Desert Ride

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.

Man, what a ride!

Desert Ride

Desert Ride – Salt Flat, Texas
Copyright © 2013 Jeff Lynch Photography
EOS 5D Mark III w/ GP-E
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.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

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Gorman Creek Before the Drought

Here’s another shot taken during the Texas Landscape Safari last April. Gorman Creek is a spring fed stream running northeast into the Colorado River just below Bend, Texas. Most every spring that I can recall, this creek is usually flowing strongly through its two mile length, creating the magnificent Gorman Falls as it cascades into the Colorado. This year’s drought came early and hit us hard. I suspect this is as much water as we’ll see in Gorman Creek until the winter rains return.

Gorman Creek

Gorman Creek Before the Drought – Bend, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 93mm, f/13 for 1/125th 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.

The Spring 2011 Texas Landscape Safari Recap

Texas Landscape Safari

What a great group of photographers to teach, travel and shoot with!

Here are a few statistics to recap this year’s outing. 17 people each traveled over 300 miles in 3 days to photograph four different and unique state parks working on average 12 hours each day to capture literally thousands of great landscape shots.

Enchanted Rock Classroom

Josh’s Enchanted Rock Classroom – Llano, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G10 set on aperture priority (Av) using a circular polarizer. The exposure was taken at 32mm, f/4 for 1/250th of a second at ISO 80. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Oh, we got scattered a few times but all ended up enjoying some great Texas weather during our three day safari with lots of sunshine, a few clouds but no rain in sight. Gorman creek was running over the falls near Bend, Tx. The mighty Colorado was low but still running as were both the Pedernales and Guadalupe rivers. The heights of Enchanted Rock haven’t gotten any easier to climb but the sunset and clear skies made the trek worth while. As always, the rocks and water in each park called to us like bees to honey. We climbed, explored, laughed and did it all again the next day. And as is usually the case, we made made new friends from as far away as Canada and California as well as those that live closer to home.

It was my honor and a great pleasure to host this year’s Texas Landscape Safari and to get to know each and every one of you a little better. You all have a gift for capturing light and turning it into art and I learned as much as I taught. Keep in touch and remember that TLS alumni are always welcome to join us again in the future for FREE, even those that brought their iPhones. 🙂

Jeff

Workshop Preparation – Some Final Thoughts

The Spring 2011 Texas Landscape Safari is just two weeks away and it’s time to think about those final preparations that can make the difference between having a good workshop or enjoying a great experience.

Texas Landscape Safari

Shoot What You Love
The Texas Hill Country boasts some of the most beautiful landscape settings in this great state of ours and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of your surroundings. Take the time to shoot the things you love and want to remember from this workshop and safari. Sometimes it’s the smaller settings and tighter shots that contain the most meaning.

Hope for the Best but Plan for the Worst
The weather here in central Texas can change in the blink of an eye. It can go from hot and humid to rainy and cold in less time than most folks can imagine. Mornings may be cool and damp but the afternoons could be hot and dry. Folks that plan their wardrobe accordingly, dress in layers and wear comfortable hiking boots tend to get the best shots since they spend less time acclimating to the changing weather and more time behind the camera.

Water, Water, Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink
Water is vital to a successful safari, whether in the wilds of Kenya or the outback of central Texas. Dehydration is a very real danger and I’ve had more than one attendee drop out after a day of hiking without sufficient water. I usually carry three liters or more of water on each hike and ALWAYS have a backup gallon in my vehicle. You should too!

Ask Questions. Really.
This year’s outing is going to be a large group of amateur photographers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Josh, Glenn and I are there to answer any questions we can, so don’t be shy. This isn’t an episode of Survivor or Top Shot. We are all here to enjoy the beauty of central Texas and to come away with some great images to share and some wonderful memories to cherish. Make friends. Ask Questions. Enjoy yourself. Life is too short to do anything less.

Here are a few of the sights from the Texas Landscape Safari in years past. Enjoy!

 
Texas Hill Country Video
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Video created in Adobe Lightroom 3. Best shown in full-screen HD.
 
The Bioluminescence of the Night
Copyright © 2009 Atlantic Recording Corporation.

Texas Landscape Safari – Spring 2011

Texas Landscape Safari

We still have a few spots open for our Texas Landscape Safari workshop scheduled for April 25th – 28th, 2011 in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Now that the winter rains have returned and refilled the aquifers, the rivers and streams should be running beautifully by April and provide some wonderful shots for our attendees. Each attendee will also receive an autographed copy of my latest book, Landscapes of the Texas Plains & Canyons with detailed information on how each shot was taken.

Here’s a quick look at what we’ve scheduled for this workshop. You can click on this image to be taken directly to our Google Map for the workshop.

Spring 2011 Texas Landscape Safari

We plan to shoot at the following state parks and key locations during the three day workshop. Many of these state parks will require a hike to the best shooting locations so a good pair of hiking shoes or boots and a photo-pack to carry your gear is highly recommended.

  • Colorado Bend State Park near Lampasas (3 mile hike).
  • Wildflowers near Llano (No hike).
  • Packsaddle Mountain near Kingsland (No hike).
  • Inks Lake State Park near Llano (1 mile hike).
  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area near Fredericksburg (3 mile hike).
  • Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City (2 mile hike).
  • Guadalupe River State Park near San Antonio (1 mile hike).

To register or for more information, please contact me via email using my Contact Me page.

Gorman Falls – A Rain Forest in the Texas Hill Country

Another of my all-time favorite spots to photograph is Gorman Falls in the Colorado Bend State Park near Lampasas, Texas. I’ll never forget my first solitary visit to Gorman Falls several years ago before the draught set in. I arrived at the park before dawn and parked my car at the trailhead (shown on the map below). The hike to the falls is only about 1.5 miles, following the trail staked out with bright orange markers, courtesy of the folks at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD). The sun was just rising over the hills to the east and I knew I had to hurry to catch that perfect light that comes only in the early morning hours.

