I was asked recently to write a bio of myself for a client who wanted to display that information next to the prints they purchased for an office. I’m more or less an introvert, and talking about topics such as “me” bring on some unease. But I thought I’d try here on a blog – about this Images from Texas photographer (me).
I imagine if you are reading this, you appreciate the work I do and how I see the world – and at the least, we share an common interest in outdoor adventures! So let’s get started – and I’ll try to make this brief.
While I grew up and went to college in Texas, a long time ago I was an avid fly-fisher, even taking folks on guided trips in Colorado. One Christmas just after college graduation, my parents gave me a musical keyboard. Not having any musical talent whatsoever, I returned it and bought my first camera, a 2mp digital wonder (did I mention this was a long time ago?). And thus, I fell in love with photography. My fly-fishing adventures evolved into fishing a little, then spending most of my time taking photos of the mountains, streams, forests, and whatever else was at the end of long hikes in the Rocky Mountains. I can still remember telling my young bride so many years ago, “I think we can make some money with this photography thing.”
Now, many years later, this is my job – traveling, scouting, shooting, and providing clients with the best images available in Texas and Colorado. I’ve had some great experiences along the way – meet some nice folks, received a few honors, had five books published by various companies, and look forward to more memorable times. And I juggle all my trips with keeping two pre-teen girls and a wife happy. Sometimes, my family even gets to tag along with me. This summer, we spent two weeks in Iceland so I could shoot there, then flew from Reykjavik, Iceland’s capitol, to Denver so I could photograph the wildflowers in the mountains. We were gone for about 8 weeks – all in much colder climates – and that makes it tough sometimes to adjust to the heat and humidity of a Texas August. Am I complaining? Heck no.
We don’t watch the news much, but when I do, and in my travels, I see a lot of anger and division in our world – especially here in my home state of Texas (I’m a 4th generation Texas raising 5th generation Texas girls). I don’t remember this conflict being an issue 10 years ago, but it seems to have rooted itself into society now. However, this is not a political post. I’d just like people to be kind to each other. And I cannot fathom why some folks can’t do that. I worry about the future for my daughters.
So I work with my photography. I try to find the beauty in our land and the other locations I’m fortunate enough to visit and shoot. The escape into nature keeps me sane and balanced. My favorite time outdoors is the peaceful moments I find at sunrise.
From a precariouis ledge to the west of the iconic Capitol Peak, this panorama shows off the colors of sunrise in Palo Duro Canyon. Even a small boquet of broom weed, the golden flowers in the foreground, add a splash of yellow to the orange and red landscape. The scramble up the scree-filled slope to this location was not fun nor easy – and I probably won’t do it again. But the view was incredible.
Most folks are still asleep and no one has worked up their anger for the day. Ya, I’d rather sleep some, but if I’m able to pull myself out of bed well before first light, I’m usually happier for it!
Some of my favorite sunrise locations include Pedernales Falls (close to my house), Palo Duro Canyon (a long way, but amazing), Big Bend (see Palo Duro) and down on the South Padre beaches. I’ll usually scout locations the day before. That initial survey saves a lot of frustration when I’m trying to find a specific spot in the dark the next morning.
I’m often asked about what equipment and camera I use. I shoot with a Canon 5DSr, but I don’t think the camera matters as much as the perspective and skill held by the photographer. Sure, higher end cameras allow me to produce larger prints for clients. But a lot more goes into it. I have five tripods, none of which I’m completely happy with. But together, they provide adequate stability. My favorite lenses are the 11-24L and my 16-35L. That may change when I eventually make the inevitable change to a mirrorless camera. I’m just waiting for a high megapixel mirrorless Canon to arrive. We’ll see.
And I think that’s about it for now. I need to work on more RAW images, change the laundry and go move dirt on the back 40!
Safe travels, Texas, and be kind out there.
~ Rob Images from Texas
Well, here we are at the end of 2016. While I look forward to more good things in 2017, I wanted to take a minute or two and reflect on the past year.
In superficial matters, I was able to take some good trips that helped grow my business: Big Bend several times, the Guadalupe Mountains, the Texas coast, Dallas and Fort Worth, and many beautiful locations throughout the hill country. From these little treks, I’ll share my five favorite photographs in just a bit.
First, I’d like to share a few things I learned, personally, this year.
1 – I still prefer to be somewhere outdoors and mostly left alone to my thoughts rather than around a group of people (my family and a few close friends are the exception.) I’ve never been a part of a photography group or club. That just isn’t for me. I don’t like “talking shop” as some do, either. I’d rather enjoy a good hike, do my work, and hike back. If someone is with me, we can talk about other topics – just not photography.
2 – There are two kinds of people – those without kids and those with kids. If you have kids, you know what I mean.
3 – You’ll never love anything or anyone more than your own kids. It wasn’t until I had two girls that I understood how much my own parents loved me.
4 – Photographers are not good at sharing. This seems to be an unfortunate generalization. I’ve interacted with a few established photographers this year, and when it comes down to it, they were not forthcoming (actually quite evasive and selfish) in sharing any sort of locations to shoot (and one did this even after I helped him secure a great location earlier in the year through one of my contacts). I certainly won’t name them here, but I think it is sad how they behaved. Maybe they felt threatened? I know one in Austin who does, and he really shouldn’t. While I won’t put locations online, I don’t mind sharing. I figure if you help out someone, that good will eventually will circle back around.
