Roughing It, Really Roughing It, and a Fractal Canopy
Looks like my brother made it back to New Mexico safe and sound. Took him about 4.5 days to bike from El Paso to Roswell. Not too shabby for a man pushing 60 years old, carrying fully-loaded front and rear panniers, including 20 gallons of water (ponder that for a moment) to make it through the desert and the Guadalupe Mountains. The guy's in seriously great shape.
Meanwhile I spent the weekend pretending to rough it on a cub scout camp with my wife and kids. I say "camp", but it was more of a sleepover. It was at the aquarium at Moody Gardens. We forgot pillows and one of the other fathers was a terrible snorer, so I slept like hell. (I'm not complaining too much given what I just told you about my brother.) But it is kind of cool in a surreal way to wake up in the middle of the night, look over and see a zebra shark cruising over the heads of sleeping kids. I have some photos of the event, but I gotta say, it's an incredibly difficult thing to shoot. Aquariums are very dark which means long shutter speeds and very unreliable auto-focus. A flash won't work because it just reflects off the surface of the glass and the light won't reach very deep into the water anyway. On top of that, a lot of fish move fast, which doesn't play well at all with slow shutter speeds. I went all the way to 3200 ISO on a lot of shots just to get a reasonable shutter speed and I still had major problems with motion blur. Due to the excessive noise, 3200 ISO is higher than I would normally accept on my camera (and it's known as a strong high ISO performer in it's class). But I had no choice. I took about 300 photos, deemed about 60 of them as keepers, and had to do heavy noise reduction on most of those. Still, if I get even one picture I'm happy with I consider a shoot to be worthwhile, and I got more than that so it definitely wasn't a wasted effort.
And as for my photo above. That's a sidewalk near downtown Houston by the Buffalo Bayou. It's a lovely walk, with a canopy of trees shading the entire length. It's probably worth another trip down there in the spring after the leaves have grown in. If I do it, I'll try a telephoto lens to compress the distance between the trees and enhance the canopy effect. For this photo I used the ultrawide to take in the giant oak I was standing under.