July 9, 2015
I recently headed to the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area with a lifelong friend this past week. I had hoped to photograph the area and add to my Maroon Bells portfolio. The weather forecast was not great, but I’d seen worse and still ended up with some great sunsets. So we met along I-70 and drove west through Vail, Eagle, and Glenwood Springs. Along the way, since we were ahead of schedule and the skies were great, we decided to take an excursion to Rifle Falls State Park. Neither of us had been to this small park, so we wanted to check it out. About 20 minutes past Glenwood Springs heading west, we turned north at Rifle and then drove another 20 minutes to the park.
While not big, this little park offers a view of three separate waterfalls that plunge 70 feet and converge into a green, lush valley. A trail makes a loop around the falls – up and over and back down. It is short (maybe a mile), easy, and offers visitors to Glenwood Springs a nice excursion if you have a few hours to kill and the weather is good.
Next, we headed to Rifle, stopping to eat at a local establishment before driving back to Glenwood Springs, down to Carbondale, then on 82 heading to the Snowmass/Aspen area. We drove up to Snowmass Village, checked into our room, and then, since the weather was still ok, drove the 35 minutes up to the Maroon Bells. While driving the final 10 miles or so the clouds rolled in. We pulled into the parking lot and decided we didn’t mind a little sprinkle, then began a short walk around the lake loop. (We had planned on hiking to Maroon Pass, a 13 mile round trip, the next morning at sunrise). For now, we just wanted to be outdoors.
The view from where you begin this walk is amazing. The two 14,000 foot peaks of Maroon and North Maroon rise above Maroon Lake and provide one of the most grand views of Colorado – and I think the most photographed of any location. This is an image from last year.
However, the peaks were hidden in a thick fog. Every once in a while, we’d see a blurred outline of something in the distance.
About 50 yards into our walk, the rains picked up. No matter, it wasn’t bad. We continued on. A minute later, the bottom fell out. We turned and walked back to the car. We are optimists. We sat in the car for another hour and a half, thinking the deluge would pass by. Finally, near dark, we returned to the room, but not before trying to find something to eat. Everything was closed. The evening was a complete wash, literally.
I set my alarm for the next morning at 430am. When I awoke a little before the alarm, I went outside to find the rains just as we had left them – very active. So I checked again at 530am, then 630am. (As a sidenote, my buddy and I had both played college tennis, so we figured at least we could watch a little Wimbledon on the hotel TV, but even those matches were rained out). Since this trek was for hiking and photography, we finally bailed on our plan and decided to head back towards Denver. Along the way, we’d find another hike. We passed Hanging Lake, a beautiful waterfall at the end of a mile-long uphill climb (it was raining when we passed by the exit). The we passed through Vail – still raining. Next, the rains followed us through Frisco and Dillon. I finally dropped off my friend at his car and drove back to our place in Winter Park. The short trip was a bust. And it still rained all night.
Oh well… the weather doesn’t always cooperate.
Next week, we’ll try again!
Feel free to visit my Colorado galleries for more (and more colorful) photography.
June 30, 2015
Recently, I had the opportunity to photograph Caddo Lake located in east Texas. This unique Texas landscape is a giant swamp covering 25,000 acres. The bog was formed by the New Madrid earthquake of 1812 and is now home to the largest cypress forest in the world. When my friend offered his boat and was willing to escort me around the lake at sunrise and sunset for a few days, I packed my bags and made the 6 hour drive from my home in the Hill Country to Uncertain, Texas, a small town on the shores of Caddo Lake. As I neared the area, I think the number of churches increased exponentially. I also saw lots of folks sitting on their front porches. They were quite friendly – always waving as we passed by – and seemed to enjoy watching the world go by in a much slower pace of life. (Maybe I could learn something from them!)
Out on the lake, I found a surreal landscape of cypress trees draped in Spanish Moss. Most of the lake is only 2-4 feet deep, and we skirted several passageways just barely wide enough for our boat to fit. There were even places we couldn’t go, but a kayak or canoe would have been perfect. I enjoyed seeing the well known “Government Ditch” and “the Cathedral” – two areas where cypress trees reach up and over the waterway and form a canopy-like tunnel for the boat to slip through.
