Goodbye 2020 - My Favorites from the Past Year

The last ten months have been a struggle for many folks, and I am sure most of us are ready to say goodbye to 2020. Before moving forward, I'd like to share my favorite photographs from this year. Business was slow in the spring, but seemed to pick up in early November. I was fortunate enough to continue having images published in Texas Highways Magazine and Texas Parks and Wildflower Magazine, as well as photos used on covers for both fiction and non-fiction work. Two photo books of mine are scheduled for release in the Spring of 2021 - showing the beauty of Big Bend National Park and of San Antonio, respectively. I'm excited to see what the publisher does with those.

As with many of you, we had plans cancelled this past year. I was going to have the opportunity to shoot in Iceland and Ireland this past summer, a long anticipated trip! But it has been pushed to the summer of 2021. Hopefully, that adventure will still take place. With the 3-week summer trip cancelled, my family and I headed to Colorado as soon as my girls were finished with school and spent a few months in the mountains near Winter Park. Feel free to visit my favorite images from Colorado 2020 blog when you are finished here.

And without further delay, in no particular order, here are my favorites from Texas in 2020. I hope you like them!

In early spring along one of my favorite dirt roads near Mason, I found this field full of bluebonnets and white prickly poppies. While this location is about 1.5 hours from my house, I think I saw maybe 3 cars the entire night. I did run into another person on this road - a friend of mind doing the same thing I was - practicing social distancing while looking for bluebonnets. Unfortunately for him, he left about 10 minutes before the sky began to show off its evening color:

Bluebonnet Glory in March 331-2

Tucked away in Mason County on a small dirt road, a field of bluebonnets sprinkled with white prickly poppies colors the landscape in a sea of blue. Adding to the majesty of the landscape, a beautiful sunset brought an glorious close to the spring evening in the hill country.

A few nights later, not far from where the photograph shown above was taken, I found myself laying on the ground to get the best angle for these colorful prairie paintbrush.

Prairie Paintbrush and Bluebonnets 407-1

Prairie paintbrush are mixed in among a small patch of bluebonnets in this sunset image taken in the hill country. The slope of this hill allowed me to get the camera down low - at petal level of these colorful wildflowers - as the last light of evening filled the spring sky.

Summer found us in Colorado And after a return from mountains, I took a mid-week trip to Palo Duro Canyon (one of my favorite places) to meet up with a friend for some off-trail exploring. One evening, we found ourselves atop the eastern rim of the canyon overlooking a beautiful arch. The evening light turned the rock a stunning orange hue as the last light spread across the canyon. I felt blessed that night to see such a beautiful place. This arch does not appear on park maps and took us a while to find, making it even more special.

The Alter of Palo Duro at Sunset 11-1

High up on the eastern ridge of Palo Duro Canyon, an arch rests close against the cliff. I’ve heard locals call it the Alter of Palo Duro. I was fortunate to have a friend familiar with the area guide me up to this unmarked location for an opportunity to photograph this remarkable rock formation at sunset. The hike up wasn’t easy. Nearly half of hte trek was off the trail, up loose rock and unforgiving scree. The prickly pear and other plants that stick were more than willing to impede our progress, as well. Finally, at the top of the ridge,, and after a short walk to find the exact location, the arch and landscape spread out before us. As the sunlight neared the horizon, the inner portion of the arch seemed to glow orange. We were the only ones around, and the evening was memorable in that we saw what few visitors to this park witness.

The next morning after visiting the arch, I awoke from my camping site and hiked in the dark to the back side of Capitol Peak. In the cold air, I scrambled up a loose and steep scree-filled slope until I could climb no further. I took in the view as I awaited first light to spread across the canyon. This panorama was my reward. In hindsight, it wasn't my best of ideas to climb up here. It was dangerous and very sketchy. While I'm pleased with the results, I probably would not attempt this again by myself. By the time I had slid down the slope to the trail on my way back to the car, I had blood trickling out more than a few places on my arms and legs!

Capitol Peak October Sunrise Panorama 1

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.

From Palo Duro, I made the 1.5 hour drive to Caprock Canyon. This was my first trip to this location. I was struck by the remoteness and rugged beauty of the landscape. I saw maybe three people, not including park rangers, on my entire trip. I look forward to returning one of these days and exploring more.

South Prong Trail 108-3

Clouds change from white to pink to darker hues over Caprock Canyons State Park on a cool October evening. This view comes from the beginning of the Upper South Prong Trail.

This past fall, the colors of Autumn showed up in full brilliance. I spent some mid-week days exploring Garner State Park and Lost Maples. (I always try to avoid these parks on weekends!) Even in the middle of the week, trails were crowded at times and there were even school field trips going on. The photo below shows a portion of the East Trail under a canopy of glowing bigtooth maples.

Autumn Trail - Lost Maples 1112-1

The red leaves of Lost Maples State Park Autumn show turn the path into a carpet of crunchy color. This path is along the East-West Trail and, each fall, it winds through groves of glorious maples trees with leaves of red and orange.

Last, I'd like to finish with an image I feel is symbolic to both my work experience as well as for our past year. It is a winding road; there is beauty out there if we can see it. We just don't know what's coming next, so we'd better enjoy the moments. This image was taken in the hill country during bluebonnet season.

Bluebonnet Drive from the Sky 407-2

Using a drone, I found this beautiful view of a winding road in the Texas Hill Country lined with bluebonnets. It was a nice, cool spring afternoon, and the landscape was green from recent rains.

Hang in there, friends! I'll see you in 2021!

~ Rob

A perfect field of bluebonnets near Mason, Texas, on a spring evening.
Late March Bluebonnet Sunset Glory 331-7

One of my favorite bluebonnet images of the last 10 years, this sunset photograph comes from a little dirt road in the Texas Hill Country. White Prickly Poppies were growing tall and towered over a calm sea of blue as bees danced around gathering pollen. I’m not sure if a bluebonnet landscape can offer a more tranquil and colorful scene.

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If you have any questions about these photographs from the Lone Star State, please do not hesitate to contact me.