Deep Purple Desert Sunset in Terlingua, Texas

As y’all can tell, I’m a big fan of the wide open spaces found in the desert and mountains around Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. I enjoy hiking, exploring and photographing the hundreds of miles of desert trails in this region and always look forward to my next visit. What many folks don’t know is that many of my favorite images from this region, like the one below, were taken less than 500 feet from my cabin in Terlingua, Texas.

Terlingua, Texas 1936

National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection

Terlingua (now a ghost town) was a mining district in southwestern Brewster County, Texas. It was located near the Rio Grande river and the Texas settlements of Lajitas and Study Butte as well as the Mexican village of Santa Elena. The discovery of cinnabar (quicksilver – from which the metal mercury is extracted), brought miners to the area, creating a “city” of more than 2,000 folks. Today, the only remnants of those glory days are the small ghost town owned by the Chisos Mining Company and several nearby abandoned mines.

The Chisos Mining Company now owns a small motel with several cabins in Terlingua and the folks there have been very accommodating to photographers visiting the region. Nothing fancy mind you, but a clean room with a hot shower is a real luxury after a long day of hiking, exploring and photographing Big Bend. The hills just behind the cabins make a great spot to enjoy the gorgeous colors of a deep purple desert sunset. Folks, it just don’t get any better than this!

Deep Purple Desert Sunset

Deep Purple Desert Sunset – Terlingua, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/14 for 8/10th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Presidio County, Texas – The Real Old West

Rio Bravo was a 1959 American western film, directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson. In this classic movie, Wayne plays John T. Chance the Sheriff of Presidio County, Texas in the heart of the “old west”. It’s the story of Chance, Dude (played by Dean Martin) and Colorado’s (played by Ricky Nelson) fight against the minions of ruthless landowner Nathan Burdette, a classic story of good versus evil set against the backdrop of the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande) river.

Like most westerns of the late 50′s and early 60′s, it was shot in Tucson, Arizona at the famous Old Tucson Studios, not in Presidio County where the story takes place. And that’s just a shame since much of beautiful desert landscape of Presidio County, Texas matches the authentic look and feel that made those old westerns so popular (at least for this young boy with dreams of someday riding those dusty trails like John Wayne did).

As you can see in this image, the real “old west” of Presidio County hasn’t changed much in the past hundred years. Standing out here alone, it’s easy to imagine Chance, Dude and Colorado riding down this path and into the sunset.

Presidio County Texas

The Real Wild West – Presidio County, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 47mm, f/14 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Trail Bound for Nowhere – Big Bend National Park, Texas

Sometimes just wandering around a few thousand acres of desert in the heat of the mid-day sun is all you need to appreciate the cooler (but more humid) climate of East Texas. However, with the current drought conditions lingering this winter, the “green-belts” around my neighborhood are beginning to resemble Big Bend more and more each week!

Trail Bound for Nowhere

Trail Bound for Nowhere – Big Bend National Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 47mm, f/14 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Upper Madera Canyon – Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas

Upper Madera Canyon

Upper Madera Canyon – Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 47mm, f/14 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Develop Your Photographic Diversity

When times are good and the economy is rolling along, it’s all too easy to become a niche photographer and specialize in work that you are most familiar and comfortable with. I know several local photographers that do only event photography like weddings and bar mitzvahs and others that do only high school senior portraits. Many landscape and nature photographers that I know wouldn’t think of shooting a wedding or sweet-sixteen party, let alone a corporate head-shot. When times are good . . .

Well, right now times aren’t so good and many photographers find themselves scratching to make a living, lowering prices and accepting client terms they would have laughed at several years ago. It doesn’t look like the economy is going to recover anytime soon and even if it does, the market for commercial photography may never be what it once was. Corporate and personal frugality may become the norm rather than the exception.

But some photographers are thriving despite their circumstances. These folks seem to understand that “specialization is for insects, not people” (Yes, you’ve heard me say this before). They know that there is incredible strength in photographic diversity.

It’s a lesson that every photographer should heed, myself included. Mix things up a little and photograph subjects that stretch your current skills. If you shoot predominately landscapes and nature, go out and shoot some portraits. Dig a little deeper and reach a little further. If you shoot wedding and events, get up early one morning and shoot the sunrise. Get out of your photographic comfort zone and take creative some risk.

I think Dewitt Jones sums it up nicely. “Celebrate What’s Right With the World”.

What have you got to lose?

Race Gun

Race Gun – Sugar Land, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 35mm, f/9 for 1/400th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Simple Beauty

Simple Beauty – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held. Lit with a Profoto strobe and shoot-through umbrella for fill flash. The exposure was taken at 102mm, f/7.1 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Wet

Wet – Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 7D set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM + EF 1.4x Extender hand-held. The exposure was taken at 560mm, f/7.1 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Madera Canyon – Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas

Nothing beats photographing a desert storm approaching the mountains of Northern Mexico. Enjoy!

Madera Canyon

Madera Canyon – Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/14 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Iron Chef Canon Style

I get a lot of email these days from folks asking for advice on which new camera to buy. Many readers seem confused by all the marketing “hype” surrounding a camera’s sensor size (full frame vs. APS-C), resolution (15 MP vs. 18 MP vs. 21 MP) and image quality.

These questions got me thinking about some of the popular misconceptions folks have about digital photography so I decided to write up a short post that illustrates a simple but important point; “it ain’t the camera folks“.

Take these two landscape images for example. Both were taken only minutes apart under the same lighting conditions from the same tripod location. I intentionally chose to process them in Adobe Lightroom using the same basic “settings” so you could compare the results and see for yourself the difference between a $300 camera and a $2500 camera.

Lower McKinney Falls G10

Lower McKinney Falls – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography

Lower McKinney Falls 5D2

Lower McKinney Falls – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography

Iron Chef Time
Click on each image to see a higher resolution version. Pixel peep to your heart’s content (but don’t look at the metadata) and let me know if you can tell which image was taken by a PowerShot G10 and which was taken by an EOS 5D Mark II.

  • Can’t tell the difference?
  • Not sure which you like better?

The Bottom Line
Any DSLR or point & shoot camera made in the past five years can create stunning images like these two above. It’s not the camera, the lens, the filters or tripod that creates a beautiful image folks, it’s YOU. Here’s the best advice I can offer for those of you looking improve your photography by purchasing a new camera: DON’T DO IT.

Desert Wind Storm

Desert Winds

Desert Winds – Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 35mm, f/14 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.