Saturday, December 31, 2011

Falls on the West Fork

Falls of the West Fork.  

The West Fork of the Trinity River runs through Fort Worth and forms the Trinity River when it meets the Clear Fork at downtown Fort Worth. 

In fact, one could go as far to say the original fort was established there precisely because of that fact.

I spend a great deal of time on the Clear Fork as I live on the banks of the river.  It is a place I can visit rocky rapids and a waterfall in just a five minute walk from my home.  This year I began exploring the West Fork more by bike and by Google Maps.

As I put in my last post, I began to visit several areas that I had overlooked for years.  Not only did I find some great fall color locations, I also "found" this waterfall.  I say found because I am shocked how there seems to be almost zero knowledge about it with area photographers and outdoorsmen.  Even the mountain bikers who visit the area did not mention it.  A search on Flickr only turns up a few images, none of which put it in context.  

So when I visited it and found this waterfall, I was stunned.  It is the find of my photography year-and what a way to end it!

On an mid December morning with some fall color in the trees, crisp temps, fog in the river valley and the falls putting up their own misty steam made it a fantastic location.

These falls were not the 3 foot falls I expected.  These are around a 10 foot drop!

A 10 foot drop might not be much to those folks in the mountains, but to find such a waterfall on the south plains in the middle of the city of Fort Worth is rare indeed.

The flow over the falls was nice but with the drought we have had is still minimal.  I bet they will roar when we get some spring rains.
Working on finding the best angles I sought out the best clouds and trees for backgrounds.  I was even able to wade across the river above the falls and shoot them from the far side.

These images here are my attempt to be able to show this fantastic location.  I even added an image of me on the falls taken by a buddy of mine to show them in context of how tall they really are.

I am so hoping for a cold snap, ice and snow, maybe even a good old blizzard to give this area some winter character!  Because if it does, this will be exactly where I am taking my camera.  Spring rains should make them roar and then early December will find me right back here hoping for fall colors at their peak and the falls flowing.

Adding such a place to the local areas I can photograph is a fantastic find.  One that I will get many Saturday's of visits out of.  I am not sure how I overlooked it but it makes me want to do even more exploration around town and see what else I might be missing.

See more images from the West Fork in the Trinity River section of my website Galleries.

Trinity River Galleries

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fall Colors on the West Fork

 Fall on the West Fork of the Trinity River.

The Trinity River starts where the Clear Fork and the West Fork meet at downtown Fort Worth.  I live along the Clear Fork and spend most of my photograph around town time along the banks of the Clear Fork.  It is a magnificent river that I have chronicled in this blog before.  

Having some great locations on the Clear Fork within a five minute walk of where I live means I have really overlooked the potential of the West Fork for a long time.  This year I started spending more time along the West Fork if for no other reason than to expand the local areas available to me to photograph.  Between looking at Google Maps and riding my bike along the Trinity Trails, I started to find some areas worth further exploration.  This past month I started to visit some of those areas as fall colors reached north Texas.

Wow, I have ever been missing some neat areas!  After just a couple of visits it only reaffirms the idea that you sure can find great locations anywhere-even where you live.  I wrote about that idea in an article over at NatureScapes Network and it still surprises me how true it really is.  You can see the article here Home Town Nature Photography Article

Here are just a couple of images of the fall color and the fog that I found in a park that is smack dab in the city of Fort Worth.  

I really only wish I had been able to get here sooner in the fall color season because many of the trees were already bare.  There was still some great color as the red oaks were really vivid but I think it would be more impressive if I had made it just one Saturday earlier.

I am already hoping for snow over our brief winter, looking forward to spring and even next fall when this will become a regular stop.

And if you think the fall colors here are nice wait until my next post and you can see the waterfall I found on the river......

Monday, December 19, 2011

Autumn Reds and Yellows

The highlight of the local fall color scene here in Fort Worth is our Japanese Garden.  It is a neat, well designed and very pleasing garden. 

