Magnolia Pearl

Magnolia Pearl

A rusted old truck in the Texas Hill Country...

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A morning in Luckenbach, Texas

A morning in Luckenbach, Texas

Good old Luckenbach, TX - a tiny little spot in the Texas hill country, famous for being in a country song.  And in my opinion, a great little spot to take some photos - here's 10 photos to prove it!

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Bluebonnets in the Texas hill country

It's springtime in Texas, and that means bluebonnets!

For those of us living in central Texas (and some other parts, too), springtime usually means that the wildflowers will start popping up everywhere.  And though there are several types of wildflowers that we get each Spring, by far the most-mentioned is the lovely bluebonnet.

In addition to being our State Flower (which makes it illegal to pick), it's just beautiful.  And when you find a field covered in these flowers, you just have to stop, look and take a picture (or more likely, several pictures).  

It's very common to see cars pulled over to the side of the road, with the family sitting in a field of them getting their picture taken.  Or just arranging the kids for a photo.  Or the dog.  In other words, we all like to get out and take pictures of these flowers.  Like I said, they are beautiful.

They are also a bit fleeting, lasting only a few short weeks it seems, before they die off.  So, you have to act quickly.

As a photographer, I am no different than anyone else - I want some shots of these things, too.  I got up early one recent weekend morning, and took off to the Texas hill country to look for some bluebonnets to photograph. While I did find a few nice spots, I have to say my timing was probably a little off.  Specifically, I believe I was a couple of weeks early.  

At the time, the flowers blooming on the side of the road in Austin were looking pretty impressive, and since I had the time, I went for it (and knew I wouldn't have another chance to travel to the hill country).  But in the hill country - at least the places I went - they were much less common and I really had to look for them.

Thankfully, I found a few good spots (and took a lot of photos), but if time permits I may have to get out in Austin over the next couple of weeks and grab a few shots closer to home.  Before I know it, they will be gone.

Winter along the Guadalupe River

I love this little spot along the Guadalupe River!

The Guadalupe River winds its way through parts of Central Texas, and at some point on its journey it passes through Gruene, TX which is a tiny little town between Austin and San Antonio.  It's best known as the home of Gruene Hall, a sort of country bar where folks go to see the live music.  It's all pretty cool.

Anyways, just behind Gruene Hall and down the hill is the Guadalupe River, so whenever I have the time and the camera handy, I try and grab a few shots there.  I have stood in this spot several times over the years, and always enjoy shooting this area.  I just find it to be beautiful.

I caught this one a couple of months back. I was hoping for some better Fall color, since there were patches of it in and around Austin, but not much here.  That happens in Central Texas - Fall color is not something we get a lot of.  Oh well, you still take the shot right?

Morning on the Pedernales River

I love photographing rivers - they're just so peaceful, you know?

I think the sound of running water is universally liked, unless you need to pee really bad that is, then you hate it.  But you know what I mean.  It's so soothing and tranquil - it instantly relaxes me.  Even in the midst of some busy-ness, the soft sound of running water immediately has an effect.

I assume that is why I enjoy shooting along rivers, or at least partly why I like it.  When the water is still (say, a big, wide, slow-moving river) then you can capture some great reflections, and I love those.  This is usually something I find in cities.  Here in Austin is a great example.  Portland is the same.  It's pretty common, of course.  So when I travel to a new city, I am always looking for a river near the downtown to try and get some sweet reflections.

But out in nature it's great to shoot too, even when reflections are not possible.  I was out one morning down on the southwest side of Austin, off towards the hill country.  I had been at Hamilton Pool and upon leaving there, decided to head over here to the Pedernales River (that's pronounced Purd'nalis for any non-locals reading this) to grab some shots.  I was loving the awesome sky that morning, and glad I made the stop.  It's great to enjoy scenes like this without even seeing another car go by.

Hamilton Pool

If you ever get to Austin, be sure and visit Hamilton Pool!

This place is awesome.  Wait, let me capitalize it all because it's AWESOME.  There, that's better and more accurate.  It really is an amazing place, and it's only about 30 minutes or so from downtown Austin.  Ok, maybe a little more because the road winds around a lot, but still it's well worth the drive out there.  Just be sure to call ahead and make sure they are open.

As you can see there is an awesome waterfall here at Hamilton Pool, and it's about 50 feet high up there.  But to me the best part is the grotto that circles up underneath all that rock.  You can walk all the way around it, and I recommend that you do just that.  Just note that when you are close to the falls, the spray wets the rock and it gets a little slick.

This is a State Park, and as such there is a small entry fee of $10, if I remember correctly.  And I believe it is cash only, so plan ahead.  

Anyways, this place was created when a dome of an underground river collapsed many years ago, so that resulted in the lovely rock overhang.  The pool actually is that sort of jade green color - that's not a trick on my part.  I showed up when they opened one day, which is definitely the way to do it if you want to get a shot like this without tourists in it.  I got into the park and literally sprinted down the trail to get here, since there were cars coming in behind me.

Luckily, it was a nice Fall morning and there were awesome clouds in the sky.  And those are the main two reasons I went: it was Fall and I was hoping for some decent color in that tree (got it!) and it was cloudy, so I was hoping for something other than a boring sky (got that too!).  It worked out pretty well that day!

