Here’s a collection of photos I took during “Doggie Time!” this morning at Bridges to Growth in Georgetown. Bridges to Growth is part of The Georgetown Project, a group dedicated to youth development here. Throughout the summer months, Bridges to Growth offers a number of kid, parent, and grandparent-friendly activities. The best part is they’re all free, but you do have to register by going to their website (see link above) or by calling (512) 864-3008 to reserve a spot. During this morning’s session, a group of folks from the Sun City Pet Club brought their dogs for the kids to enjoy. While I love most dogs, my favorite today was Breeze, an adorable English Bulldog girl. Here’s a few photos I took for the Williamson County Sun.
This is an area a little outside Granger, Texas. The photo, taken last evening, was one I almost passed by. I’d been out for a while and these old bones were ready to be home. But about 50 yards on, I thought: this looks okay. So I backed up and took a few frames. This Blackland Prairie is such a fine thing to see.
A simple post tonight, a Longhorn sharing her pasture, a little west of Granger, Texas with some other four-legged friends.
Grain elevators, abundant where we live in East Williamson County, Texas, have a way of absorbing nature’s rays of light. Occasionally, when I’m simply in a rambling mood, with nothing special in mind, I enjoy watching them as the sun shines on their metallic surfaces. At this time of the year, you must know that keeping fields of corn out of my rural images is a task. It goes literally for miles in every direction. That opening photo shows some elevators of farmers I know. A few years ago, one of them waxed poetic about the land’s view from their tops. “You’re welcome to climb up the steps and take a look,” one of them offered. I’m still thinking about that. High places make me queasy, but it’s a tempting offer. We’ll see.
Since 2010, I’ve been honored to cover the Williamson County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo in Georgetown, Texas for the Williamson County Sun. On that first visit almost eight years ago this month, I was enchanted by the venerable arena near San Gabriel Park. It spoke to how rodeo arenas need to look. But even in 2010, I heard its days were numbered. The land on which it rests belongs to the City of Georgetown, which leased the space many years ago. That space was first utilized for the sport in the 1940s, with the current arena brought on in the 50s. Growing up in Texarkana, a treat was going the Four States Fair & Rodeo, adjacent to Spring Lake Park. The arena there was reminiscent of Georgetown’s. I’ve not lived in Texarkana since the early 70s, when I left for college, then traveled east with my career. During that time, Texarkana’s event moved across the state line, into Arkansas. The Texas-side arena, I suppose is gone. Here’s the thing. I’m not a cowboy. Pointy-toed cowboy boots are in no way comfortable. Heck, I’ve only been on a horse’s back maybe two times in almost 66 years of life. But I appreciate the atmosphere of these old spaces. This year’s Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo, its 75th, will be its swan song. Organizers are looking for another home for their rodeo. In my town, Taylor, a few miles east, there’s the Williamson County Expo Center, a lovely facility, but more costly. And, I have to say, it lacks the charm of Georgetown’s. The story I read in the Sun today says Georgetown’s arena will be demolished next year. Knowing the end was near, I asked a Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo for access to the arena in early-March. My goal were simply portraits of the arena, no horses, no cowboys, no fans. A couple of those are presented here, along with a photo taken at the 2017 rodeo, cowboys waiting for their turns. That photo is on my current business card. Georgetown is a wonderful city, one of the fastest-growing in the United States. I suppose, as the population evolves, things change. The plan, apparently, is to place a festival space on the site of the arena. Progress, I guess, but I don’t like it.
On a very hectic day, I found myself at the HEB Center in Cedar Park, Texas, there to cover the Georgetown High School graduation ceremony for over 450 seniors. HEB Center, according to its website, has a capacity for 8,000 people. And it’s air-conditioned, no small thing in hot Texas. When arriving, however, I was told I could not work on the floor, but rather had to stay in the stands. Families couldn’t bring signs to cheer on their grads. Apparently, the grads were cautioned to behave as they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. So a challenge it was. Even though hot, it was so much more enriching to photograph high school graduations in high school stadiums. This venue is a very controlled environment, very dull. Settling my cameras in the seating area reserved for families of graduates, I saw Daisy, one of the GHS graduates. Daisy made everything okay.
Earlier this week, looking for a place to point a camera, but not wanting to wander into the countryside, I settled on an evening stroll through downtown Taylor. Golden light, it seems, settles nicely on architecture, too. And Taylor’s got some interesting structures. The one in the background, at 2nd and Main Streets, is an example. The gentleman standing in silhouette is Thomas, who didn’t mind that I snapped a few photos.
Well, perhaps not entirely without a theme. Let’s just say it’s about light. The first photo was taken a few days ago, on an evening when the skies threatened to drop some moisture on the prairie. It didn’t materialize, but the clouds were exceptional. The other photo, taken tonight, is a decrepit barn, obviously past its useful time, but still standing, gathering the sun’s rays onto its metal and that ancient wood within. Just light, folks.
It was closing in on 9p.m. tonight when a Waning Gibbous Moon, almost full at 99.8%, finally made an appearance in the evening sky above a field of corn just north of Taylor. Two versions are presented. Perhaps there’s nothing else to say.
While I’ve mostly been self-motivated in life, there are a handful of people who’ve assisted and cajoled along the way. Take, J.B. Colson, the gentleman in this photo. Sometime in 1971, I was at University of Houston, studying journalism. Although the goal was to become a writer, or word journalist if you prefer, I’d been enamored with the notion of photography since my childhood best friend, Anson Godfrey, introduced me to the craft at his home via his Life Library of Photography collection. A few months into my time in Houston, I began to feel the tug of photojournalism, but my school had no major in that. Less than three hours west, however, University of Texas at Austin had a full offering of photo classes. I made a drive there and met Mr. Colson. Although there were courses, he said, the full major didn’t exist, but he assured me it would. “Take these classes. By the time you’re ready to graduate, there will be an actual degree in photojournalism.” So I transferred to the University. After graduation in Spring 1974, newspapers took me east, first to Tyler, Texas, then Shreveport, finally to Atlanta, where I remained for many more years than I care to think about. Along the way, Colson guided students through the rigorous program. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay in touch too well. This happens. After a long absence, we finally reconnected after moving home. Although he’s fully-retired from UT now and living in Northern California, he returns here to visit family. This photo was taken last week as we chatted at his daughter’s North Austin home. I’m glad to say he’s still giving guidance. Back in the day, he scared the devil out of me, with his stern ways. Today, he’s much different, a study in serenity. Nevertheless, while other former students call him “JB” now, my 60-something self still thinks of him as Mr. Colson. In the final analysis, he’s a mentor, a teacher, but also a friend.