Dog Days of Winter

As we approach February, I’m already looking forward to March. As those around me know, my least favorite month is February. It is usually cold, gloomy, windy, and lacking in any color. These past few weeks I’ve gone out to shoot around Lady Bird Lake, but the lack of green on many of the trees leave the images feeling drab and lifeless. Here is an aerial view of downtown shot with my drone. While the Austin skyline looks nice, notice the lack of green along the banks.

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Aerial View of Downtown Austin in January 1 : Prints Available

From high above Lady Bird Lake, this is a bird’s eye view of the Austin, Texas, and the downtown skyilne. Below is Lady Bird Lake and also a portion of the Zilker Park Hike and Bike Trail. This aerial image was taken on a beautiful morning in central Texas.

And I haven’t much bothered with shooting out in the Hill Country, though that time is coming soon with the advent of spring in just about 6 weeks or so.

With all my disgruntledness (is this a word?) about this time of year, one location that does produce for a few weeks at this time of year is Zilker Park’s Lou Neff Point. While the trees lining this portion of the Colorado River are without leaves, at sunrise the sun shows itself straight down the river. This can lead to spectacular sunrises over the water and the Austin skyline. On very cold and calm mornings, you might be lucky and find a mist rising up from the warmer water. This image comes from one of those mornings:

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January Sunrise in Austin, Texas 1 : Prints Available

On a frigid January morning, steam rises off of Lady Bird Lake as the first light of day begins to show over the downtown Austin skyline.

I shot from this same location for over an hour one morning. The change in lighting was dramatic – from 45 minutes before sunrise when Austin glowed beneath the fading darkness to a few minutes after sunrise when light streamed through the mist.

Other than that, I’m just biding time until spring begins to show up again. With trips planned to photograph bluebonnets in Big Bend in March, and all sorts of wildflowers across central throughout the Spring, I should probably just enjoy the down time for a while!


In other news, I’m pleased to say one of my Texas wildflower images will be in a new Austin hotel opening in the fall of 2016. This field of flowers will be 116 feet long and accentuated with textured glass. I look forward to seeing the final product.


I hope everyone fares well in the dog days of February. We should have a very colorful spring as long as El Nino doesn’t turn off the water faucet. If so, I’ll be posting wildflower updates on my facebook page as well as on here, so feel free to follow along.

Happy travels, Texas!


Texas Images

Favorite Images from 2015

I’m often asked to make recommendations for which images I think would work with this or that, and I’m never sure quite how to respond. It seems some photographs really inspire folks while others leave them feeling ho-hum. My favorites are often not others’ favorites, and vice versa. You just never know.

So to start out the New Year, I thought I’d share my personal favorites of 2015.

In no particular order, here are some of my most memorable images from our great Lone Star State.

It was a crazy night of severe storms, high winds, hail turning the fields white, followed by amazing sunset colors. Then rainbows showed while lightening could still be seen in the distance. The few images I snapped on a highway between Llano and Mason as the storm passed showed amazing mammatus clouds lingering over a field of colorful wildflowers. One photograph from this trek was selected by the Texas Hill Country Alliance as the Grand Prize Winner for their annual photography contest. The Wildflowers at the End of the Storm now appears on the cover of the 2016 calendar.

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Wildflowers at the End of the Storm 1 : Prints Available

** This image was awarded the Grand Prize in the Texas Hill Country Alliance’s 2015 Photo Contest! **

Between Llano and Mason in the Texas hill country, storm clouds move to the east as the sun sets in the west over this lone Oak tree and a field of mixed wildflowers, including bluebonnets, coreopsis, and paintbrush.

In March, I had the chance to spend some time in Big Bend National Park photographing the bluebonnets. The weather was unpredictable, but the flowers were colorful and plentiful. One morning while out shooting at sunrise, I was blessed with bluebonnets, wonderful light, and great background that included the Chisos Mountains. This bluebonnet image has also become one of my best sellers (and that always helps!).

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Big Bend – Bluebonnet Sunrise 1 : Prints Available

Bluebonnets bathe in the warmth of first light as the sun rises over a ridge of Cerro Castellan in Big Bend National park.

Another of my favorite images came from the beginning of the year. I was photographing the downtown Austin skyline from the hike and bike trail that extends out onto Lady Bird Lake near Joe’s Crabshack. It was early in the morning, cold, and fog was rising off the water. The sun had just risen behind me in the east. Just before packing up, I noticed several birds in the area. I waited for the right moment and captured this images of an egret (I think) as it came in for a landing.

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Bird if Flight – Austin Texas Skyline : Prints Available

From the boardwalk, I was photographing the Austin skyline one cold January morning as fog drifted over Lady Bird Lake. There is an area below the platform where birds congregate. For a few minutes, I focused on these water fowl and captured this image as one came in for a landing.

