Driving the back roads of America you get to see all kinds of interesting things but you know you’re in Texas when you see signs like these:
Landscape photographers are an odd bunch. Just ask their wives.
We long for “weather”, not just climate. We hate days of clear blue skies and love those times when the weather is changing. We’ll take a thunderstorm over a sunny afternoon. We prefer a cold foggy morning over a warm placid afternoon. We live for those golden hours in the early morning and the late evening and yearn for clouds to add drama to our images. Face it, we’re that 5% of the population that’s tough to satisfy.
So what’s a landscape photographer to do when the weather turns out perfect for the other 95% of us? Like I’ve said before, “There’s Always Something to Shoot”.
I have a slightly strange routine that I follow when heading out on the open road. As I’m pulling out of the driveway I play one of my favorite Glen Campbell songs from the late 60′s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, just to get me in the mood. Jimmy Webb wrote this song when he was only 21 but Glen Campbell made it famous as his first Top 40 hit. Webb then wrote my next road-trip selection “Wichita Lineman”.
So if you’re traveling in central Texas and you pull up next to a green Subaru Forester with the windows down, don’t be surprised if you hear some grayed-haired dude belting out a few of these lines…
By the time I get to Phoenix she’ll be rising
She’ll find the note I left hangin’ on her door
She’ll laugh when she reads the part that says I’m leavin’
‘Cause I’ve left that girl so many times before
By the time I make Albuquerque she’ll be working
She’ll prob’ly stop at lunch and give me a call
But she’ll just hear that phone keep on ringin’
Off the wall that’s all
By the time I make Oklahoma she’ll be sleepin’
She’ll turn softly and call my name out loud
And she’ll cry just to think I’d really leave her
Tho’ time and time I try to tell her so
She just didn’t know I would really go.
I’m on the road again this week so my posts and tweets will be somewhat sporadic. It’s that time of year when I travel to central Texas to scout all the locations for the upcoming Texas Landscape Safari. It’s a fast but fun trip where I’ll travel over 500 miles in four days and visit six or seven prime spots for the workshop.
I do this several weeks ahead of each workshop to get a better feel for which locations will offer the best photographic opportunities. Each spring and fall is a little different but with the cold, wet winter we’ve had, I expect the Hill Country to be especially beautiful this year.
On my way from Sugar Land to central Texas I always like to stop at Buescher State park and Bastrop State Park to drive the wonderful fifteen miles of winding S-curves on Park Road 1C. For a nature enthusiast this is one of the most picturesque drives anywhere in central Texas and for me, it’s always a great way to begin a road trip.
Perseverance – Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.
If there is one key to becoming a better landscape photographer, I believe it’s perseverance. Study the great nature photographers of our time and you’ll see that they revisited their favorite spots time after time in search of that magical combination of light, weather and environment that goes into making a beautiful landscape image.
You can also see this natural law in practice all around us, especially in those places where life persists in spite of the odds against it. One of my favorite spots to visit in the Texas Hill Country is Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City. This rugged terrain of uplifted limestone experiences flash floods several times each year when the normally placid flow of the Pedernales river increases a thousandfold in just a few minutes. After such a flood you’d think the limestone cliffs would be scoured clean of all vegetation but the Ash, Juniper, Cypress and Buttonbrush cling to these rocky slopes with a tenacity that is inspirational.
Each time I visit and photograph the falls, I’m amazed at how life perseveres under these difficult conditions. Two years ago this lone tree in the middle of the river was almost barren. By the end of October last year it looked full and healthy, despite a year long drought and two flash floods. That’s what I call perseverance!
Here’s another shot taken in 2008 at the Wings Over Houston air show, processed much the same as explained in my previous post. Takes some kind of skill to fly this close and inverted. A real treat to watch and photograph.
Hint: I used Alien Skin’s Bokeh plug-in for Photoshop to smooth the desaturated blue background. This incredible little plug-in is a great way to reduce color noise in your images, especially in the blue sky. This technique makes your subject “pop” and look really sharp when compared to the smooth, even tones in the background.
I’ve recently been reminded that “Variety is the Spice of Life” and my normal landscape postings may be getting a little mundane so I’ve decided to dig up some different shots from the past few years just to prove that I’m not always such a “stick in the mud”.
I don’t do much sports or action photography these days with the exception of the annual air show here in southeast Texas; Wings Over Houston. If you live in this part of Texas I encourage you to buy a ticket this October and join us for a day of incredible photographic opportunities. You won’t be sorry.
BTW – I used Jeff Revell’s “Grunge Workflow” to enhance this shot. It’s a simple three layer process in PS that takes only minutes to complete.