The architecture is spot on with pagodas, a tea house and other Japanese inspired pieces.  All of that makes it more than interesting to me as a place to visit but the big draw are the Japanese Maples.  Especially when they turn red in the fall.

I look forward to the approach of Thanksgiving and start regular visits into the garden to see the colors.  In my last post I showed several images of my favorite viewpoint.

Here are a few of the other views I liked this past year.  See the vivid colors or the trees and the different angles in the gardens.  It is a place with some nice locations and a place to do many neat "small landscapes" like Eliot Porter did.

As the season progressed and the leaves of the native trees started falling the reds of the maples got more intense.  On a day in the rain, I spent several minutes photographing the leaves as they fell on a boardwalk.
On another heavy overcast day a heron was perched in a maple and I could not resist trying a shot.  Understand I am a rocks and trees photographer.  Wildlife, especially birds are not my thing but I think this one turned out ok. 

As I write this on the 19th I am still seeing some lingering colors here in Cowtown.  We are past peak but I may even get again this week hoping for one or two last images to the fall color season.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Progression of Fall

 The progression of fall.  Autumn comes late to the south plains.  Most well known fall color areas get color in late September and early October.  Here in Fort Worth it gets good around Thanksgiving.

Here it is mid December and there is still some good fall color to be seen.  Our peak was about the first week of the month and we typically will see color until around Christmas week.

As I do every year at this time I frequent our local Japanese Garden to photograph the vivid reds of the Japanese maples there.  This year was no different and I made several trips to the gardens.  

The colors were not as vivid this year and ran late.  I am sure most of that was related to the long, hot, dry summer we had here in Texas.  Trees are hardy but the almost total lack of any rain combined with something like seventy 100+ degree days over the summer had them lack that over the top red they can get.

Of course, that was not about to stop me.  I was in the garden every four or five days.  Luckily we have finally had some rain and unlike the past few years I was able to visit the gardens on several cloudy days and even once in a nice study rain.

 Here you can see the progression of color from my favorite view.  Forgive me for having them slightly out of order.

The first image is actually at the bottom here and was from before Thanksgiving.  The colors had started but it was just starting.

I was back a few days later and got the second image.  Now, we are talking color, but still not peak.

The third image of the series is actually the top one.  It was a day I was there in the rain and the colors were outstanding. Nothing like photographing fall color in the rain.

The final image is the second one and was made last Friday evening on my way home from the office, I stopped in for a few minutes.  The colors were still bright but getting to be a little past their prime.

I'll hopefully get to make it out there one more time to see the last vestige of fall color.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fall Colors of Palo Pinto County

Made a drive on a day of off and on rain west of town out to Palo Pinto County.  I know of several areas with bluffs and trees out beyond the Brazos River that I was hoping would have some nice fall colors.

Many of the trees were past their prime but the were still some with a little vivid color in them.

It was one of those days you photographed in some steady rain, then it would stop, then it would mist, then it would do start again.

It was a great day for a good Gore-Tex rain jacket as well as a good rain cover too.  Luckily I have both.  After using plastic bags mostly and even a hat to cover my camera in the past I have been pretty happy with a Kata rain cover.  It has two sleeves for your hands and a clear back so you can work the controls.  I do a lot of live view focusing and it works well for that.  Keeps the camera dry and I only occasionally have to wipe down the rain on the front of the lens.

So out in the country in the rain catching one of the later waves of fall color. Now that is a great day!

Here are a few captures.  When I was in the field and when I looked at the images in the field I thought it was going to be a great picture day.  However, back at the computer I thought these were rather ho-hum.  Do not get me wrong.  It was a great day, I just do not think the images captured the greatness of it.

