Last year at the Field of Honor annual event in Georgetown,Texas I met Sydney Decker, Founder of Roots Story Studios in Georgetown, Texas. Sydney tells the amazing stories of people in and around Georgetown. I was invited to share my photography life's story. Here is a link to my story. I hope you enjoy my story and follow Sydney to hear more of her great stories that she shares through her guests.
My friend Linda Nickell who I first met on Instagram and then again when I invited her to be a featured photographer in the Georgetown Texas Photography Festival that I co-host with the Williamson Museum, started CoznLinda's "Happiness Hour" on Zoom each Wednesday evening at 7:30pm Central Time. Each meeting features a photographer or someone who can inspire creativity. I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a short presentation on my years as a White House Photographer for President George H.W. Bush.
Linda posts her Zoom meetings on YouTube. Here is the link to my presentation. The President's Photographer, David Valdez.
Since we are all stuck home I jumped on the Zoom meeting thing like everyone else. I was invited by my friend Linda Nickell and 45 of her best friends to participate in a Wednesday night meet up. Her featured speaker was Austin,Texas Photographer Jama Pantel who gave a great presentation on lighting for photo shoots. Thanks Jama, great to meet you online. It was fun to get together in a safe environment and fun to meet some new, to me, photographers.
A little about Linda Nickell. Linda was one of my featured photographers in the Georgetown Texas Photography Festival that I co host with the Williamson Museum annually. This years festival had to be postponed from March to Aug 22,2020. Linda also hosts several sites on Instagram including Coznlinda , Inspire Texas Now and Texas Through Her Lens Be sure to check out all of her Instagram sites.
Thanks Linda for inviting me to participate in your Zoom meet up. See you soon.
Well as all y'all know the Georgetown Texas Photography Festival I co-host with the Williamson Museum was postponed because of the world situation. We hope to hold the photography festival in Georgetown Aug 22,2020. Everyone please stay safe out there. Remember to wash your hands stay at home. I will get back when I have more information on the Georgetown Texas Photography Festival. We have an Instagram account you can follow us on.
Several years in a row now I have had the opportunity to photograph the Formula 1 car race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin,Texas. Every year is great fun and hard work. SRE Promotions provides me with a media pass issued by Formula 1. With the Formula 1 Media Pass I have access to a work station in the Media Center at COTA( Circuit of the Americas) and they provide shuttle service for the photographers to move around the race track. After several years I have found my favorite locations to shoot from so I always try to make those locations for the race.
My primary camera is the Nikon D810 with the Nikon 200-500 lens. I also use a Nikon D750 with a variety of Nikon lenses. One of the most important tools is ear protection. Both Nikon and Canon are on site in the Media Center for tech support. This year I did need a screw tightened on my mono pod and they were there to help.
This year Valtteri Bottas won the race and Lewis Hamilton won the World Championship.
For more than 40 years I have volunteered my photography for Habitat for Humanity. On the morning of 9/11 I was in Washington,DC on my way to a Habitat build in Washington D.C. not too far east of the U.S. Capitol Building. As I was driving to the build site I was unaware of what was going on in New York that morning. As I arrived at the Habitat build site I could see many people upset and not knowing what to do. They came to me and surrounded my car to listen to the radio. As we were all catching up on the news we all heard a loud explosion. That was the Pentagon. We did not finish our build that morning. It was several more months before that home was finished. Today 18 years later I was at a Habitat for Humanity Williamson County build in Taylor,Texas. All these years later we were all remembering where we were on that day 18 years ago.
I made another photography trip on the Amtrak Texas Eagle this time from Temple to El Paso,Texas. I have been using the Temple Texas Amtrak Station as my home base. It isn't the closest to my home but it is the easiest to get to.
My trip to El Paso went through San Antonio. I arrived in San Antonio around 11pm in my sleeper car. I decided to get the bedroom so I had a private compartment with a restroom, desk and electrical outlets. The Texas Eagle that I was on was switched at 2am from the north south track to the east west track on the Sunset Limited to El Paso and beyond. When I woke up the next day I was almost to Del Rio,Texas.
It's fun meeting and photographing new people. There are many folks who are interested in photography and what I am up to taking photos for Amtrak. I was actually invited to speak at a camera club in Austin,Texas so I guess that will work out in the next several months.
I like to shoot in Aperture Priority but on the train I am shooting more in Manuel Mode or Shutter Priority. I need to use higher shutter speeds and with the Manuel Mode I can manage the many diverse lighting situations I am encountering. I remember when I was President George H.W. Bush's White House photographer it was alway a challenge to get a good exposure being on a black runway underneath the shiny Air Force One. In that situation I actually started using Auto Program Mode because I didn't have the time to take light meter readings. Remember in those days I was shooting film. Now on the Amtrak I have the time to play around with composition a and exposures.
I saw a beautiful sunset outside Alpine,Texas the other day. Taking photos from a moving train through a dirty window is a special challenge but with the Manuel Mode I have so much more control when shooting with my Nikon D810. I find my iPhoneXmax also comes in handy many times. My finished product after I turn in my photos is primarily social media so I am good with file size.
I think my next trip will be up to Oklahoma City so I can ride on the Heartland Flyer.
I was recently contacted by Amtrak to do photography on some of their trains. The only trains I have been on are the Amtrak from Washington DC to New York City and the Walt Disney World Railroad in Fantasyland. Recently I visited Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands and road the Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation. Other than that trains have not been on my radar.
Now I have been studying all I can about Amtrak and have taken my first trip on the Texas Eagle from Temple,Texas to Longview,Texas. I rode coach because I was not really sitting but making my way around the train meeting and photographing passengers and Amtrak staff. I have several more trips coming up and hope to do more in the future. It has been funny now that I am talking about trains how many people have their train stories or want to go with me on my trips.
March 2019 I co-hosted with the Williamson Museum the first highly successful Georgetown Texas Photography Festival. We are now planning the second GTPF for March 21,2020. There are plans to expand the number of featured photographers and to hold some photography classes. This should be a fun event again this year. In 2019 we had over 700 people attend from all over the State of Texas.
This week I started the Georgetown Texas Photography Festival web site. We didn't have that last year relying only on Facebook and Instagram for our primary outreach . Thanks to the Williamson Museum for reaching out to their media contacts to help spread the word.
We were fortunate to have some corporate support from Precision Camera, Nikon and CharlesDenyer.com.
The George & Barbara Bush Foundation hosted "An Inside Look at the American Vice Presidency" at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station,Texas. In attendance were Vice President and Mrs. Pence, Vice President Dick Cheney and Vice President Dan Quayle. The 3 Vice Presidents stopped by President Bush's grave site to pay respects. Doro Bush Koch and her son Sam greeted the Vice Presidents.
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