5 – Drones are not for me – at least just yet. I bought a high end model for work, then sold it several months later. It just couldn’t produce the high quality images that can be made large that I needed. Plus, I just didn’t have enough time to do both standard landscape photography and drone work. Maybe someday… I do have a friend that is quite good at drone work, though, and produces amazing skylines of Austin. They just cannot be printed very large.
6 – Positive affirmations work; a positive attitude and mental mindset do make a difference.
7 – Sometimes people are going to do what they do, and it is fruitless to attempt to understand them. Even logic often fails.
8 – Despite the naysayers, you can support a family of four shooting landscape photography and do quite nicely. Everything you read seems to indicate this is quite difficult. And yes, it does take some perseverance and attention to tedious detail. Yes, I’ve worked hard to get where I am, especially with the behind-the-scenes portion of the business (marketing and getting my name out there). But it can be done.
9 – I have a supportive family.
10 – I really like what I do.
OK… with those random thoughts done, here are some of my favorite images of the year in no particular order:
1 – Amazing light from Big Bend… this has turned out to be one of my best sellers:
The first mile of the Lost Mine Hike in Big Bend National Park is a gradual uphill walk to a nice vantage point overlooking the basin below. Go another 1.5 miles up some relatively easy switchbacks and you reach this point that looks over Juniper Canyon toward the South Rim. I had hoped for a nice sunset, but the amazing light that spread forth from the western horizon suprassed my expecations. The beautiful colors did not last long, but they offered a lingering memory of a magical place amid this rugged Texas landscape.
2 – Bluebonnets at Sunset – I met a local rancher who allowed me access to his land. As I tromped across cacti-filled fields, I found this unforgettable landscape:
Bluebonnets adorn the gentle slopes of the Texas Hill Country in this sunset image taken in early April. Thanks for a local rancher and land manager, I was allowed to visit a few areas of private land that were covered in these favorite wildflowers. The sunset helped the landscape come alive, as well.
3 – Bluebonnets at Sunrise – another bluebonnet image – this time taken at sunrise as the sun dissipated the fog and clouds:
When I set off from my house to photograph this windmill with a foreground of bluebonnets, the sky was overcast and fog made visibility quite limited. I arrived with the sky pretty dark but still had 15 minutes until sunrise. I had just about given up hope when I noticed a little break in some low drifting clouds. Five minutes passed, and suddenly the sky begain to light up in oranges and pinks, and I was escatic with my good fortune. I only had time to capture a few images from that morning. This is my favorite.
4 -Texas Hill Country Waterfall – You couldn’t ask for a better sunset on this perfect evening. I also appreciate a friend and fellow photographer not keeping this beautiful location a secret.
Sometimes you just get lucky. A friend had shown me this location in the Texas Hill Country, but we’d waited to visit until the flow of water was just right. After heavy rains from weeks prior, the river had risen, then dropped. On this night, all elements of the image came together – water, color, wind, and sky. With turquoise falls below me and an amazing sunset peeking through the trees and spreading light rays into the fading thunderheads, I knew this landscape of the Texas landscape of cascading water would be special.
This image is available in sizes larger than 36×24. Please contact me for more information.
5 – South Rim, Big Bend National Park – A 13 mile round trip allowed me access to this amazing view in south Texas:
This view of the southern Chisos Mountain Range in Big Bend National Park comes from the South Rim. As one of the best hikes in Texas, the trek to reach this point is a little over 6 miles, and to capture an image at sunset or sunrise at this location means you either camp or hike in the dark. But the effort is worth it as the landscape that stretches from Texas into Mexico is well worth the effort. Here, a prickly pear blooms in late spring as clouds light up with another beautiful Texas sunset.
6 – Sunset at Port Aransas This one is special not only because of the morning light, but one of my little girls had rolled out of bed to accompany me on a pre-dawn stroll along the beach. I photographed the pier and ocean while she chased sand crabs and even found a starfish:
It was a glorious sunrise along the beach at Port Aransas. This is one of Texas’ favorite beach destinations, and this sunrise shows why. In the foreground, Caldwell Pier stretches more than 1000 feet into the warm gulf waters on this October morning. The only company I had this morning were the gulls and sand crabs and my youngest daughter (who shockingly rolled out of bed to accompany on this morning of work. Behind me, chased sand crabs and even found a star fish.) Doesn’t get much better than this!
7 – Two from the Guadalupe Mountains – The first shows the Autumn colors of McKittrick Canyon; the second shows the inconic El Capitan beneath beautiful light:
Following the trail through McKittrick Canyon, there are places of dense maple trees. At one point, you are nearly surrounded by the beautiful leaves, and in Autumn the forest can turn orange and red with some of the most beautiful fall colors in Texas. The main hike is around 4 miles each way, but you can continue up to ‘the Notch,” a climb of about 1500 vertical feet over another mile or so at which point you can look down into a canyon on each side of you. The hike up is a grunt, but the views are incredible. You can look back down and see the colorful maples as they follow the path of the river.
If you actually read this, thanks! I’d love it if you left a message just to say hi and share any thoughts you might have. The year 2016 was a good one for my family and my business. I look forward to growing even more in 2017. Thanks for your support, Texas!