Goodbye Stranger

When I tried to think of an opening for this blog post, all I kept thinking was the opening lines to a Supertramp song

It was an early morning yesterday
I was up before the dawn…

I decided to wake up and go see the sunrise from a spot that I had identified at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. I identified this spot much earlier this year and forgot that the sun rises much farther north as we get to June. So I was planning to see a beautiful sunrise over the ridge with the trail leading up to it, but the sun and all the beauty was to the north. In the picture below, you can see the ridge and perhaps make out the trail in the right side of the image and see the sun rise on the far left. I would have shot this much more zoomed in to get the trail but I wanted you to see where the sun actually rose.

If I had bothered to check my Photopills app, I would have known this. In the images below you can see the sunrise direction indicated by the yellow vector in January on the left compared to yesterday on the right. What a difference 4 months makes.

I guess I will have to plan the shot I wanted for the late fall or winter, but I tried to see what I could get anyway. It was not a bad sunrise. Not the massive beautiful watercolor art that I had imagined, but the high clouds gathered a little color. Below is an HDR merge of several images to get a little color in the grass to make it look more like what I saw. I did enjoy the color through the big tree to the left.

Balcones Canyonland National Wildlife Refuge at Sunrise

I edited these photos listening to the soundtrack from Dance with Wolves; one of my favorite movies which is set in the old West. The music really set the mood for these pictures for me, thinking about the frontier before it became interstates and power lines.

Below is another photo. I like this because it does show the trail coming across the picture and continuing into the distance on the far right.

Balcones Canyonland National Wildlife Refuge at Sunrise

The above is another HDR merge shot at 14mm to get a really wide landscape and skyscape. I find that the HDR merge results in the grass looking a little to the magenta side and I have to put a filter over the grass and adjust the tint towards green. Or maybe the magenta was really there from the sunrise in the sky, but my eyes just translated it as green. People don’t really see like cameras do.

If you are interested, my process for capturing the images is very manual. With the camera on a tripod and set to manual, I frame up what I want and set focus. I then dial the shutter speed to a very dark frame, take a picture using a remote control, then quickly dial the shutter a stop, take another picture, and keep repeating this until I have a very bright frame. I try to do this as fast as I can to avoid motion blur in the clouds. Then I just import them into Lightroom and do a basic HDR merge and start editing the final image. This is all necessary because cameras just can’t capture the full range of dark to light in the scene like our eyes can so I needed multiple exposures to capture different parts of the scene.

When the sunrise was through changing colors, I went back to the car, lightened my load and went for a morning hike. This early, I was the only one around, but by the time I left around 8:45AM, the parking lot was filling up. But those guys all missed the sunrise. I always find the sunrise comforting.

I saw a firewheel that I couldn’t resist, just catching the first of the morning light before the rest of the grass did. I may have added to the vignette a little in post to enhance the effect.

Firewheel in the Early Morning Sun

I continued my hike and had the trails mostly to myself.

Hiking Trail at Balcones Canyonland

I got home a little after nine and enjoyed my coffee.

As an aside, I have been using the new WordPress editor to write the last few posts. It is better in some ways than the old one, but kind of frustrating in others. I seem to have better control over where pictures go, but the text breaking into a new block with each paragraph takes some getting used to. If find the right hand panel to be layed out in a much more confusing way. Just my two cents.

Thanks for reading.

19 thoughts on “Goodbye Stranger

  1. ( By a strange coincidence Spotify “shuffle” decided to play “Breakfast in America” just as I’m reading this 🙂 )

    I like the firewheel, you don’t notice the post processing vignetting at all which I guess is the whole point.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t care where the sun rises from, it generally makes for a fine photo. Nice use of vignetting with the flower.
    I’ve tried every new editor WP comes out with, but so far nothing beats the classic editor, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How about those zigzagging pink clouds in the second picture? Even if your sunrise didn’t turn out the way you expected, it was still worthwhile.

    By the way, on Friday we drove up to Leander and parked on Middle Brook Dr., as you recommended. We got on the trail using the entrance opposite Pecan Bayou Dr. and walked west. The wispy clouds that morning made good picture subjects in their own right and served as a good background in some other pictures. Do you know if the eastern section where we entered is still part of Benbrook Ranch Park?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not sure quite what is what over there. There is a disc golf course, some softball/baseball fields, a dog walking path along the creek that goes under the bridge for W Broade St. I guess I could look on the city website. It is a nice green area to have at a walking distance from my house.
      There does get to be a bit of construction trash in that area. I hope it gets better as they get through building stuff.
      I hope you got something good out of your trip.


      1. Google Maps shows the green area, which presumably designates the park, ending about as far east as Cactus Apple St. How accurate the map is, I don’t know. In any case, I did get some pictures I’m happy with. Also, I’m always glad to take pictures in a new place. On the way home I took pictures at another new place along Bagdad Rd.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I guess you could walk over to the fire station on W. San Gabriel, but I have not done that.
          There are a lot of wildflowers up and down Bagdad, but not always a good place to stop and walk around and I am not sure who’s land it is.


  4. The 2nd picture of the sky is the best I think. Love the clouds! Looks like a nice place to hike, and of course I like the fire wheel! I was just thinking of how I hope you got some time in to hike recently, helps clear the head! I see this was 3 days ago, somehow I missed it again, but hopefully you were able to hike again these past couple days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. That was my Saturday morning and I enjoyed it. I have been walking around the neighborhood parks and all.

      I have spent the last two days really busy programming something for work. Kind of exhausting.

      I had an issue with my front door. I ordered some semi-gloss paint at the hardware store and he gave me high gloss and I didn’t read the can and see that and now my front door looks like crap and I am going to have to pay someone to refinish it, so I am frustrated about that.

      I was hoping to go hiking at a new place this afternoon, but I may have to be here for the house work.

      But my youngest daughter dyed her hair bright read like strawberry shortcake for the summer, so she is having fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice that you have so many places to hike at. Hopefully work gets a little less busy. Keep the coffee flowing! 🙂

        Ugh! What is it with painting and front doors, my husband had a problem with paint recently too. Fortunately ours didn’t turn out too bad, but yes it is frustrating!

        Ahh! Strawberry red, Love it! I been red before, not bright red though. A fun way to start the summer off. So what color will you be dyeing your hair? 🙂


        1. I feel like it was my stupidity, though I watched the paint counter guy write “SG” for semi-gloss on the form, so I figured he got it correct and I didn’t check the can when it was done a little while later. The high-gloss just looks horrible on a metal door unless it is perfect. You see bright reflections from the street and ever little smudge or brush mark. I am thinking of going down to satin or egg-shell. Not quite sure.


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