Art Battle Wichita Falls

The first rule of Art Battle, is we don’t talk about Art Battle in Wichita Falls!

Art Battle Wichita Falls

Nikon f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO-800

The Wichita Falls Art Association is celebrating its 70th anniversary. For their anniversary, they decided to bring Art Battle to Wichita Falls for the first time. This event was so much fun and showed how much talent Wichita Falls has in this town.

It also doubled as a fundraiser for the art association, which included a silent auction of the art that was being created right in front of everyone. It was held inside The Warehouse, a newer venue of a remodeled warehouse in downtown Wichita Falls. It really gave the impression of the movie Fight Club.

For the event, my wife, Teresa Lopez, was one of the competitors in Art Battle. She was selected along with 11 other artists. There were two rounds of six artists, and each artist has 20 minutes to paint a piece. Artists also have to use a specific paint palette chosen before the time begins and cannot have any reference materials. The top two artists from each round made it to the final round.

Art Battle Wichita Falls

Nikon f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO-800

After the first round, Teresa was one of two artists to move on, making it in for her art piece of a person performing martial art on top of a mountain with a jellyfish in the starry sky.

Art Battle Wichita Falls

Nikon f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO-800

In the final round, she made a sunset with a starry sky and a rabbit with long ears sitting on top of a mountain. Teresa didn’t win the whole Art Battle, but she had a lot of fun and was able to hang out with some old artist friends from college.

I was able to play public relations for her and take photos of the Art Battle and center only on her. This is a change from my day job, so it was nice to just focus on one subject. My camera settings didn’t change much. I focused on where the spotlights were shining, and once I had my settings adjusted for them, I didn’t really stray away from the lighting. In post-processing, I played with the shadows to bring back the light into the photo.

The Art Battle is coming back in August with more artists, and I’m glad that Wichita Falls has another fun event to be a part of. Go check out Art Battle Wichita Falls. 

Art Battle Wichita Falls

Nikon f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO-800

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My job takes me to Grenada!

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SONY f/8, 1/800 sec, ISO-200

This week I’m in Grenada, the country. My work involves social media, photography, and digital marketing. Because of this, I was invited to help document our university study abroad program for future marketing campaigns. We are also doing a daily view of study abroad on social media. This works great because classes are done for the Spring semester, and now we have a chance to create new content right away.

The above picture is of Dr. Veale taking a picture of all the students leaning-in to take a group picture on the dock at the university we’re staying at.

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SONY f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO-200

Dr. Veale is one of two faculty, along with Dr. Anderson, on the trip teaching a class about Global Health. She’s pictured here talking to some students at the beach at St. George’s University. She never stops teaching, which is great when we’re trying to show the value of a study abroad program.

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SONY f/3.5, 1/80 sec, ISO-1600

Of course, I’m still having fun while I work and have the opportunity to photograph these gorgeous places all along the island. Grenada is one of those places where around every corner is an Instagramable location. We went to a place called “Umbrellas” the first night, and we saw this gorgeous sunset. The young couple in the photograph were talking by themselves around a large group of people. They were the few that were still in the water as the sun went down. It framed up a beautiful photo for my first night in Grenada.

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SONY f/7.1, 1/500 sec, ISO-100

The students are having plenty of fun. They’re starting to feel better about having a photographer on the trip who is always with a camera in his hand. We’ve done some semi-photo ops for them to use on their Instagram. For me, this does two things. One, it gives me some content for later marketing purposes and social media content. Two, it gives them content to post for their Instagram to create interest in the study abroad program. Crossing fingers, their friends are excited and ready to participate in the program next year.

The last photograph is on the second night at a restaurant called 61 degrees. I’m still not sure if that’s the name. We were told multiple things, but the food and the atmosphere was something out of a movie. I tried to take more photographs, but it didn’t do this place justice. This one is of a person taking a picture of the sunset. As soon as it went down, everyone brought their phones out. Who could blame them?

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SONY f/7.1, 1/160 sec, ISO-100

For more about our first few days in Grenada, watch our YouTube video where we talked to students about their first-hand experience.

