Westcave Preserve

Westcave Preserve is an Austin city park that lies south and west of the city.  It is a beautiful place.  I had the good fortune to get invited by my buddy Pete Talke of Places2Explore to go on a photo tour there.  It was a nice morning and we met there early to get a good start on some HDR photo work.  We hiked down sort of into a canyon and then you come across the grotto.  There is a ~40 foot tall waterfall that cascades over the cliff and into a beautiful pool of water.  It is gorgeous and made more beautiful by the fact that you only drove a little while to get there.  It reminds me of Oregon or Washington, sort of like a rainforest feel to it.  There are ferns growing everywhere and it is so green.  I had to take down the green color in the photo because it was overwhelming.  It's really that green there!  If you are ever in Austin, I recommend a visit!

This is a 5 exposure HDR taken at f/11 with exposures from 0 to -4.  I merged them into an HDR in Photomatix and made some adjustments in PSE and Aperture.  Enjoy!   

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.

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.