Nightfall finds me three hundred and twenty miles from home....

No photo!  Sorry bout that.

I'm on the second leg of a multi-day assignment for a law firm that has offices in cities around Texas.  We started on Thurs. shooting portraits and interior architecture in Austin.  Last night I loaded up the Honda Element (photo car) with a full complement of gear minus cameras (I won't leave them in the car overnight even in our relatively safe neighborhood because I never want to tempt fate.....).  This morning Belinda and I met our friends at Sweetish Hill Bakery, as we always do on Sunday mornings, for coffee and pastries.  Then around noon I kissed Belinda goodbye and headed on the first leg of today's travel: Right up Mopac Expressway to the north Austin Costco to buy yet another small, portable USB hard drive.  This time the one on sale was a 320 gig HP drive.  It's sleek, it's black....it's cheap.

I always do double back ups when I'm out shooting on the road.  I've got a little case full of DVD's and my laptop as well.  It's easier if I put a copy of all the raw files on the new hard drive, that way, when I get back home I can plug it into the flamethrowing Mac of universal supremacy and get to work on the raw files.

I picked up a sandwich at the bakery so I put the car on autopilot and didn't stop until I got to Kilgore, Texas.  This is north east Texas and the highway "features" a series of small towns with speed limit signs sprinkled behind generous tree boughs and state troopers sprinkled just a little further on.....

When traveling the back roads the gold standard for bathrooms and now coffee is McDonald's.  Say what you will about corporate food, they actually have a latte that's at least as good as Starbuck's (and more consistent, shop to shop) and their bathrooms are always clean.  I asked the young and very clueless girl behind the counter if they could make a decaf latte and she stared into space for a few seconds and then said, "I don't think so but we can put a flavor in it."  Serves me right for trying to weenie out and drink decaf when I already had quite a good caf-buzz going on.  Just to the edge of anxiety but not quite.

After Kilgore ( home of the Rangerettes who were immortalized by Elliott Erwitt in the 1970's ) I decided I was smarter than everyone else.  Much to my disadvantage ( hubris always comes at a price).  The office manager of the Austin branch of the firm I am shooting for told me several times=  "There are no hotels in Daingerfield, Texas.  Of course (and having never been there myself) I blew right through Longview, Texas in the Element and drove the thirty extra miles to Dangerfield.  Guess what?  There are no hotels in Daingerfield.  What do you know?  Counted myself dim as I turned the ultra high performance beast around and headed back to Longview.

No Ritz Carlton's or Four Seasons in Longview but that's okay because after last year I'm not taking any chances with expenses or cash flow.  So, how do you choose between the Fairfield Inn, The Wingate by Wyndham,  The Comfort Inn Suites and the La Quinta?  I chose the Wingate because it had the most lighting in the parking lot and the price was okay.  What part of training to be a professional photographer covered which hotels to stay in?  For that matter I didn't see seven hours of straight thru driving in the job description either.  At least the room is big and the wi-fi and breakfast is included.

Tomorrow I'll be down for breakfast at 6 am, hit the road by 6:30 am and be in Daingerfield again by 7:30 for some exterior shots.  We're planning to wrap by 5 pm and I'll be in Texarkana for the next shoot by 7:00 pm.  We're shooting for four days this week and we wrap in Dallas on Thurs.  then it's a straight shot back down from Dallas ( four and a half hours if no one flips an SUV on IH35 in the rain this time....)  to Austin.

I'm using the Elinchrom system as my main lighting.  Using a 60 inch Photek Softlighter as a main light and a circular reflector for fill.  Another head in a small softbox, at low power on the background.  I'm also doing an environmental portrait of each person.  In Austin we were blessed with a big window and perfect, soft light from the cloudy day.  I hope I find something similar tomorrow.

Finally,  I'm recharging the batteries for everything out of habit.  I feel kind of dumb.  I didn't bring anything new to read and I am a read-aholic.  Guess I'll either read the hotel directory or I'll grab my already dog-eared copy of Lighting Equipment for Digital Photographers out of the car and re-read it for the fifth time........