Austin is not known for its Autumn color display, but there are some colors and I set about trying to capture them on Friday evening. My plan was to shoot from the pedestrian walkway along IH-35 across Lady Bird Lake. I had seen this view while driving the kids to Six Flags in San Antonio last weekend and wanted to find a way to get down there and try it out. Monday thru Thursday it was cold, rainy, gray, and cloudy, but on Friday the skies cleared up so I headed down before the golden hour started.
The IH-35 bridge overlooks downtown beyond a curve in the river/lake and gives you something to stare at before you rear-end the car in front of you.
As you can see, there is a little color along the lake shore. I waited until the evening golden hour because I had hoped for the warm sunlight on these trees. A consequence of this was fighting glare off of the windows in the buildings.
I had never shot from this location before, so I was mainly scouting and shooting at the same time. My main struggle was trying to decide how much goes in the frame. I initially started wide and ended up with more narrow focal lengths to keep the buildings from shrinking away to nothing. The image below was shot at 24mm to include the boardwalk on the left, but it has been cropped a little.
I was hoping that the people on the boardwalk would make the picture more interesting on the left side to balance out downtown on the right. I think that this worked, though the board walk was in heavy shade by now and I had to bring it up quite a bit. There are always plenty of people enjoying the board walk and it’s a nice thing about Austin.
My original plan was to try shooting from the board walk as well, but there was no way to get to it from the bridge without a long walk out of my way. So, a lesson learned for next time. In the photo below shot from the north side of the lake, you can see the boardwalk along the water on the opposite shore.
I figured that I could probably walk into a parking garage of a building and climb up and get some closer shots of downtown with the colorful trees in the foreground. The sun was really sinking low by now making the scene very contrasted, so I started bracketing in case I wanted to merge exposures later. The image below has the street in the foreground. I’m not sure if that is distracting or useful to the photo.
I took this by setting my camera to take 5 brackets and adjusting the exposure by +1. In this way I got images for -1, 0, +1, +2, +3 of the camera’s best exposure for this scene. I did this to get as much detail in the trees as I could. I then rested my elbow on the concrete wall of the parking structure and fired off 5 shots as fast as I could. The above photo is an HDR merge with these images. I think this looks more realistic than a single exposure.
Below is another exposure shot at 120mm to zoom in on some of the buildings in the distance. Always there are construction cranes but at least they match some of the trees.
It was a clear evening and the sky just faded from blue to yellow without any artwork, but I wanted to focus on the colors in the trees anyway. Some dramatic clouds would have helped though. Maybe next time.
Thanks for reading and tell me what you think below.