 

Pond at the River Bend Nature Center

River Bend trip in the Falls

Nature Trail at the River Bend Nature Center

SONY f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO-200

We’re members of the River Bend Nature Center, so we try and make a trip out a few times a month to just get out of the house. Plus, the boys enjoy seeing all the animals and doing fun activities.

We usually go when it’s raining or on a cold day, but this time we just went because we were itching for something to do on a Sunday afternoon. Of course, this gave us the perfect opportunity to walk the nature trail that is housed inside the nature center park.

I’ve never been on this trail, so it was an additional surprise to me, especially with as many times as I’ve been to the nature center. The recent rains made everything green and abundant. The trail was a little muddy, but it was like walking through a mini-forest right here in Wichita Falls.

Tree life at the River Bend Nature Center

SONY f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO-200

If you’ve never been to the nature center, it’s perfect if you have small kids because there is plenty of stuff to keep them occupied. The nature trail that is attached to it is suitable for those who want to go out for a stroll and dogs are also welcome. Of course, there is a fee to use the nature center, but it’s minimal, and we have a membership to this place since we go so often.

Orange Julia Butterfly

SONY f/7.1, 1/160 sec, ISO-200

Inside is also one of my favorite places, the Butterfly exhibit. There you can be up-close to the butterflies and get some great shots with blooming flowers. It’s a small space so it can feel crowded quick.

Pond at the River Bend Nature Center

SONY f/8, 1/800 sec, ISO-200

The family had a lot of fun, and the boys were able to hike, which is their new favorite thing to do. They also enjoyed finding the mud and pill bugs.

Visiting Wichita Falls soon. Don’t forget to make a stop and this place and you’ll find an excellent place to take a nature break.

Jay and Manu at River Bend Nature Center

SONY f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO-400

 

View from the Hoxton hotel rooftop

Conference time in Portland!

Dragon Boats in Portland, Oregon

SONY f/10, 1/160 sec, ISO-100

This past week I was able to spend some time in Portland, Oregon for my CASE Social Media & Community Conference. The conference was a lot of fun, but outside of that, I was able to enjoy Portland and everything it has to offer.

I saw Dragon Boat racing, a Pixar exhibit and photographed places from rooftops.

Wall-E

SONY f/6.3, 1/100 sec, ISO-1000

The Pixar exhibit was part of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It was a separate exhibit brought in to show the science behind the Pixar movies. There were plenty of places to do photo-ops, and you were also able to experiment with the movie-creating method.

Toy Story sketches

SONY f/6.3, 1/125 sec, ISO-2000

The rest of the museum had a lot of activities for kids, and then you were able to see the back part of the museum outside, which included a submarine you could climb into. We didn’t have time for the submarine, but I snapped some pictures of the Dragon boats practicing and the bikers going around the museum trail.

Portland Bike Trail

SONY f/7.1, 1/640 sec, ISO-100

I also made time to visit Voodoo Doughnuts and a lot of food trucks. We went to Revolution Hall and caught a show titled “Terrible, Thanks For Asking” about a podcaster and some of her stories. It was funny and personal. I’ll need to start taking in Nora McInerny’s podcast now that I know of her.

Voodoo Doughnut Courtyard

SONY f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO-200

I didn’t just stay in the downtown city but also went for a morning hike at the Hoyt Aborterum. I’m not used to seeing such tall trees or being in a forest, so it was all a new experience. Was able to walk through a mini-bamboo forest too.

Hoyt Arboretum trees

SONY f/6.3, 1/100 sec, ISO-200

Other places I was able to experience was the Saturday Market, where I found a lot of great art pieces for my house. The arcade bar, known as Ground Kontrol, had $7 free play nights on Wednesday. I played pinball for over an hour. I also visited Powell’s book, a three-story bookstore that I could stay in forever.

