October 20, 2015
The Austin skyline offers the photographer many options, from sweeping panoramas to close-ups of the skyscrapers. Photographing the capitol city of Texas presents aesthetic challenges, as well. I’ve tried to go out recently at sunrise to play with the new Canon 5DSr – putting it through the rounds and trying to see what 50 megapixels looks like.
A few of my favorite areas to photograph the skyline come from Lou Neff Point along the Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake. All along this path, you’ll find nice compositions of the downtown area. From the Pedestrian Bridge just east of the Lamar Bridge, you’ll also find a photo opportunity of the high rises with Lady Bird Lake in the foreground.
Earlier, I mentioned aesthetic challenges – and here is why: the Austin skyline is growing exponentially. On any given week, you can count seven or more cranes popping into the air, making the downtown area not-so-pleasing. So when I’ve been downtown this past year, I look for scenes where the cranes are not visible. One location with a crane-free view comes from beneath the First Street Bridge. I found another looking at the State Capitol from Congress Avenue on the south side of Lady Bird Lake. But for this view, you have to be careful to avoid traffic (I shoot this area early in the morning on a weekend – fewer cars).
For the wider angle skyline views, and even panoramas, one of my favorite locations is the Zilker Clubhouse on the west side of Mopac. I like sunrise here because you can often have amazing colors in the sky. Nearby – just a small distance from the Zilker Clubhouse gate – is a nearby trail leading to an opening that provides a sweeping view of the city. You have to stand on a rock wall to see above the trees, but the view is worth it. Getting your tripod legs to fit on the small wall can be a challenge, but do-able. Taking several images from this location to stitch into a panorama scene works perfect for longer lenses (I use a 24-105 or a 70-200 here). For scenes like this, I’ll also go into photoshop and clone out the cranes to give the entire image a cleaner feel.
If you want to see more examples of the Austin skyline – both standard sizes and panoramas – feel free to visit my new website’s Austin skyline gallery.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
February 1, 2014
I’ve been asked several time what my favorite places are around Austin, Texas, to photograph. After thinking a bit, I thought I’d come up with my Top 10 list. In the meantime, you can follow my current photographic adventures on my Facebook Photography business page. You can also find my images at one of my business sites – either Rob Greebon Photography or Images from Texas.
So, here are my Top Ten locations around the Austin area (and a few that are short drives out of town).
10 – Mount Bonnell
Located just off 2222, Mount Bonnell is the 2nd highest point in Austin and offers great views of the Colorado River and the 360 Bridge in one direction and the Austin skyline in the other. It is a short walk up some steps from the parking lot. From here, you can enjoy great sunrises and sunsets. If you shoot in the morning, the sun will be at your back. Shooting towards the river and the 360 Bridge in the evening will have the sun setting in front of you.
9 – The Long Center
Home to world class performances, the Long Center also offers a balcony with a fabulous view of downtown Austin. At sunrise you’ll have the sky turning colors. In the evening (on a night when there is no show) you can have the Austin skyline lighting up as sunset fades.
8 – Lou Neff Point and the Zilker Park and the Hike and Bike Trails
Take your camera and walk the trails at Zilker Park that surround Lady Bird Lake. You’ll find numerous locations to shoot from, including the foot bridges that cross over Barton Creek as it feeds into Lady Bird Lake. Swans and water fowl also provide opportunities to photograph these beautiful creatures as they enjoy lazy afternoons in the clear water.
Lou Neff Point is along the Zilker Park Hike and Bike Trails, but it deserves it’s own mention. This point offers a great view of the Austin skyline across the waters of Lady Bird Lake. I love mornings here when the sun rises in front of you and lights up the sky. In the early morning calm, you can often capture a great reflection of the skyline in the water.
7 – Zilker Park Clubhouse
The Zilker Park Clubhouse is on the opposite side of MoPac. It is often locked up with a gate, but there are trails leading to the balcony that afford you fantastic views of downtown Austin. Just down the road (before you reach the clubhouse) is a small parking area that leads to another great view of the Austin skyline. If you shoot here at sunrise, you’ll have the sun rising in front of you. In the evenings, you’ll have a backlit skyline with glass reflecting the oranges and reds of the setting sun.
6 – Congress Bridge, Lamar Bridge, and Lady Bird Lake
Also located along the Zilker Park Hike and Bike Trails, these two bridges offer opportunities to capture unique views of Austin, including kayakers and scullers, views of the state capitol (from Congress), and the interesting architecture of the bridges themselves.
5 – Hamilton Pool
Located about 30 minutes outside of Austin out Hamilton Pool Road, Hamilton Pool offers a chance to photograph an amazing grotto and emerald pool. You can also take a dip when the water is clean. Hamilton Pool does charge an admission, and the change in lighting offers a challenge in finding the optimal exposures. This is a location where HDR can really help you obtain a balance of lights and darks. One downfall of Hamilton Pool is that their hours are very limiting – keeping you out during the magic hours of sunrise and sunset. On the winter solstice, you have the best chance at changing colors in the sky. I was there for just this moment and stayed until the kind park ranger escoreted me out 🙂
4 – The University of Texas at Austin
Famous for the UT Tower, the University of Texas also offers interesting architecture and pools to photograph. Still, the tower is an icon and one of the most photographed locations in Texas. Pick an evening when UT has the tower lit orange and your image will be further enhanced.
