A Hike in the Tall Grass

I went out hiking and shooting photos at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. I am a bit disappointed with the results as I don’t think these photos really work all that well. But I am posting this anyway as this is all a learning experience for me.

It was a bit breezy and sunny on this particular afternoon. I thought that this time of year, the long grasses in this place would be turning golden. So, the plan was to capture the blur of the golden grass in the late afternoon sun with a subject, like some of the boulders, in the foreground.

When I got to my target location and experimented with the boulders as foreground, I found that it was not working for me. So, I turned around and began targeting a prickly pear in the grass. The prickly pear was catching the evening sun and there was a lot of long grass in the background. Long exposure to blur the grass.

Prickly Pear Cactus in Long Grass
Prickly Pear Cactus in Long Grass

I shot this with a 10-stop ND filter to get a 30 second exposure. The breeze was strong enough to wave the grass but not move the cactus. This picture did what I wanted it to, but in the end, I don’t think that the composition works like I hoped it would. In the background the grass runs in a curve into the distance, but I could not find a tripod height or focal length that would capture this. The far background is just a tree line. So it is some warm cactus in the blurry golden grass.

The high clouds held a suggestion of a nice sunset, so I hiked around a bit looking for a good place to shoot it. I settled on an overlook that views the lower hiking trail and waited. Whatever formula is necessary to make a beautiful sunset was not present and the clouds never really picked up a lot of color. I framed it like I wanted, with the branches creeping in from the sides and top to frame the sunset over the distant ridge and the trail running through the seen in the distance.

Sunset at Balcones Canyonlands
Sunset at Balcones Canyonlands

I have tried here before and not had a cooperative sunset. This is an HDR merge of several images to capture all of the range. I also want that hiking trail to be more obvious in the image. Maybe some more troubleshooting at this location.

All was not lost as it is a nice hike and climb up to this area from the parking lot. And every time I hike around here I see something new and don’t regret going. I was also mostly alone as usual. I saw a couple of people near the parking lot and that was about it. So, I had a nice peaceful hike in the hills all to myself. Then about 20 minutes to drive back home and with the recent time change, I get all of this done before 7:00PM this time of year.

I am also refining how much gear I pack along for a hike. On this excursion I had 3 lenses in my backpack and I only shot with one, so I could make it even lighter on equipment. I only used a 10-stop filter and I have screw-on filter that I could use instead of the large rectangular filter assembly and really lighten my load.

So, a failed attempt at good photography but a nice evening hike. Thanks for reading and leave comments below if you like.

6 thoughts on “A Hike in the Tall Grass

  1. The photos are good, in my view, and I like the blurring of the grass. I don’t see anything spectacular in either photo. But they ain’t bad, either. As far as sunsets, I’ve had the same experience. It’s hit and miss, and a mystery as to what elements must come together for a really great sunset photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have seen a lot of fantastic sunsets when I am coming out of the grocery store or going to perform some other menial task. Seldom when I plan to be out shooting. I wish I knew how to predict them.

      Nothing but rain and clouds today.

      Liked by 1 person

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