 

iPhone fun around Central Texas

I still shoot a lot with my iPhone - how about you?

I am really happy that I have an iPhone and that with a few apps, I can create some artwork just about anytime I want to.  It's a fabulous creative tool and I totally enjoy it.  In fact, I shoot with my iPhone very often.  It's just that I don't share the photos here that much anymore.  I should change that.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately, and trying to figure out why that is.  I still take a lot of iPhone pics, and I share some on my Facebook page and even put some into this set on Flickr, but I haven't done many iPhone posts here this year.  

The last one was back in August, after I returned from France.  Prior to that, it was in May.  See?  I am way behind here.

So, I figured I would do a little catching up with this post today.  While I could almost do one of these each week, that's not my intention.  I will continue to do some of these on a random basis, but I have so many HDR photos taken with my Nikon from my travels over the last couple of years that I will be working on those for a long time (and that's a good thing, in my opinion).

Plus, shooting HDR with my Nikon is pretty much my favorite thing in the world, so I have to keep doing that, for my sanity if nothing else. :-)

So, these photos today were all taken either here in Austin or up in Fredericksburg, TX in the Texas hill country over the last few weeks, and of course they were all taken with my iPhone 4S.  Also, the three main apps I used on these photos are Snapseed, ProHDR and Camera+.  I used at least one of those apps on each of these, and maybe all 3 on 1 or 2 of them.  I can't remember, to be honest about it.  

Now I just need to find some time to share the iPhone pics I have taken lots of other places.  Stay tuned! 

Since my last iPhone post, I have taken trips to Nashville (3 times!), Germany (Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin), Amsterdam and Brussels, Phoenix, London and Scotland (both Glasgow and Edinburgh), and probably some other places that I cannot remember right now.  

And yes, I took iPhone pics in every one of those spots (plus more Nikon images than I can count).  So maybe I should get busy, because unless I am mistaken I haven't done an iPhone blog post from any of those trips.

And I even got out on Thanksgiving Eve here in Austin recently (with a couple of family members) and got some shots during sunset.  It ended up being a pretty nice evening!

Well thanks for stopping by today, and I hope you enjoyed viewing these iPhone pics as much as I enjoyed taking, processing, and sharing them!  Come back soon for more!  I will try and be a bit more regular about these iPhone posts!  :-)

Sunset in Fredericksburg TX

I love the Texas hill country - it's beautiful!

Ok, I know Texas isn't considered a mountainous or even hilly state, but we do have some of both, believe it or not.  And the Hill Country is a very beautiful area.  It lies about an hour west of Austin, and generally speaking the main town out there in Fredericksburg.  

As the name implies, it's an old German town and as such has a lot of Germanic influence, which is great by me.  I love Germany, so it really feels like a getaway from normal life when you are there.

Anyways, we spent a weekend up there recently celebrating my wife's birthday, and one evening we noticed that a beautiful sunset was coming together.  So being a super supportive woman, my wife said "let's hurry up and find a spot to shoot".  OK!

We drove for a bit and found a little park, and when I saw the water I knew that I was going to be firing quite a few shots here - and I did.  I loved this tree standing there alone, and the beautiful sunset behind it.

The old Post Office in Luckenbach

This is the old post office in Luckenbach, TX which is sort of a famous place, thanks to that old country song which is probably now stuck in your head.  In person, it’s an incredibly small town, if you can even call it that.  It’s tiny - but it packs in a lot of interestingness in such a small place.

In my opinion, the most interesting thing there is this old post office and general store.  It just has a lot of character.  I grabbed this shot there early one morning while the sun was still trying to rise up into the sky.  I prefer shooting famous places (and non-famous ones, too) in the early hours since you can usually count on having them to yourself.  It just wouldn’t be the same shot with a bunch of tourists in the way.

Gruene, upstream

This is a really old photo, though I just got around to processing it last week.  I took it back in 2009, actually.  It’s been almost 4 years.  See what I mean when I say I will never catch up?  It’s ok, though.

I was thinking about why I wait on some photos, and why I march ahead on others.  I think it has to do with a few things:

  • I like other photos from that outing better, so lesser shots get ignored
  • I go somewhere new and forget about older, unprocessed shots
  • I prefer to process shots out of order - it's more fun for me (and hopefully you)
  • My processing skills will (hopefully) improve over time, so I wait on shots that are difficult to me for some reason
  • If I process it and don’t like it, I will wait until I can come back at it with fresh eyes and new ideas (even if that’s like, um, 4 years)
  • Software gets better over time and my tastes change, so things I don’t like at some point will possibly fall into favor with me in the future

To be clear, I do NOT delete shots I don’t like when I return from an outing, after dumping them all into the library and reviewing them.  Unless there is something seriously wrong with the shot (or set of brackets in most cases, since I shoot mostly HDR) I will hang onto it.  Why not?  Storage is cheap, and doesn’t take up any space in the physical sense.

Anyways, I am off topic here.  Bottom line, this is a shot I took about 4 years ago, but just processed and am just now sharing.  While it falls into at least the first 2 categories above, I still like it.

And by the way, this was shot along the Guadalupe River in Gruene, TX, from the bridge.  It’s a great little spot and now that I see it, I think I might have to head back down there this fall!  You can expect those photos in 2017!  LOL