ROAD TRIP - DAY 12 & 13 - Dallas


The hardest thing about the 2014 TX, NM, & OK Whirlwind Architectural Photo Tour for me, photographically speaking, has been seeing my hometown with new eyes. While this road trip has presented both treasures and challenges along the way, I never found it hard to be amazed and surprised when coming on a new building, large or small.

But stepping out to photograph the city that I grew up in and know like the back of my camera has proved more than difficult. I squint, cross and uncross my eyes, and let my vision go defocused, all in the effort to squeeze some newness out of my surroundings. I am not sure that I have succeeded. But here are my choices for my brief architectural exploration of the city I love — God forgive me — Big D.

You may have noticed — if you have kept up with this entire 13-day journey — that I seem to have a thing for churches. I do. I'm not sure why that is except that they often seem to be the most architecturally interesting structures in the neighborhood. Is that me or is that, indeed, true?

Since a church is an expression of all that is good in mankind and seeks to praise God in that expression, it seems logical that the architects and the congregations who commission them would often go the extra step to reach an aesthetic that reaches beyond the designs of secular structures. So I pay homage to that effort, that aesthetic, by including some of them here.

Corabeth's home and the Divine Sisters of Providence

Edgefield Iglesia de Cristo

Majestic Ark of Safety Holiness Church

Tyler Street United Methodist Church

At some point, a building can become co-opted by its neighbors. They take "ownership." You see this most vividly in the tags and mural art left by artists of varying degrees of talent. They make the building into a canvas and, suddenly, it has a new use, probably unintended by the architect. Nonetheless. .  . .

Sometimes the architecture is the canvas for another artist.

The last couple of years have seen the revivification and repurposing of an old Oak Cliff landmark, the Kessler Theater. The Kessler has marvelous acoustics and gives artists a place to really connect with an audience, and the audience a chance to see, up close, some excellent performers.

Kessler Theater

Nearby, the neighborhood south of W. Davis St. is mostly quiet but on this hot summer day you can almost hear the sound of children screaming, "Lemonaaaaaaade!" at the tops of their lungs. The perfect libation for a-sittin' and a-rockin'.

Oak Cliff Residence

Right on the edge of downtown Dallas, just east of US 75/Central Expressway on Live Oak Street, the Latino Cultural Center occupies a spot a few blocks north of Deep Ellum. It is host to a constant variety of events for the Hispanic community and those who appreciate their many, varied cultures.

Latino Cultural Center façade

Latino Cultual Center street entrance

Latino Cultural Center sculpture

Latino Cultural Center breezeway entrance

For whatever reason, parking garages have a special place in my heart. Probably because they get no respect whatsoever. Across Live Oak from the Latino Cultural Center, Elan City Lights is being built. Another apartment complex for the flush, upwardly mobile young person who want to live near downtown; the downtown that just can't seem to get defibrillated to the point that its heart has a beat of its own. But, I digress. At some point, I may see if I can photograph this new structure more closely. For now, it sits. Waiting.

In keeping with the healthcare motif of the area (which is home to Baylor Hospital), the Rehabilitation and Wellness Center helps folks overcome addictions. And, obviously, does it in excellent style.

Rehababilitation & Wellness Center

Down the street from where I live, in the non-profit section of Swiss Avenue, is this beautifully designed home of Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). They are advocates for abused children. Glad they're around to help these kids.

Dallas CASA

Downtown, the skyscrapers are still growing. The older ones, like Republic Center, hold their own. And the new ones keep sprouting like kudzu.

Republic Center home of the Republic National Bank building (the one with the spire atop it), now called Gables Republic Tower. When it was completed in 1954, it was the tallest building in Dallas and west of the Mississippi River. 

Gables Republic Tower

Can't get enough of some Gables Republic Tower.

When I was a kid, Republic National Bank was the coolest skyscraper in the world. It had a rocket on top of it, for gosh sakes! It was one of those buildings (and still is) that I could not NOT look at when driving by the city skyline. Then, of course, there was Time & Temperature sponsored by Republic National Bank. I still remember the number. Back then, there were no area codes and we had names for the exchanges. Say it with me now: Riverside 7-6651.