The Texas Hill Country is my home. And I shoot a lot out here, especially in the state parks. Pedernales Falls is only 25 minutes from my house, so I’m out at this wonderful area several times a month – mostly at sunrise. In May, the area, especially Wimberley, was devastated by heavy rains and flooding. Pedernales Falls State Park was closed for several days. After the gates finally opened, I was one of the first folks down there, and the photographs taken at sunrise were nearly unbelievable. The river ran as high as I’ve ever seen it. The scary part was you could see debris 15 feet higher than where I was shooting – up in the trees along the banks – indicating how high the water had actually risen. This images comes at sunrise as clouds began to break up over the Pedernales River.

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Flood on the Pedernales River 5 : Prints Available

Step carefully when the Pedernales River is flowing like this. Sunrise at Pedernales Falls State Park on this morning offered some wonderful light. The sky was pink and purple to the west as a storm was moving in, but in the east the sunlight was trying to filter through thin clouds. The water was flowing fast after historic rains the previous week. But in this image, the river’s level had actually gone down quite a bit in the days prior.

In the photograph above, I’m often able to walk across this stretch of river to the opposite shore without my feet getting wet at all!

Of course, I have to include a bluebonnet image as one of my favorites. I’ve already put in one from Big Bend, but here is one from the Texas Hill Country. This wildflower photograph comes from the shores of the Colorado River and Lake Travis. With the lack of rains, much of this area is usually under water. However, this past spring it was dry and covered with bluebonnets. I ventured over here one evening and did not see another person the entire night. The irony is that nearby – at another park along this same stretch of river, the bluebonnets were completely overrun with people trampling them until there was very little left to enjoy.

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Path Through the Bluebonnets 2 : Prints Available

On a quiet evening, a path through thick bluebonnets leads back to the car and the long drive home. Evenings like this I cherish the time spent amid the wonders of a Texas Hill Country spring.

There are so many other Texas images I really like from 2015, but for now these are some that stand out. I took a lot of Milky Way images, and I do love the night sky over a Texas landscape. And as we close the books on 2015, I look forward to what 2016 brings. With El Nino in full force right now, I expect we’ll have one of the better wildflower springs in the last 50 years. I’m already planning on a lot of driving in late March, and all of April and May to search for colorful Texas fields. I also have trips planned to Big Bend, Palo Duro, Dallas, Fort Worth, and many other fun locations.

In the meantime, feel free to follow my work on facebook.

Safe Travels, Texas!

Images from Texas

Photographing Mount Bonnell, Austin Texas

Mount Bonnell is one of Austin’s most popular local and tourist destinations. It provides great views of the Colorado River below, and there is even a spot that offers a commanding view of the Austin skyline. This prominent cliff alongside the water is often mentioned as Austin’s highest point at 780 feet, but that honor goes to the Jollyville Plateau at around 1,100 feet above sea level). Still, the views are nice and the sunsets can be spectacular. Tourists have been visiting this landmark since the 1850s, and in 2015 Mount Bonnell was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As for photographing this area, Mount Bonnell offers only a few compositions. I prefer shooting in the evening at sunset. You can often have nice clouds as the sun sinks below the hills opposite the river. At sunrise, you’ll have the sun behind you and can use it to light up the trees across the river, but you’ll also run into harsher light and deep shadows. If you like creating panoramas, this is a nice place to show the length of the river, and the 360 Bridge can even be included in these shots, as its steel structure can be seen in the distance.

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Mount Bonnell Panorama Sunset 1 : Prints Available

This is the view from Mount Bonnell just outside of Austin, Texas. Three individual images were used to make this panorama that shows the sweeping views from one of Austin’s favorite landmarks. Below is the Texas version of the Colorado River. In this distance, the iconic 360 Bridge crosses over the water below.

If you want to take a shot at the Austin skyline, walk south along the trail past the pavilion. If you keep going, you’ll find a stone picnic table. From this point, you can set up your tripod on top of the table to gain an unobstructed view of downtown. You’ll want to shoot with a telephoto lens – usually 150mm-200mm at least, and you’ll want it to be a crisp day for optimal clarity. I also like to take several images here to create a pano of the skyline. I’ve found that a little after sunset is best because you’ll have the city lights beginning to shine. On some nights, you’ll even find the UT Tower lit up after a Texas Longhorn victory.

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Austin Skyline from Mount Bonnell 1 : Prints Available

Taken from Mount Bonnell, this panorama shows the every growing Austin skyline. Most of the major landmarks of downtown are featured in this image, including the glowing UT Tower (after the Texas-OU football game), the Texas state Capitol, the Frost Tower, the Austonian, the 360 Condos, the Springs Condos, and many others. This citscape is a stitch of several images to show the beauty of the Austin evening.

