Waiting for the Rain

February 10, 2016

The month of February is not high on my list of favorite months. This usually gray, cold, windy month leaves me longing for the end of March when our Texas wildflowers begin to appear. The weather folks say El Nino is as strong as ever,  but here in the Hill Country, it has been 38 days since we’ve enjoyed any appreciable rainfall. This does not bode well for a colorful spring. Copious amounts of rain fell in November and December. Parts of my land are covered in bluebonnet rosettes right now – as many as I have ever seen. But these baby bonnets need some rain, as do their seedling cousins, the Indian paintbrush, the coreopsis, and the firewheels, among others. The long term forecast from the Climate Prediction Center shows the weather pattern may change in a few weeks, hopefully bringing us into a more favorable jet stream cycle. Keep your fingers crossed! In the meantime, here is a bluebonnet field from 2013 along the shores of Lake Travis. Ironically, this stretch of land is now underwater thanks to the precipitation from this past fall:

Bluebonnets grow along the shores of Lake Travis on the edge of the Texas Hill Country.

Sunrise greets a flowing field of Texas bluebonnets. As the state wildflower, the bluebonnet is a favorite of Texans everywhere.

In the meantime, I’ve spent more time in downtown Austin searching for unique angles of the skyline where few, if any, cranes are visible. That is a difficult task. Still, there are a few locations where you can minimize the distractions. And from certain perspectives, the cranes are easily removed through post-processing in photoshop. In the winter months when the trees are bare, I like to shoot at a few of these locations.

First, Lou Neff Point offers a great view across the water of the downtown cityscape. In late January, the sun rises directly down the eastern flow of Lady Bird Lake. Often on cold mornings, fog drifts off the warmer water creating a mystical feel as the first light permeates the mist. From about 40 minutes before sunrise to a few minutes afterwards, this single location offers a great contrast in lighting conditions, and you don’t have to move at all. Just wear warm clothing because standing still when the temperature is in the low 30s is not a recipe for patience.

Next, I enjoy shooting at a pool near the Long Center. On calm mornings, this shallow structure gives wonderful reflections of Austin’s most well-known high rises, including the Austonian and the Frost Tower. Two flag poles rise in the same image and give you a chance to use them in framing the buildings if so desired. I also like to create a panorama from this area, and that allows me to include most of the skyline and even the Long Center itself.

The Austin skyline rises in to the cold February morning air.

On a cold morning near the Long Center, the Austin skyline shines in the early morning air. In the southeast, the crescent moon leads the sun above the horizon. This pool to the north of the Long Center offers great reflections of this beautiful central Texas captiol city.

Recently, I’ve also been flying my drone a bit more in an attempt to capture some unique views of the downtown area. About 25 minutes before sunrise, with a faint glow of orange on the horizon, I can start shooting downtown Austin aerial photographs. With such low light, many of the shots come back blurry, so I make sure I take plenty. Usually, I can obtain a few crisp RAW files to work with, and often use them in creating wide angle panoramas of the skyline. The image below shows downtown as seen from South Congress Avenue looking north, and this panorama is made of 3 separate images. At the end of South Congress is the Texas State Capitol.

This aerial view of Austin overlooks South Congress heading north to the Capitol.

The Austin skyline awakens to soft pastels of pink and blue in this aerial panorama image looking down Congress Avenue towards downtown and the Texas State Capitol. Taken on a cold February morning, this view shows the high rises that make up the cityscape of this capitol city.

While I await our spring wildflower season, locations such as these keep me coming out for early morning sunrises. But I do admit, I’m ready for spring. We just need a little rain to make the wait worthwhile!

In the meantime, happy travels, everyone!

~ Rob




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.

This Image of the Austin Skyline shows Mexican Free-tailed bats soaring into the night to find food.

Bats soar into the evening sky for their nightly search for food in this Austin Skyline Image.

For more Austin Skyline Images, please visit my business website at Images from Texas
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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!

