The Austin Skyline

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.

The Austin skyline is visible from along the Hike and Bike trail at Zilker Park.

With the First Street Bridge and downtown Austin skyline in the distance, the first rays of an August morning break through the trees. In the foreground is Lady Bird Lake, a mecca for water-sport enthusiasts around the capitol city. Behind me, joggers and bicyclers enjoy the Zilker Park Hike and Bike Trail.

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.

The Austin skyline awakens on a colorful Autumn morning.

From the top of a trail along the Zilker Park Hike and Bike paths, this view of downtown Austin and the ever-growing skyline is one of my favorites. With the Texas State Capitol on the far left to the tallest building, the Austonian, on the right, the cityscape is nice from nearly any location around the city.

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.


~ Rob

My Texas Images Facebook Page


I’ll be on the road much of the summer – shooting on assignment for various clients and photographing Colorado wildflowers. I certainly do not mind escaping the Texas heat, and I do love the mild afternoons and cool mornings here in the Rocky Mountains.

I spent several days this past week in Snowmass Village/Aspen and at the Maroon Bells. It was a pleasure to work with Laurelwood Condominiums in Snowmass Village, and I always enjoy my time around Maroon Lake and the Maroon Bells Wilderness.
When I arrived, I had several goals – to photograph the Maroon Bells in the evening, in the early hours of the morning when the Milky Way is overhead, and just after sunrise. I was blessed with perfect conditions for each phase of this shoot. Also, the client wanted black and white images, and the clouds and conditions cooperated.

That first evening, the high clouds created an amazing effect, and with still waters on Maroon Lake, the reflections were incredible – perfect for black and white photography. Here is the first image in a series of shots:

This black and white Colorado image features the Maroon Bells at sunset.

Evening falls over the Maroon Bells in this black and white Colorado Image.

I returned to Laurelwood Condos (thanks for taking good care of my family while I was out working!) to sleep for a few hours before returning to the lake a little before 3:00am. With the Milky Way high overhead, I was able to take a three image vertical panorama with the mountains beneath the heavens. I used an astrotrack to take long exposures of the Milky Way, thus alleviating star trails. I also took an extremely long exposure of the mountains and foreground so I could blend that base into the image, thus adding some definition to the mountains. To stitch the images together, I used PTGui, an excellent program for creating panos. Here is the finished product:

This Colorado image features the Milky Way rising over the Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado.

The Milky Way rises over Colorado’s Maroon Bells during the months of June and July.

Later that morning, with the waters still calm, the puffy white clouds and deep blue sky made for a postcard image:

Near Aspen, Colorado, a perfect day greets the Maroon Bells and the Rocky Mountains.

Morning comes to the Maroon Bells in this image from Colorado’s Rocky Mountains near Aspen.

You can see more images from this shoot on my Colorado Images gallery.

Soon the Colorado Columbine will be blooming. These are Colorado’s state flower, like the bluebonnet is in Texas. On a hike yesterday, I noticed several blooms already showing their shades of blue. With the melting snows, it will not be long until the wildflowers grace the meadows and valleys of these Rocky Mountains.

Feel free to follow my photograph on facebook.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, or would like to purchase images either with a license or as prints, please contact me at

Have a good week!

~ Rob