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

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Bluebonnets are here!

April 18, 2015

I’ve driven 500 miles the last week in search of bluebonnets. But between readying a new website, trekking around for wildflowers, and processing these images, I just haven’t had time to update this blog. Nevertheless, this will be my attempt to add a little more information.

I’m currently posting my most recent wildflower images on my new website – mainly under my bluebonnet gallery. I’ll also be posting images on my Texas facebook page. So far, bluebonnets have been the main subject of my latest photographic adventures. I’ve been all across the Hill Country and have found some pretty nice sites. Many of the dirt roads in a makeshift quadrangle area from Fredericksburg to Mason to Llano to Marble Falls have produced some nice roadside displays, with some bluebonnets reaching into the fields. I’ve explored some of my favorite roads as well as some I haven’t been down before. You just never know what you might find. Here is one image from just south of Mason:

Bluebonnets fill the roadsides of this dirt path near Mason, Texas.

A dirt road in the Hill Country can offer Texas Bluebonnets and other beautiful wildflowers.

Another nice surprise was a trip to Big Bend. After good rains over the winter and spring, I was fortunate to be there when the bluebonnets were out and other wonderful wildflowers were in the middle of a desert bloom. While I’ve visited this amazing and remote national park, I’d never seen the colors I enjoyed this trip. In the photograph below, a patch of bluebonnets rests under a rare rainbow – just very good (and lucky) timing!

Bluebonnets, Big Bend National Park, and a perfect spring day are hard to beat.

Good timing found me photographing bluebonnets as a rainbow appeared in Big Bend National Park.

Bluebonnets are out! So if you enjoy driving the Hill Country, now is the time. The blues won’t last long. Next will be the reds and oranges of firewheels and coreopsis, along with a myriad of other wildflowers… just a few weeks away!

Thanks for stopping by. Safe travels to everyone.

~ Rob

 

 

 

 

 

Like the title says, I’m ready for spring. I’m ready for bluebonnets and Texas wildflowers to fill the fields along dirt roads and county roads throughout the Texas Hill Country. I’m ready for all the brown, dead grass to go away and for green to take over. I’m also ready for cedar fever to disappear!

We need rain. In looking at the rain totals throughout the Texas Hill Country and across the state, there were pockets that received quite a bit of rain. At the least, I’m hopeful for an average wildflower season when late March and April finally arrive. If we can coax a few more good rains from the clouds in February and March, we might have a really good wildflower season. Now we just wait.

I also read recently that folks who follow El Nino and La Nina say that models indicate we’ll remain in neutral through the spring, but later models suggest a trend towards El Nino heading into the fall, which would mean a wetter fall and winter for us here in Texas. I guess it is never too early to speculate on weather patterns that are 9 months away 🙂

So as we wait on spring to arrive, here are a few images of our state flower, the bluebonnet. The first comes from Pontotoc, Texas from 2010. The second is a panorama of a field I found at sunset down a dirt road on the border of Mason and San Saba Counties.

This Bluebonnet image comes from the Texas Hill Country in spring.

Bluebonnets surround an old stone building in Pontotoc, Texas, in the Texas Hill Country.

Texas Hill Country bluebonnet image - comes from spring of 2012

A Texas bluebonnet panorama that comes from the Texas Hill Country in the spring of 2012.

To stay up to date on my photography, I invite you to follow my images on facebook.

See more bluebonnet images in my bluebonnet gallery.

I also have another bluebonnet gallery here.