Fireworks light up the night over the Austin skyline and the UT Tower

Fireworks light up the UT Campus and UT Tower in celebration of the 2013 college graduates. This UT fireworks image was captured from a condo near the UT campus.

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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!




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I’ve photographed the Austin skyline from many different angles and perspectives… I’ve shot from the ground, from a boat, and from the tops of several high rises including the Austonian, the 360 Condos, the Milago, and the Hyatt. I’ve also photographed in all kinds of weather – even in snow on Pennybacker Bridge!

Last year on a cold morning, I awoke before sunrise and drove downtown to shoot from the Long Center. I arrived well before first light and spent some time exploring. I ended up spending most of my time taking images of Austin near the reflecting pool just west of the Long Center. While there, I noticed a bench that had a wonderful view if you happened to be sitting there. Also, a fog was slowly rolling through the Austin cityscape. I set up and tried to capture my vision – sharing with the viewer the peace of that scene – the Austin skyline with some of the highrises slipping out of the low fog.

I ended up returning here several times. Every morning, and elderly couple came through here – before sunrise – walking their dog. We never spoke, but they smiled, and I smiled, not wanting to disturb their serene time before the rush of life begins.

I also captured some black and white Austin images from this location that I really like. Here, though, is my image of the Austin skyline with a park bench – the best view in Austin!

Austin Cityscape from the best seat in town

This bench has a wonderful view of downtown Austin, Texas, and the Austin skyline. On this morning before sunrise, looking across Lady Bird Lake, a low fog rested among the buildings and architecture of Austin.

For more Austin images, please visit:
My Austin Skyline Gallery

For Texas Wildflowers, please visit:

My Texas Bluebonnet Gallery

or http://www.robgreebonphotography.com

Everyonce in a while, you stumble across something good that was in front of you the entire time. I’ve been photographing Austin and its skyline for a while now, but I’d never visited the Zilker Clubhouse. I knew generally where it was, but for whatever reason, I’d never been there. Well, before sunrise last Saturday, I was on my way downtown to photograph the Hippie Opera and the Taco Express. I was running pretty early (yes, I’m an early bird) so I decided to stop by and take in the view from the balcony.

Upon arrival, I was impressed. The Missouri-Pacific Highway (MoPac to Austonians) runs in front of the view, and the city skyline is just across the highway. I decided to wait on the trip to the Hippie Opera in South Austin, and take in the sunrise from this location. Unfortunately, although the sky was brilliant orange, there were no dramatic clouds. I captured the scene, enjoyed moment, and returned home. The next morning I returned in hopes there would be some clouds. This is the view I was greeted with… a glorious sunrise over the Austin skyline.

This image is a stitch of several photographs. I also blended in the foreground so it would have some definition.

The Austin Skyline from the Zilker Clubhouse

The Austin Skyline from the Zilker Clubhouse

For more of my images, please visit: http://www.robgreebonphotography.com


January 27, 2013

This image is a composite of 26 images. First, I arrived at Pennybacker Bridge in Austin, Texas, on October 8th one of the two nights the Draconid Meteor shower was supposed to be at peak). I took several shots at f/14 after sunset but before dark so I could use these images as the foreground. After dark, I switched the aperture to f/2.8 and set the automatic shutter to take 30 second exposures until the battery ran out. Over the course of ~ 500 exposures, I was able to capture many “shooting stars” – the trails of Draconid meteors. ..Back home, I tediously went through each image and extracted the best images to use -those with the biggest and most colorful meteors. I then stacked these Draconids in layers, rotated them to match the correct position of the stars to match the earth’s rotation over 4hours, and blended them back in using a series of Photoshop tools…I planned this shot for several months, then waited and hoped for a clear night. The moonless night helped the stars show up, as well. ..The postprocessing on this image of Pennybacker Bridge underneath the Draconids took several weeks before finally producing this image.

Night of the Draconids over Pennybacker Bridge near Austin, Texas

Night of the Draconids over Pennybacker Bridge near Austin, Texas