Allen Skiles: Blog en-us (C) Allen Skiles (Allen Skiles) Sun, 26 Apr 2020 05:35:00 GMT Sun, 26 Apr 2020 05:35:00 GMT Allen Skiles: Blog 90 120 Christmas Photoshoot with Hoku Today I saw the new movie "The Call of the Wild" and it got me thinking of my dog Hoku who passed away three years ago this May. Boy was she the best friend you could have. I got to looking at my blog posts and I am surprised I never posted about the photo shoot I did with her in Dec 2008. I was at the store and I saw a little reindeer plush toy for dogs. I thought she would love it so I bought it. On the way home I figured I would do a photo shoot to create a Christmas car. It was a very long shoot as Hoku was shy of the camera. Not only was it a hard shoot for me, but it was for her as well since she wanted to play with it so bad.

Patience and determination paid off as I got one of my favorite photos of her. I refer to it as her Hollywood shot as I could see it on her modelling comp card if she were an actress. Here is that shot.

Here are a couple more from that shoot.

It was a fun shoot and I miss her greatly.

(Allen Skiles) b&w dog Hoku photography Sun, 26 Apr 2020 05:34:50 GMT
My First Calendar, 9 Years Later Today I was reflecting on how my photography has evolved since I started taking it serious in 2005. One of my earliest challenges and one of the most rewarding projects was when I helped a friend make the 2009 San Antonio Bikes and Babes Against Child Abuse. It was a project to help raise funds for the Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) San Antonio Chapter. If you never heard of B.A.C.A., it exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. You can read more about their mission here.

I had never made a calendar up to that point so it challenged me to learn how, fast. I was brought on after things with the previous photographer fell through. There was a deadline to meet to get these calendars out before the end of the year. Everyone involved in this project donated their time and energy as all the profits were going to go to the San Antonio B.A.C.A. Chapter. Due to time constraints we had to use locations more than once. Here are the front and back covers of the calendar. All images for the calendar were taken by me.

It is interesting to see what you can accomplish when you challenge yourself. Before this project I didn't think I could do half of the things I was able to accomplish. My post processing skills definitely increased. The image that had the most post processing in it was the model with the biker doing a stoppie next to her. In the final image he looks a lot closer to her than he actually was. There were a lot of other distractions that had to be removed. Here are the before and after images of that shot. At the time I felt very accomplished as I was an amature photographer with little post-processing knowledge. We raised a good amount of money for a good cause, all while learning more about our tradecraft and ourselves. Ah, the good times!

(Allen Skiles) babes baca bikers calendar charity motorcycles photography san antonio texas Mon, 01 Jan 2018 23:58:37 GMT
Wild West Victorian Fest in Kerrville, TX About two months ago I got word of a Wild West Victorian Fest (WWVF) to be held mid December in Kerrville, TX. If you have read my other blog posts, you know I love to photograph characters so I was going to check it out. WWVF ran from Dec 15th to the 17th. I planned on going on Saturday December 16th so I would have Sunday to post process the images. I did not make it on Saturday due to bad weather, but I did make it out on Sunday. There was a light showing of people likely due to the poor weather conditions from Saturday and Sunday morning. Nevertheless I was going to make the best out my trip. Here are my favorite photos I took on Sunday at the WWVF.

The first thing that caught my eye was this partial mannequin wearing steampunk items. I thought it had an interesting look.

I made my way around and saw my friend Ash performing a hilarious story with audience participation. Definitely a must watch performance. After that was a Buffalo Bill performance involving whips, guns and humor. As I was walking around I heard a tuba in the distance. I went to check it out and it was a lady from The Toobadours. I didn't have time to see their performance but I could always see a crowd at their stage and hear laughter so I bet it was good. I spent a good amount of time with my friend Marty, a funny multi-talented performer. He juggles pins, knives, fire sticks and just about anything else while sometimes balancing on a pipe. Oh, and he can breath some serious FIRE. I had a great time seeing my friends and making new ones. Hopefully the weather cooperates next year. I am planning on visiting the Kerrville Renaissance Festival next month. I hope you enjoyed the photographs and maybe I will see you at the next event.

(Allen Skiles) b&w black and white festival fire guns juggling kerrville knife photography renaissance steampunk sword victorian whips wild west Sun, 31 Dec 2017 05:01:00 GMT
CSAP trip to Wildseed Farms Took a trip with my CSAP friends to the Wildseed Farms near Fredricksburg, TX. If you are a photographer in the San Antonio area and have not heard of CSAP, you need to check it out! CSAP stands for Capture San Antonio Photography and although it is currently a group we are slowly trying to move away from

Now off to Wildseed Farms! It is a cool place with food, live music, shopping and of course flowers. Here are my favorites from my trip to the Wildseed Farms. I will definitely be making a trip back. Cheers my friends!

(Allen Skiles) b&w black and white closeup csap decay farm flower leaf leaves macro photography red texas wildseed Mon, 08 May 2017 02:29:00 GMT
Sherwood Forest Faire - 2017 Trip 3 Made it out to Sherwood the third time this season. I just love it there! Here are my favorite photos I took this weekend. I hope you enjoyed my photographs. Till next time, cheers!