I did find photographing this location quite challenging. I normally shoot 99% of my photographs using a tripod. However, while bopping around in a boat, a tripod is pretty useless. So most of my images were taken hand-held while kicking up the ISO to 800 or even 1000. For sunrise, I jammed my camera against a waterway signpost to steady it in order to take long exposures. One glorious sunset we used a duck blind to set up a tripod. Our efforts were rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen this year.
I had hoped to see an alligator on our treks, but alas, the only gator I encountered was deep fried as an appetizer for one of our lunches (tasted like chicken). We did see turtles, snakes, egrets, herons, and a huge wolf spider that was the size of my hand. I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay and am already thinking of ways to be more productive on a return visit in Autumn.
See more photographs from this unique area of east Texas in my Caddo Lake gallery.
March 28, 2015
I just returned from two trips – one to San Antonio where I had an opportunity to photograph the riverwalk and Alamo. After that, I trekked out west and spent some time among the bluebonnets at Big Bend National Park. The bluebonnets and wildflowers were in bloom in this magical location, and each time I come away more amazed at the hidden treasures of this park.
As I look ahead, our wildflowers here in Central Texas are nearly here. Colorful fields are appearing south of San Antonio, and with the arrival of spring and warmer weather, those colors should be spreading north. Stay tuned for more updates. Another great site to check wildflower updates is www.WildflowerHaven.com.
In the meantime, safe travels to everyone – and enjoy the warm weather!
February 7, 2015
It is nearing mid-February here in the Texas Hill Country. It’s getting time that we turn our thoughts away from the gloomy days of winter and look for signs of spring. With a mild El Nino influencing the weather, we’ve been fortunate to have a steady supply of rain over the last few months – nothing heavy but enough to keep the ground wet and nourished. As a result, I have more bluebonnet rosettes on our property than in any year before. So I have high hopes this spring will be quite colorful. The first blooms should show up in mid March if the weather turns warm, and central Texas could really put on a show by late March and early April. Keep your fingers crossed!
If you’ve been around Austin in the last year, you know about the construction of new buildings. Its nearly impossible to photograph the skyline without having a crane in the image. Still, there are a few unique angles to be found. I’ve spent some time around Lamar Bridge, First Street Bridge, and Congress Bridge in an attempt to capture the architecture with some of the cityscape in the background. All of these new images were taken early in the morning as fog rolled off the water of Lady Bird Lake.
I’ve spent the winter months toiling away at a new website that is aimed at showcasing images and photos from our great state of Texas. The new site should be ready to go live by the end of February if things go right. We’ll see!
I’ve also been asked lately by many folks to photograph families and portraits. Because of this demand, I’ve invested in some more lighting equipment and hope to work with individuals on these projects in the coming months and years.
Stay tuned.. it will be a busy spring with trips planned to Big Bend National Park, Ennis (for the bluebonnets) and a thousands miles of dirt roads around the Texas Hill Country in search of colorful wildflowers.
October 2, 2014
A few weeks ago I spent some time in the largest city in Texas – Houston – and took the opportunity to photography the Houston skyline. While I was there to do some work for a client, I was able to combine this trip with some exploration as well as time with my family. I made the three hour trip from my home in the Texas Hill Country and battled Houston traffic. I should note here that Tollways in Harris county in southwest Houston do not work like they do in Dallas or Austin. In those two cities, when you use the tollway without a toll tag, you get a bill in the mail a few weeks later – usually between $3.00-$5.00. Just yesterday I received a fine from Harris Country for $37.00 for driving without a toll tag! I had no idea. And with the fine came a nasty letter saying I was banned on that road until I paid the fine. That is both irritating and a little humorous.
Despite the obvious money-grab by that area, we still had a good time. My family and I splurged and spent the weekend at the Embassy Suites in the galleria. My girls loved the galleria – especially the ice skating and the Disney Store. They also liked the swans in the main lobby of the hotel.