Wandering to another area of downtown, I came across this little gem, below, at 1700 Pacific Avenue. In the brief time I was there shooting the cave-like niche in the building, I saw no fewer than 4 people step in from the sun and the traffic to make a call. The important thing, however, is that it exists at all. A fairly small, dark inset on the side of a building that gets a lot of use from people who a) want to make discreet phone calls or 2) need a place to get in out of the elements. In an age of the mega-scraper, knowing that there are architects out there who design for the human scale, for incidental use by people who may never cross the threshold of a building's portal gives me great comfort.

A niche for cell phone addicts.

Before moving on, a slight turn to my left revealed another skywalk. Setting up quickly, I was able to capture a few people rushing through my frame to some important destination. Opting for black and white instead of color, I chose to keep a small splash of red — the cap of the bicyclist — as a way to direct attention to the object of my affection.


Okay, call me gullible. As I was walking, head down, checking my last shot, I was startled by the gentleman you see below. I thought he was just resting a moment from sweeping all that trash. Then, I realized he wasn't real. I'm not really sure what his significance is but I feel cleaner knowing he's there. 

Sweeper statue

Behold, the AT&T building. If you squint, you can almost see a block-like, very geometrical sphinx. Wearing some very cool shades. Rather imposing, don't you think? And inscrutable. I know this because I had to call AT&T Customer Service yesterday.


It wasn't until later in the day, sitting in front of my computer, editing photos, that I realized that this was the Dallas Branch of the Federal Reserve. Thought they moved to Woodall Rogers and Pearl. This must be the old location. Somehow this smaller one looks sturdier.

Dallas Federal Reserve Branch

Museum Tower, below, owned by the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, has been mired in controversy at least since its completion. Evidently, someone didn't do their homework regarding the glare caused by the glass panels. They reflect an enormous amount of light onto the Nasher Sculpture Gardens, ruining, according to one artist, his sculpture. At his request, the Nasher closed down the exhibit to the public. That would be some pret-ty bad glare, my friend. Perhaps, they could start issuing welding goggles with every admission. A word of advice to the architects on future jobs: Angle of incidence equals angle of reflection. Sun 101.

Museum Tower residential "sky-rise"

Another favorite piece of architecture that has stood the test of time — and that's saying a lot in Dallas where it gets torn down if it's older than fifty years — is the Wilson Building. The interplay of light across the surface of the building is always interesting and photogenic at anytime of day or night.

The Wilson Building

Among the new, there are always the skeletons of the old, sometimes with a little flesh hanging onto those bones as a reminder of what was. I can't remember where the bars on the ground were, inside or outside. I believe it's the inside we're seeing with the reflection of the buildings across the street and diagonal. Somehow, this photograph makes me very sad.

Mosaic Behind Bars

The Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Reaching for the heavens, it appears to be much larger than it really is. Surrounded by giants all 'round, she goes about her business quietly and does the work she was meant to do.


Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe

A difficult image to create, my impatience shows here with the Belo Mansion; I couldn't wait for a minute or two for a cloud to pass so that it was in direct sunlight like the Museum Tower, behind it. The contrast between the two was almost too much to overcome.

Belo Mansion

This view of a parking garage at 606 Harwood dominates the skyscrapers around and behind it. It serves the building across the street, home to KPMG, the "audit, tax, and advisory services" powerhouse.

The parking garage and skywalk serving KPMG, across the street.

A simple wall, which, I believe, is around the Crow Collection of Asian Art, could have been left unadorned and no one would have said anything about it. But someone decided to line it with bamboo and it became something remarkable.

Bamboo Wall

The entryway to the Crow Collection of Asian Art is, by any standard, quite impressive. This very quick study shows me the possibility for a beautifully lighted photograph. "If you don't ask, the answer is always NO." Words I live by. Now, I just need to find the right person to ask. What I have in mind is referred to by some as "light painting," taking a base exposure with very little light showing and, then, exposing a large number of frames with a flash or flashlight of some kind aimed at specific areas. All these exposures are stacked in Photoshop and blended so that they eventually light up the entire scene. 

Crow Collection of Asian Art entryway

There is more but I need to stop and catch up on my image editing. Check back soon.

We're about to wrap up this road trip and call it a drive. We're working on a special section of the portfolio to display a selection of the images on a permanent basis. Tell us your favorites in the comments section and we'll see about adding them.

~Lawrence Standifer Stevens

ROAD TRIP - DAY 3 - Austin / DAY 4 & 5 - San Antonio


Houston is a distant memory as I rolled into Austin, Texas early Sunday morning and got to work right away. Soon, once I get to play with some images, I'll upload them and show you. 