(Allen Skiles) b&w black and white color fair faire festival forest horse joust mcdade medieval photography portrait renaissance sherwood sword texas Mon, 10 Apr 2017 01:43:00 GMT
Sherwood Forest Faire - 2017 Trip 2 Made it out again for Sherwood Forest Faire. My trip was on March 25th and that weekend the 7th Annual jousting Tournament was held. Now for a journey through my photographs I took at Sherwood. All photos can be seen and purchased here.

I started off photographing my archery friends as usual.           

After the archers cleared out of the arena the knights prepared for the jousting. The Kings and Princes also decided to join in the knightly fun by having their own competition. There was also hard hitting knight combat afterwards. While heading up to the Castle Siege performance I ran across this fella sitting at the Round Table. Now for the Castle Siege. Having seen the performance opening weekend I knew where the action was going to happen and I could setup for the shots I want. The explosion left a large amount of smoke in the air which made for some awesome moody photographs. If you have not been I recommend you at least go and check it out. I hope you all enjoyed this journey through my trip to the Sherwood Forest Faire. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of my work. Cheers!




(Allen Skiles) B&W Faire Forest McDade Sherwood Texas black and white color fair faire festival forest horse joust medieval photography portrait renaissance sword Fri, 31 Mar 2017 18:56:00 GMT
Sherwood Forest Faire - 2017 Trip 1 It is that time of the year again for Sherwood Forest Faire. Sherwood Forest Faire is held yearly, every weekend from March 4th through April 23rd, in McDade, TX. Out of all the renaissance festivals I have been to in Texas I would have to say Sherwood is my favorite. Good people, good food, good music, good fun, and awesome outfits all make for a great trip. From a photographer's perspective I am humbled that I am allowed to capture the characters within my new found friends. To honor the opportunity I try to bring those characters to life. Now for a journey through my photographs I took at Sherwood. All photos can be seen and purchased here.

I started off photographing my archery friends.  After the archers cleared out of the arena the knights prepared for the jousting.

The Kings and Princes also decided to join in the knightly fun by having their own competition. King Richards horse was ill so he decided to pay homage to Monty Python. As I headed up to the castle for the Castle Siege there was some great light at the chess board so I snapped a few. So now for the Castle Siege. The story progressed since last year so I didn't know when or where things were going to happen. Although knowing the series of events helps me setup the shots I want, it is more exciting not knowing. 

If you have not been I recommend you at least go and check it out. I hope you all enjoyed this journey through my trip to the Sherwood Forest Faire. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of my work. Cheers!




(Allen Skiles) B&W Faire Forest McDade Sherwood Texas black and white color fair faire festival forest horse joust medieval photography portrait renaissance sword Mon, 06 Mar 2017 19:29:00 GMT
Trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore Visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore for the first time. It is a pretty cool place. Here are some of the shots I took. The first two are of a bubble tube. I rotated the camera to portrait and panned along with the tube like I would shooting a car at the race track. I then added different tones in post processing to add interest. 

The ceilings also had some cool lights and textures. There was a wall installation representing a sandy coastline which had some cool things in it. I found this small area of tracks and shells that made for a good composition, although I had to contort myself a little to frame it they way I wanted it. I found the jelly fish to be good subjects. And of course no aquarium is complete without a scary predator. As I was leaving there were a couple of good subjects I found in the night. Definitely want to go back to the National Aquarium again someday. It was a lot of fun!

(Allen Skiles) b&w baltimore black and white bubble colors footprint jelly fish maryland photography shark Sun, 29 Jan 2017 23:18:00 GMT
Ingleside Renaissance Faire 2016 Recently I went to a Renaissance Faire in Ingleside, TX which is near Corpus Christi. I hung out with some old friends and made some new ones. One of the interesting things about renaissance faires is that you always make new friends. At almost every renaissance faire I see my good friends the Johnston's who perform The Longbow Show and run The Longbow Shop. They are fantastic people and here is a photo I took of their banner.

One thing that challenges me every time I go to events like this is finding the right position to photograph from to get the best shot possible. It is challenging because for the most part I have no control over the lighting, the patrons, the environment, or the subject(s). By challenging myself I have been able to quickly setup shots with no direction on my part, like this photo of Ash. Ash also runs a bird show that has some amazing birds. Here are a couple photos of some of the birds. Some performances change and my original position may no longer be the best. This usually happens with the jousting. I start with shooting in parallel with the jousters like in the photo below. When the jousting transitions to the unmounted fighting the best shots are usually from the main crowd area. The bad part is by that time of the show the main crowd area is packed. About half the time I try to politely squeeze my way in front of the main crowd area without blocking anyone. Sometimes just shooting through or over the crowd is all you have. Here is a good example of photographing through a small separation in the crowd.  Not too thrilled with the patrons in the background, but there was no other way to get this photograph. I do feel the subject and blood makes up for the distractions in the background. The performer in the above photo is James, whom is also the President of the American Jousting League. Here are more shots of the jousting. Due to an unexpected issue, another renaissance faire, to occur the same weekend, did not take place. The Ingleside Renaissance Faire and the Ingleside Chamber of Commerce extended a welcome to any performer, participant, vendor and patron who was planning on attending the other renaissance faire. I felt this was a nice gesture and leads me to my next several photos. An aerialist performance duo was to performer at the other renaissance faire but made the trip to Ingleside. They were great and the photos turned out great as well. I also did a couple portraits with some new friends. The following to photos are of a son and his mother.
The following set is with my friend Rose. She has great attention to detail in her outfit that she made herself. The final portrait set is of an elf assassin. I just loved the rawness of his look. And of course the performance I never miss is Tartanic. I have been listening to their music for more than 8 years and they are awesome. Here are some photos of their performance. Adrian just has such an awesome personality. Check out Tartanic's Facebook page and website.

