Hamilton Pool

I really like Hamilton Pool.  It was my first visit and I hope to return again in the spring.  It is about a 40 minute drive from Austin, so it is an easy day trip from this area.  The waterfall is gorgeous and the entire scene is just beautiful too.  There is a little trail that runs around the back of the falls, which you can sort of see in this photo, as well as a trail that follows the creek downstream to where it meets the Pedernales River.   This was taken a couple of weeks back, and unfortunately the sky that morning was pretty blah, which you can plainly see here.  Imagine a beautiful sky or a sunset - whoa!  I will have to arrange a better sky next time!

This is a 5 exposure HDR taken at f/18, with exposures from -3 to +1.  They were merged into an HDR in Photomatix and then I made some adjustments in PSE around Curves, Contrast and Unsharp Mask.  Final step was a little pizazz from Topaz Adjust, which is just an awesome piece of software.

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.

Hamilton Pool waterfall

Saturday was a pretty good day in my opinion.  It started with breakfast tacos from Taco Shack, then I got some time to shoot at Hamilton Pool with my friend Michael Tuuk, who in addition to being a great guy is also a great photographer, then I had lunch at Taco Cabana and wrapped up with a visit to my local camera store.  Basically, I got some of my favorite foods and spent time on my favorite hobby - a good day!  I have been in Austin for many years, and had always heard of Hamilton Pool, but had never been there.  I decided to give it a whirl and invited my fellow photographer friend Mike.  We arrived before they even opened the gate.  My plan was to get there by 9am so that we could get ahead of any stray tourists that might wander into our shots.  Once we got in we quickly headed down the trail to shoot the big waterfall which is the main attraction there.  It is beautiful and a great way to spend a morning.  I highly recommend it.  

Here is a little info about Hamilton Pool from the web:  Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural pool that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago. The pool is located about 23 miles (37 km) west of Austin, TX and supports recreational opportunities such as picnicking, hiking, swimming and nature study. One of the most outstanding features of the pool is its 45 foot (14 m) waterfall that spills from the dome above.

This is a 7 exposure HDR taken at f/18, with exposures ranging from+2 to -4.  I merged them into an HDR in Photomatix, and then made some adjustments in PSE, specifically Curves, Contrast, Hue/Saturation and Unsharp Mask.  Then I ran it through Topaz Adjust for a little "pop".  Hope you like it!  I definitely recommend this as a place to go take photos or just for a nice place to visit if you are in Austin.


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.

Echoes of running water

I just love the sound of running water, don't you?  I assume everyone does.  It has a calming effect I guess, and in this hectic world everyone needs that.  In this case, I heard that peaceful sound as well as a slight echo as the sound waves bounced around the underside of this stone bridge.  It's pretty cool.  I came across this bridge while on a photowalk around the University of Texas campus, and being a bridge guy I immediately climbed down to the side of the stream and started finding my way across rocks that happened to be in all the right places.  They were a little slippery but at least this time I had on the right kind of shoes.  I took a bunch of shots here, from all sorts of angles, and was happy to spend quite a while there.  

This is a 6 exposure HDR, taken at f/22, with exposures from +2 to -3.  They were blended into an HDR in Photomatix, then adjusted in PSE (Curves, Contrast, Unsharp Mask) and a final touch in Topaz Adjust.  I am starting to use Topaz Adjust quite a bit, and really like the product.  It has all kinds of interesting settings that you can use to adjust your photos, though some are a bit over the top for me.  If you want to read more about it, you can see my review of it here.   

Autumn reflections

This was an excellent morning in Austin.  The temps were in the mid-50's, which I find very comfortable, and there was an awesome low fog hanging around for quite a while.  Basically, it was perfect.  It was made better by the fact that I was able to get out with the camera for a bit.  I went down to the greenbelt at Bull Creek and hiked around the creek and the various trails.  It has been raining some here, so the water was moving nicely (that is to say, there actually was water!) and in no time at all I was a happy, muddy mess.  Ah, but what fun! I was also excited that we are in fact getting a touch of fall color, and I was the only one there to enjoy it.  It was just me, my camera and the quiet burble of a distant waterfall.