I took my daughter camping to Lake Brownwood State Park, which is near Brownwood Texas. I was looking for a campground that would be dark, and away from the city lights at night so that we could see the stars. Most of the nearby parks were full, except for Inks Lake, which is low right now. I had never been to Lake Brownwood, so I decided to go out there.
There were plenty of wild animals at this park. We saw this possum on the shore and he started heading toward me until he realized I was there and then he bolted. I was getting a bit worried as I don’t expect to see possums in the daytime. We also went on the hiking trail and saw an armadillo or two.
That evening the sky was clear for viewing the stars, but it got very windy in the night and I awoke to full cloud cover. I got up anyway and tried to see what I could do with the morning clouds. I found a place to perch my tripod and decided to try some long exposures of the fast moving morning clouds. It was still dark outside, so I was able to stop the aperture down a bit and get some long exposures. Below is a 30 second exposure of a break in the clouds which was quickly moving across the sky and I thought that it looked good stretched out in the long exposure. There is just a hint of sunlight on the lower left of the image.
A little later there was orange sunlight forming on the eastern horizon and I framed it with the hillside on the left. This is a 15 second exposure which smoothed out the water as well. I was afraid the fast moving clouds would completely blur to gray, but they turned out OK.
I moved around a bit and found a lonely tree that I thought might photograph well in black and white. I would have liked to go down to the ground, but the tree had a trash can chained to it that disagreed with my composition ideas.
There were some ducks in the water, but I didn’t really get a good photo of them. However, when I got back to the campsite, I found that there were cardinals everywhere. So, I grabbed the Sigma 70-200mm telephoto lens and sat down and waited for them to pose for me. I did have a bit of difficulty getting auto-focus to lock on the cardinals as they were moving a round quite a bit and this lens is a bit slow focusing. I tried single-point and continuous servo auto-focus as I wasn’t sure that multipoint would be able to pick out the little birds.
I did manage to get several of the cardinals in focus when they would settle down for a few seconds. I like the way the red cardinal in first image reads against the cool background (140mm, ISO800, f/2.8, 1/800s). This is one of the great things about photographing cardinals.
This cardinal perched on a piece of firewood nearby and waited while I shot pictures of him. (200mm, ISO800, f/2.8, 1/200s)
I got a few pictures of the female cardinals, but they didn’t turn out as well.
Anyway, I didn’t really shoot what I had planned, which was a sunrise over the lake, because of the heavy cloud cover that moved in over night. But instead of sunrise, I was able to get some nice long exposure cloud blur instead. Lake Brownwood State Park is a nice park for camping and boating, but not many hiking trails.