Saturday, December 17, 2011


conductor by Mark Bonica
conductor, a photo by Mark Bonica on Flickr.

a shot of my daughter's high school band performing their Christmas concert.

some day I'll get a camera that can take decent pictures at high ISOs. In the meantime, I'll have to just play around with these light effects.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Kandie and I finally made it to "Dough" a "Pizzaria Napoletana".

We waited about an hour outside, but the evening was pleasant and we shared a bottle of wine.

Once we were in, we ordered two kinds of mozzarella dishes - one where the mozzarella was wrapped around a squash paste that was amazing. Amazingly tasty and baffling in how they managed to get the paste inside the squash.

The pizzas were thin crust and light.

Everything was delicious - definitely a must-eat if you are in SA.

Not cheap - this is not Pizza Hut. Fine casual dining, pizza style.


We had Thanksgiving in Houston with Kandie's family.


It's all about the cooking. Cooking together, making a shared meal.

Or maybe it's about the food.

Thanksgiving - mashing the potatoes

Mark made some amazing mashed potatoes.

Or maybe it's about family.

All of that, I suppose. And some football thrown in for some of us. A Texas sized Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

dinner with friends

dinner and drinks

we haven't done much of anything worth writing about lately - or at least nothing that is particularly San Antonio-ish.  That's part of the problem with living out in Cibolo - just far enough away from the city that it's a pain to get in and appreciate it.  Definitely want to live inside a city if I have the chance someday.  A cool city. 

But we did have dinner with some wonderful friends the other night.  Katya is from Moscow and we toasted with these beautiful little goblets (I hate to call them shot glasses). 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Steele Knights Band (and Football)

We went to watch the Steele Knights Band perform on Friday because S. is playing in it this year.  The high school decided to let the football players play a game on either side of the performance, too, which I think is nice.  It's good to give everyone an opportunity to perform.  Plus it gives everyone time to find their seats.

A few pictures of the football players:

Steele Knights Football

Steele Knights Football

Steele Knights Football

Steele Knights Football

The band was supportive

Steele Knights Band

And then the main event finally happened - the marching band took the field:

Steele Knights Band

along with the dance team

Steele Knights Dance Team

Texas takes its football serious (that's American football, not soccer).

We can't forget about THE Steele Knight:

The Steele Knight

Good time, good show (and a good game).  (Oh yeah, and the football team won.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday Knight Lights

Friday Night Lights

We went to our first Steele High School "Knights" football game last night.  S. is in the marching band, so we also watched some of the football.

Don't Lose Your Head

Unfortunately the light was going down and I had to shoot on very high ISO (800-1000) and the shots were all very grainy once the game got going.  My D80 just doesn't handle the dark well.  I need (NEED!) a new camera.

Friday Night Lights

To compensate or work with the graininess, I decided to use "posterize" effect in Photo Shop - meant to give the images the look of those athletic posters that were popular in the 90s.

Friday Night Lights

I may try N's camera next time - I think it may actually be better in low-light than my camera.  Worth a try, anyway.

Friday Night Lights

Texas high school football isn't just a game, it's a pageant.  The game is largely incidental from what I observed.  Each team had bands, color guards, flag twirlers, and some sort of dance team with girls who had military ranks (majors and lieutenant colonels).  Not sure what that was all about.  We happened to be sitting next to the visiting school's dance team.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

out and about in Cibolo

Kandie and I went out today to find a photo for the weekly theme "Apathy."   This was mine -


an old house on Main St., Cibolo.  Obviously property values haven't risen enough to justify tearing this old place down.

Kandie shot this door on the side of a closed antique shop:


On the way home, we got cut off by a train, and were stuck waiting for it to roll by. So of course I hopped out of the car and took a bunch of shots.

train crossing 78 & 3009

I'd been wanting to get an opportunity to shoot the trains because of all the graffiti,

train crossing 78 & 3009

but the timing never seemed to work out.

train crossing 78 & 3009

I guess today we just got lucky!

train crossing 78 & 3009

and I was able to get a bunch of shots I liked.

train crossing 78 & 3009

They are pretty heavily processed, as you can probably tell. But I had fun.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Main Street

Main Street

This week's theme was "store front" for my little Flickr group, so I went down to Main Street to do a little shooting.  I've shot Alfonso's before, but I was drawn back because it's such a cool looking place.

Main Street

These shots are done with a technique called HDR, which involves layers 3 pictures of the same thing with different levels of exposure.  I pushed the blending to make it take on this painting-like texture.

Main Street

Another place on Main Street that I often look at.  The thing that fascinates me most about this restaurant is the drive through that obviously goes through an old mechanic's bay there at the back.  One day I'm going to get around to checking it out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

away to the winds

away to the winds by Mark Bonica
away to the winds, a photo by Mark Bonica on Flickr.

away to the winds my friends,
we will meet again someday
where the sun shines so brightly.


along FM 78 in Schertz, TX

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

bowling w Little Chef

bowling w Little Chef by Mark Bonica
bowling w Little Chef, a photo by Mark Bonica on Flickr.

phone cam shot

came home early today and Little Chef and I had some quality time. I've been so busy this summer, I realized we needed a little break. She loves to bowl, so we went, just the two of us, and bowled a few strings. I stink at bowling. My grandfather was apparently phenomenal at it - having scored multiple 300s. We have a clipping somewhere of him and his bowling team, announcing that they had all bowled 300s. I was very lucky today and bowled a 150, but normally I'm feeling solid if I break 100.

