Texas – Home Sweet Home

As I write this blog, My wife, two girls, and I just crossed the Texas-New Mexico border and passed the Happy State Bank in Texline. I just finished up six weeks in Colorado, but I’ll get to that in a moment. For these long drives we usually leave early. This morning was no exception as we departed a little before 3am for the 15 hour trip. And I’m tired but can’t sleep. So I’ll ramble a bit…

First, some good news… I found out yesterday I will have two images in the Texas Highways Magazine 2017 Wildflower Calendar, and one of those will also serve as the cover photo! But as of now I don’t know which image that will be. Still, that is a nice bit of news. Texas Highways also pays well ? . A few weeks before that, I received word my Perseid meteor shower image won 1st place in the Texas Hill Country Alliance annual photography contest.

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Perseids over the Texas Hill Country : Prints Available

Starting at about 2:00am, I let the camera roll, taking 3 hours of time-lapse images of the Perseid meteor shower over Pedernales Falls in the Texas Hill Country. This final photograph is a compilation of the brightest meteors from this amazing scene. The sky photographs were taken using an astro-tracker, then stacked together using photoshop. The foreground was taken just as first light was beginning to show across the landscape – again a long exposure – and blended into the final scene.

This is nice, too, though I’ve been spoiled, having won the grand prize two of the past four years. And last, this past May I had my first book published by Far Country Press – a collection of images around Austin, Texas. I shared the photography work with another photographer, Jon Rogers – a real artist and super guy.

And now as we plow towards Dalhart (my wife is driving) I have time to reflect on the last month-and-a-half. I had high expectations – both for photography and for personal accomplishments. For at least the past ten years, my best guy friend and I have summited at least one 14,000 foot peak. Overall, we’ve climbed 31 of Colorado’s 54 14ers – all but one together. My home away from home is in Winter Park at about 9,000 feet in elevation. That first week while acclimating to my summer surroundings (my home in the Texas Hill Country rests at around 600 feet in elevation), I usually include one longer hike up to ~ 12 or 13,000 feet. On the first longer hike, I turned an ankle on the way down from an easy trek up to Herman Lake near Georgetown. It was an unremarkable hike and the slip didn’t appear to do noticeable damage. About five days later while trail running back in Winter Park, I did the same thing while cruising downhill and really buggered up my ankle. Something popped and my foot was purple a few days later. Fortunately, I had just started the five mile run! And I hopped back a half mile on my left foot.

I should add here I’m not patient when it comes to being sick or injured. I was forced to cancel a trip to the Elk Mountain Range to scale two 14ers. Several days of icing and elevating the ankle passed, and I was frustrated and ancy to get back out. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I wrapped my ankle, loaded up on painkillers, and met my friend to climb a nearby 13er (Square Top Peak at 13,758 feet). The meds worked and we enjoyed a nice view at the summit complete with mountain goats. But the next day I couldn’t put any weight on it. Now, two weeks later, I’m able to hobble around, but it hurts to even push on the accelerator of our SUV. I’ll give it some more time. Hopefully it will improve.

In the midst of all that, I was able to photograph some of Colorado’s most beautiful landscapes in Rocky Mountain National Park, including wildflowers, elk, and even the Milky Way. To peruse some of my favorites, check out my Colorado Images gallery.

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Colorado Sunflower Sunset 2 : Prints Available

From 12,000 feet and high in the Rocky Mountains, these sunflowers, known as ‘Old Man of the Mountain,’ enjoy the cold air and a beautiful July sunset. These wildflowers of Colorado were taken in Rocky Mountain National Park as the last light of day peeked over the distant summits.

In the meantime, we make our way home and I’m contemplating what I can photograph over the next few months. After six weeks of not seeing any temps above 80, I’m not keen on returning to the heat. Can we just fast forward to autumn?

Dalhart is in the rear view mirror and an early lunch in Dumas awaits.

Safe travels, Texas! 🙂
~ Rob

Colorado Wildflowers and Landscapes – an Escape from the Texas Heat

While 98% of my photography business comes from Texas, I still like to experience other locations. I’ve been fortunate to spend summers in Colorado for the past 25 years – hiking 14ers, fly fishing remote streams, and hiking through fields of Colorado wildflowers. This past June and July were no exception. I’ll always take the opportunity to escape the dog days of a Texas summer and enjoy high temperatures in the 70s for a month or so. Granted, it is hard returning to Texas in August when my kids go back to school and the temps are consistently in the 100s. But I also know Texas is my home, and eventually October will bring cooler weather!

This summer, I spent some time in Rocky Mountain National Park. Up above tree line, I found golden sunflowers (commonly called Old Man of the Mountain) blowing in the breeze, as well as bull elk enjoying a nice sunset.

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Rocky Mountain Sunflower Sunset 3 : Prints Available

Golden sunflowers bloom on the high tundra and rocky slopes of Rocky Mountain National Park. These Colorado wildflowers are commonly known as “Old Man of the Mountain” and put on a show in the higher elevations during the mid summer months.

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Elk at Sunset in Rocky Mountain National Park 1 : Prints Available

Elk enjoy a lazy summer sunset in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. This photograph was taken in mid July at about 12,000 feet as the sun set in the west over the Rocky Mountains. The elk in the foreground sat there for 20 minutes, allowing me to photograph him from several angles. When I packed my camera and lenses, he stood up and strolled away.

This sunflower image was a composite of 7 different images stacked together to achieve the best depth and sharpness possible. In the elk image, this regal creature sat there for 20 minutes while I patiently waited for the sun to hit the horizon (this gives you a nice sunburst with certain lenses – in this case an 11-24L). After the sun dipped below the mountain, I changed to a telephoto lens and took a few more close-ups of the elk. When I finished and began packing up. he also stood up and sauntered away. I guess he knew the photo shoot was over!

I also found moose wandering the lower regions of RMNP, seen here in a small stream just off of Trail Ridge Road:

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A Moose in the Aspen at the Maroon Bells : Prints Available

I was photographing the aspen grove when I had a visitor look my way. To my surprise, this moose had walked up from Maroon Lake. I had seen him earlier in the morning, but hadn’t give him much thought since in several hours. I took a few quick shots then gave him free passage.

There are so many place to explore in Colorado – long hikes to remote meadows filled with wildflowers; high mountain lakes with islands in the middle of the water; beautiful summits above 14,000 feet. Each year it is a new adventure. Now though, it is time to seek out more unique locations in Texas. The road never ends!

Please feel free to peruse this gallery for my favorite Colorado Landscape and Wildflower Images. (Click on the highlighted text).

Happy Travels, my friends!

~ Rob