In the autumn Texans look with envy upon the New England and Rocky Mountain states with their beautiful fall foliage, but in spring we get even with wildflower season. Wildflower season is in full swing in Texas right now and I took a few photos of bluebonnets while my daughter and I were out in the big bend region of west Texas last weekend. There were not massive fields of bluebonnets like you might find in central Texas but I tried to get a few good shots.
I noticed a lot of bluebonnets along the main roads in Big Bend National Park and I came back the next morning after sunrise to see if I could get some nice photos. I think that they grow mainly close to the roadside and not out in the desert because there is water run-off from the roads during a rain and so this bit of ground is slightly more irrigated than the rest. The photo below is a close-up from the side of the road with the mountains in the background.
I initially set up looking more down the highway to the get the bluebonnets and the road leading toward the mountains, but I could not get the shadow of my tripod out of the shot as the sun was very low on the horizon and the shadows very long, so I had to shoot looking south so that I could get mountains and bluebonnets in the same picture. In hindsight, I should have just used a really long lens and moved the tripod way back. Maybe I’ll think of that next time. Below is another photo from the other side of the road.
With the above image, I tried very hard to leave the road out of the image and not shoot into the sun, which is to the left of frame. It was a very clear morning and the sun was bright. I also tried to get the cactus to show up a little in the mid-ground even though it is out-of-focus. Shooting involved putting camera in live view mode, tilting the screen up so I could see it and holding the camera down low near the bluebonnets. It was very hard to frame and focus this way as it was bright daylight against the screen on the back of the camera.
We also spent part of an afternoon in Big Bend Ranch State Park along the scenic highway that runs through the park. There are a few breath-taking overlooks along this highway that you have to pull over and take in so you don’t drive off the road. Below is a photo from one of the overlooks looking west across the Rio Grande as it winds through the desert between the United States and Mexico. In the right of the picture you can see the highway winding its way down the cliff side.
Along a wooden fence line near the old movie set there were some bluebonnets framed by the fence with the high cliffs across the river in the background. Someone had parked a car here and I was struggling to position myself around this car to shoot photos and struggling to keep lens flare out of the image, but I think I got a good photo or two. And in the afternoon, I actually remembered to mount a polarizer to the lens.
In editing, I did put a mask on the flowers and soften them up a little as the high afternoon sun put a lot of sharp shadows in them. I do think that bluebonnets and fences go well together.
Lastly, I have some bluebonnets in a dry creek bed that leads to the closed canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park. These flowers were growing near some rocks in the creek bed and I thought they would make a great photo. The sun is high in the sky behind me and I had to work to keep my shadow out of the shot.
The Closed Canyon Trail is a trail that leads into a canyon carved through the cliffs by creek. You can hike between the walls of the canyon for quite a while before it gets too rocky to continue. It is a nice way to get out of the sun as well.
Those are my bluebonnet photos from the Big Bend area. Let me know which one you think is best. Thanks.