Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fall Colors on the Nolan River

In November as fall was passing through north Texas, I spent every free Saturday chasing the colors.  

This last year I had added a new area to places I can get to in an hour.  Having locations that are reasonably close like that mean I can be someplace for sunrise pretty easily.

The Nolan River has become one of those new areas.  It is a short river rising up in Johnson County just south of Fort Worth and running almost due south for maybe 50 miles where in joins the Brazos River.

I began frequenting the river last summer and found a few locations that I thought would be good in the fall.  In November I made it back down to the river and found that some of the spots were good and some were great.

We started off at sunrise by the bluff.  I really like this bluff, although after several times photographing it, have yet to make a good image of it.  It is kind of funny how things can work out like that.  I think it is certainly a neat area, but perhaps mornings are not best.  I think I will have to plan a sunset here sometime.

After spending time at the bluff, we drove up to another location along the river in the forest.  For only being about 6 miles away, it sure seems like a different river.  Here trees overhang the water and we caught them with some nice yellows.

It was already well into the morning and the sun was passing in and out of the clouds.  I tried to time images to take advantage of both and found it to be a very good stop.

Best of all is it was all fairly close to home.  There for sunrise, some good photography, and lunch at one of our favorite cafes.

Call it a winning morning!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Great Falls of the Clear Fork, Then and Now

The Great Falls of the Clear Fork are a short walk from where I live. It is a nice 3-4' waterfall on the Clear Fork of the Trinity River.  I have photographed this waterfall for the last dozen years and seen many views of it .  It is a place I can visit at sunrise, see in flood stage, and have even seen all but frozen over in winter.  

It is one of my favorite locations in town.

It is also one that has seen changes over the last year as a bridge was recently completed right near the falls.  The new bridge was built with somewhat of an older style with the concrete work and lights.  I really like that as it gives the bridge character and it not just a concrete slab.  

They also added a pedestrian bridge along with it to provide more access to the excellent Trinity Trail System.  The pedestrian bridge sees as much traffic from runners, walkers, and bikes as the regular one does with cars.

Although I did some photography while the bridge was under construction, I have done more since it has been completed to capture the bridge and the falls.

Here are some images to capture the before and after look of the falls giving you the falls from days gone by and the bridge spanning the river and adding a whole new look to the place.

One this I have found is I used to like to photograph the river at dawn but for the bridge I now like after sunset when you can get the blue in the sky and the lights on the bridge lit.  It gives the bridge even more character.

For a last shot I have gone upstream to a rocky ledge on the other side of the falls.  This was another nice feature of the river I have always liked and now with the new bridge, the pedestrian and an older bridge beyond, it has a new look too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mustang Creek and Lake Benbrook

I have been trying to find some new locations around town to add as potential photography locations.  Having choices of spots that can adapt to the seasons gives me options I can use throughout the year to make images locally.

After spending some time with Google Maps, I decided to look at a park where Mustang Creek meets Lake Benbrook as a place for potential.  There are some places I photograph Mustang Creek as it flows the the remnant prairies of Tarrant County so I knew it already had potential.

I do not often photograph around the lake itself, but the map looked promising.

I drove out there for a sunrise and found it to be a pretty decent location.  The clouds were few that morning, really just a small band in the east but by swapping out my normal 17-40mm lens for the 70-200mm lens I was able to compress the scene to show the creek and capture the few clouds in the sky.

These is no way I could have gotten a decent image with the wide lens that morning and this became one of those rare occasions I was able to put the long lens to use for a decent image.

I followed the creek down it's last few hundred yards until it joined the waters of Lake Benbrook and was able to add an image with the low water levels in the lake (we are in a drought) and the final bends of the creek.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Clear Fork at Sunset

I spent several sunsets walking the Clear Fork over the winter.  The river is only a few steps away from where I live and I think of it as my backyard.  It is a fantastic treasure here in Fort Worth. A place I do sunrise walks, bike rides, take my dog, and photograph.

In the winter months I had several days where it looked like there would be a nice sunset and the I had the chance to grab the camera and go.  While that sounds pretty easy, the early winter sunsets usually happen while I am still driving home from work, so it is the exception, rather than the rule for me to be able to grab the camera and go.

