Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fall Colors of Palo Pinto County

At the end of November I was in the field every chance I had chasing the peak weeks of our fall color here in north Texas.  Most of that was done here locally visiting various parks  but I also did a few day drives chasing the color.  Here is from another trip I did west to Palo Pinto County.  The hills and curvy roads west of the Brazos River are a great area to photograph and the colors put on a good show.

On a weekend morning we planned an early start and made the 45 minute drive to be here for sunrise.  The clouds were not cooperating like I had hoped but the trees had some nice color.  The reds did not have the pop I was seeing in Fort Worth but there were nice muted oranges and yellows that colored the hills and that made it pretty nice for photography.

With the clear sky it meant I had to change to a longer lens to extract areas of color from the scene and it helped me keep the clear blue sky to a minimum or complete exclude it from the image.

A polariser also helped put a little snap into the colors by taking glare off the leaves.  

I then went hunting through the scene looking for those ares I could pick out interesting trees, patterns of color or rocky outcroppings to put in the image.

It is a slower process for a guy who usually looks to take in the whole big picture of a  scene in a photograph.  For me I find my success rate drops dramatically with a longer telephoto lens.  However, with enough looking and taking enough images to have a good sized pool to edit from, I pulled these three as some of my favorites from the day.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science

The new Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened this month in Dallas and features two of my images.  

The museum is a fantastic new show piece for the city and I was honored to be asked to provide two images for the Texas Wild exhibit in Discovering Life Hall.  They have highlighted three of the geographical regions of the state in the exhibit-Desert, Prairie, and Piney Woods.  My images provide the backdrop scene for the Desert and Prairie sets.

Each image measures about 10-12 feet tall and 15 feet wide.  The images form the backdrop scene has rocks, grasses, and animals from that region on a diorama set in front of it.  They provide an interesting look into the geography and ecology of the region.  The top photograph has both images framed behind me.

The Chihuahuan Desert display features an image from Big Bend National Park that has  the distinctive and aptly named Mule Ears Peak in it.

For any of the photographers who feel caught up in the megapixel race, this image was made on my 10MP Canon Rebel.  In all modesty I have to say it looks pretty awesome printed at 12 foot tall.

You can the image with the cactus, javelina, and assorted other plants and animals in front to complete the desert set.

The Blackland Prairie display features an image that I photographed in Tarrant County of an area where open grasslands of the prairies still exists.

You can see here how they added some of the native grasses and have a hawk in flight above it.  Note the person on the other side of the display for scale.  The horizon line in the prairie image is 6 feet from the ground.

The museum has several other amazing exhibits with everything from learning about the galaxy, dinosaurs, geology, biology, as well as science and robotics.  Many things are hands on and will bring out the kid in anyone (earthquake simulator anyone).  Even the building itself stands out for architecture.  A truly world class destination.

I am deeply honored to be a part of it.

This is an easy place to spend 3-4 hours to take it all in and experience all that it has to offer.  If you get a chance it is well worth the visit.

Find out more about the Perot Museum

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

 PS-And look for my images too!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Prairie Hills Autumn

One of the areas I have visited a couple of times this autumn has been one of our local parks that with prairie hills.  It has been kept in an undeveloped state and still has some of the prairie grass and a few trees along the creek beds at the base of the hills.  The trees are a mix of cedar and oaks.  Luckily there are some red oaks among them and that helps bring out the fall color.  They put on a great display this year and combing them with some of the fall grasses and broomweed and the setting was right for some good fall photography.

This is a great area to walk around in but it is a little more difficult to photograph since just about every horizon has buildings of some type.  So here I had to be careful with how I framed the sky or if I even put it in the image at all.    Usually I opted to leave it out.  Partly because I am not a big fan of huge radio antennas in the image but also since it keeps your eye in the image.

Here are some images from a couple of different days in the hills.

Conditions varied and we had fog one morning, dense clouds the next trip, and then mostly sunny.  With the constantly changing light and leaves it made each visit different and led me to making different images each trip.

 That is really a neat thing when you think about it.  Photographing the same place in the same conditions is something that rarely happens.  The place might be the same but the conditions are always changing.  The light, the clouds, the color in the trees.  Over time even the size of the trees change.  Nature has a way of not keeping things the same.

One of my favorite trees that we photograph down by an old church was a perfectly shaped live oak.  I have photographed that tree for several years, but a wind storm took several large branches.  The tree is now different.  I photographed a balanced rock in the Guadalupe Mountains that has fallen and is no more.  Even Ansel Adams for all those years of living there only got the light for clearing winter storm once.  It is always different.

Enjoy it for what it is because it will be different the next time.

Already the leaves are almost gone and we are almost to winter, my next walk through these hills will be different.  No telling what it will be like.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Into the Gardens

The Japanese Garden here in Fort Worth is putting its the annual display of fall colors.  The maples there really get going after Thanksgiving and make the first weeks of December special.

As I seem to do every year, I make my first visit to check out the potential color a week or so before the holiday and then start regular visits for the next three or four weeks to see the color.

I always hope for a rainy day around the peak of the color to make the most of the photography.  Our very dry fall here has been without any rain in November so no such luck this year.  However, I did catch a cloudy day and be there as the clouds broke up so I got some great light.

The native trees seemed to turn a little slow this year so I was impressed with the color in the cottonwoods while enjoying the deep reds of the maples this year.

One thing you notice about fall color in places you visit every year is how the trees can have good or bad years.  This year we had darker reds, in some years past the maples went crimson but the last few have all been darker red.  Not that there is anything bad about that, it just adds to the variety of what you can get and why every year and trip is different.

I hope for a few more visits over the next week or so to take in the last of our major color peaks.  Then I will pursue those last few trees as the colors fade into winter.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Even More Colors

The calendar keeps moving forward.  The colors keep changing too.  However, there is still nice color to be seen here locally.  I keep going back to the same handful of parks where I see the best color and every time is different.  A few days can make a big difference.

Where a colorful tree might have been on Thursday is a bare tree on Sunday.  But two more trees may have turned vivid red just down the trail.

It is a visual feast and I cannot get enough of it.  Everyday I look out the window and hope for great clouds and the chance to make a good image of some fall color.  Some days I can only look and hope to go.  Other days I am lucky enough to make it out.  It might just be for 30 minutes, but every moment counts, especially when it comes to fall color.

Blink, and you might miss it.

Here are some of the trees and moments that jumped out at me over the last couple of weeks as I explored the views along the West Fork of the Trinity River.

I was lucky enough to catch a foggy morning but even on clear days I have been able to catch the backlit trees in a colorful view.

Every day counts and I hope I can get a few more in the field to see the fleeting colors.