At times I wonder if it is us that travel back in time at renaissance faires or characters from the past travel to the future. This last photo made me think this and is why I had to capture it. That pretty much wraps up my trip to the Ingelside Renaissance Faire. Prints and digital download for personal use only are available for purchase here. Hope this makes you think of attending a renaissance faire in the future. Trust me you will be glad you did. Cheers my friends.


(Allen Skiles) B&W Ingleside Texas black and white color faire festival horse medieval photography renaissance sword Wed, 04 Jan 2017 07:42:58 GMT
The Industrial Chandelier A while back I shot an industrial chandelier at The Pearl, a historic brewery complex in San Antonio, TX. This chandelier is made from old brewery parts and has character. Here is the shot I made a while back. I went back this weekend to see if I could improve on my original photograph, but I think my original shot is better. The shot above is from the perspective of looking straight up at the chandelier. Here is a different angle to show you how the chandelier is constructed. I thought he metal belts alone made for a good image too. This chandelier is location in front of the Blue Box Bar.

(Allen Skiles) blue blue box bar chandelier industrial photography the pearl Mon, 02 Jan 2017 00:14:00 GMT
Road Trip West of San Antonio with the Nikon D810 I recently picked up the Nikon D810 and I decided I would go on a road trip to get better acquainted with the camera. The trip I chose was to head west of San Antonio, TX to Hondo and then make my way NE to Helotes and Boerne.

By the time I made it to Boerne, TX it was getting dark and chilly so I just headed home. My first stop was the visitor center in Castroville. The visitor center has a very unique style and made me feel like I was in another country. I then found this building that had good interest in its windows and doors. One of the doors in particular had the door knob lower than normal which skews the perspective. This next building was only a block away and was being overtaken by the surrounding vegetation. Driving around Castrolville I found a couple more cool shots. I then made my way to Hondo, TX and found a couple spots to take some photos. As I was leaving Hondo I say this tree and had to get a shot of it. I didn't find anything that inspired me until I got to Grey Forest, TX which is near Helotes. I almost passed up this caboose and I love how the light is dappled on it. The sun was going down quick by the time I got to Boerne, TX so I decided to head home. I hope you enjoyed the photographs.

(Allen Skiles) Castroville D810 Grey Forest Hondo Nikon Texas architecture caboose industrial landscape photography road trip tree Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:58:51 GMT
Natural Light Portraiture at Renaissance Festivals There are two main reasons why I like renaissance festivals; 1) the characters, and 2) the atmosphere. People that attend renaissance festivals come from all corners of society. When you step through the front gate, it doesn't matter what you do or where you come from, everyone is on the same playing field and treated equally. Those that dress in garb take their persona seriously which makes for great photographs. It is interesting to see the effects renaissance festivals have on one's well being. Not only does a renaissance festival take you back in time, it also takes you away from the stresses of your daily life. I have never seen anyone leave a renaissance festival in a bad mood, except for maybe a child that doesn't want to leave the festival. This article will focus on how I interact with people at these types of events and get amazing portraits using only natural light. All photographs in this article were shot using natural light with no artificial modifiers and were all edited in Adobe Lightroom.

Just like anything else, photographing using natural light has its pros and cons. Shooting with natural light can be cheaper, lighter, faster, and on some levels, easier. However, there are limits in most night time shooting situations. Although I have less control over the lighting, I have learned how to get the most out of natural light. I use buildings, the ground, trees, and anything else around me to block, filter, or bounce light in my favor. I could bring reflectors or scrims but that would just be more gear to lug around. Current digital cameras capture a good amount of dynamic range, and as long as I manage the scene, I will have all the data I need to push the photograph in post to wherever I want to take it.

When I first went to renaissance festivals I took a lot of gear. I tend to spend all day at renaissance festivals and the amount of gear I brought felt heavier throughout the day. Over time I found myself using a telephoto zoom lens almost exclusively for all of my photographs. My gear load-out these days is a light weight setup; it includes a DSLR camera, a telephoto zoom lens, a standard zoom lens, an iPad, and a bunch of business cards. I use a cross body setup with a camera messenger bag hanging off my left side and my camera on my right. Having the straps of the messenger bag and camera strap cross the body give me a more confident feel that my gear will not fall and allows me to go hands free in an instant.

Before even going to the event I try to learn about the event and culture as much as I can. Knowing this information does several things for me; 1) using terms relevant to the culture is a good ice breaker and shows that I respect their culture, 2) knowing what type (viking, barbarian, elf, faun, etc.) of garb (outfit) they are wearing helps me come up with posing ideas and avoid disrespecting them by calling them something else (mood killer), and 3) knowing who the main characters/royal party are helps me avoid embarrassing myself in front of potential subjects. You will be surprised how far a small jester of respect will take you and may even open new doors you may not have had access to before.