Not every day can be perfect with great clouds, magic light, and amazing images.  This was a pretty darn great day despite the rain (which I actually really liked) to be out photographing.  I just wish I was a better photographer who could bring back the magic of each day in the field.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Waterfall in Fall

A waterfall on the south plains.  Sounds almost silly, but I have found several waterfalls that exist on the flat south plains here in Fort Worth.

You can see some images of the river spanning Great Falls of the Clear Fork in several posts here on my blog.  Here is a new for for these pages.  You might call this Carswell Falls.  On a side creek of the West Fork of the Trinity a waterfall has roughly a 12 foot drop.  It is one that was unknown to the city as for years it was on Carswell Air Force Base.  With the base realignment around the turn of the century, the stretch of creek that the falls are on became public property.  There was a trailhead built nearby and the Trinity Trails were connected to it.

Still it is a relative unknown.  After hearing about it, my wife and I biked up the West Fork and found the side creek, which I believe might be named Farmers Branch Creek or Hawks Creek.  But rather than call it something that sounds like a city near Dallas let's go with Carswell Falls.

Since finding out about it, I have been waiting for some good rains to really make it dramatic.  Well with the drought this year I waited and waited.  Finally this last weekend saw it rain for some four days.  

Four days of a nice slow rain was just what we needed after the dry hot summer and it is also just the thing to get the falls flowing.

I drove out and found not only were the falls flowing but I was able to even capture some of the local fall colors with it.

Here you will find three views I captured over about an hour out in the rain.
Each one is a little bit different and hopefully each captures the beauty of this great little location, a hidden treasure of the south plains- a natural waterfall in Fort Worth.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Autumn on the Clear Fork of the Trinity

Autumn on the Clear Fork.  Fall finally gets to Fort Worth in November.  People tend not to think of north Texas as a fall color location but I find that if you get out and explore you can find some nice fall colors.

I spent several mornings in the middle of the month riding the Trinity Trails along the Clear Fork of the Trinity River and as I was seeing some nice fall color, decided to trade up my usual biking camera which is my little small format point and shoot for my DSLR and a regular tripod.

The Trinity Trails run for many miles through Cowtown but I decided to concentrate on my end of the river and to just photograph the Clear Fork.

So over a few days I was able to see the river in some nice autumn colors of yellow, orange and red. The bike added a mobility that just walking lacked and it also allowed me to reach some areas that are not as easily accessible from the road.

Here are a few images to get a feel for Fort Worth in the fall.
I really like the top image.  It is from a small hill that overlooks the river and the trail and you can see the bike bridge crossing the Clear Fork.  I have been waiting for fall just to take that shot after scoping it out earlier this summer.

You can also see some of the nicer reds of the red oaks in the second image.  We mostly get yellows here but the red oaks can really put on a nice display.

Another image of the river in its fall dressing.  Finally a view of the trees along the rivers edge with some yucca. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rain Forest Green in Black and White

 Even though the rain forest is so green it begs for color, I also played around with what it might look like in black and white.  After all, the monochrome green might work as a monochrome based in black and white.

So one of the things I decided to do was to put my little Panasonic LX3 point and shoot into black and white mode.  Well actually it is a RAW + B&W jpeg that way I can still have a full color RAW file to work with.  However what I see on the camera is the B+W jpeg and does that ever help to judge a scene if it works in mono.

And did it ever! 

The blacks, grays, and whites really made the tones and texture "pop".  I knew it would be worth working some of the images that way back home.

So having looked through images and pulling the best color images and now having been home for a few weeks I decided to relook at the images see what kind of black and white work I could do.

To keep with the idea that had sprung from using the little pocket camera, I only worked files from it.  I have written before about my "small format" camera and here again it impressed me.  (To see more Small Format work-including article links- from the Panasonic LX3 look for "Small Format" in the labels)

The three images you see here are all from it.  Some are simply a tweaking of the B+W jpeg file and others were worked in RAW and then processed into B+W via Photoshop or NIK Silver Effects Pro 2.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lake Crescent

After spending a few days in Forks and along the coast we moved over to Lake Crescent and stayed at the lodge there.