As for me, I spent my sunrises and sunsets photographing downtown Houston. With over 2 million folks calling Houston home, I can say traffic was often a gridlock during the week. On Friday night, heading from the hotel to shoot from the rooftop of a location just outside the city, it took me about an hour and twenty minutes to travel just over 7 miles. For a guy used to living in the country, this was a little stressful! Still, I arrived well before sunset and enjoyed some amazing thunderheads hanging out just behind the high rises. The next morning, I returned for a beautiful sunrise.
The middle of the day was spent with my family – swimming, shopping (with me just following them around), and playing around Tinsley Park on the Allen Parkway. I returned to this location that evening and next morning. After exploring this little greenbelt, I settled on a few areas to shoot. That next sunrise, I was rewarded with both a beautiful sunrise as well as a crescent moon rising above the skyline.
Overall, it was as successful trip and I look forward to returning. While I won’t be heading to Harris County anytime soon, I can say the rest of the folks we encountered were quite friendly.
For more images, please visit my Houston gallery.
Feel free to view my Austin Gallery as well.
For Texas wildflowers, I’ve got a gallery dedicated just for those colorful springtime blooms, as well.
Thanks for looking!
April 13, 2013
Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to shoot for the Austonian, the tallest residence and tallest building in the Austin Skyline. This building is actually the highest all-residential building west of the Mississippi at 683 feet tall. On the 54th story is a penthouse that spans the entire floor. Windows completely surround the entire floor, giving you a 360 degree view of Austin, Texas, from bird’s eye view.
From one of the two balconies, you can have great unobstructed views looking north down Congress Avenue to the Texas State Capitol, the UT Tower, the iconic Frost Bank, and DKR (the UT football stadium). From the balcony facing south, you enjoy a commanding view of Ladybird Lake, the Congress Bridge and First Street Bridges, Auditorium Shores, and I-35 in the distance as it heads south towards San Antonio. This is a great place to enjoy a sunset or two. If I had a lot of cash sitting around, maybe I’d buy the place.
The building opened in 2010 for residents, and the folks that work there are the nicest people.
Here are two panoramas of the Austin Skyline. Thanks for looking!
April 9, 2013
I took some time on Sunday to scout out the Texas Wildflowers and hopefully find some nice places to capture bluebonnet images. I started in Dripping Springs and took Hamilton Pool Road to where it crosses over 281 (and turns into RR 962). Then I took 281 into Marble Falls. There are a few roads there I’ve found nice bluebonnets in the past, but this time the fields offered nothing but cactus and grass – no bluebonnets at all. Also, the old house just outside of Marble Falls that has graced the cover of magazines with its annual display of bluebonnets had no wildflowers at all.
So I headed up 71 towards Llano. Along the ditches of 71, there are a few nice patches of bluebonnets and coreopsis, but nothing that stretches far enough to make me want to get out and take some photographs. CR 304 is one of my favorite places, and even that road had nary a bluebonnet. One of my old standbys is 152 that goes from Llano to Castell. You can usually find great places to take pictures of wildflowers, especially bluebonnets, along this winding rural road, but not this year – or not yet, anyway.
I’m hoping that the recent rains will spur our wildflowers to grow more. Maybe we will not have as many bluebonnets this year, but perhaps will have an influx of golds and reds with the coreopsis and firewheels. Time will tell.
On my way home, I again passed through Cypress Mill along 962. There is an old cemetery on the right just past the stop sign as you turn left onto Hamilton Pool. There were a smattering of bluebonnets, so I figured I’d stop and take a few shots of that location (just so I’d have something to show for the trip). Well, a car had driven up in the lot in front of the cemetery and a couple was tromping around in the middle of the bluebonnets! Good grief. So much for that location. (this was not in the cemetery, but in a field between the cemetery and road.
Hopefully I’ll have better luck at wildflower hunting next weekend.
Just so I have something to offer, here is an image of bluebonnets with indian blankets (firewheels) in the background. This picture was taken with a macro lens on my land… I like the contrast in colors.