Big Bend and Bluebonnets – Thoughts in mid-April

Unfortunately, this has been a less than stellar spring for our favorite Texas wildflower. The reports that I’ve received from friends putting in miles around south and central Texas show that while there are blooms along the roadsides and in some fields, the coverage is not full. I’m still hoping to find a few spots on the hill country for bluebonnets, but I don’t have high hopes. At this point, Ennis might have a decent showing. We should know more in the next few weeks. I’ve taken very few photos of bluebonnets this year, and I think this is my favorite – a white bluebonnet (or whitebonnet):

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Whitebonnets, Bluebonnets, and a Bee 23 : Prints Available

In a field of bluebonnets, one lone wildflower stood out – this white bluebonnet (or maybe a whitebonnet?). As bees buzzed all around this field, it took 23 shots to capture this image of the bee in flight as it surveyed the unique colors of this single flower in the Texas Hill Country.


It took 23 images to capture this bee in flight. I had originally hoped to photograph a bee that was sitting on a petal, but each time a bee landed, it was on the side of the bluebonnet opposite the lens. But this bee in flight turned out better than I could have hoped.

I do have a good feeling about firewheels. Again, time will tell, and future rains will dictate the fullness of the fields, but I think the Hill Country is off to a good start.

***

Big Bend is calling my name again. I’m hoping to get out there again before April’s end. I hear the prickly pear cacti are blooming, and I’d like to photograph the Rio Grande at sunset. One morning for sunrise, I am planning on trekking out to Fresno Canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park. I’ve not spent much time in the interior of BBRSP so I’m looking forward to a little adventure. For some reason, that area (the Big Bend region) appeals to me. I’m not sure if it is the isolation or the big sky landscape, but there is something there – like a distant memory of childhood that brings a peace and joy that really can’t be described adequately to someone else.

In the meantime,
Vaya con Dios, my friends,

Rob
Images from Texas

Too Early for Spring Bluebonnet Blog

As we drift closer to spring, I find myself looking more forward to wildflower season with each passing day. The hope for a colorful crop of flowers this year is alive, especially with the winter rains we’ve had here in central Texas. Our property is once again showing large amounts of bluebonnet rosettes hugging the damp ground.

With that said, I have to temper my expectations. Just last year, we’d had copious amounts of rain, were in the middle of an El Nino, and the future looked colorful. And then we went 60 days without a drop of rain. The bluebonnet season was basically a bust, and even the usual wildflowers such as bluebonnets, bitterweed, Indian blankets (firewheels), poppies, and others never realized their full potential.

I am looking forward to an early Spring trip to Big Bend where the Big Bend Bluebonnets bloom much earlier than their Hill Country cousins. Flowers or not, that is always one of my favorite places to explore and photograph.

So we wait, hope for rain and colder weather until March and April.

In the meantime, feel free to peruse photos and pictures of past wildflower seasons in my online galleries here:

Bluebonnets

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Colors of a Bluebonnet Sunset 2 : Prints Available

This bluebonnet photograph was the last image taken on this quiet evening in the Hill Country. This favorite Texas wildflower was scattered across the rolling hills, and the sky showed a bit of color as day transitioned to night. If I had not sat on a cactus while trying to get low to shoot from ground level, this would have been a perfect evening!

Texas Wildflowers

I’ll update this blog as we draw closer to Spring and nature’s return to life!

~ Rob

Spring Wildflowers in Texas – Thoughts on a Rainy Morning

As I sit and type this blog, the rain is coming down on my little home in the Texas Hill Country. We’re almost at 2 inches just this morning. And while I know we need the rain, I’m ready for a break just to have a chance to photograph what remains of our Texas wildflower pictures. The last time I was out, maybe 10 days ago, the firewheels and bitterweed (reds and golds) were abundant in Mason and LLano Counties and seemed to get even thicker as you neared San Saba. The prickly pear cacti were beginning to show their colors as well. Alas, I’ll ride out the rain and hopefully find some wildflowers still around when the sun appears again. Here is a panorama of my last trip. This firewheel image was taken north of Llano.

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Hill Country Wildflower Panorama at Suns : Prints Available

This wildflower panorama from the Texas Hill Country was taken on a May evening at sunset. I had been here a few days earlier with a friend, but the skies were clear. I returned another evening to shoot this image of an orange sky with clouds drifting by. The field of firewheels was motionless as the sun fell behind the old oak tree. Shot along a quiet road, this evening was pretty close to perfect.

Bluebonnet pictures wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but there were some nice landscapes to be found. I expected the coverage of blue to be more widespread. I think the lack of rain in March held back the more prolific blooms. But around Lake Travis, bluebonnets filled the landscape.

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Path Through the Bluebonnets 4 : Prints Available

A narrow path of worn tracks cuts through a beautiful field of bluebonnets near Lake Travis on the edge of the Texas Hill Country. This little field of wildflowers was pristine, and I never saw another person this entire evening.

So here are a few thoughts, whether good or bad…

* I know folks enjoy bluebonnets. A lot. I wish more people would respect the wildflowers and those people that will come after them. I saw so many places with bluebonnets completely trampled. I found a nice field with tire tracks running through the middle of it. I witnessed one woman climb over a fence onto private property to take a few photographs. If the bluebonnets plants are not allowed to fully bloom and pass to the seeding stage, they will not reproduce the next year. I realize this doesn’t apply to everyone, but I saw enough to wince. Be respectful out there.

* One of my favorite forums for wildflowers stopped sharing specific locations where the blooms were appearing. Apparently, a few dirt roads that I had traveled a few days before without encountering any cars at all was overrun with cars (50-60+ vehicles) after someone posted how beautiful the area was. And the drive was amazing – roadsides and fields of bluebonnets. But then it had folks climbing fences and mashing the blooms, leaving not much for those that would come later to enjoy the Texas beauty. I don’t know what the solution is here as far as sharing locations, but I do know how to keep the area pristine for others to enjoy.

* Texas has a lot of beauty out there. Whether wildflower season or not, the winding roads of the hill country – both main roads and dirt roads – make for some enjoyable treks. One of my next blogs will be to list a few of my favorite places in Texas to shoot.

* I’ve done a few photography workshops in the past, but haven’t in recent years because it seems I never have free time. I’m considering doing this again, but only taking one or two folks out at a time. I think this would be more enjoyable for all parties. That’s in the works, but I don’t know when it would start.

* There are several places in downtown Austin photos I want to shoot, but again, the weather hasn’t been good for any outdoor photography unless you are doing close-ups or macros.

* Recently, I’ve worked with a few families for portraits. While I normally don’t do much portrait work, I have the lighting equipment and enjoyed producing some nice images for these families. I may look at expanding this service in the future as well. If anyone is interested, let me know. I prefer to shoot outdoors and capture you in the landscapes Texas has to offer.

* Heading to Caddo Lake in a few weeks. I haven’t shot there before, but I’ll have several days with a boat to explore the area. Looking forward to that.

Still raining.

Have a good week, Texas!

~ Rob