A fantastic location and lodge.  In many ways it reminded me of Glacier National Park the way the mountains rise right out of the lake.

I was treated to several nice sunrises and sunsets during our stay.  This was one of those great sunsets.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rain Forest Green

 Green.  The rain forest is green.  Not just any green but its own special green.  It is not the green of grass or clover, or even that new green of spring.  The green of the rain forest is an amazing green that is exudes life.

That green of life is a feast for the senses.  It surrounds you.

The Hoh River valley leads deep into the heart of the forest.  The Hoh Rain Forest area was my destination on two different days to experience that green.

The rain, the green, the trees, the moss.  It was all around and all consuming the scene.

I worked slowly in the rain and the exposures were long but slowly I began to put that green into an image.

Here are a few of my attempts at that green.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In the Surf

In the surf at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park.

Another image from a great sunset at Rialto Beach.  With the high tide and big surf this day I was really enjoying photographing the beach.  I was moving along the beach photographing different views, changing the foregrounds, watching the surf pound the beach when I saw this log.  Log is really not an apt description, this is a tree and well over 100 feet long and 5 feet in diameter or bigger.

I really liked the keyhole in it, almost like a wooden arch.

I hopped up on the log and started to work the log and surf into an image.  Did I mention the surf was big that day?  Even on a 5 foot tall log waves were breaking right up against it.  Luckily both the camera and me stayed dry.  Still it was pretty exciting.

With the sunset, surf, wind, etc it was one of those days you really like being a photographer.

Here is a second image of me up on the log with the surf coming in to let you see what the set up looks like to make the above image.

This was one of those locations where you were not about to set the pack down and after choosing the lens (I went ultra wide with the 10-20mm) and filters (2 stop grad) I really only kept a microfiber towel in my jacket pocket to wipe away any spay from the glass.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rialto Beach Twilight

 Rialto Beach is another one of the fantastic beaches along the Pacific coast of Olympic National Park.

Each beach has its own character here and Rialto is no different.  I was lucky enough to see different light on my three visits here.  I caught a nice sunset, an incredible sunrise, and heavy overcast and rain.  Each one was magical in a different way.  

Rialto has easier access than some of the other beaches but I had it to myself at sunrise and only a few others there at sunset.  It was much less crowded than First Beach just across the river in La Push and it is arguably a better beach too.

Rialto seems to have more driftwood on it than some of the others.  Or maybe a better way to say it is it has more driftwood in the surf than the others.  That driftwood became some of the best subjects I found, especially in sunset light.

See my top image for an example.

I also wanted to try more wave based images and caught a nice sunrise a few days after the nice sunset.  Getting the waves to cooperate is never an easy task but if you time it right with the right wave, you can get some great motion in the image. 

Finally the third image is from the rainy and overcast morning.  The moodiness that day was also exceptional and between rain squalls, I was able to snag a few nice images while in the surf.

Photographers note, with the rain, surf, sand, and salt water you need to be careful with your camera at any of these beaches.  A good rain cover is a must and a microfiber towel will allow you to wipe away drops from your lens between images as it will get wet.

Friday, October 14, 2011

In the Surf at Second Beach

 I just returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest.  It is an area that is too long of a drive from Texas for a one week vacation and usually too expensive of a flight.  However, this year, there were cheaper flights to the northwest and I was able to take plan and do a trip to the rugged Pacific coast. 

The cost here is fantastic for photography and it certainly lived up to that for me.  I was drawn to the western side of Olympic National Park and based on reading and recommendations went to Second Beach, which is near the town of La Push.

I hiked out to the beach in the dark and arrived to heavy overcast and intermittent rain.  I am sure there are many folks who would have thrown in the towel in these conditions but I really liked them.  That could have something to do with the fact we have a lot of clear sky in Texas and it had not rained in weeks.  Cool, cloudy, and rainy was a refreshing change for me.