3 – Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls State Park is located about 45 minutes outside of Austin and is well worth the drive through rolling hills. In the spring, wildflowers bloom along the clear waters of the Pedernales River. In autumn, the cypress trees turn a brilliant orange. In summer, cool off in the cold water and enjoy an afternoon. Sunrises and sunsets offer great chances to catch the soft light. The way the river twists and turns, you can always find an angle that gives you a colorful magic hour.
2 – Pennybacker Bridge (also known as the 360 Bridge)
Outside of Austin at the intersection of 2222 and the 360/Capitol of Texas Highway, Percy Pennybacker designed a steel bridge that would span the rivers of the Colorado River and never touch the waters. The result, Pennybacker Bridge, is an Austin icon. On the northwest and northeast cliffs, you have wonderful views of the bridge and the hill country (from the north east cliff) or the bridge and the Austin skyline (from the northwest cliff). Recently after a few accidents by people falling off the cliffs, signs were posted in the parking lot that indicate you can’t park there. Locals seem to ignore these signs. If you are rules follower, you can still park in the nearby neighborhood around the bridge and walk. Pennybacker Bridge is a great place to enjoy a sunrise or sunset – and it doesn’t matter if you bring a camera!
1 – The Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol sits on 22 acres of lush grass, walkways, and monuments. The front and back of the capitol offer great views, especially in the early morning when you rarely find anyone around. With a soft light, you can use a wide angle to capture the grand scene of the nations’ 2nd largest capitol (second only to the capitol in Washington DC), or you can use a zoom to photograph the top of the limestone structure with the Texas and US flags. Nearly any sidewalk offers a great view. You can even walk down Congress in either direction and capture the scene with streetlights leading to the capitol grounds.
There are so many more opportunities around Austin than I can mention here. SoCo (South Congress), the Graffiti Castle, South Lamar, the bats in the late summer, and many other options are there.
These locations are some of my favorite views of Austin, and I hope to keep finding more and more places to visit. I’d love to hear your favorites. Drop me a line or make a suggestion. Thanks for Reading!
August 24, 2013
In my previous post, I had offered up a picture of the Austin skyline taken from the Milago’s roof. I visited this location several times this August in an attempt to photograph the bats of Congress Bridge as they departed on their way to find their evening meal. I needed a clear, calm sunset so the bats would show up against the orange sky. (If it was cloudy, they would not show up as well).
I finally had this opportunity this past Friday evening. The sky was clear, the colors were great, and the bats started their nightly departure just after sunset. It was curious, though, because I was photographing from the Austin Hyatt the week prior and the bats left about 7:30pm – 40 minutes before sunset. Not sure what was going on with their internal clock!
Nevertheless, the bats soared into the Texas Hill Country sky and made a plume of bodies heading south. This Austin Skyline image shows some of the more well know buildings in Austin such as the Austonian, the 360 Condos, the Springs Condos, and the Austin Hyatt. Ladybird Lake was hosting more than several sightseeing boats, and folks were gathered all along Congress Bridge to watch the nightly spectacle.
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to photograph the UT Graduation 2013 fireworks from the top floor of a condominium complex near campus. This offered a great view of the scene below me. I also had nice views of the Austin skyline, including the Texas State Capitol and the Frost Bank Tower. The graduation ceremony lasted nearly two hours, and the UT Tower was lit in many different colors throughout the night, each representing a different college’s graduation. The finale of the evening offered a fireworks display around and above the UT Tower. This image of the UT Graduation was captured during that fireworks show. Thanks for looking!
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I had the opportunity to leave my comforts of the Texas Hill Country where I spend my time photographing the hills and nearby Austin Skyline, and visited Guadalupe Mountains National Park for a few days and lived off the grid. The drive out to west Texas from my home in Dripping Springs took over 7 hours. Boy Howdy, there isn’t much out there! This was my first time to explore Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and I was struck by how remote and magnificent the area felt. I was fortunate to witness some amazing clouds, both at sunrise and sunset, and only got rained on once.
See more images from Guadalupe Mountains National Park here: Guadalupe Mountains National Park Images
I also trekked up Guadalupe and looking down on the state of Texas from the highest point in the state. The 4.3 miles hike (8.6 round trip) was relatively easy, but take lots of liquids. Storm clouds were moving in fast when I was on the summit, so I scampered back down and captured the scene from the bottom of the mountains.
This image shows El Capitan, Texas 8th tallest peak, rising from the Chihuahuan Desert. Behind it, Guadalupe Peak rises to 8,749 feet and is Texas’ tallest peak. I was up well before sunrise to hike to this spot. On the drive and walk to this spot, I never saw another person. The sunrise against the thin clouds and setting moon was amazing, and I was happy just to be there and enjoy this beautiful creation.
Thanks for looking!
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May 11, 2013
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to shoot for the Springs Condominiums in downtown Austin. This Austin highrise is renovating the 42nd floor Penthouse so I had balconies to photograph the Austin skyline that faced both north, east, south, and west. The location offered a great panorama of Austin, from Ladybird Lake almost directly below me to I-35 in the distance. I was able to capture Texas State Capitol images, as well as photos of the UT Tower. I also obtained some unique perspectives of the Frost Bank Tower with a Southwest Airlines jet landing in the background. All in all, I hope they can use the images of Austin, and I loved the view from this amazing location. Thanks, Springs Condominiums!
Here is an Austin Skyline Image looking down at Ladybird Lake. The Austin Hyatt is on the south side of the river and the Milago Condominiums in the largest building in the distance, with I-35 behind it. This Austin image was two images blended together. The sky was a longer exposure to show the clouds moving across the sky.
For more Austin Skyline Images, please visit these sites:
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!