I was thinking today about how bowling was such a rage in the 50s and 60s, and how it's not really a mainstream activity now, yet it limps along. It's a huge capital investment to set up a bowling alley, but the variable cost must be relatively low - how much can it possibly cost the alley if one more lane is running or not on a given day? Probably pennies, if that. So then it becomes all about volume and spreading costs, but where is the volume? Most of these places must constantly be on the verge of collapse.

this particular shot is from Randolph AFB, which has a very nice bowling alley and reasonable prices, courtesy of your tax dollars. thank you so much.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Randolph Cleaners

Randolph Cleaners by Mark Bonica
Randolph Cleaners, a photo by Mark Bonica on Flickr.

At the corner of Pat Booker Rd and Rt 78, across from the main gate to Randoph AFB. I drive by this place almost everyday - sometimes more than once and I have always wanted to go get a shot of it. Not sure what attracts me - it's just a facade in front of an old quonset hut - but maybe that's exactly why. It has this sense of just barely being maintained enough to keep on cranking out starched uniforms one more day...

So tonight I said, it's blue hour - I'm going to shoot this thing - jumped in the car and ran down there - and took some shots from across the street in an empty lot between a fast food joint and a dive bar. Had some interesting characters drive by - no doubt they were thinking the same thing about me.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Beer Wine Pool Darts"

still working on the HDR technique.  these pictures are from Schertz, TX, right off of Rt. 78.

Beer Wine Pool Darts

and in color

Beer Wine Pool Darts

it's interesting to see the process of creative destruction as the old, low cost, low quality establishments disappear and a replaced by soulless corporate entities.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quarter Horse Trials at Retama Park

Retama Park Horse Racing

Retama Park opened for live racing in July.  I was finally able to get there for an evening of races this past Friday.  I didn't grow up with horses, but watching them run is really remarkable - they are such powerful animals.

Retama Park Horse Racing

Retama is right on I-35, about 7 miles from my house.  It's a really nice, if a bit spartan, facility.  Well maintained and clean.  Most of the food vendors are run by community organizations trying to raise money, so the environment is family friendly.

Retama Park Horse Racing

The price is a bargain, too.  Last night admission was $5 per car.  Unfortunately I was the only one in my car...

Retama Park Horse Racing

Races run about every 20 minutes, so there's time to walk down to see the horses on display, then walk back and place your bets and get a seat.  Or jostle for a place along the fence so you can get a good picture. 

Retama Park Horse Racing

Actually, what's cool about being at the track is there are just two low fences that put about 5 feet between you and the track.  If you were tall enough, you could just about lean over the first fence and touch a horse when they walk back (during the race they are on the inside of the track - about 20 feet from you).  But you can really be quite close to the action if you so choose.

Retama Park Horse Racing

Retama Park Horse Racing

Thursday, July 14, 2011

North Padre Island/Corpus Christi

daughters and the sea

We realized we hadn't taken a family vacation - even a short one - away from San Antonio since we arrived last summer. So last weekend we piled into the fam van and trucked down to the Gulf Coast and spent two nights on North Padre Island.

snack shack

It took about three hours to get there, but it was such an easy drive - almost all of it through the Texas countryside - that it really was a relaxing trip. Anything is better than 3 hours on I-95 - which is how long it's taken us to get through NYC at times. But I digress...


beach chair

We stayed at the Holiday Inn on North Padre Island. The location was awesome - right on the beach. We could walk out of the hotel, through the pool, and down onto the beach. Unfortunately, the ridiculous room rate was clearly for the premium of staying on the beach, and not for the amenities. This was a $75/night hotel charging a $150 beach premium. It just wasn't worth it. I thought I was getting something special for the family when I saw the price, and since we hadn't been anywhere in a long time, I was willing to pay it. But my daughters promptly labeled the hotel "a dump". Needless to say, we won't be staying there again. Beach access is easy, so if you're willing to put up with some minor transportation inconvenience, you can get a lot more hotel value staying somewhere else.


Nonetheless, we were there for the beach, not the hotel. And the beach was wonderful. Not too crowded, clean, and the water was about 90 degrees!

beach combing

I really liked North Padre. We've already planned another trip back to Corpus Christi later in the summer (staying at a different hotel), and we'll certainly do some more exploring there.

mother & daughter

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

blue flowers

went out to get a few shots last night, but went out just a few minutes to late to get what I wanted. So I got this instead - a blue hour shot of a field of wild flowers:

Blue flowers

Another cluster of flowers just a few feet away, but shot from a different direction.

last light of day

I had planned to get an HDR shot of Sonic, but it didn't work out. Instead I used a single, over exposed shot to do this shot:

fine dining, Cibolo, TX