Not all of last week’s trip was hiking and hard work however. I did find a nice afternoon to relax at the Inks Lake State Park’s “Devil’s Waterhole” as it’s called. Quite a nice view before the kids jump from the rocks into the 20 feet deep water.
Nature and landscape photography are not for everyone. It takes perseverance to find a good location and a great deal of patience to wait until the light is just right. I find that on almost every outing I’ll waste 20% to 30% of my shots taken way too early in the evening before the light has that golden warmth to it. If you’re anything like me, you want to setup as quickly as possible and start shooting that wonderful location or subject you’ve driven so far to find. Patience you see, does not come naturally to most of us and learning to wait is just not in my Irish nature. But I’m learning and these days I’ll usually pack a light-weight folding chair and a good paperback so that I can sit comfortably while waiting for the light.
Sunsets take time. They begin with a little warmth and glow and slowly evolve into deeply saturated reds, yellows and blues. After 30 – 40 minutes more they deepen to ambers, indigos and violets and sometimes when the atmosphere is just right they sky may begin to glow a rich, deep purple before turning to true black.
So the next time you’re out looking for some great sunset shots, remember to be patient. Take one or two shots every tens minutes or so and plan to stay put for at least two hours. Let nature take it’s course and enjoy the wonderful show. Life is too short!
This past week has been one of the most personally rewarding time periods for me in the past two years.
Those of you that have followed my blog for some time probably know that in March 2007 I came down with an inexplicable and still undiagnosed neurological disorder that left me in almost constant pain with muscle spasms and cramps in my lower back and legs. I spent the better part of 2007 in and out of the hospital, seeing specialists and being tested for everything from AIDS to Cancer to MS. I’ve had multiple MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, myelograms and neurological tests (most of which where extremely painful – think Taser and you’ll be close). My condition is still undiagnosed although I have medication to help control the muscle spasms and pain. Its taken me the better part of two years to recover my strength and more importantly, my self confidence.
Before all this I was a seven handicap golfer that played 2 – 3 times per week. Giving up golf allowed me the opportunity to rekindle my love for photography, a career I had given up in the late 70’s. I began this blog a little over a year ago to help me focus my craft, limber up some creative muscles that had lain dormant for far too long and most importantly to help me regain a measure of confidence that when God closes one door, he always opens another, if we have the courage to walk through it.
Earlier this week I was able to photograph some of the most beautiful areas of central Texas ever seen. I visited locations that a year ago would have been impossible for me to get to in my condition. I went well beyond what I ever thought possible carrying my camera, lenses and tripod. I hiked miles under the scorching Texas sun, climbed up and down shear rock faces to get the perfect angle and spent hours waiting for just the right light. I know I didn’t walk this path alone and many times felt the Lord’s strong arms helping me when my strength just wasn’t enough.
I hope that the images I share with you all in the coming weeks will refresh you, inspire you and help you along your journey to becoming the great photographers that I know you all are! And I thank each and every one of you for allowing me to share my journey with you.
Chase Jarvis tweeted earlier today, “if you can’t take a picture the way you want, it’s probably because you’re playing by the rules”. Now that I’ve shamelessly plugged his blog and Twitter feed, here’s the deal. He is exactly right!
Everyone knows that in landscape photography, its bad form to place the horizon line directly in the center of the frame. If fact, if you open any recently published photography book you’ll find this “rule” cited time and again as a way to prevent beginners from shooting boring landscape images. I’m going to be completely honest here folks. This rule stinks and should be thrown out the window in my (not so) humble opinion.
Here’s a better rule as taught by folks like Moose Peterson. “Regardless of where the horizon is, a good landscape images needs an interesting foreground, middle-ground and background to pull the viewer into the image”. In this image the water is the foreground element, the trees are the middle-ground elements and the hills in the distance and the dramatic sky are the background elements. I framed this image to pull the viewer in from the water to the trees, to the mountains and then to the sky. Notice that the actual horizon is almost dead-center.
I apologize for not posting something new but Monday was a travel day and I had no real chance to shoot. So I’m posting a sunset image taken last year at my favorite spot in Sugar Land, Texas.
By the time you read this post I should be photographing Gorman Falls in the Colorado Bend State Park, near Lampasas, Texas. It’s a 2 mile hike to the falls and if everything goes as planned I should be there at first light. First I have to drive about 30 miles of winding dirt road in the utter dark. And I mean DARK!
I had planned on hiking the trail to the falls late Monday afternoon but the 100F heat made me think twice. My hydration/camera pack from ClikElite only holds 1 liter of water and that wouldn’t last for 2- 3 hours in the scorching Texas sun. Better to leave a first light when the temperature’s around 75F.
I had a great time shooting the BMW / Mini Cooper Autocross event yesterday. The weather was perfect with highs in the upper 90’s, low humidity and a light breeze. Well, perfect for Houston in June anyway. Here are a few images from yesterdays shoot. That’s my brother-in-laws super-charged Mini Cooper in the first shot.
Sunday evenings are a special time to photograph small towns. The sunlight softens the harsh shadows of the day. Most folks are home eating dinner or mowing the lawn and you can wander around these wonderful villages without a care in the world. Most small towns in Texas roll up the sidewalks around 6:00 PM and they become silent monuments to their rich history.
You can go just about anywhere in Columbus, Texas on a late Sunday evening, and setup a tripod in the middle of the empty street to capture some beautiful architecture. Standing there it’s easy to feel your cares fall away and be transported back to simpler, less hectic place and time.
After reading all of Scott Kelby’s recent racing posts, I thought I’d give myself a little self assignment and shoot the BMW / Mini Cooper Autocross event this Sunday morning. My brother-in-law is driving in this event and it will give me a chance to try something new in my photography.
An autocross is not exactly racing. It consist of timed laps around a course laid out using traffic cones. The objective is to drive around the course without hitting any or missing any gates. The main attraction of autocrossing is that it allows drivers to compete in a safe environment. Not only are the speeds low (generally under 60 miles per hour) but the course is also laid out so that the only obstacles are traffic cones.
I’ll try to post a few shots early Monday morning before I leave for the Texas Hill Country for a few days of travel, landscape and nature photography. There might be a wee bit of Guinness involved next week as well!