For whatever reason, photographing the State Capitol at 2am seemed like the thing to do. Then, around dawn, I shot the skyline from the west side, directly into the sun.

Texas State Capitol building

UPDATE 9/5/14: All technical issues have been overcome and the challenge has been in editing all the images from the past 3 days. I didn't realize that it would take so long to catch up once I got behind. Enjoy. Especially the panoramas.


Still, I haven't quite recovered from a technical SNAFU and can't put my fingers on those images. However, I did take some outstanding images of the Austin skyline that evening from The Long Center during a performance of the Austin Symphony's Jazz Orchestra. (Forgive if the name is not quite right.) Here's a sample of what you'll see later in this blog post:

Segment of the Austin skyline

Let's back up a bit. After shooting the Texas State Capitol at 2am, I wandered around the streets of Austin looking for buildings lit up for all to see. I happened on the Hotel Ella a few blocks north of the capitol and thought I'd try shooting something under the overly bright mercury vapor lights. Unfortunately, being tired and needing sleep more than I needed to photograph the Hotel Ella, I didn't really take my time and explore how I might best shoot it in an extremely mixed-light situation. There was the aforementioned MV lights but the sign and the hotel itself were illuminated with halogens, I think. In any event, it proved to be to much to pull off in glorious Technicolor® so I had to resort to removing the color entirely. Not my favorite reason for making a black and white photograph but serviceable, nonetheless.

Hotel Ella

Around 4am, I was driving out east on Cesar Chavez Blvd. and found a couple of places that someone had thoughtfully lighted for me so I could shoot in great detail in the middle of the night. Leal's Tire Shop was the first. I'd seen this place on my last trip to Austin and made a mental note to photograph it. I can't seem to make up my mind — black and white or color? What do you think?

Leal's Tire Shop - B/W

Leal's Tire Shop - Color

Second on my list of middle of the night photos and only a couple hundred feet away from Leal's Tire Shop is a lovely, little boutique hotel (some might even call it a B&B) called The Heywood. I stayed there on my last trip to Austin and loved it. Quiet. Peaceful. Plush. And very close to a great little taqueria down the street.

Heywood Hotel

Keeping an eye on the clock, waiting for sunrise, I wandered around in the pre-dawn hours looking for a good place from which to shoot the sunrise. I found it at last, though I'm not sure how, at Butler Park, between Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road. Using the compass app and a sunrise app on my iPhone, I figured out exactly where the sun would come up. Playing a photographer's game of blind-man's-bluff, I found the perfect spot in the darkness from which to shoot the skyline just as the sun rose.

Austin Awakens

Finishing up, I saw this little twinkle as I turned around to leave for a hardy breakfast. It's the Austin Green Energy Building. They're responsible for the sustainability movement in Austin architecture and construction.

Austin Energy Green Building

I'm not one to pass by a Harley begging to be photographed. Found this while driving around a neighborhood looking for subjects.

Can't ignore a good-lookin' Harley

It must be the "Red Convertible Syndrome." You know, you buy a red convertible and suddenly they're everywhere. Take an Architectural Photo Tour and just by chance you run into the Texas Society of Architects headquarters. I really had no idea where it was. No, really.

Texas Society of Architects

Little did I know that I'd be circling back to where I started from as the day progressed. The Long Center for the Performing Arts is a stone's throw from my morning panorama. When I started shooting it, I didn't even know what it was or where I was in relation to the sunrise. I had to ask someone what this strange looking building was. It wasn't until much later when I could look at a map that I realized that I hadn't traveled very far at all, though I had been driving all over the city during the day.

The Long Center for the Performing Arts

As I approached the enclosed outdoor area of the Long Center with the thought of taking a panorama through the columns, a door opened and a squad of people appeared pushing a cart full of music stands, instrument cases, and sundry items toward me, then, past me to the edge directly under that big "halo" you see in the photo above.

Obviously, they were about to get right in the way of my spectacular panorama. Within a few minutes, more people arrived from within the building and from the lawn beyond. I realized quickly that my vision of a pristine panorama broken into segments by all those columns was shot to hell and it was time to make lemonade.

As it turns out, even with the complicating factor of hundreds of people wandering all over the place making stitching my pano much more difficult than I originally thought, it adds the very reason for this beautiful architecture to exist at all — dirty, nasty, unpredictable humanity, in all its glory.

