It’s a late Thursday afternoon in April. With the limits on gathering and socializing mostly lifted, the wildlife refuge is once again mostly abandoned even though the wildflowers are screaming for attention. Hearing their call from across the county, I headed out with my camera.
The first two photos below are all about the Indian Paintbrush. I love to see these flowers bloom in the spring as much as I love the bluebonnets. Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge has a lot of paintbrushes right now. In the first photo, the flowers are getting a lot of direct sun and in the second one the sun is fighting with some clouds in the distance.
I didn’t have to have to do much hiking to find the flowers. Off the trail there is a hill side with stones and wildflowers that I had to shoot. I tried several with the sun out of frame and then with the sun in the frame and I actually preferred the photo with the sun in the frame though it is a mostly blown-out circle of light in the sky. This is a merge of five images to get a full exposure.
The above picture was a handheld series of 5 quick images mainly just scouting a good sunset location. In hindsight I wish I had taken more time setting this up and exposed better for the sky. If being good at something means doing it until you have made most of the mistakes, I think I must be going about it the right way because I gather a lot of mistakes every time I go out.
After the sun set I set up for some pictures as the clouds were looking promising. I have often taken sunset photos out here from an overlook attempting to get the valley in the image with the sunset in the distance. This time I decided to get down low and feature the wildflowers close to the camera in the foreground with the sunset in the distance.
My first location was right beside the main trail where some pale blue flowers were growing. I was not very pleased with the results I was getting at this location, but below is my best result from this spot. As you look at this image, imagine tiny little flying insects buzzing right next to your ear and that should complete the scene.
With the focus on the flowers close to the lens and that tree slightly out of focus, I don’t think it turned out very well. The tree is an obvious thing to look at in the image and it is a little blurry. In hindsight, I probably should have focused a little deeper into the image thus getting a deeper depth of focus which might have solved my blurry tree problem.
Watching sky grow more colorful, I thought back to the hillside that I shot earlier and so I grabbed my tripod and hurried back up the hill being careful not to step on the flowers. The sky did continue to light up with colors and by the time I got set back up on the hillside, the clouds were at peak color. I think that this was a much better vantage point as you have a foreground with wildflowers and stones, and then there is a distant landscape in the background with the sky above.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how much of which stones I wanted where in the image, and this is my favorite composition. I oddly like the having the gray stones among the grass and flowers in the foreground and I guess it makes the terrain look a little more rugged and less pastoral. You can see the main trail to the right of the picture which leads down to the parking lot in the distance. And as the clouds went gray, I gathered my things and headed back to my car pleased with the nice sunset on this evening.
Thanks for reading.