When I arrive at the venue for the first time I scope out the "lay of the land" and schedule of events. Knowing the layout of the grounds and the event schedule helps me plan a route so I am in the right area at the right time. At the scheduled performances I do not only focus on the performers, but I also look into the crowd as they attract large crowds which could hold potential subjects. Think of it this way, you are meeting your subjects half way instead of you searching for them all day.

While walking the event I am continually aware of my surroundings. At any time I could find my subject and I do not want to waste their time by making them wait until I find where I want them to stand/sit. Sometimes I find my subjects just laying around. When I find a good background I might will wait there until a good subject comes along. While waiting I decide my composition and understand where my light is coming from. Then once my subject comes around, no time is wasted.

Before taking the photograph I ask for permission. It could be a simple point to my camera while looking at them, and they will nod if it is okay. I prefer to actually converse with them as I have found it garners better results in their expression. If they say no, I would not take their picture, accept it and move on. You don't want to say or make obscene gestures as you could ruin it for other photographers or be seen as that rude or creepy photographer. Word travel fast at these festivals so many other potential subjects may already be aware of you before you approach them. Luckily I have never been told no at these events. There are exceptions to where asking for permission is not necessary; during performances or if you are far away from the subject and getting a "snipe" shot to capture a candid moment. It is also proper etiquette to not bother them if they are eating, running to the bathroom, look upset, distraught, or crying.

I never touch the model, but if communication does not get the desired results then I will ask permission before I touch. The reasons I don't like touching them or their items are: 1) I don't want to break their items by accident, 2) I don't want to be accused of being inappropriate, and 3) I don't want to come across as a creepy photographer. Be careful of word choice when asking them to adjust something, this will go a long way as to whether you are seen as a professional or creepy. Using the wrong term can change your subject attitude, thus ruining the expression in all subsequent photographs.

When I see a potential subject there are a couple things I do before I approach them. I first analyze the area for a background that would go good with their style. If they have a prop I need to decide if I want it in my shot or not. Let's say I have two potential locations to shoot, my first choice would be the one that has better lighting. Depending on how things go with the subject I may shoot at the other location. I also try to have a couple poses in mind to get things started. So I have decided where I want to shoot and the look I am going for, now I need to make sure my camera settings are in the ballpark. I do all this before approaching the subject as to not waste their time. Being prepared comes across as you know what you are doing, thus making your subject more likely to give you 100% effort in return.

So now I approach the potential subject. A simple introduction is all that is needed. I tell them my name and that I would love to get a photograph of them. There is no need to embellish your skills as it can be a turn off to your potential subject. I compliment them on their garb and tell them what drew me to want to photograph them. If the subject asks what I do with the photos I tell them I make a blog article of my trip to the event which will have a link to the photos that can be downloaded for a small price. Just be yourself, people can see through the BS.

Dealing with your subject can go south quick. Here are some tips to keep your subject in a good mood and engaged in the process; 1) make eye contact, 2) remember and use their name, 3) use only positive words, 4) ask them if they have any poses or ideas, and 5) focus your attention on them. If the connection between you and your subject starts to break down then it will show in their expression which can ruin the feel of the photographs.

Making eye contact about 30% to 60% of the time produces a feeling of mutual likability and trustworthiness. Referring to your subject by name shows respect and puts your subject at ease. It also shows you see them as a person and not just the subject of a photograph. Using positive words keeps the subject from becoming disinterested. Don't say "I don't like that pose," or "I don't like how you look in that photo." The subject doesn't need to know you may not like the photo or made a mistake; just say "Let's try this" and move on.  Asking them if they have any ideas makes the subject feel as part of the process; this can make the subject more willing to give you their best look, and believe me it works. Focus your attention on the subject and not your phone, a friend, or anything else. Your subject will feel disrespected and will likely give you poor expressions. Not paying attention to your subject is the fastest way for things to go south. I treat every subject as a friend I have not met yet and it makes all the difference. Most of my subjects have become my good friends as they are good people.

I strive to make my photographs look as if they were taken during that era or alternate world. To do that I need to remove anything that would tie it to the "regular" world. This means I need to pay attention to every little thing they are wearing and what is in the background. Don’t tell yourself I can just remove them in post-processing; take care of it at time of capture to save yourself a lot of time later. To control the background I use a telephoto lens with a large aperture and choose my angles carefully. If I want to blow out the background completely I just need to make sure the subject is a lot closer to me than the background.

The doorway to shops are a good place to get your subject lighter than the background. I used this method in the above photo of the Elf. I asked him to stand just a step in from being in direct sunlight. This makes for soft flattering light and makes them stand out more in the scene. Although the light is soft it usually has a quick fall-off which adds dimension to the subject. The final touch was to make sure I got good catch lights in the eyes.