These were over the Christmas holidays when I had a few days off and was able to take advantage of the clouds and the river to make a few images.

Sometimes I just walk the rivers edge as in the top image.  However, I often grab my boots and wade into the river to work the rock ledges found along the limestone bed of the Clear Fork.

Standing in the water makes it seem a long ways away from the middle of the city.  I regularly see a variety of wildlife along the river that includes, coyotes, turkeys, beavers, nutria, and many waterfowl.

Add in the waterfall and you have a great destination that is right in my backyard.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Winter Snow

It has been a cold winter in Texas.  Nothing like the Great Lakes freezing over, but cold for us.  I should also say we have had our usual days where it gets to 65 degrees, but we had snow and ice in early December and then a cold snap every couple of weeks.  We are just now getting into spring mode.

When the December ice and snow arrived, I took advantage of the the rare event to walk the river and see what I could find for potential photographs.  Luckily there was still some lingering fall color.  Actually we normally get fall colors up until the week before Christmas, but the early December cold took them all down.

Walking along the Clear Fork, I was able to see and make a few winter images of the river and some of the nearby trees.

I also made my down to the falls on the Clear Fork.  These are a small falls and I just did a shot from the bank.  There is a better image in the river but with plain overcast sky, wading did not seem to get me anything that day.  So discretion was the better part of valor.  I was hoping to have both the snow and a great sunset, but in typical Texas fashion with snow, it began to melt pretty fast and the opportunity never happened.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


When I tell people there are four waterfalls in Fort Worth, they rarely believe me.  They presume it is some small man made falls or the like.  After all, a waterfall on the south plains???  

Well there four that I know of and who knows, there might be more.  

A couple of them are small 4 foot drops, but the other two are 8-12 foot drops.  I try to visit them all on a regular basis.

As the fall colors faded into winter and it got cold with some rain/snow I made several trips out to the falls to see what I might find.

First up was the Big Falls on the West Fork.  I frequent this area year round but it is one of my favorite local spots for fall color.  There is usually a small flow over the falls unless we have had a lot of rain to get the lakes full and get the added flow from water release upstream.

If you search the archives of this blog you can see the flow when it really roars over the falls.

The other big fall is Airfield Falls.  This fall tucked on a side creek just off the West Fork has three drops which total about 10-12 feet.  It normally is just a trickle and requires local rain to get moving.  Then it really is nice for a short while.

Over Christmas week we had some nice rain and I went out to catch the falls.  The rain had stopped in mid afternoon and I went with the hope of a good sunset, only to have the sky go completely clear in the 15 minutes it took to drive there.  I stayed and photographed anyway to get these.

With some spring rains, these could be flowing again soon and when they do, I will be back with my camera.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sunrise on the West Fork

Sunrise on the West Fork is late fall along the Trinity River is a great time of the year and day.  The fall colors add something to the river.  The fall is also a good time for a little bit of morning fog, especially around water and the river valley will get just a touch to add atmosphere.  Then ass in morning light and it is my favorite time of the day to photograph.

Too often, I seemed to have cloudless mornings, but on a crisp morning in the late fall, I could see a few clouds in the sky and hoped they might make for a good sunrise.  I got to the overlook above the river and knew it was going to be a better image down on the river and made my way down the hill in the dark.

I arrived at the Big Falls and knew I had made the right decision.  With the waterfall in the image and the sun rising beyond I had a great shot.  This is a place I have been many times as it is very close to home.  As I keep mentioning in this blog, it is also all but unknown.  That makes me like it all the more.

After getting a few images of the falls, I decided to get to the top of them to pick up more of an eastern view.  Up on the top I was able to frame up the river, the trees on the far shore, and the now peak of the sunrise colors for another nice view.

After working the view toward the sunrise, I turned southwest and worked the river and a few clouds to see if I could get a decent photograph looking upstream and produced this third image for my efforts.

As the dramatic reds and oranges faded into the colors of daylight, I continued to look for images and angles I could work.  After another hour I called it a morning.  When reviewing the images at home, I found it was those few minutes with amazing light from the sunrise that held my attention and these became the three I liked best.