Aztec Dancer

Day of the Dead in the Falls!

Dia De Los Muertos Ofrenda

SONY f/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO-20000

I didn’t have to travel to Mexico to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. While that is still on my bucket list, I was able to enjoy it in my backyard right here in downtown Wichita Falls. It was a fun celebration all-around, and I’m happy to see it continue growing in its third year here in Wichita Falls.

Fire Twirler

SONY f/5.6, 1/400. sec, ISO-16000

The latest lens in my photography arsenal is the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, which I use when I need to be farther away. In this case, for the parade and the small spaces, it came in handy. Combined with the Sony A7riii, it allows me to photograph in low-light. The picture above allowed me to be far enough away, but still snag the action.

Parade Spirit

SONY f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO-16000

Aside from the parade, there were ofrendas set up in the middle of the festival. Ofrendas are offerings that are made to our ancestors during Day of the Dead. We place a photo on the ofrenda, hoping they come back and spend time with the family celebrating their life. It’s a way for us to remember our loved ones and what made them special. The food we offer is usually stuff they enjoyed when they were living with us.

In the photo from the beginning, you can see how beautifully these ofrendas are made. With lights for the night and marigold flowers to guide the spirits back to their family.

Catrina

SONY f/5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO-8000

You would also find Catrins and Catrinas all around the festival. The one above was in the ofrenda area. People will also paint their faces as a Catrin to celebrate loved ones. Yes, in Hispanic cultures, skulls are a big part of the Day of the Dead festivities.

There were big Catrins for people to take pictures with. All around were booths selling food and merchandise. Music played on the big stage for the night. In the middle, in front of the ofrenda area, a circle had formed to see all the performances scheduled.

Aztec Dance

SONY f/7.1, 1/400 sec, ISO-4000

Something that the festival had last year was the Aztec Dancers. They recently were in the Dallas Day of the Dead celebration and then made their way to Wichita Falls, where they performed last year.

They did a blessing for ofrendas and also did the celebratory dances that span 200 years of family generations. They originate from the heart of Mexico in Mexico City. It was fun watching the dances and the colorful costumes. It gave authority to the festival and made it feel like we had gone to Mexico if only for a night.

Catrina

SONY f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO-16000

Parade

SONY f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO-16000

Catrin

SONY f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO-16000

Aztec Dancer

SONY f/7.1, 1/400 sec, ISO-4000

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, and it allowed me the opportunity 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

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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

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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

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This city is known for rooftop views, and it wasn’t hard to find any. Staying at the Hoxton hotel gave me easy access to a 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