I spent the morning standing on the edge of the ocean right at and sometimes in the surf.  For the most part that worked but well but sometimes larger waves sent me scampering up the beach.

The low light meant long exposures and I was able to capture the ocean and waves in extended motion.

I loved the images that were appearing on the back of the camera.
The cool blue of the dawn just looked right for the conditions-see the top image for what I mean.

As I have been digging through the images from that day I have also been looking at some images that make some great black and white-see the second image.

A top notch location that was everything everyone said it was.

See more images from Olympic National Park in the new gallery on my website.

Olympic NP Gallery

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Mountains of the Lost Mesa

The open range country of the Otero Mesa is surrounded on three sides by mountain ranges.  To the north is the Sacramento Mountains, to the east the great wall of the Guadalupe Mountains, and to the south are the lonely peaks of the Horned Mountains. 

It is the lonely peaks of the Horned Mountains that I regularly visit and photograph.  

The range is unique, unknown, and seldom visited.  Much like the entire Otero Mesa are if you mention the Cornudas Mountains, people will draw a blank.  It is just not a range that is known.  Cornudas is Spanish for "horned" and I generally prefer to call them the Horned Mountains.  It sounds better somehow.

Each mountain of the range is a stand alone mountains almost like they were randomly dropped from the sky.  In a typical mountain range there is a crest with several peaks rising from the crest.  Here you have several individual mountains rising out of the open range of the Otero Mesa.

Not only is each peak unique, they look vastly different.  Some like Wind Mountain are like a giant pyramid.  Others like Alamo and Flat Top are truly flat topped (almost like a mesa). Finally Cornudas Mountain itself is just a jumble of rocks.

I understand that all of them are volcanic in origin, although none are volcanoes.  There are various igneous and I believe metamorphic rocks to be found in different areas and on different peaks.  Some rocks are covered in petroglyphs and other rocks are pure granite.

The lonely quality of those individual peaks rising out of the open range grasslands give the Horned Mountains an almost mythic quality.  Something more out of a story than reality.  Each one different. Each one something unique.  

That makes every angle here different.  I can photograph each peak as an individual and the entire range.  The view changes with each location.  

Every trip here takes me to new sights and new ways to view and photograph these peaks.

Here are a few views.  The top image takes in most of the range at sunrise.  Note how each peak can be seen to stand out as a unique mountain and the different shapes.  The middle image is of Flat Top Mountain in the afternoon.  It is obvious how it got its name.  Finally the third image is of the jumble of rocks that is Cornudas Peak.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rain on the Open Range Country of the Lost Mesa

 The open range of the Otero Mesa is wild, wide open range country.  I love the vastness of the land, the lonely mountains, and the solitude of the place.  I was drawn back to this landscape again in what has become a regular destination and an annual trip.

It is a trip that marks the end of summer and is timed to coincide with the monsoon season in the southwest when the tropic hurricane season sends rainy into the parched southwest.

This a dry year.  Texas and New Mexico are suffering a severe drought.  Both states are way under for rain totals for the year and fires have raged across both states.  The mesa is under it's rain total for the year but still showed some signs of the wet season.

The grasses were not as green as in the past years and some areas that get seasonal pools of water were dry.  However the ocotillo were all green with leaves showing some signs of rain.

I was lucky to see some rain on this trip.  It was very distant and light but there was some rain out there on the horizon.

Here are a couple of images from the trip and showing a little of that distant rain.

Take in the vast distances here and how open the open range is.  Then marvel at how even that little bit of rain brings new life to the desert.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hometown Nature Photography-Published Article

 I recently had another article published by the good folks over at Naturescapes, this one on hometown nature photography.

It is easy to dismiss the place where you live as a location to make great nature photography, however that is exactly the place you have the best chance at making a great image.  Simply put, you are there every day.  You get to see it in different light and different seasons.  You can learn its locations like few others.

