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 🙂

Autumn Colors in the Texas Hill Country are on the way! Each year in mid November, the leaves of the maple, oak, and cypress begin turning from green to red, orange, and gold. If you drive through the rolling hills of this area, you are sure to find colors and scenes that are photo-worthy between every town. Tomorrow is November 1st, and tonight is forecast to be our our coldest evening of the fall so far with lows in the 40s.

If you are interested, here are a few of my favorite drives and locations for fall colors in Texas. I also realized there are so many more areas to check out, so please feel free to leave comments about your favorites, as well. I’m always interested in finding new locations to shoot. In no particular order…

First, the Devil’s backbone – the drive from Wimberley to Blanco along 2325 – gives you some nice views of hillsides that often have a patchwork of orange and red. Stop in Wimberley for pizza at Brewster’s Brewery for lunch and check out the art galleries, as well.

Second, another popular location is Lost Maples State Park near Vanderpool, Texas. This area can become quite crowded on a nice November day. Go during the week if you have the flexibility. If you have to go on the weekend, arrive very early – like for sunrise. If you get there after 9am, you can often find a mile long and hour wait to enter the park. Also, the roads around the park like 337 and 187 have cross some nice creeks. These little streams are often lined with glorious cypress trees that offer oranges and reds that are perfect for capturing holiday images.

Third… If you enjoy quaint towns, check out Gruene, Texas, home to the famous Gruene Hall. The Guadalupe River runs through town and offers wonderful places to check out antique stores or take a stroll along the river bank and enjoy the cypress trees. For lunch or dinner, check out the Grist Mill in New Braunfels. It’s famous for a reason!

Fourth, and a bit closer to my home, one of my favorite locations to capture the colors of the season is Pedernales Falls State Park just about 8 miles from Johnson City. I know just about every curve and bend of the Pedernales River in the river in this area, and that second and third week in November can offer up some great color at sunrise as the sun breaks over the horizon and streams through the cascading cypress trees. If you like to scramble over rocks and get away from crowds, this little Texas state park is just the place for you. You’ll find me out here on several occasions later this month. Besides wildflower season in the spring, this is my favorite time of year!

Below is a photograph of one of my favorite stretches along the Pedernales.

Autumn colors shine in the morning light at Pedernales Falls State Park in mid-November.

Autumn colors shine in the morning light at Pedernales Falls State Park in mid-November.

I know there are so many other great places to visit. These areas I mentioned are just a sprinkling of what is out there.

If you’d like to see more images of these beautiful rolling hills, please see my Hill Country of Texas gallery.

Thanks!

~ Rob

It seems we’re at an in-between time for photography. Our bluebonnet rosettes are showing promise after a slightly colder winter than normal. We just need rain now. The grasses around the Texas Hill Country are still relatively brown, but there are pockets of green showing. Yesterday in Austin, I even saw bluebonnets that had bloomed.
So until everything else things turn green, I’ve been spending time looking back at some old images, as well as heading out to the closest Texas state park to my house, Pedernales Falls State Park.
I ventured out to this park the last two weekends for sunrise, both of which offered pretty amazing colors. From the first day of March, this sunrise greeted me:

Sunrise at Pedernales Falls State Park, nestled in the Texas Hill Country, is a nice place to start the day.

The first day of March greeted the Texas Hill Country with a beautiful sunrise seen here at Pederneles Falls State Park.

For more Texas Hill Country images, please visit my Hill Country Pictures webpages here or here.

I’ve also spent some time revisiting some of my Colorado Wildflower images. I love the Rocky Mountains in the summer, and two things I enjoy doing are 1)climbing and 2)photographing the wildflowers on these hikes. This wildflower image comes from a trek up Mount Massive, one of Colorado’s tallest 14ers.

Colorado wildflower images are some of my favorite pictures take while in the Rocky Mountains.

From around 12,000 feet, these Colorado Wildflowers adorn the slopes of Mount Massive.

For more Colorado wildflowers, see my webpage for these beauties.

One last thing I’ve spent time on is reviewing old Texas wildflower images. I’m so ready for spring and wildflowers to reappear here in the Texas Hill Country. I present here one of my favorite bluebonnet images. This picture was taken outside of Llano where I came across an old wooden fence surrounded by a sea of blue.

Bluebonnets surround an old wooden fence in the Texas Hill Country.

In the Texas Hill Country, I came across this old wooden fence surrounded by bluebonnets in the Spring of 2010.

For more Texas wildflower and bluebonnnet images, please visit Texas Wildflowers.

Also, feel free to follow my wildflower and bluebonnet updates on my Photography Facebook page.

See you out there on the road!

~ Rob

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.

Mount Bonnell is an Austin icon.

The view from Mount Bonnell in Austin, Texas is great for photographing the 360 Bridge to the west and looking at the Austin skyline to the east.

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.

Sunrise comes to the Austin skyline as seen from the balcony of the Long Center.

The Austin Skyline seen from the Long Center before sunrise.

The Long Center in Austin, Texas, hosts world class performances.

The Long Center in downtown Austin sits quietly in the early morning.

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.

Austinites enjoy the cool waters of Lady Bird Lake in Austin Texas on a summer afternoon.

Folks enjoy water sports on a summer afternoon in Zilker Park in the shadow of downtown Austin, Texas.

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.

The Austin skyline comes to life on a cold December morning.

Daybreak appears over the Austin skyline and Ladybird Lake on a cool December morning as seen from Lou Neff Point.

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.

Taken from the Zilker Park clubhouse, the Austin skyline comes to life at sunrise.

The Austin skyline comes to life as the first light of day appears.

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.

A swan swims by underneath Lamar Bridge in Austin, Texas.

Lamar and Congress Bridges offer interesting architecture and unique photo opportunities.

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 🙂

Hamilton Pool outside of Austin, Texas, is a favorite of the locals in summertime.

Hamilton Pool is a great place to spend an afternoon and enjoy the views.

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.

The UT tower is lit orange after a huge football victory

The University of Texas Tower is lit orange after the football team defeats Texas A&M.

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.

Along the Pedernales River, cypress turn a vibrant orange in autumn.

Fall colors at Pedernales Falls State Park offer amazing photo opportunities.

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!

The sun sets in the west and lights up the skies over Pennybacker Bridge and Austin, Texas.

Sunset comes to Austin, Texas, and the 360 Bridge on an August evening.

A perfect sunset over Pennybacker Bridge and Austin, Texas.

The moon rises in the sky on a perfect evening at the 360 Bridge in Austin, Texas

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.

In Austin, Texas, the state capitol is a great place to photograph at sunrise.

The Texas State Capitol is calm in the early morning hours just before sunrise.

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!
~ Rob