Prairies of Tarrant County

The area around Fort Worth is prairie country.  You could call it the south plains.  It was once the eastern edge of the Commancheria.  The Chisholm Trail passed through here.  It is where the west begins.  

It is also a pretty big city and something like 1.8 million people live in Tarrant County.

However it is also a cowboy town and the ranching heritage is still alive and well in more places than the Stockyards.  One of my favorite local destinations to photograph are the ranches that are just beyond the city limits.  If one heads east from Fort Worth, it is suburb after suburb to Dallas.  Go in a westerly direction and within a few miles of downtown is ranch land.  

It is also pretty open country.  Over the past 120 years or so Fort Worth has become a city with many trees, but that would not have historically been the case.  When you look at old images of the area it was very much open range, grasslands, and only a few trees along the rivers.  While I enjoy shade at my home, I sure do love to be able to find that open treeless grasslands still nearby.

Just a 15 minute drive from my place in the city I can be out among open grasslands and big sky.  This spring I have been trying to take more advantage of that proximity to photograph some of the great wildflowers we are getting this year.

Last week I made one such drive out looking for great light, big sky, and wildflowers.  

The sky part was certainly cooperating with nice clouds that had some great potential.  I had spotted a tree that would make a good subject a few weeks back and had noticed what looked like the start of a nice patch of bluebonnets.  I made my way there only to find the bluebonnets had come and gone and the next wave of wildflowers was thin by the tree.  Then I noticed that across the road was some great spring grass and that the light might light up the grass nicely.

Sure enough the golden light of dawn brought some awesome light and texture to the grass and the clouds in the sky kept it interesting too.

After spending the best golden light in that spot, I drove to another nearby location and worked it.  Then made my way further around the area to yet another spot that had a rolling quality to it.  There I captured an image of the prairies and some of the great clouds in the sky.  

Finally mid morning as I made my way back home I stopped at another location that I knew could get wildflowers and this third image.

All told less than 25 miles driven for the morning and a chance to bring back images that sure look a lot farther a field than I was.


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