Thursday, February 28, 2013

dear bird

photos from the LBJ Presidential Library

February is over! I can't believe tomorrow it will be March. Since I dedicated a whole week to Valentine's Day, I thought it would be nice to post about a last minute assignment that I worked on that week. On Feb. 13, our Supervisory Archivist Claudia Anderson talked to press about the 1934 courtship letters between LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson. The letters have been released to the public, check them out here if you're interested.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Yesterday -- Lindsey, Kyle, and I drove to Killeen, Texas (about an hour from Austin) to visit our cousins that were in town all the way from New York City! On our way to their hotel we discovered a random carnival in the middle of nowhere. Who can say no to lights, fast rides and carny food? We had a lot of fun and I'm fairly certain we gave our cousins the greatest impression of Texans.

Here are two shots from the first time that I photographed the State Fair of Texas in 2009 that never got published in The Daily Texan. Looking back I really like these two pictures... It's interesting how a fair is so bright and fun and filled with many people during the day, but when the sun goes down and everyone starts to filter out there is an eery calmness about the place and it becomes dark and mysterious.

Adventureland - October 2009

Friday, February 22, 2013

photog friday: photojournalism and the presidency

Photojournalism and the Presidency. What a special place to be a photographer... the White House. Pete Souza, Obama's White House photographer sums this up well...

"Imagine someone combing through my photographs of President Obama in 2510. That really makes me realize that this is visual history I am recording with my camera." 

What a special place to be last week but among 13 photojournalists that have had this opportunity. It's one thing to sit in the basement here and look at Okamoto's photos of LBJ all day long, but another to actually talk to the people that were behind the camera. This was a very special night, so here are a few more pictures...

Davide Hume Kennerly, David Valdez, Me, & Eric Draper

Thursday, February 21, 2013

night at the museum

Night at the Museum - February 15, 2013
I thought this was a funny moment. This kid sat in the same spot glued to his phone for most of the evening. What was incredibly exciting for me, was not so much for him. The Briscoe Center's exhibit "News to History: Photojournalism and the Presidency" is now open at the LBJ Presidential Library, most of the featured photographers attended the opening on February 15, too. This kid missed out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

color correction

Oh, the color correction debate! This is something I've been wanting to touch on for a while, since I deal with this problem everyday at work. The big question surrounds the digitization of archival photographs and whether they should be left "as is" or color corrected "as it should be?" Now, the real problem here is when you scan a color negative and say it's "as is," meaning that the scan you've got is a representation of what is on the negative, you're wrong. Here's why... Something I think archivists aren't taking into account (especially if they are not scanning the images themselves), is the accuracy of the scanner to auto-detect color. If you are wanting a full frame image you have to crop it yourself. (Editorial note: The scanner I use at work is an EPSON V700 Photo Scanner). When you determine the area to be scanned, it automatically color corrects the image and selects true blacks and whites based on the crop. So if you crop in or out or leave in the black border around the image, you will end up with three totally different looking images. Case in point: the images below... The first was done before I started working at the LBJ Library. The second has been rescanned and edited based on a darkroom print of the same image hanging up in AV Archives (made before they went digital around 2002). Now, being that NARA's definition for digitizing for public access includes "quality control of digital copies and metadata" and "providing public access to the material via online delivery of reliable and authentic copies." I would say the image on the left is not reliable or authentic to the image on the negative; the water in Oregon is obviously not cyan. When rescanned and minimally edited, everyone looks peachy. I didn't get the cyan color cast at all the second time. So which is the reliable and authentic image that should be delivered to the public as an accurate representation of this negative?

D782-9a. Photo by Robert Knudsen. Lady Bird Johnson on a trail in the Multnomah Falls National Scenic Area near Troutdale, Oregon on June 27, 1968.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

thank you, mr. president...

...For all the things you've done.

I've had this song stuck in my head all day. I love the way Marilyn Monroe sings it, even though the audio quality isn't the greatest. This music video by Lana Del Rey is also a great interpretation of Marilyn's original performance.

In the spirit of President's Day, this week I will be posting photos that I've taken since starting work at the LBJ Presidential Library. These two photos were taken just this weekend at the Cen-Tex History Fair that was hosted at the library. I was on my way to photograph the awards ceremony and these two boys were playing hide-and-go-seek around the pole and I had to snap a couple of pictures.

Hide and Seek - February 16, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

photog friday: dan winters

Photog Friday is back on track!

Dan Winters. Last Friday I got to meet Dan Winters! He was Icon No. 16 for the photography series hosted by the Austin Center for Photography. It was great to get an in-depth look and hear the stories behind some of his most famous images. Best part besides getting to meet him? The fact that he had to turn down the lights in the auditorium until we could only see his face occasionally lit by his computer screen because he was nervous. All photographers are the same in this way. We can turn our camera to the world, but when it is turned on us we hide. Where do we go? Who we are is hidden in our photographs.

The photograph below, is the closest thing I have to anything resembling a Dan Winters photograph, or even channeling him. I love this photo of First Lady Barbara Bush. This was in the Green Room before going onstage for "The Enduring Legacies of America's First Ladies: Reflections of First Ladies" on November 15, 2012. It was the LBJ Presidential Library's final program of the season and one of the highlights of my photography career. Here, she was talking to David Valdez, who was the Bush's photographer during their time at the White House. I love the look on her face, happy to see an old friend, very regal and proud, like a mother looking at a son.