Sometimes your subject may have a non-realistic object. I usually ask to get photos without those items, but occasionally you want them to help sell the style of the character. The photo above works with the plastic axe. But to make it more believable I needed to get rid of the bolt at the top of the handle and go black and white. Another benefit of going black and white with the photograph is how the tones in her headpiece are more noticeable without becoming a distraction. I did not go crazy with the post processing of her face as the imperfections sell her as being a warrior and from the past.

Not every subject needs to be looking at you. Getting candid shots can give the viewer a feeling as if they are there in person and can tell a story. For the shot above I waited for the people in the background to get further away from my subject. However, I didn’t want an empty background so I need to wait for the right moment. I also didn’t want too much information as I want to leave the viewer to wonder who this person is, are they waiting for something or someone, what could they be looking at, what is their reality like, and what ever else the viewer may think. I decided to go black and white for this photograph due to the potential distracting colors in the background. In post processing I spent a good amount of time working on the tones to add depth and interest into the subject.

Getting an action pose like in the above photograph can liven up the shoot. During this shoot I knew my exposure was good and by not chimping (look at the back of the camera) I was able to keep engaged with the subject and eventually got the expression and action position I wanted. If I had stopped to look at every photo I would have lost the momentum and likely would have not gotten this photo. If you know your gear you can spend more time engaged with your subject, yielding better results.

By getting things right in camera as best as possible you can reduce your time in post processing significantly. Also, don’t feel you need to make everything look perfect. Someones’ or somethings’ imperfection could be what makes the photograph great or feel realistic. By not having to worry about heavy retouching in post you can focus more on creating the mood or feeling of the photograph. Post-processing is what will sell your vision so spend time learning your software. But above all, have fun yourself.

(Allen Skiles) B&W Renaissance Festival festival medieval natural light photography portrait renaissance Fri, 04 Nov 2016 02:51:26 GMT
Trip to Texas Renaissance Festival Last Saturday I made a trip out to the Texas Renaissance Festival and had an amazing time. Although getting there was a little rough. It was very foggy and at some times I could barely see 15 feet in front of me. I took my time getting there and also took a couple of foggy photographs along the way. I didn't photograph as much as I had hoped as it was extremely crowded and was a little tired. Here are the ones I liked. Enjoy!

(Allen Skiles) B&W Texas Texas Renaissance Festival black and white color cow farm festival fog halloween hay horse medieval photography pumpkin renaissance skeleton spooky sunrise sword window Tue, 01 Nov 2016 00:11:40 GMT
Texas Photo Festival 2016 Saturday I went to the Texas Photo Festival in Smithville, TX. The Texas Photo Festival (TPF) is an annual photographic festival that hosts models, sets, classes and photography contests in a gorgeous historic setting. I went to the first TPF in 2010 and every year it get better and bigger. There was so much to photograph. This year I had to leave early as I had an artists reception for a photographic exhibition I had work in. Here are some of my photographs.

My friend Scott, who is also a photographer, comes every year to the Texas Photo Festival as a model and gives 100%. Here he is.

I wanted to at least one fun adventure story photo. With my friend Scott is a young man named Remington. This photo just makes me smile.

I hope you enjoyed my photographic vision. Cannot wait until next year.

(Allen Skiles) Smithville Texas Texas Photo Festival festival photography Mon, 10 Oct 2016 01:20:00 GMT
ClickinWalk in Wimberley Texas ClickinWalk is an activity in which local photographers are encouraged to spend time together visiting, exploring their city and, of course, taking photographs! Each walk will be unique, but in every city there will be a guided tour of an area with many photographic opportunities and then a chance to gather and chat at the completion of the walk. This year I joined the Wimberley, TX group. I had a great time with some great people. Here are my photographs, enjoy!

Thanks for checking out my photographs. Feel free to check out the rest on my site as I have more great photographs for you to see.

(Allen Skiles) B&W HDR Texas Wimberley black and white horse photo walk photography rust water waterfall Mon, 16 May 2016 02:00:00 GMT
Mayhem on the Medina - Apr 2016 On April 9th, 2016 I visited Bandera, TX to attend Mayhem on the Medina. So what is Mayhem on the Medina? It is a National Reenactment Competition event in which every cowboy gunfighter, outfitter, living history buff, campsite competitor as well as best actress and best actor in the Nation involved with historic reenactment are there to be judged. If you have read my other blogs you are well aware of how I love to photograph what I call "characters". The day started off gloomy with a thunderstorm, but by the time I got to Bandera it had mostly cleared up leaving a nice soft overcast. Although the event time was cut short I managed to get some great photographs. Here are my favorite photographs from the day. All the photos can be seen here. Enjoy!

(Allen Skiles) Bandera Texas cowboy festival gunfighter photography reenactment Sun, 10 Apr 2016 20:59:00 GMT
Sherwood Forest Faire - Mar 2016 Made a third and last trip to the Sherwood Forest Faire this season. Of course I had a great time as always. Here are some of my favorite photos from my trip. All the photos can be seen here. Enjoy!

(Allen Skiles) McDade Texas festival medieval photography renaissance Sun, 20 Mar 2016 20:21:00 GMT
Sherwood Forest Faire - Feb 2016 (Take 2) I had so much fun at the Sherwood Forest Faire that I had to go again. Of course I made some more friends and had a blast. Here are some of the photos from my second trip this month. All the photos can be seen here. Enjoy!