Gorman Creek & Falls

After a brisk hike, I arrived at the end of the trail at first light to find a very steep, rocky descent down to the base of the falls. The climb down always looked treacherous with only a few well defined steps carved into the rock face to guide me. About half way down, there were some steel poles and cables cemented into place and I used those to help control my descent, carrying my tripod in one hand with my camera slung over my shoulder.

At the bottom of the ravine I stood in wonder at the magnificent spectacle before me. Gorman Falls is one of our state’s most pristine natural environments and it seemed as if no one had been down here for years. The falls before me was surrounded by trees with the early morning sunlight filtering through the leaves. The green moss covered rocks and the cool spray of the falls was a refreshing sight after my long hike. Excited at the prospect of capturing this beauty I quickly setup my tripod and camera and selected a medium zoom lens for my first exposures. As I sighted through my viewfinder I knew the long hike and difficult climb had been worth it. I’d found a perfect spot to spend a few wonderful hours doing what I love the most.

Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls – Colorado Bend State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2010 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/16 for 1.6 seconds at ISO 50 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer and Vari-ND filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

How To Get this Type of Shot: An image of water cascading down with that smooth, almost silky look to the water.

  • As with most running water, the key is the long exposure (greater than 1 second) that creates the smooth, silky look. You have two choices in how to achieve the long exposure; a) use a very small aperture like f/22 or b) use a neutral density filter.
  • A wide-to-medium telephoto lens is a good choice for a shot like this since it allows you to capture many different shots from one spot.
  • A good sturdy tripod is a must in a situation like this. I recommend a lightweight carbon-fiber tripod for this shot since you’ll be lugging it several miles under the Texas sun to get this shot.
  • As before, the final key for this type of shot is setting your camera’s long exposure noise reduction to “ON”.
  • Shooting at Gorman Falls is best done in the early morning when the light just begins to filter through the trees. Spring and Fall are usually the best times of the year to capture great shots at the falls although a few brave souls have been known to visit during the heat of a Texas summer.

Hiking Gorman Falls

Here’s a shot of Gorman Falls taken at the end of another great hike in the Texas Hill Country. Colorado Bend State Park near Lampasas, Texas is one of the most pristine and primitive parks in Texas. It’s deep in the heart of the Hill Country right next to a large “bend” in the Colorado River. I could spend hours trying to describe the beauty of the falls for you but instead I’ll let this one shot and the writing of historian Jack Mathews, tell the story better than I ever could.

The following excerpt is used by permission of the author.

Gorman Falls is located in San Saba County, along the Colorado River, downstream from Bend, Texas, and above Lake Buchanan.  Since 1984, Gorman Falls has been managed, fortunately, by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. An artesian spring, ejecting about three-hundred gallons a minute, provide hand-cramping cold water for the falls. The spring is about one-quarter of a mile up from the falls. 

The sound of the waterfall is loud, a low roar, back down by the cliffs, as you walk under a canopy of sycamores, cottonwoods, and pecan trees that give shade,  plunging the ambient temperature ten degrees or more.  The temperature change is so vivid, it is like opening the refrigerator in the house after working outside in the heat.  It is no wonder that the Comanche, the working cowboys of the Gorman and Lemons Ranches, planned their day to be close to the falls when toil eased at mid-day or stopped in the evening, so that the cool air and artesian water might ease their muscles or give good medicine to the tribe.

I know of these things, maybe not the Comanche camp, by listening to my grandmother who tended the chuck wagon for her husband who managed cattle for the ranches.  My grandmother, Effie, took me to the falls many times, always pointing out on the downhill slope to Gorman Falls, “That’s where we camped and set up the wagon, built a fire right there.”  And, I would look and see bleached rocks and junipers, a clearing in the trees, and, yes, the remnants of a fire, her fire, many layers below.

I thought of the cowboys who herded cattle, sitting down and eating beans, cornbread, and beef that my grandmother cooked.  She was not that tough of a woman, of a person, to fix grub on the ranches, but she did.  She followed my grandfather because she loved him and would cook for him and his pardners, as they tended cattle in the blazing hot, anvil-hard earth, Texas sun.  Gorman Falls, with its cool, artesian water, was Beulah land, paradise, relief beyond belief, for them, for me.

Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls – Bend, Texas
Copyright © 2010 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 24mm, f/16 for 2.5 seconds at ISO 100 with a Singh-Ray Vari-ND-Duo filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

View Location on Panoramio & Google Earth: Gorman Falls – Bend, Texas

On the Road Again!

I’m heading for central Texas to photograph the four main rivers that run through the Hill Country; the Nueces river, the Frio river, the Sabinal river and the Medina river. All four of these small rivers eventually meet up and flow into the Gulf of Mexico but here in the Hill Country they are the lifeline for ranchers and farmers alike.

Central Texas Rivers

Each river has its own character but all have one thing in common; the wonderful Cypress trees lining the river banks. These majestic trees offer much needed cover for the river dwellers in the hot summer and provide a beautiful backdrop for wildlife and nature photography. Add the crystal clear waters running in these four rivers and you’ve got a great place to spend a few hot and humid summer days.

I’ll see everyone when I return next week!

View Location on Panoramio & Google Earth: Frio River – Concan, Texass

Frio River

Frio River – Concan, Texas
Copyright © 2010 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 24mm, f/16 for 1/13th of a second at ISO 100 with a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter and 2-stop, soft, graduated neutral density filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

Click on the image above for a larger version.