First Lady Barbara Bush - November 15, 2012

Thursday, February 14, 2013

the things i love: my valentine

I couldn't resist... It's Valentine's day, and one of the things I love most is my valentine... Kyle. He is the greatest valentine ever. This was his card to me...

Here is a picture of us on our location scouting adventure on Lady Bird Lake a couple weeks ago.

Lady Bird Lake - January 26, 2013 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

the things i love: sisters

Today my sister came to my house with a rose as tall as I am and sang this to me like Romeo to Juliet.

Here is my response to my crazy sister, Lindsey...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

the things i love: kitties

Oh my kitties! Birdy and Chin-Chin. Birdy I've had for two years now. One of the girls cat's at Kelsey's co-op had four kittens and they were looking for one more owner... Since I didn't have a roommate at the time and I made a decision that night that would be one of the best I've ever made. Here is me and the Bird on that day and one when I brought her home in January.

Me & The Bird - December 2010 - Photo by Kelsey Crow

First Day Home - January 2011

Chin-Chin is a totally different story. We've been together for 17 years. We got Chin-Chin and Ti-Too when I was 5 going on 6. We stopped by a pet store on Mesa Street one day and walked out with two kittens. One for me and one for Lindsey.

Me & Chin-Chin - 1995 - Photo by Rodney Gerson

After six years apart and much convincing and begging my mother, she is now with us in Austin. I'm so glad that we get to spend these last few years or however long, together, just like we started. This is the last photo of us in the house that we grew up in...

17 Years Later - December 2012 - Photo by Lindsey Gerson

Here's to many more years of kitty love...

Monday, February 11, 2013

the things i love: film

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm going to celebrate all week with a mini-blog series, "The Things I Love." The first one, of course, is film! But not film as in the movies, I'm talking about the physical celluloid film.

FILM: a thin sheet of cellulose acetate or nitrocellulose coated with a radiation-sensitive emulsion for taking photographs

Although digital photography has come a long way, it still does not compare to the quality of film. You can't get the same subtle variations in the shadows and highlights with a digital camera as you can with a roll of Tri-X or Kodak Kodachrome. Luckily, Kodak still makes and sells Tri-X, and hopefully it won't go away until long after I'm gone. Digital comes close with the capability to shoot RAW images... but you still have to edit the photo afterwards to get anything close to what is already on the film negative.

Another thing I love about film is the process. There is just something about waiting in the darkroom to see what you've got that makes you a better photographer. I love that shooting film is a chemical process and part of the art of photography is the science.

Kelsey - December 2010

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Overlook - University of Texas at Austin - February 5, 2013

Hasn't this weather been crazy? It's February and it's 80 degrees in Texas right now. I'm sure a lot of people would think that's normal for us, but it's not. It's definitely not - usually this is scarf season. Although I'm not complaining, it has been lovely outside... like California weather in Texas, with Texas everything else. I snapped this one at work today while location scouting for an upcoming library project with NBC. This spot overlooks the library and is quite a nice place for lunch.

Monday, February 4, 2013

baltimore by way of austin

Besides the big news of the Superdome power outage last night, four former Longhorns were playing in the Superbowl. To name one - our former kicker Justin Tucker, who played for the football team while I attended UT. Over my five year stay there, I shot a LOT of football and shooting sports is a challenge, especially football. There's 100,000 screaming fans, drunk fans, running fans, fans on the sidelines, crazy student fans, fans with their shirts off, the press, the jerk video guys that sit in front of you, the jerk video guys that stand in front of you, the football team, security telling you to stand away from the football team, and a lot of other photographers carrying around twice as much equipment as you (probably judging your skimpy 300mm - that you were excited about using before you stepped into this mess and the stadium towering 10 stories above you). Now, make a sports picture we haven't seen before. Go.

Austin, Texas - September 11, 2010

This photo was taken on the September 11, 2010 memorial game against Wyoming at the DKR stadium. There are only so many different pictures you can get of a guy kicking a football from the sidelines. So, I got this one... luckily too. I really like the composition and the moment of anticipation. Ever since, I've been trying to get something similar and things haven't lined up so nicely.

Here is a story from another ex-Daily Texan staffer on how Tucker did for the Baltimore Ravens last night - just in case you're interested... cause I'm not going to start writing about what actually happens in the game, my brain would shut down.

Friday, February 1, 2013

photog friday: elliott erwitt

Elliott Erwitt. He is probably what made taking funny pictures of our pets so popular. The subtle humor in his photographs is unmatched by anyone. He is best known for his humorous photos of dogs. Mr. Erwitt is a member of Magnum Photos like Eli and shoots exclusively in black and white (to be accurate, at least, I've never seen a color image of his). If you are ever having a bad day check out some of his photos, or just troll cat videos online as they have taken over the internet and don't even care. Anyway, the thing I like to think about when looking at Elliott Erwitt's photography is how do you even come upon so many moments like these? For most of us, it doesn't happen that often. Photography-wise, it's only happened to me once. My grandma was in our backyard trying to get her dog, Charlie, to come inside the house. Of course, he wouldn't listen so she tried to pick him up herself and at the same time he tried to wiggle himself away. Luckily, I had my camera and caught this lovely moment on camera. Don't worry, I helped her get him inside immediately afterwards.

Dog Gone Mad - El Paso, Texas