(Allen Skiles) McDade Texas festival medieval photography renaissance Tue, 01 Mar 2016 05:23:00 GMT
Sherwood Forest Faire - Feb 2016 I love renaissance festivals for many reasons, but by far the best thing about them are the people. Once you enter through the gates you are treated as part of a bigger family. Every person you talk to is like an old friend you have not seen in a while. Good people, good food, good music, good fun, and awesome outfits all make for a great day. From a photographer's perspective I am humbled that I am allowed to capture the characters within my new found friends. To honor the opportunity I try to bring those characters to life. Now for a journey through my photographs I took yesterday at the Sherwood Forest Faire in McDade, TX. All photos can be seen here.

The weather cooperated for the most part. There were a few sprinkles of rain here and there but it wasn't strong enough to send people searching for cover. Friar Tuck seemed to enjoy it.  Every time I go to the Sherwood Forest Faire I must go see Klaus Weiland. Klaus is a German folk - Guitarist and songwriter. He has lived an interesting life and makes music that will take you away. A while back I took a photo of Klaus that he just saw recently. His first response to the photo was "I am naked!" It is a great photo of Klaus and no he was not naked. Here is that photo. Klaus WeilandKlaus WeilandPhoto was taken during the 4th Annual Sherwood Celtic Music Festival in McDade, TX. Now let's move onto the portraits of some awesome characters I had the pleasure to meet and photograph. This first character was competing in an archery tournament and I was able to steal him away for a bit to get a couple portraits. I also got a shot of his wife. This next gentleman has such great character presence. His facial features go well with the garb he was wearing. When you think of renaissance festivals that first thing you may think of is knight in armor. This next gentleman will open your mind to the other types of characters you could meet at a renaissance festival. His look and outfit were great. When I saw this next character it made me think of a Turkish or Russian man from medieval times. I knew I had to get a photograph and here it is. As I continue my walk through the festival I see an wizard sitting in a chair. I love that you do not see the eyes as to leave some mystery. The young lady in the next photograph I saw multiple times throughout the day and every times I saw her she was dancing. I captured her at a perfect moment which shows great movement with a little mystery. I find myself pausing on this photograph as it sucks you in and makes you think about who this dancer is and what is she thinking. Another young lady that I found captivating was joined by her horse in a slow dance of control. They way she made soft controlling movements with her horse was mesmerizing. I could have watched the two all day.

The biggest spectacle at the Sherwood Forest Faire is the jousting. At the end of the day there is a show at the castle. It was kicked off by Drones N Drums who were fantastic and got everyone pumped up for the show. Here is the bagpiper from Drones N Drums. On with the show! We start with the Sheriff of Nottingham who spouted his distaste for Robin Hood. While doing so he was caught by Queen Eleanor from her tower. King Richard the Lionheart made his appearance. He was also joined by King Philip II of France and King William of Scotland. Of course the evil Isenbart de Belame made his appearance. As tensions increase. Fighting ensues. The fighting stops, good has beaten evil, and love is found. All rejoice and Friar Tuck calls all to the tavern for mead. A tree planting memorial was held in memory of Lord Budweiser. As I listened to people reflecting on fond memories of Lord Budweiser I couldn't help but wanting to hear more about this amazing man. The day had everything you could want from an adventure. I hope my photographs and story inspire you to make your own adventure by attending a renaissance festival. I promise you will not regret it. Cheers my friends!


(Allen Skiles) McDade Texas festival medieval photography renaissance Tue, 23 Feb 2016 04:37:00 GMT
Visiting Landa Park in New Braunfels, TX for the First Time At a recent New Braunfels Photographic Society meeting I was told that I need to visit Landa Park. Two weekends later I had time to make it out to Landa Park. Here are my photographs from that trip. Enjoy!

(Allen Skiles) New Braunfels Texas bench bird bridge park photography train tree water Mon, 25 Jan 2016 04:00:00 GMT
Photographing at Hays Street Bridge I decided to go hang out with some photographer friends at the Hays Street Bridge in San Antonio, TX. This was my first time to the bridge and it is an awesome place to photograph. Here are some photographs I took.

(Allen Skiles) San Antonio Texas bridge downtown photography portrait Sat, 19 Dec 2015 22:15:00 GMT
South Texas Floods - October 2015 At the end of October 2015 Texas was hit with several storms to include remnants of Hurricane Patricia which caused significant flooding. Yesterday I decided to photograph some of the damage and remaining flood waters around my area. I started off near my house along Cibolo Creek under the I35 highway.

The water was at least 15-20ft higher on Friday. It was pretty muddy and there were several times I almost lost my footing. Next I travel to the west along Cibolo Creek and I found a not so happy horse.

After leaving the horse I decided to head to head over to Gruene.

There is a bar called Big Bubba's Deck along the Guadalupe River in Gruene. The bar is a local hot spot for motorcycle riders. The bar suffered heavy damage from the flood waters. The parking lot on both sides of the road were also damaged. Along side the road was a crumpled trash bin. It was crumpled into a ball showing the power that Mother Nature has.

The Guadalupe River was still running strong.

After Gruene I headed west on FM 306 towards Canyon Lake Dam. Along the way I saw an RV that was among debris carried who knows how far by the Guadalupe River.

