Landscape photography in Texas is an endurance sport, especially for your vehicle. The best locations are far from any major cities and in many cases, far from civilization itself. Having a dependable ride like the Subaru Forester is essential to your success and your survival.
My 2010 Forester has a little over 103,000 miles on it and still runs like a champ. I’ve taken it all across Texas from Houston to Amarillo, Dallas to El Paso and Harlingen to Nacogdoches with not a single breakdown to its credit. We’ve traveled the dirt roads of Big Bend National Park, the two track trails of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the back roads of twenty different Texas State Parks and the dirt roads of over 150 Texas counties.
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2 unit attached, set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens and tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/16 for 1/20th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter and 2-stop, soft, graduated neutral density filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 4.
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/16 for 1/10th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 4.
I drove through the “Lost Pines” region last weekend along Park Road 1C which runs from Buescher State Park north to Bastrop State Park and was both saddened at the devastation last year’s wildfires had wrought and cheered to see new growth among the ashes. After visiting this gorgeous region for the past thirty years it was hard to see the once beautiful pine forest cut low by the wildfires. Luckily, my memories and my photographs will always remember the past glory of this beautiful state park and I look forward to the day that my grand children can explore these pine forests and trails in all their splendor.
Here’s to the brave men and women of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the US Forest Service and the Bastrop County fire fighters that worked tirelessly to save as much of this glorious park as possible. This Texas photographer salutes you, one and all.
I spent most of the weekend in La Grange, Texas doing a little one-on-one coaching at the Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery State Historic Site. I hadn’t been up to La Grange in a few months and had hoped that the trees would have begun to bloom, but no such luck. We haven’t seen much rain this winter and we’re still waiting for spring here in southeast Texas.
For those of you attending the Texas Landscape Safari next month, it’s time to break out your rain dance routine and get things moving. I’m counting on y’all to dance your little hearts out before the end of April.
When I first moved to southeast Houston I found the hustle and bustle of city life to be a wee bit too much for my “small town” upbringing to handle seven days a week. So I asked some friends if they new of a place that was far enough from Houston that a fella could forget about city life at least for a little while. A good friend (and now my brother-in-law of 20+ years) suggested a 90 minute drive along State Highway 71 until I saw the exit for Buescher State Park near Smithville, Texas. He said to follow Park Road 1C between Buescher & Bastrop State Parks for 12 miles of the most beautiful scenery anyone could imagine. Little did I know back then that this 1000 acres of land would become one of my favorite spots to spend a weekend evening.
Buescher State Park boasts a proud Texas heritage. The park itself sits on land that was part of Stephen F. Austin’s colonial grant, and many of the original park improvements were made by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) using native timber and stone. Over the years, the folks at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) have continued to make improvements and now Buescher State Park is one of the most picturesque camping spots east of the Hill Country.
The lake near the southern entrance to the park is by far, my favorite spot. I visit this location dozens of times with my camera each year and always come away with some really nice sunset shots. Right before sunset as the wind dies down, the lake becomes as smooth and reflective as a mirror. The setting sun lights the trees lining the lake and the entire area takes on a surreal character. For a landscape photographer like me, it’s a slice of heaven less than two hours from home.
Yes, you can shoot landscapes under a clear blue sky! Late in the day when the light is warm and the air is clear all the colors of the rainbow can be seen right before sunset. No, it’s not as dramatic as photographing a thunderstorm on the Texas plains but even a clear blue sky can tell a story. Open spaces. Quiet evenings. A rancher’s fields in late autumn.
Life is too short to spend the long winter months waiting for better landscape weather. Get out there and capture some magic moments before the opportunity slips away. Remember, we’re not getting any younger. So why are you still reading this?
We landscape photographers are a curious sort. Prone to impulsive behavior and known to drop everything at a sudden change in the weather. Folks that follow this path in life can best be described as “driven” and not just because of the thousands of miles we travel each year.
We’re a strange breed and not well understood by our loved ones or by ourselves. We glower at a cloudless sunny day and pray for rain. We get up before dawn and stay up well past sunset. Where other cower, we seek out those thunderstorms, snow storms, wind storms and any other weather that provides excitement and drama to our vision. We’re known to be reckless, fickle and restless and can’t stand the thought of sitting at home and watching the television.
We live for color. Bright, subdued, hazy or clear. Color, glorious color. But we love black & white. The tones, contrasts and shades of gray speak volumes to us like a a sonnet on a summer’s eve. Yes, we’re a fey folk. Who else would drive 120 miles just to capture a few moments at the close of the day?
We’ve had a very strong high-pressure system floating serenely above much of Texas for the past three weeks, granting us cool and very dry weather with the relative humidity less than 50% most days. For folks living in southeast Texas the dry air is a welcome change from our normally hot and humid September and October.
As pleasant as it’s been, I do look forward to the clouds returning before I leave for the Texas panhandle this week. Our cobalt blue skies are wonderful to look upon but a wee bit boring for landscape photography. I much prefer the billowing clouds of a Texas summer to add drama to my landscapes such as found in this shot taken a few months back at Buescher State Park near Smithville, Texas.