), but of course I brought my mountain bike.  It’s Moab, after all (mountain bike mecca).  These are just pocket camera pictures — but sometimes equipment quality is less important than LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.  This is a place called “Hidden Canyon.”  It’s about a one hour mountain bike ride (over tons of slickrock!) off the road, not too far from the Canyonlands airport.  Maybe someday I’ll get a ‘real’ camera up there.

Hidden Canyon Moab Panorama.jpgIMG_0514  JJC at Hidden Canyon.jpgIMG_0477 Downtown Moab Loop.jpgIMG_0523 Bike on Ledge Hidden Canyon Moab.jpg

(Actually, one of these pics — with more trees — is from a trail near downtown Moab).  And: (1) Yes, that’s my bike; (2) Yes, I took that picture of myself; (3) Yes, Mother, I know I probably shouldn’t be an hour’s ride into the wilderness by myself.