Think of where you live as your home field advantage!

Here are a few images to give you an idea.  Both were taken within a five minute walk of where I live.  Both were taken on the Clear Fork in Fort Worth.

I can be here quickly so when I saw nice clouds that looked like a potentially good sunrise one morning I was able to grab my gear and head down to the river to catch this nice sunrise.

The wildflower image was done one fine spring day on a walk when I just happened to have had a camera with me (you do carry a camera every day-right?).

So get out there with your camera, great pictures are waiting in your neighborhood!

See the article here:   Hometown Nature Photography Article

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Call for Wilderness-Published image

I have another image from Otero Mesa being published by the Wilderness Society in their magazine.

The Otero Mesa is the largest tract of open range grasslands left in the lower 48 and is an ideal candidate for protection.  The are several Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) on the million plus acre mesa, however Congress has yet to approve any of them to be added to the Wilderness System.

Since the area is public land managed (mostly) by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) it is subject to mining claims.  There have already been attempts to gain drilling permits and now the area is under threat of hard rock mining.

The Wilderness Society is working to help provide that protection this amazing location deserves.

See more on the Wilderness Society website    Wilderness Society

See more on the Otero Mesa on my Blog  and images in my Gallery

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Davis Mountains-Published Image

I have an image being published in The Nature Conservancy Magazine for a story about the Davis Mountains.

The Davis Mountains are a large range that is often called the Texas Alps.  Here the elevation in towns such as Marfa, Alpine, and Fort Davis is about a mile high and the peaks reach well above 8,000'.  The Davis Mountains, like the Guadalupes, and the Chisos Mountains, are a "sky island" where the mountains provide cooler higher elevations above the lower desert that surrounds them.

The range is host to a large Nature Conservancy preserve, as well as Davis Mountains State Park, and the McDonald Observatory.

See more on the Nature Conservancy here- Nature Conservancy Website

Friday, August 26, 2011

Working to Save Otero Mesa

One of my images of Alamo Mountain and the open range grasslands of the Otero Mesa in southern New Mexico was chosen for and has been published in the 2011-2012 Earth Justice Calendar.
You can see several images and stories on my blog here as I call it the Lost Mesa. This is a huge area of over one million acres of mostly BLM land that is America's largest wild grassland left in a wild state.
There have been several groups working to protect the mesa from development and mining activity and Earthjustice is one of those groups. I was glad to be able to help them with an image of the mesa.
This is a large and wild area that is worthy of protection but the lack of knowledge about it makes the protection fight harder.
Hopefully the power of determined people and the images of this incredible location can help save it in it's wild state for future generations.
To see more about the Otero Mesa see these blog posts
To see more on Earthjustice follow this link Earthjustice

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Foggy Sunrise

A foggy sunrise in the Florida panhandle.

Another day I was out with more fog and caught sunrise across the water as the sun appeared in the trees. Just about a perfect Florida forest morning.

A morning I would have loved to have had all my gear with me, but since I just had the point and shoot I used it like I would with my SLR and tripod. Think, compose, frame, etc.

The process is the same, the scene is the same, only the camera is different.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Looking for Hansel and Gretel

As I walked in a foggy Florida pine forest I thought this could be the kind of place Hansel and Gretel got lost in.

The forest had thicker denser parts but I was walking in a section that was rather thin. The trees had probably been thinned out in a logging operation leaving some trees and an open view.

Just the sort of place you would confidently start to walk through. It would only be after the fog came in you would start to lose your bearings and begin to feel lost. Then you would wish for breadcrumbs.

That thought inspired the top image here. How to take the forest and make it somehow more foreboding. I worked on several compositions that included both the trees and the path hoping it would be one that could take on an air of mystery.

The bottom view is the country I was in. You can see the open nature of the forest and the light fog. Add in a little motion for mystery and I think you get a forest the Brothers Grimm would like.