I stopped at Canyon Lake Dam for a while to relax. There was a tour group that was at the top of the dam's park. I am sure they were surprised by the damage from the recent weather. Well I was off again with Canyon Lake Dam in my rear view mirror.

I decided San Marcos was going to be my next stop. I had heard the flood water crested at 46 feet in some places. Here are a couple of photos of the San Marcos River.

As I was leaving San Marcos I saw a church that I had to get a photo of.

I did want to make it over to Wimberley but I was running out of daylight, so I decided to head home. I hope you enjoyed my photographs and please keep those affected by the recent storms in your thoughts. Cheers!

(Allen Skiles) Gruene HDR San Marcos Selma Texas photography weather Mon, 02 Nov 2015 05:00:49 GMT
Texas Photo Festival 2015 Yesterday I went to the Texas Photo Festival in Smithville, TX. The Texas Photo Festival (TPF) is the brain child of Doug Box and Randy Kerr. I went to the first TPF which was held in 2010 and it was awesome, just like this years. There is so much to photograph.

These young models were great and very beautiful. It was a honor to have photographed them.

Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015   This young guy could not stay still. Although it was tough to get a shot of him I think his energy made for a good shot. Texas Photo Festival 2015 Some of the cast from Scream Hollow were present for some scary photo ops and they did a great job. It was a hot day and I am sure they were very hot in those outfits. Despite being hot they did not complain and gave everyone great photo opportunities.

Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Scott Strance from Scott Strance Photography dawned an old Army uniform and gave an awesome performance for the camera. Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015

Here are a couple more photos I took. Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015 Texas Photo Festival 2015          I cannot wait until next years festival. I hope you enjoyed these photographs. Thanks for visiting my site and feel free to check out my other photographs in my Portfolio.

(Allen Skiles) Smithville Texas Texas Photo Festival festival photography Sun, 11 Oct 2015 19:21:04 GMT
The Sculpture Ranch and Galleries Took a trip to the Sculpture Ranch and Galleries on Saturday. The Sculpture Ranch and Galleries is a Texas Hill Country project devoted to the Fine Arts and Humanities. It is situated on more than 140 acres of trails, on LBJ’s hunting ranch, and displays 100+ sculptures by more than 40 artists from around the world. There is also a 14,000 square foot hangar displaying paintings in multiple galleries, with a permanently rotating Benini exhibit.

I got there when they open and left when the closed. There was so much to photograph and it will require another trip to get what I missed. Here is a photograph of the 20ft tall sculpture named "Constant Battle". The sun position and sky were perfect for the shot. Constant BattleConstant BattleConstant Battle is a 20ft tall sculpture at The Sculpture Ranch and Galleries.

Here is another sculpture that caught my eye. It has good tones so I knew it would make a great subject for black and white. I forget what it is named so I call it Torn Apart for now. Next time I go I will get its' name.

Torn ApartUnknown name of sculpture at The Sculpture Ranch and Galleries.

I am looking forward to my next visit.

(Allen Skiles) Constant Battle The Sculpture Ranch and Galleries photography Mon, 09 Mar 2015 01:51:00 GMT
Celtic Road Trip! I took a road trip the other weekend to the 4th Annual Sherwood Celtic Music Festival in McDade, TX. There were over 30 bands playing Celtic-influenced music, which I am a big fan of. One musician caught my ear, Klaus Weiland. He played his mandola with such passion that it captivates you; I could have listened to him all day.

Klaus Weiland There was a lot to photograph at the festival. There was a knight's armor under a tree that caught my eye. I knew I wanted to make something interesting with it. So here is my fine art version of the statue.

Empty Knight

It was a long drive but was worth the trip. The trip took me up Hwy 21, which I have been up several times. There is an old building next to two trees that I have wanted to photograph for some time now. The lighting and sky has not been what I was looking for in the past, however it was right on my return trip and I finally got my photograph of it.

Old House on Hwy 21

The Texas Renaissance Festival is going on now. I plan on going one of these weekends coming up so I can continue to capture more characters. I hope you enjoyed these photographs.

(Allen Skiles) 4th Annual Sherwood Celtic Music Festival Klaus Weiland photography Sun, 02 Nov 2014 04:16:08 GMT
Zenfolio Over the years I have used many website services, the most recent being Allen Skiles PhotographyAllen Skiles Photography Zenfolio. I am not a paid spokesperson for Zenfolio but I have to say it is the best photographer oriented website I have used to date. The user interface is so easy and I spent less time at the computer setting it up then I did with all my previous website setups. If you are a photographer and want a full-functioning modern website, then I highly recommend checking out Zenfolio. If you want to give Zenfolio a go, then click the button below to receive 10% off.


Save 10% on a Zenfolio site

(Allen Skiles) Zenfolio photographer photography website Sun, 17 Aug 2014 05:32:38 GMT
New Website! After a couple of months of planning, I am delighted to announce the launch of my new website. I hope you like the fresh new look to the website.

(Allen Skiles) website Mon, 23 Jun 2014 05:16:27 GMT
Atherfest 2012 Aetherfest is a Texan Retro-Futurist Convention which started in 2011. I attended the second year of Aetherfest which was held this weekend at the St Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio, TX. The convention was great. So many people with heavily detailed outfits, which made for great photographs. Here are a few.

