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 hike...you 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.

Break the ice

This was taken at Lost Maples State Park in the Texas Hill Country, on a recent trip I did with my good friend Jeff.  We had hiked all around the park, stopping of course for photo opps and the like, and by the time we got to this nice little spot it was closing in on sunset and we were tired.  It is not often that you find frozen water in these parts, simply because it doesn't get too cold.  So, we did the obvious thing a guy would do - try to break it.  It was fun.  We were sliding rocks out over the ice, which you can see in the photo, and throwing them high so they could land with a lot of force.  I am not sure we actually ever broke the ice here, but it sure was fun trying!

This is a 5 exposure HDR taken at f/11, with exposure ranging from -4 to 0.  They were merged into an HDR in Photomatix, and then I made some adjustments in PSE such as Shadows, Contrast and Unsharp Mask.  Then I ran it through Topaz Adjust and I made some final color adjustments in Aperture.

Last light in the canyon

Lost Maples is a state park in the Texas Hill Country, and it seems to be in the middle of nowhere.  We decided to make our way out there, only to find that the drive time seemed to keep stretching on and on.  As the song says "the road goes on forever...".  Well, we finally made it there about 3:30pm that day, and the park ranger told us that the sun sets about 6pm, so if we wanted to hike all through the area we had better hit it.  So we did.  Of course, when you are hiking with the intent to take pictures, it makes it even longer.  Fortunately my buddy didn't care and while I was shooting he was happy to throw rocks into frozen water and try to break it.  Mostly he succeeded.  We had only been out for 10 minutes or so when we came to this spot.  As you can tell, the late afternoon sun was around the bend in the distance, which made for interesting reflections in the water here in this little canyon.  That's one thing I really like about HDR - it helps brings back the vivid details that remain in your mind, but are lost with single exposure shots.  By the way, the park is named after all the maple trees that reside there, which are completely bare this time of year.  I hear that in the fall the color is amazing.  Sounds like a return trip is in order next October.

This is a 6 shot HDR, shot at f/22, with exposures ranging from +2 to -3.  The lighter exposures really helped the detail in the water show up, and the darker ones helped accentuate the color in the distance.  These shots were merged in Photomatix and then adjusted in PSE (Curves, Contrast, Unsharp Mask).  The finishing touch was in Topaz Adjust, which is a great product by the way!