At the base of Enchanted Rock

Here's another shot I took while up in the Texas hill country recently.  Specifically, this was shot at the bottom of Enchanted Rock after I had finished hiking up to the top and back down.  I saw this little stream of water and followed it, looking for a cool shot.  When I saw that big tree, I was happy.


This is from Pedernales Falls State Park, which is about 30 minutes west of Austin.  It's a great place to hike and take pictures, and generally just enjoy being outdoors.  When I went there was a lot of water, as you can see, and it made for some fun picture-taking.  It has been about a year already - boy does time fly!  Anyways, hope your week is off to a good start!

McKinney Falls

Back earlier this Spring, I went out to McKinney Falls State Park with my buddy Pete Talke.  We spent the morning hiking around and taking a lot of shots.  It was a great morning.  We had received quite a bit of rain during that time, so the falls were cranking with pretty high volume, which is nice because I have been here before when it was just a trickle.  There are two parts to this park - the upper falls and the lower falls.  This image was taken at the lower falls, which I found more interesting than the upper falls.  No particular reason - both were beautiful - but I could get around and shoot the lower falls from several angles and they had a little more color.  Either way, if you get a chance head out there and check out this beautiful little park!

This is a 6 exposure HDR taken at f/14, with exposures ranging from +2 to -3.  They were merged into an HDR in Photomatix and I made some minor adjustments in PSE, Topaz Adjust and Aperture.

The basement of time

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters." - Norman Maclean

Shot at Pedernales Falls State Park, outside of Austin, TX.  7 exposure HDR at f/22, merged in Photomatix and adjusted in PSE and Aperture.

A pause in the hike

We arrived at Lost Maples State Park in the late afternoon, and were promptly told by the park ranger that we had just over 2 hours until sunset.  Having spent the better part of 2 hours driving to get here, and with nowhere else even remotely nearby to go visit or photograph, we hit the trail.  The map told us it was not a long hike, but being a photographer I know how these things stretch out - mostly due to me stopping and taking pictures.  Ok, entirely due to that.  Anyways, we had been on the trail less than 10 minutes and we came to this spot where the water ran over the trail, making for a tricky crossing - but a nice photograph.  I set up and got my shots and then we were off.  As you can see, the sun was heading around the bend and that gave me the opportunity to get some nice reflections in the water.  I finished up, we skipped over some rocks to cross the water, and continued the can see the bend in the trail off to the right.

6 exposure HDR taken at f/22, with exposures from -3 to +2.  HDR created in Photomatix and massaged a little in PSE and Aperture.

Looking downstream

I really enjoy shooting landscapes, and doubly so in HDR.  There is something that is thrilling about it to me.  It is some of the thrill of the hunt, since you never know what you are going to get, but also I just love the beauty of nature and enjoy capturing it and sharing it.  This was taken at Pedernales Falls State Park, which isn't far outside of Austin and offers some dramatic scenery and really beautiful waterfalls too.  We spent a couple of hours there, hiking and taking pictures, and generally just enjoying the heck out of it!

This is a 7 exposure HDR taken at f/22, with the exposures ranging from +2 to -4.  It was mid-late morning, if I recall correctly, and there was obviously a lot of light.  I merged these into an HDR in Photomatix and then made some adjustments in PSE around Curves and Contrast, as usual.

I recommend a visit to the area if you are in or around the Austin area.  It is about 30 minutes west of Austin and offers some great photographic opportunities.

The depths of winter

I took this shot of the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country at the appropriately named Guadalupe River State Park.  We were there in the depths of winter (early January to be precise), and it was empty, which is exactly how I like my landscapes to look.  It is so enjoyable to walk around a beautiful place and not have to dodge tourists and other photographers.  I know you can remove things like that from photos, but I tend to not mess with that sort of stuff.  Apart from the obvious corrections that need to occur (such as specks of lens dust), I like to leave my photo as closely as possible to what I saw while I was there, and that is one of the great things about HDR.  It really can reproduce the colors, details and textures that you see at a scene which your camera just isn't able to do in a single exposure.  If you are reading this blog post, you are likely already aware of HDR photography and all that, but it not, you can read about HDR here and see my HDR Tutorial here.  If you haven't tried HDR yet, what are you waiting for?  It's great fun!

This is a 6 exposure HDR taken at f/22, with exposures from -4 to +1.  They were merged into an HDR in Photomatix, and then I made some adjustments in PSE around Curves and Contrast.  

By the way, have you read the speech that Steve Jobs of Apple gave at a commencement at Stanford a few years ago?  It is awesome and you can read it here:

Nearly under a waterfall

Here is another shot from my recent photowalk at McKinney Falls State Park here in Austin.  It is a wonderful place to go take photos, with the water running really well right now.  For this shot, I got in a little closer in the interest of trying to catch some of that amazing water running by in HDR.  It worked out for me!  I climbed down close onto a rock that stuck out right next to the waterfall, balanced the tripod as best as I could, and snapped away.  I could feel the mist on me (and my camera!) but thought it was worth it for a cool closeup.

This is a 5 exposure HDR taken at f/11, with exposures ranging from -3 to +1.  I merged them into an HDR in Photomatix and then made some of my typical adjustments in PSE around Color Curves, Contrast and Unsharp Mask.  My final step was to run it through Topaz Adjust for a little extra pop.

Sunken rock at Pedernales Falls

Pedernales Falls State Park lies about 30 minutes west of Austin, and I was happy to spend a while there recently with a good friend, hiking and taking pictures.  The water around here has been flowing nicely in all the rivers and streams, since we have had some rain and a little snow to boot.  I liked the look of that large boulder that was sunk in the lagoon, and used it as a foreground element.  I am working hard on my landscapes, trying to take my time and think about my composition, framing, and foreground elements, etc.  It is fun to practice at this stuff!

This is a 7 exposure HDR taken at f/22, with exposures ranging from +2 to -4.  It was mid-day, which frequently isn't ideal shooting conditions due to the harsh sunlight (especially here in Texas!), but nonetheless you shoot when you can shoot.  You can't get a sunset in every shot, though it would be nice!  I merged the files into an HDR in Photomatix, then made some adjustments in PSE around Contrast and Hue/Saturation, and finally Unsharp Mask.  Then I added a finishing touch in Topaz Adjust.  If you are near Austin, I definitely recommend a visit to Pedernales Falls State Park - a great place for a picnic!  Oh - and don't forget the camera!

McKinney Falls - upper falls

This is a follow up shot to my post from 2 days ago where I showed the lower falls at McKinney Falls State Park.  In this shot you can see the upper falls in all their glory.  All the rain we have had has really got the water volume cranking.  I usually prefer not to post similar shots so close together, but I really liked this one and in this case this one was shot with Pete Talke's 12-24mm wide angle Nikon lens (thanks Pete!).  I don't yet have one of those fancy things, so he loaned me his and I got a few shots done.  It really does make a difference!  I am intrigued and will have to plop down some dough in the future for some new glass.

This is a 6 exposure HDR taken at f/20.  The exposures range from +2 to -3.  We were there mid-morning and the sun was high and bright already (it seems spring is starting here) so I had plenty of light to work with, hence the narrow aperture.  I created the HDR in Photomatix and then made my normal adjustments in PSE, focusing on Contrast, Hue/Saturation and Unsharp Mask.  Then I had to remove some spots on the lens which I did in Aperture - I had gotten a little spray on the lens during an earlier shot.  Lastly, I ran the shot through Topaz Adjust to give it a little "pop".  Enjoy!