The Nightmare until Christmas

The Halloween season can easily provide me with more than enough images to edit and post for an entire year.  I love that there are just so many opportunities to shoot during this season.  And the fact that it happens to fall into one of the categories I love to shoot the most makes it that much easier to acquire good content.  So expect to see me posting a lot of them to my galleries over the next few weeks.

As I am sure you have noticed over the years, our family spends a large amount of time at Six Flags.  Not only is it affordable entertainment when you have season passes, but it offers each of us something we enjoy.  Fright Fest tends to be my favorite time at the park solely for the plethora of photographic opportunities, specifically the shows.

Dead Man's Party - Brett Cox Photography

Dead Man’s Party – Brett Cox Photography

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 24-70
Post Processing: ApertureNik Color Efex ProPhotoshop
 

Each year I find that my lens connects with one person who becomes my muse for the season.  This year that inspiration came from the energy emitted by a red headed zombie.        Between the vibrant red hair and the way her eyes connected with my lens made for some great shots.  Her and the rest of the Dead Man’s Party is just one of the fantastic shows performed at the park.  I can hardly wait to see what they have to offer next year.

Nik Color Efex Pro

Nik Color Efex Pro

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Little Blessings

Our newest blessing to the family has been such a joy.  And her birth has given me many opportunities to throw my hat into baby photography arena.  I must say, hats off to each and everyone of you who do this as your specialty.  I have spent countless hours reading blogs, watching videos, and looking at images of all these precious baby photographs to try and capture just a few great memorable images of my littles princess.

Milk Drunk - Brett Cox Photography

Milk Drunk – Brett Cox Photography

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 24-70
Post Processing: ApertureNik Color Efex ProPhotoshop
   

I have had so much fun putting together the sets for her and coming up with creative ways to try and pose her.  Of course there were the few coveted poses that I just couldn’t get her cooperate for.  For some reason she just refuses to rest her chin on her hands.  But I do feel fortunate in the fact that she smiles frequently in her sleep.

How Loved You Are - Brett Cox Photography

How Loved You Are – Brett Cox Photography

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 24-70
Post Processing: ApertureNik Color Efex ProPhotoshop
 

Unfortunately the amount I have spent on props would have probably been better invested in a college fund, but what fun would that be?

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Happy Halloween

Oh what a month this has been.  The days have flown by leaving me here, the last day of October, with not nearly as many photos edited as I had planned and not nearly as many projects completed as I would have liked to have had done.

Fortunately I was able to get my Halloween set done for the kids, which in all honesty turned out to be OK.  A little more testing, an additional light, etc, etc and it would have been perfect.  NOT.  The thing is when using your own children as subjects they tend to not have that “I must be on my best behavior” attitude.  They also don’t come to the shoot with any kind of wow this is interesting, because it isn’t new to them.  In fact my son assisted in most of the setup.  And by assisted, you guessed it, he made sure Team UmiZoomi and Blues Clues were still accessible on the studio TV.

Remember when I said I didn’t get all my photos edited.  Yup, this is one of the ones I was referring to.  So, this is the image I put up on my facebook page, but not what I thought was the best image that I was hoping to have done for this post.

Witch Doctor Brady making dinner

Witch Doctor Brady making dinner

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 24-70
Post Processing: ApertureNik Color Efex Pro, Photoshop

The final image that I had in my minds eye had a lot more smoke.  In fact there was a lot more smoke in this scene just a few minutes before this image was taken.  The thing is that when working with infants you sometimes just have to go by their schedule.   Little Catarina decided moments before you shoot that she needed to eat and have one last diaper change.  But all things being what they were I really couldn’t be happier with shots I got.

The set is really fairly simple.  I used my black muslim on a backdrop stand so everything behind the props would go black.  The light up pumpkins I have had for about a decade now.  They are sitting on top of a cardboard box covered with a black scarf from Target.  The two cauldrons I were picked up from Party City ($5, I think).  They were also sitting on cardboard boxes covered with burlap fabric and some spooky netting I picked up at Wal-Mart for a couple bucks.  Cat is laying on about a yard of black fabric and a pillow.  Brady is stirring Dry Ice and water.  The scene is lit with three lights (I wish I had one more for this one).  One left of camera with a 20° grid to light Brady and Cat.  One Right of Cat with Barn Doors and a red gel for the background and then a speedlight left of scene with a yellow gel and snoot to pop just a bit of light behind Brady.  The fog machine (which is hard to tell is even working in this shot) is venting fog into a Styrofoam cooler filled with ice, then tubed to the scene floor.  The cooled fog helps keep it low laying.

As for the shot I was using a 24-70 f2.8 at about 50mm.  I shot at f8 at a 60th of a second so I could get the illumination of the pumpkins in the shot.  The post processing was done with photoshop and NIK Color Efex Pro.  I used Photoshop to increase the illumination of the kids.  I used the NIK plug-ins Tonal Contrast to increase sharpness and details and Midnight to selectively add more black into the scene.

Nik Color Efex Pro

Nik Color Efex Pro

A quick tip.  Party City normally discounts all their seasonal Halloween items by 50% the day after Halloween.  This is a great time to buy fog machines and fog juice if your willing to store it for a year.

