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

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

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

 

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

The Wichita Theatre!

Wichita Falls Theatre - A J L 3 Photography

Had some fun this weekend shooting in Wichita Falls, Texas. We went to the theatre downtown and I was able to snap some pictures since the houselights were on. Rarely does this happen in Wichita Falls when ever I visit. Normally, the lights are off, so this was a big hit to get all the lights on.

We were able to take pictures across and under the Wichita Theatre Performing Arts Centre. The above picture of the theatre was where the entrance used to be, but since it is not used anymore they just turn the lights on when there is a performance. The building right next to the actual theatre has been converted into a theatre itself and combined with the old one. This allows for more space and a bigger crowd.

Wichita Falls Theatre - A J L 3 PhotographyOn the left, you can see an above view of the theatre with the sign slightly cut off. It reads ‘Wichita’ in neon letters that change colors. A lot of this has some LED’s installed giving it a newer look. You can still see where all the old tiles and theatre setting are and what has been retouched. For most part it is still looking like the original theatre.

It was a fun shoot, and I’m glad I’ve finally been able to get the lights with this beautiful theatre. It has been a long waiting game. Let me know what you think of the photos in the comments. Also, below is the last photo of a larger image of what the theatre looks like. Overall this theatre design looks retro, but feels brand new. It’s a great contrast to all the old buildings in the city.

Wichita Falls Theatre - A J L 3 Photography