(Allen Skiles) aetherfest steampunk Mon, 07 May 2012 01:00:00 GMT
Visiting Joplin, MO almost a year after the devastating 2011 Tornado Today I decided to drive through the city of Joplin in Missouri on my way to visit family. On Sunday, May 22, 2011 a catastrophic EF5 multiple-vortex tornado devastated Joplin. I was not sure what I would see as it is almost a year later. As I started entering the highly affected area what I saw were areas of damaged houses, empty foundations, and new homes. I tried imaging what the devastation would have looked like that day in 2011 to those that survived. I could only think it would have been hard to believe what the eye was seeing. While I was there I reflected on the lives of those affected by disaster (survivors and those who didn't) and nature's immense power. Although I did not have a lot of time to spend in Joplin I was happy that I did. Here are some photographs I took while in Joplin.

(Allen Skiles) Joplin photography tornado Sun, 01 Apr 2012 04:58:00 GMT
Tex Ren Fest 2011 This was my second time to the Texas Renaissance Festival. I had such a great time. Here are my favorites from this weekend.

Elf WarriorElf Warrior

Saint Nick The Sultan

(Allen Skiles) Texas Renaissance Festival festival renaissance Mon, 28 Nov 2011 02:00:00 GMT
Photography Taxes: Texas BPP Rendition, Say What? business tax It is that time of of year again where small business owners need to render their business personal property (BPP). Rendering is summarizing to your appraisal district the ownership and value of the business assets. There are some people running a photography business that are not aware of this requirement. This does not mean you pay double tax on your equipment? A photographer who creates and sells photographs can give an exemption certificate claiming a manufacturing exemption to a vendor when buying the following equipment:

• cameras (film and digital);

• flashes;

• batteries for cameras and flashes;

• scanners used exclusively to digitize images so they can be edited on computers;

• computers and software used exclusively in editing images;

• image setting and proofing equipment;

• film developing chemicals;

• lights, props and sets; and

• special effects equipment and supplies.

Also remember that the tax should be deductible on your federal income tax as an expense. A member, kb2zuz, on forums made a good statement I would like to share;

Before purchasing any equipment the entire cost of ownership should be evaluated. You can't just look at the sticker price. "Ok, if i buy this camera it has bigger files so I'm going to have to add on extra for more/bigger memory cards, my computer is already bogged down with the files from the current camera, so I'm going to have to buy some more RAM and put a new hard drive in the computer, I'm going to need a new case to fit this camera and the old one, the camera uses a different type of battery so I have to add a spare battery for back up, and it's going to cost me an extra $x in taxes over the next 5 years... so I need to budget for all that and not just the cost of the camera."

There is more information here and here.

Texas Form 50-144: Business Personal Property Rendition of Taxable Property

(Allen Skiles) business photography taxes Fri, 04 Mar 2011 04:20:00 GMT
Help-Portrait World-Wide Event Today, is Help-Portrait Day. Help-Portrait is a community of photographers, coming together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local community. Check out for more details. Help-Portrait is founded by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. Jeremy has spent the last couple of days giving a portrait workshop live on creativeLIVE ( creativeLIVE is about providing the best free, live creative education on the web and was founded by Chase Jarvis, a Seattle based photographer. Jeremy Cowart and Chase Jarvis hosted a live broadcast from Chase Jarvis' studio in Seattle with call-ins and Skype conferences from around the World. It is an awsome event and I hope there will be an event here in San Antonio next year.

(Allen Skiles) Help-Portrait charity photography Sun, 05 Dec 2010 04:25:00 GMT
Tex Ren Fest 2010 This was my first time to the Texas Renaissance Festival and I was amazed at the scale. It is said the Texas Renaissance Festival is the nation's largest, most acclaimed Renaissance themed park and I can believe it. I had such a great time and so many people allowed me to capture their character. Here are my favorites from this weekend.

Dark Knight

(Allen Skiles) Texas Renaissance Festival festival renaissance Mon, 15 Nov 2010 03:01:00 GMT
Trip to LBJ State Park I got a call Sunday morning from some friends and said they were going to go shoot at LBJ State Park. I have never been there so I said ok, so I packed up my gear and headed out on the road. There was an old farm at LBJ State Park and another old farm as you enter Johnson City. Here are some photos from the trip...

Old Barn Old Barn

(Allen Skiles) HDR photography Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:13:00 GMT
Trip to Alamo Village A couple of my photog friends and I went to the Alamo Village. Alamo Village is an active movie set and tourist attraction north of Brackettville, Texas, United States. Alamo Village, the first movie location built in Texas, was constructed as the setting for The Alamo (1960), directed by John Wayne and starring Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey and Frankie Avalon.

Alamo Village is an awsome place to photograph. There was so much to shoot I didn't get to see everything, but that is okay as I plan to go back there anyways. We all were bracketing our shots to produce High Dynamic Range (HDR) images.


Aged Wagon Sheriff's Office




(Allen Skiles) Alamo Village HDR photography Sat, 24 Jan 2009 21:48:00 GMT