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