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.

Bluebonnets in a field

Springtime in the Texas hill country can be just incredible.  Bluebonnets (the state flower) start popping up everywhere, and we actually get a little rain at times, which is nice too!  One thing that’s very popular is to go and check out all the wonderful wildflowers which seem to arrive (and sadly, depart) almost overnight.

Driving through Austin, you frequently see patches of bluebonnets on the side of the road, and inevitably, you see someone who has pulled over to take some pictures of them.  They’re just special to us, and probably that is partly due to their brevity.  It’s a sure sign that Spring has arrived.

I took this photo up in the Texas hill country back in 2010.  We had a serious “bumper crop” of bluebonnets that year - it hasn’t been nearly as nice since.  I am seeing some around Austin right now, but nothing that has made me get the camera out and pull over to the side of the road - yet!

Hill country bluebonnets

Springtime in Central Texas - particularly the Hill Country - is highly anticipated, and usually worth the wait.  We get some rain, which we are always in need of, and of course we get our bluebonnets (that is, unless there was no rain, like last year).  We are off to a fine start this year, as the bluebonnets are popping up all around and thus we are all a little happier it seems.  This particular spot is one that I really enjoyed shooting, though truth be told I took this shot 2 years ago, which was (quite obviously) also a great year for the bluebonnets.  I just haven't had a chance to get out much yet this year.  I need to hurry up though, because while our little blue friends pop up almost overnight, their retreat seems equally rapid.  One day you will just notice that they are gone.  It's like the floral version of Keyser Soze.


This is one of the first shots I took on my recent hill country photo shoot.  I was out looking for scenes with lots of wildflowers, and though I found plenty, I bet it is even more plentiful now.  I like the look of this scene, with the roughness of the rock providing a contrast to the delicate flowers.  I went with a rather tight focus on this one, focused just on the little red patch of flowers in the center in front of the rock, but in retrospect I could have also gone with a bit more in focus because I find the scene fairly pleasing to my eye.  Oh well, sometimes it is hard to tell what you will end up with when you are at the scene, and then of course later you just can't recreate it.  

5 exposure GDR at f/6.3, with exposures from -2 to +2.  Merged into HDR in Photomatix with adjustments in PSE and Aperture.

Life and death in the hill country

While on my recent wildflower hunt through the Texas hill country, my partner in crime and tour guide mentioned that he had seen an old abandoned house outside of town a little ways that sat alone in a field, and there was a good chance the field was full of bluebonnets.  Well, it didn't take me but about 1 second to decide this was a place I needed to see.  Anyone who frequently shoots in HDR is well aware how cool rusted stuff looks in HDR, and though I couldn't get too close due to a barbed-wire fence (this is Texas, after all) I still like the look of the place (and the shot).  Decayed old stuff is interesting in the first place, at least to me, and when you come across a scene where there is a contrast between the death of this structure and the growth of new spring flowers, I find it irresistible.  Hope you like it!

5 exposure HDR taken at f/22, with exposures ranging from +1 to -3.  Merged in Photomatix and some minor Contrast tweaks in PSE and a little color fix in Aperture.

Wildflowers and water

While on my recent ramble through the Texas Hill Country in search of wildflowers, I passed over this little stream and just had to stop.  I am always up for photographs that include water, simply because I find them enjoyable.  In this case, I thought the scene had a lot of elements of beauty and interest: water flowing by, a little dirt road, the tip of a hill in the distance, and of course a splash of color from the wildflowers.  In this case, there weren't many bluebonnets here but instead these vibrant pink flowers were plentiful - fine by me!

This is a 6 exposure HDR taken at f/22, with exposures ranging from +2 to -3.  I used Photomatix to merge them into an HDR and then made my typical adjustments in PSE and some slight one in Aperture.

Springtime in the Texas Hill Country

Well, it seems spring is officially here in central Texas.  I say "officially" because this is the time of year that all the wildflowers start blooming (and all the yellow oak pollen makes you sneeze!), and boy do they pop up all over the place!  The bluebonnet, which is the blue flower in this photo, is abundant and is also the Texas State Flower. They are growing everywhere and we get a lot of folks from many places that come down here to check out this seasonal spectacle.  While on this photo hunt, we came across a group of ladies taking a bike tour through the area, just to see the flowers.  They were from all over the country:  Washington State, California, Connecticut, etc.  This photo is from basically the middle of nowhere in the Texas Hill Country.  We went on a ramble, in search of beautiful views with lots of flowers, and were lucky enough to find just the right places, tucked away off the beaten path.  I really like this shot because this is sort of the classic view of the Hill Country that you see represented in oil paintings and things like that.  You have the empty, lonely dirt road, seemingly disappearing into the distance, with a nice big tree, the hills in the distance, and of course lots of bluebonnets.  I have a lot more photos to share from this little adventure so more will be coming soon!  So, pop some Claritin, grab your camera and get out there!

This is a 6 exposure HDR taken at f/22, with exposures ranging from +2 to -3.  I merged them into an HDR in Photomatix, and then made some adjustments in PSE and Aperture.  I often find that some of the colors coming out of Photomatix are really bright, so I had to tone them down to achieve a more natural look.  Hope you like it!