Chinese Gate

SONY f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO-200

This city is known for rooftop views, and it wasn’t hard to find any. Staying at the Hoxton hotel gave me an easy to reach the rooftop. The guest service from the Hoxton was superb, and the views from the windows and roof gave me a great view of the city from any viewpoint. The famous Chinese Portland gate is also outside of this place for another great photo opportunity of an iconic landmark. Portland is not weird, but it is a lot of fun. Plus, it feels like the 90s never did leave it, and I’m glad that it hasn’t.

View from the Hoxton hotel rooftop

SONY f/7.1, 2 sec, ISO-100

Cereal Bar and Arcade

Video Game Mansion opening in the Falls!

Arcade and Cereal Bar

SONY f/3.5, 1/40 sec, ISO-400

Still working out the kinks in the new camera, so was given a chance to photograph the new TAG’s Maniac’s Mansion at 8th Street in downtown Wichita Falls.

The mansion is a combination of a cereal bar and arcade or as I like to call this slice of heaven, Nerdvana!

Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/5, 1/15 sec, ISO-400

It has classic arcade games, as well as some newer video game consoles. There was even virtual reality for customers to try.

Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/5, 1/25 sec, ISO-400

This type of place fills a much-needed niche in Wichita Falls. It’s not a bar or another store. This is an actual local business that supports nerd culture. Besides cereal and old-school arcade games, my favorite thing about this place is the memorabilia. You’ll find something for everyone. There is art that represents your favorite fandom. Cases are full of collectibles on display for the public to see.

Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/4, 1/25 sec, ISO-400

DJ MF Maniac, or Marcus McGee, as people know him, is sharing his collection for the public to enjoy when they visit the mansion. He has so much stuff, it’s a paradise for nerds and geeks everywhere. If you’re in the Wichita Falls area. Make sure to stop by in downtown and grab a bowl of cereal while enjoying your favorite arcade game. I’ll be over there playing the classic Super Mario.

Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/3.5, 1/40 sec, ISO-400

Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/5.6, 1/40 sec, ISO-400

Cereal Bar and Arcade

SONY f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO-400

Waterfall in Wichita Falls

Visit to The Falls!

Had a day off a week ago to visit The Falls of Wichita Falls inside Lucy Park. This man-made attraction is one of the best parts of Wichita Falls and provides the best selfie and photographable locations in this city.

Waterfall in Wichita Falls

SONY f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

If you’re ever in Wichita Falls. Remember to visit the waterfall in Lucy Park. There is public parking at the Wichita Falls Health Center where you can find a place to park. It’s a short walk under the interstate using the sidewalk trails. You can thank me later!

Waterfall of Wichita Falls

SONY f/8, 1/125 sec, ISO-100

Using my vacation, I worked on some stock photography for the area to use later on in the year. Initially, I was going to fly the drone and do some aerial photography, but the incoming storms gave me second thoughts.

While exploring the whole waterfall, I walked to the top and found some metal locks. There were three of them. I don’t know if this is a new trend happening here where you put the lock on the bridge and then throw the key down the waterfall. If it is, this will be an excellent place to do it. I hope it continues and no one cuts them down any time soon.

Lock at the top of the Waterfall

SONY f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO-100

Tasha at the Carnival

Some carnival practice…

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/1.8, 1/8 sec, ISO-100

When you’re learning a new camera, you have to put it through its paces. Find out what makes it tick and push it to the limits. I wanted to see how far I could push the camera at night, and I was not disappointed with these long exposures. For a while, these shots were only possible with my Alienbee system, but now with the new Sony camera, I have so much more freedom.

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/1.8, 1/10 sec, ISO-100

I recruited my friend Tasha. She’s a gamer and likes to cosplay. This would be our first photo shoot without a cosplay. We decided to go with a theme though. She dressed like a gamer girl who was taking a break from the games and having some fun at the carnival.

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/2, 1/25 sec, ISO-100

I had fun with her hoodie and experimented with the different lighting patterns from the carnival. I still used a tripod, but I didn’t have to lower my shutter any less than 1/8 of a second.

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO-100

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/2, 1/25 sec, ISO-100

Fun set! Too bad the carnival is only here in Wichita Falls for only two weeks. Can’t wait to try some new stuff next time.

Tasha at the Carnival

SONY f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO-100