Out in West Texas, there is Guadalupe Mountains National Park. After my visit to Monahans Sandhills, I went out to Guadalupe Mountains to hike, shoot photographs, and camp. This area of Texas is mostly desert and very hot in the summer, which is why I visited in late November.
I pulled off the highway near the park and tried to capture the peaks from a distance. I found it difficult to show the scale of the mountains, so I included some small trees in the foreground as a reference. This is the tallest peak in Texas.
When I arrived and had set up my camp, the sun was already starting to hide behind the mountains. I did some hiking around the trails close to the camp on the opposite side of the canyon from the cliffs that were still in sunlight. The photo below has some of the high cliffs with the long late afternoon shadows with a gnarly dead tree in the foreground. This was a very contrasted scene; I basically metered off the bright cliffs in the distance and tried to bring the tree up in post.
Later, as the sun dipped behind the mountains, the tops of the far cliffs were bathed in warm sunlight. I love the juxtaposition of the warm cliffs and the cool blue sky. This is my favorite picture from my expedition.
With the light fading, I hiked around a bit more and returned to camp. I new there would be a waxing moon up the first half of the night and I wanted to capture the mountains lit by moonlight against the night sky. Even with my lens limited to f/4, there was plenty of light from the moon for this shot.
After a night of listening to coyotes and enduring freezing temperatures, I got up before the dawn and headed out to the trails to wait for the morning light. Here are some yucca (I think) with the cliffs in the background lit by the dawn light.
A couple of more pictures along the trail.
Hiking along I walked right up on a small herd of deer. They didn’t seem to mind my presence very much, so I snapped a few pictures. One of the does just climbed up a rock and studied me for a while, then they went on about their deer business.
There is a trail called Devil’s Hall trail. It follows a wash through the canyon and is very rocky, but I packed my camera in my backpack and scrambled over rocks for about a mile. Eventually, I make it to a stone staircase between two sharp cliffs. It’s actually kind of steep and I had to climb up about 8 or 10 feet with all fours to keep from slipping.
Once up there, I rested for a few minutes and then noticed that I could frame the distance ridge between the two cliffs. This was again a very contrasted scene as I was standing in shadow, so I metered on the bright sky and brought the dark areas back up in post.
Here is picture of one of the tall cliffs with a fallen tree at the bottom. The tree had tried to grow into the rocks, but got too big and tumbled down when the stones finally gave.
Some jagged, eroded cliffs that I tried to photograph several times. It may have been better if I had climbed up past the trees to simplify the scene.
A blooming cactus in the morning sunlight.
Then it was time to pack up my camp and make my long drive back home. Let me know what you think of the photos. Thanks for reading.