When all the dancing started — didn't see that coming! — I wished I'd had another camera with me so that I could have shot some video, particularly when the crowd started doing Lindy Hop. But I had decided to travel light and not bring a backup with me on my road trip. C'est la vie!

Long Center Skyline Panorama #1

Long Center Skyline Panorama #2

I must have shot more than a dozen panoramas between 5pm and about 9pm. At some point, I may work on the others. These will do for now.

UPDATE 9/7/14: In retrospect, I didn't really hit my stride until I got to San Antonio. Up to late in the evening in Austin, I'd been struggling to stay awake from the cumulative lack of sleep since leaving Dallas and finding some sort of routine on the road. So, I'll have to go back to do a little more architectural exploration in Austin.


San Antonio

Moving on to San Antonio, I stayed with my friends Hector and Theresa Reyes. I worked with Hector at KTFM in S.A. way back when we were both skinny.

In the control room at KTFM back in the day

Shot some promo shots of Hector and his radio partner, Sonny Rios, on Monday for the streaming Internet Radio show they're planning. Can't wait to hear them back on the "air."

Rio & Reyes

That was day one in S.A. Before the sun set completely, Hector gave me a quick tour of downtown and I found something I had to photograph first thing on Day 2 in San Antonio — the San Antonio Public Library. Gorgeous structure!

San Antonio Public Library

Realizing I'd forgotten something I needed from the car, I took a short hike back to the parking lot and was greeted by the Weston Centre and the Wyndham Riverwalk.

Weston Centre and Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk

Weston Centre and Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk

The trip to the car brought to my attention a need that could only be met by a trip to the camera store. That meant calling it quits for the morning and heading out north on San Pedro to The Camera Exchange. Great people. One of the few remaining brick and mortar camera stores in the country. But it's good to have expert advice for camera problems when you're on the road.

Later in the day the sun was still overhead and not very good for most shooting. You may know that photographers prefer "Golden Hour," the time of morning or evening when the light makes everything glow and casts beautiful shadows. I thought I might find something to shoot in an area that is tree-covered and hard to shoot during Golden Hour — Alamo Heights and Olmos Park, two of the more upscale neighborhoods in S.A. It did not disappoint.

Alamo Heights Residence

Olmos Park Residence

As the day wore on, I made my way back downtown on what turned out to be a very hot day. How hot was it? It was so hot, that when I photographed the Milam Building, below, standing in the hot center of a hot, black, asphalt parking lot, all I could think of was, "Ow! Oooh! Ouch! Ah! Gotta. Hurry. Hot! Hot! Hot!"

Milam Building

Quickly, though, I was in the shadows of the downtown canyon and good bit cooler. 

I was told this was a movie theater. Beyond these two columns, it looks like it might be a food court. Interesting.

Something about the Hotel Valencia struck my imagination and I saw it as a very old, very European hotel. It inspired me to take a look at how it might appear in other-than-a-traditional style. I'm kinda diggin' the aged look, myself.

Hotel Valencia

Hotel Valencia - B/W

Hotel Valencia - Aged

By the time I finished with the Valencia, I was feeling the heat again. As I walked by the Buckhorn Saloon, something of a tourist-y type of place, the arctic blast from their wide-open doors invited me in for a little respite. Of course, once I was in, I had to shoot the place. Not sure what the food and drink are like but ya gotta love the decor. As someone who grew up with a couple of deer heads mounted on his bedroom wall — they turned and looked at me in bed every night! I swear. — seeing this just made me a little nervous. That water buffalo or whatever it is, there on the far left, has a glint in his eye and he was snorting while I was there. Word!

Buckhorn Saloon

I love how cities keep around old line stores to commemorate not only the business but the city's history. It's one of the things that I dislike about my hometown, Dallas. If it's more than 50 years old it's gotta come down! But. . . I digress. Shooting the old Walgreen Drugs store made me think I was looking at a picture postcard from the 40s or 50s.

The old Walgreen Drugs

As I was setting up to shoot the photo, below, of the breezeway entry of the Hyatt Regency, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman sitting on a bench to my left. As many conversations begin, we started talking about the weather. But I soon found out much more about the older man than I might have assumed. His name is Carl Russell. "My full name is Carlton but everyone just calls me Carl." I asked if I could use his full name and he said that I might.

Hyatt Regency hotel entry

Carlton used to work at the US Treasury in Fort Worth, one of only two facilities in the country where the government prints currency, the other being Washington, D. C. These days, he works for DARS. "The DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services is designated as the state's principal authority on the vocational rehabilitation of Texans with disabilities. . . ," according to their website.