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The Sounds of Brass

Anyone who keeps up with me, even on a moderate level, knows full well my love for New Orleans, specifically the French Quarter.  If given the opportunity to revisit any previous destination I’ve been to, I guarantee you this one jumps to the top of the list.

Filled with some of the most interesting history, architecture, nightlife, fantastic food and various music this city can offer just about anyone a form of entertainment they can enjoy.

Over the years I have experienced New Orleans in many different ways.  When I was much younger I would spend countless hours swimming up and down the sea of countless people on Bourbon Street bartering away my collection of shiny plastic beads.  But as the years have gone by I came upon the knowledge so many others had already discovered.  This wonderful city offers so much more than the ever so apparent and easily accessible pleasures of flesh.  And it is now these, more than the previous, that keep luring me back to NOLA.

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70 – 300
Post Processing: ApertureNik Silver Efex Pro
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Of Simpler Times

As our summer wanes and the night begins to fall with a brisk feel to it, my lust to travel back to the renaissance once again begins to stir.  In less than one week The Texas Renaissance Festival will once again open it’s gates and another season of merriment will begin.  I hope I have the great opportunity to again travel south and experience this wonderful faire again this year.

In my reflection of all the great times I have had in the past I decided to dig through some of my images from Scarborough and processed this one.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 70 – 300
Post Processing: ApertureNik Color Efex Pro
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Impatient Virgin?

I absolutely love the names and nick names given to planes.  They can be almost as crude creative as boat owners tend to be with their vessels.

Last summer while visiting my parents I decided I wanted to visit this plane museum not too far from their house and check out their vintage plane collection.  So on this foggy summer morning my father and I headed out to Historic Flight.  There was a bit of a chill in the air and a morning fog similar to those had been encountering over the last week while out sailing.  With Tripod in hand I was really hoping to get some good images of some real relics.

A bit to my disappointment there were a lot of planes held up in this hanger.  To any airplane enthusiast this is something to be grateful for.  For a photographer it adds to the challenge of trying to create a great image.  Lucky for me the maintenance crew had some work to do which required a couple of these beautiful birds had to be pulled outside, one of which was the Impatient Virgin, a P-51B Mustang.  This, in my opinion was the sexiest plane they had.

Impatient Virgin

Impatient Virgin

Equipment: Nikon D700Nikon 24 – 70
Post Processing: ApertureNik HDR Efex ProNik Color Efex Pro, Adobe Photoshop
 
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In Memory of

283-xx89 is a number I hope to never forget.  In today’s age I find it amazing that we ever memorize a number, but this one was engrained in my memory long ago.  You see, I grew up with a very unconventional grandfather; I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting him until I was about 15 years old, shortly after I moved to Texas.

This cute old man lived down the street from us and he gladly opened his heart and house to many of us rug rats who grew up in the neighborhood.  He provided a role in our lives that each of us needed.  Grandfather, friend, advisor, loan officer, helping hand, sounding board, voice of reason, etc, etc, etc.

For just over two decades Earl was a person who was in mine and my family’s life on a daily basis.  He provided for me so many opportunities that I can’t imagine ever having if we hadn’t met.  But as I look back over the relationship we had and reflect on it, all it really boils down to is a very simple message he lived by and passed on to us.  Be honorable, your word is your bond.

Earl was very much a Navy man and told us stories of his experience in WWII throughout his life.  As most sailors I know, he also owned boats for most of his retirement years.  It was Earl who provided me the opportunity to spend my summers at the lake, camping on peninsulas, water skiing at sun rise, and introducing me to the best all-you-can eat chicken fried steak restaurant you were going to find.

His stories and experiences of scuba diving while living in Puerto Rico, I’m sure played a large part in my desire to obtain my diving certification, after which he and I made many trips to Lake Murky, Possum Kingdom, and Lake Travis.  Unfortunately, we never did get to go search for that cross he swore was at the bottom of Lake Whitney.  And I will never forget how much he enjoyed being the oldest diving member of the Diving Rebels Scuba Club.

Although I never had the desire to hunt, Earl still felt I needed to know how to skin a deer.  For that matter he also taught me how to do the same to a squirrel and make a very tolerable gumbo out of it.  His back woods cajun ass could cook one hell of a étouffée and he never feared experimenting with food.  One never knew what you might end up eating if you stopped by his road kill café.  But you could bet on the fact that you would never leave his house with an empty stomach.  He swore up and down that this somewhat famous chain stole his Earl McMuffin idea.  Enjoying a good meal with friends was one of the pleasures of life he enjoyed the most.  In fact iHop would do him right by erecting a statue of him in their foyer.

My memories of this man go back a long way and if I sat here long enough I could surely write a book.  Many people come and go from our lives, but it’s really special when one leaves an impression this big.  Because of Earl I had the opportunity to meet so many great people and do so many great things.  For this I will be eternally grateful.

In Memory of Earl Hawkins

In Memory of Earl Hawkins

The photo above was inspired by Richard Sturdevant.  Just before my grandfather passed I attended a seminar with Richard at the DFW Photo Expo.  It wasn’t until a couple of months later that I came across this portrait I had taken, but immediately my mind went work.  This isn’t where I thought the final image would end up, but I am very happy with it and I feel that he would be also.

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