Mount Bonnell is a fun place to visit, but can get quite crowded on weekends. Still, it is worth a trip every so often. Enjoy the view!

~ Rob
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Images from Texas

Downtown Austin and Lady Bird Lake

If you’ve been to the Austin area, you know the skyline is a mess with all the new construction. But there are some nice views to be found. The cranes at various points in the downtown area have pushed me to look for a few more unique angles, and that has been fun and challenging. The past few weekends I’ve spent sunrises exploring the nooks and crannies of the Zilker Park Hike and Bike trail along Lady Bird Lake. I’m really intrigued by the angles and leading lines of a few of the bridges. One of the best views in my opinion is from beneath the Pedestrian Bridge seen here:

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Lady Bird Lake, Austin Texas, Summer Day : Prints Available

Lady Bird Lake is the place to be on a summer day in August in Austin, Texas. For those who enjoy the water, you can find plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun and cool off at the same time. Here, near the Pedestrian Bridge that spans the waters of this slow moving portion of the Colorado River (known as Town Lake to long-time locals), kayakers, canoers, and paddle-boarders enjoy a summer afternoon.

I love the curves along with the folks out enjoying the best Austin has to offer.

Another piece of interesting architecture comes from beneath Lamar Bridge. While this image is taken during the afternoon hours, at times when the sun streams down the corridor of Lady Bird Lake just after sunrise during the cooler months, the arches glow in a soft morning orange light.

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Lady Bird Lake Summer from Lamar Bridge : Prints Available

Kayakers enjoy the shade of Lamar Bridge on Lady Bird Lake. Nearby, the Austin skyline rises into the hot summer air, offering great views for those who get out to paddle around.

Another place from which I photographed the high rises was beneath the First Street Bridge. I’m not sure how I feel about this view yet. On one hand, I like the leading lines and the angles that appear from both the bridge structure and the reflection. I’m still trying to figure out if it works for me.

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Austin Skyline from First St Bridge : Prints Available

Early on a late August morning, the downtown Austin, Texas, comes to life. This picture that overlooks Lady Bird Lake was taken from beneath the 1st Street Bridge.

In any case, exploring different perspectives is always fun, and trying to find something that hasn’t been done before is usually a challenge.

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Austin Scullers on Lady Bird Lake 1 : Prints Available

Before sunrise on a warm August morning, scullers glide across the smooth water of Lady Bird Lake (also know as Town Lake to long-time locals). In the distance, the high rises of the downtown Austin skyline rise into the morning air.

Thanks for reading, and happy travels!

~ Rob

From the Fridge to the Frying Pan – Welcome back to Texas!

I’ve spent the past 6 weeks exploring and photographing the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. While I love Texas, I also enjoy the cooler temperatures and sweeping mountain vistas the high country offers. From the San Juans to the Maroon Bells to Denver, I head up there each summer in hopes of climbing a few 14,000 foot peaks and photographing the amazing landscapes, including Colorado wildflowers, along the way.

Colorado wildflowers fill a meadow near Vail, Colorado.
A patch of pink paintbrush fills the meadow on a hike to Booth Lake near Vail, Colorado. These Rocky Mountain wildflowers are beautiful in late July and bring color to a majestic landscape.
From one 14,000 foot peak (Humbolt) to another two peaks (Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak), the views of the Colorado landscape are remarkble.
From the 14,064 summit of Humbolt Peak, this panorama shows the majestic Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak, both 14ers, across a beautiful valley of green. The clouds were streaming over the rocky peaks and created a landscape not seen by too many folks.

For most of the summer, we stay at about 9,000 feet in altitude. Most days, the temperatures barely reach 70, but many times we enjoy mid-60s with afternoon rain a common occurrence. But work calls, and I had to return to the Hill Country this past week. Immediately upon my return, I only had time to throw the luggage in the living room before heading to downtown to photograph the Austin skyline. I had a client that wanted a current image – cranes and all – of the downtown area to contrast that photograph with one taken in 2008. When I left the mountains, it was 41 degrees. When I arrived down on Town Lake (aka Lady Bird Lake for the new arrivals), the temperatures were over 100. Good grief! Still, it is nice to be home. And the boardwalk that skirts the waters of the Texas version of the Colorado River does offer nice views of the highrises. I even saw a few bats. Here is a panorama of the skyline taken from the boardwalk that evening.

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Austin Skyline Pano from the Boardwalk 1 : Prints Available

This Austin, Texas, panorama was taken on a very warm July evening from the Boardwalk that runs along Lady Bird Lake. Several images were stitched together to make up this composite of the downtown skyline as well as the path that bikers and joggers enjoy.

Next up for me, weather permitting, is the Perseid Meteor Shower in a few weeks. The moon phase will be perfect (new moon at peak) and forecasts say we could see up to 100 meteors per hour. That would be amazing.

Stay tuned!

~ Rob
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