We were having a "good ol' time," as my grandmother might have said, but soon my work was done and I was burning daylight. As we were walking away from our chance meeting, Carlton looked back at me and said, "You really made my day." That may have been the best thing anyone has said to me in a very long time.

Carlton Russell

Casino Club Building

San Antonio is not known for it's skyline. But it has a wonderful variety of architectural styles that make for a marvelously diverse cityscape. Of course, there is the Alamo, but there's a lot more.

"La Segunda Compañía Volante de San Carlos del pueblo del Alamo" - The Alamo

It was interesting (to me, at least) that even though I knew there would be a crowd near the Alamo, when I got there and set up the camera, there wasn't a soul within 30 feet of the front of the old mission. The only person in the picture is the guard shown at the entrance to the barracks there in the lower left of the photo. And he shied away from having his photo taken directly by turning the crown of his hat toward the camera.

As many times as I've been to and through the Alamo, I find myself welling up with gratitude when I get near it. Gratitude to the men and women who died so I could call myself a Texan.

Alamo Memorial

I have a lot more to show but time is short and I must away to the Land of Nod. El Paso awaits at dawn.


10, 9, 8, 7. . . .

The 2014 Texas (NM & OK) Architectural Photo Tour starts tomorrow. Nine cities in 13 days, covering 2100 miles (not including driving around each of those nine cities, looking for iconic architecture. What is iconic architecture, you ask? The only way I know to describe it is that it's the building you stare at every time you drive by. Send me the name and address of that building if it's in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio (the Alamo doesn't count), El Paso, Albuquerque, Amarillo, or Oklahoma City. Or it could be within 20 miles of the route highlighted on the map in my last blog post.

It doesn't have to be a skyscraper downtown. Those are nice, certainly, but perhaps a bit obvious. It can be any kind of building that grabs your attention. A garage/gas station, restaurant, store, or even a dry cleaner. It just needs to hold your gaze when you pass by.

Looks like there may be some nasty weather tonight, not sure about tomorrow, but it looks like I'll be moving past it tomorrow -- Houston is the first stop. If you can accommodate a weary traveler, fantastic. Otherwise, I'm doing this on the cheap and will probably find a motel on I-10 west of Houston.

Not that I've told many close friends about it, but I'm really excited about taking a road trip. A weekend-long road trip can be pretty spontaneous. A two-week-long road trip, however, requires, at the least, a bit more thought. For me, anyway.

Have a few things to do today before leaving tomorrow. We’ll catch up later.

The 2014 Texas (NM & OK) Whirlwind Architectural Photo Tour

It’s the 2014 Texas Whirlwind Architectural Photo Tour! Well, actually, that should be the Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma Architectural Photo Tour. But that’s just too damned hard to say.

My itinerary includes 9 cities in 14 days: From Dallas on Thursday, July 24th, to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, back to Fort Worth, and home to Dallas. I am totally insane!!! But I’m going to do it, nonetheless.

2014 TX NM OK Architectural Photo Tour -- CLICK to enlarge

I want to photograph your favorite building — of whatever size — in each of those cities. This is not a contest. However, it is a request for your help. As familiar as I am with Dallas and, somewhat, Fort Worth, I haven’t been to those other cities in years and need your help in identifying those buildings that are iconic in stature. 

That doesn’t mean they have to be skyscrapers in the downtown Central Business District. Hell, the buildings you suggest could be. . . a funky little gas station or taqueria, or a 3-story office building. Do you find yourself staring at it every time you drive by? THAT’S the building I want to photograph!

Why, you ask, am I doing this? Simple. It’s time to update my Architectural Portfolio and get serious about a longtime interest in this area of photography.

Along the way, maybe I’ll meet some interesting people and throw back a beer or two during down times. I’ll try my best to blog about it here while I’m on the road. 

With the best sun in the morning and evening, I won’t have much of a chance to shoot a LOT of buildings, just the ones that fall into that iconic category. Write me an email (, text me (469-279-9018) or Tweet me (@TangueroLS) and tell me exactly where the building or business is — correct addresses earn extra points!

And while your at it, pass this along to your friends, and ask them to pass it along. The more people involved, the better.

By the way, for anyone who makes a contribution to the cause along the way, there's a print of your favorite building with your name on it waiting for you at the end. Or, rather, with MY name on it, since. . . well, you get the idea.