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

http://www.ImagesfromTexas.com

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The latest ENSO (El Nino – Southern Oscillation) report came out just a few days ago. All indications are this weather pattern will continue into spring and early summer. For us Texas Hill Country folks, that means more rain and mild temperatures. It also holds the promise of a spectacular Texas wildflower display beginning in March and lingering into May.

In past El Nino Years such as 1998, 2005, and 2010, the wildflower blooms were some of the most colorful on record. And I am banking on this spring surpassing in color and coverage these past El Nino Events.

The image below shows what the shores along the Colorado River and Lake Travis looked like last year. This year, these same areas are underwater thanks to the copious rains that have fallen already.

Bluebonnets fill the dry sandy shores along the Colorado River and Lake Travis.

Along the Colorado River portion of Lake Travis, this sandy bank is usually underwater. However, severe drought exposed this area and in the spring of 2015, bluebonnets exploded across the land, creating a different sort of lake! These Texas wildflowers were everywhere, and the sunset was magical on this quiet April evening.

I expect the wildflowers to start showing up in early March down south  – south of San Antonio. Some of the Big Bend Bluebonnets may even bloom in early February depending on the weather. I have plans to visit the Big Bend area in mid-March, so I’m hoping I can shoot there during peak, or at least close to it. Last year I was there the third week in March and a few fields of bluebonnets put on some amazing displays – mostly well off the beaten path.

In early April, bluebonnets in the Hill Country should begin to fill in. Expectations are high for areas around Mason, Llano, and Fredericksburg, as well up near San Saba. Areas east of Austin may explode with color, too. Anywhere along the 290 corridor to Houston is full of potential.  From there, the bloom will move north. Ennis, famous for their bluebonnet trail, should enjoy nice colors this April.

One thing to note – with milder temperatures that linger later into spring, the bloom may be pushed back a week or two from average. But patience will be rewarded.

In any case, start making plans to get out and enjoy the colors. This should be an unforgettable wildflower season – one that you’ll talk about for years to come.

I’ll also be updating wildflower sightings on my facebook page.

Safe Travels

~ Rob

Images from Texas

2015 and Gratitude

January 2, 2016

As I reflect on 2015, I’m filled with thankfulness on what has been a really good year.

My life is busy. Trying to manage a hectic work schedule while keeping a wife and two wonderful little girls happy can be formidable. And I know I’m not alone in this challenge. Lots of folks out there work through the same issues – some going at it alone and with much less support. So for starters, I’m grateful for the patience of my family. As my photography business has grown over the last few years starting with the Rob Greebon Photography website, free time has become a premium. And with the launch of my newest website, Images from Texas, business has more than doubled in the last 9 months. That’s great, but it also creates more demands and responsibilities. I’m also excited about the future. My girls are old enough now where they are starting to want to accompany me on some of my treks. While I’m not sure if they are quite ready for 4am wake-up calls, they did stay out with me one night to photograph the Milky Way while at Pedernales Falls (yes, the following day was a bit tough). More adventures will be in their future, I imagine!

Little Girls under the Milky Way

On a summer night, two precious girls enjoy the view of the night sky in the Texas Hill Country.

Along with this, around the middle of June, whether through circumstance or fate or whatever you want to call it, a new opportunity arose in my life. With support of my family, stepping through this opened door has been a blessing – both with the new people I’ve met as well as the enjoyment of day to day life. While I won’t go into more detail, it was a prayer answered.

I’m also thankful for having the good fortune to live in the Texas Hill Country just outside of Austin, Texas. The state parks are enchanting and the opportunity to photograph the Texas landscapes seem endless. I’m a short drive from the Pedernales River and Pedernales Falls State Park, and it isn’t too much further to Enchanted Rock. The sunrises and sunsets can be stunning. Often when I’m out at sunrise I’ll not see another person the entire time. I do like my quiet time.

Sunset over Enchanted Rock in the Texas HIll Country

Sunset over Enchanted Rock as seen from Turkey Peak

The Texas Hill Country also offers dark skies which are perfect for photographing the night sky. Whether it is the Milky Way or a meteor shower, clear nights can be amazing. Here is a time-lapse image from the Perseid Meteor shower that comes around each August. This final image is a composite of over 3 hours of photographing the meteors.

Perseids fall across the Texas Hill Country Sky.

The Perseids rain over Pedernales Falls on a clear night in August.

 

Another aspect of life I’m grateful for is the beauty that I find in the details of what I photograph. This idea is especially evident each spring when I’m out searching for Texas wildflowers. Sometimes when I find a field of bluebonnets, I am in awe of the beauty that springtime in Texas brings. I know there is suffering in this world, but there is also good. And through my photography I try to bring out the uniqueness, the color, and the amazing scenes that are out there for us to appreciate.

As I get older, I think I’m getting better at enjoying the little things despite a hectic schedule. I try to stop and really notice my daughters – their expressions, their wonder, their precious mannerisms. I am not as stressed about things that just don’t matter in the big scheme of things. I stare at the the stars a little more at night; I study the patterns and petals of a red and gold firewheel just a bit more when it blooms in the spring. The fleeting time I have with my few close friends I appreciate even more for I know the moments will not last.

I have a pretty good life, and it is just getting better. 2016 is going to rock!

Happy Travels, everyone.

~ Rob

And follow my photography on my facebook page if you are so inclined 🙂

After several months in the works, I’ve finally got new website up and running. With thanks to Jack Brauer at http://www.widerangegalleries.com, my Images from Texas site is live!

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.

Bluebonnets were everywhere at Big Bend National Park this spring.

Sunset over bluebonnets and the Chisos Mountains at Big Bend National 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!

~ Rob

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph many locations. I’ve done some work this summer for some folks in Snowmass Village and Aspen. Any anytime I can escape the summer heat of Texas, I’ll take it.

One of my favorite times occurs when I am able to return to Colorado for 6 weeks each summer and photograph the wildflowers of Colorado along with other Colorado images. This spring, the Rockies received more than their usual amount of snow, so the wildflowers are a bit late in blooming. Still, that gives me the opportunity to photograph the early bloomers.

One such wildflower is the mountain sunflower, also known as the “Old Man of the Mountain.” These Colorado sunflowers are usually the first to appear – often at 11,000-12,500 feet – and almost always above treeline. They are hearty little flowers, hugging the ground to weather the winds and cold and even summer snows. This panorama of these amazing little sunflowers was taken at about 12,000 feet. To reach this point, I had to hike through a swampy forest made wet by melting snows flowing down through an overflowing creek. After that, it was nearly straight up 1000 vertical feet through a boulder field. After a lot of grunting and sweating, the payoff appeared – a ridge along the Continental Divide brimming with golden wildflowers.

Colorado sunflowers fill the side of a mountain near Winter Park, Colorado.

Colorado wildflowers, this time sunflowers, adorn the ridges along the Continental Divide on a summer morning. This Colorado image was taken near Berthoud Pass

In the next few weeks, I hope to visit the San Juans – specifically the wildflower areas of American Basin and Yankee Boy Basin. I also hope to stop by the Maroon Bells and Breckenridge’s Mayflower Gulch.

In the meantime, feel free to visit my Colorado images or see my Texas Bluebonnets and Wildflowers gallery.

I also post current information on my facebook photography page.

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.