The Texas Hill Country photography could be habit forming. The Hill Country is a great place for all types of photography and photographers. There is a plethora of birds, butterflies, and wildflowers. There are rivers, trees, cliffs, cactus, and hills, of course. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to enjoy all of the opportunities of capturing breathtaking images. It doesn’t matter if you use a cell phone, a point and shoot, an entry-level DSLR or top of the line Nikon. There are many, many things just waiting for you to capture them in time.
My hostess, guide, and teacher, Temi lives in Uvalde. She told me, “Uvalde lies at the intersection of three different ecoregions. The Edwards Plateau to the north, The South Texas Plains to the south, and The Trans Pecos region to the west. What this means is that you have an incredible diversity of birds. People actually come from all over the world to chase them!”
This is Part 3 of Losing Yourself
Hill Country Photography Adventure
After a wonderful breakfast and coffee at THE LOCAL FIX, Temi and I headed out to Cook’s Slough.
Cook’s Slough Sanctuary and Nature Park is another great location for Bird Photography in the Texas Hill Country. It is less than 10 minutes from Uvalde and is described as “A natural birding habitat to some of the best birding in the region. The park includes 25 acres of wetland, two wildlife-viewing stations and five shaded rest stations along the trials.”
We spent the morning with cameras in hand and took our time walking the trails through this beautiful park. I was determined, that even though my telephoto lens was not going to work for photographing birds I would find a new subject. Temi was patient as she looked at my camera settings and made suggestions.
The Cactus Patch
Being from West Texas you would think that I would get tired of seeing and photographing Prickly Pear Cactus.
But, no. Almost as soon as we entered the park, there they were.
These cacti had already bloomed and lost their flowers.
Then we saw another patch of cactus. The colors and the maturity were so different than the ones in the above photos. The ones above were turquoise green and the spines were firm and sharp.
These new cacti leaves were bright green and translucent and the spines or thorns were soft and curled. The morning light was shining through the baby cactus leaves.
There was so many new cactus leaves that it felt like a cactus nursery. I don’t think there is really such a thing as a cactus nursery.
Playing with my settings, I was able to get “depth of field” or “bokeh” or “blurred background”. My camera is a Canon EOS Rebel T6. The settings were: AV, f/5.6, 1/60 exposure, ISO-125.
At this point, I don’t know exactly what all of that means but I do know I had it set to AV and I looked through my viewfinder, focused on the closer cactus, and then manually adjusted my lens until I saw the blurred background. Because I was not using the telephoto lens, I stepped in close. I was also very careful about where I stepped and what I might be stepping on.
AV means Aperture Priority Mode or Aperture Value. In AV, you can manually choose an aperture setting. The camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed for each shot to achieve proper exposure. You will use AV when there is plenty of light. Aperture controls how sharp or blurry a background will appear. If you want the background to be blurry or “soft”, this is the setting you need. It will help to draw attention to your subject.
We watched and listened for birds but the sightings were very few. However, we did spot something else that caught our attention.
I watched Temi as she watched and waited with patience for a good shot.
The dragonflies were much easier for me to photograph than birds. For the most part, I could move slowly and step in close to get a shot. I had to get almost on top of the dragonflies. The green dragonfly on green leaves was fun to see.
Again, I played with focus and depth of field in the AV setting. Sometimes, I would move the setting to AUTO but not very often.
Experiment with your camera’s settings.
Don’t you just love the detail that God used to create these amazing creatures? It looks so military and armored-up. I am fascinated by the wing hinges and the detail of the back of its head under the “helmet”.
Not only did I photograph the green dragonfly…
but when I got back home I painted it in my travel journal for ART TIP TUESDAY.
How about a FREE DRAGONFLY COLORING PAGE? Be sure to subscribe to get access to my freebies in the “Good Stuff Library”.
From a distance, the brown dragonfly looked like another twig in the tree.
I was glad Temi pointed him out to me.
The dragonflies were all near water but this little blue guy was too close to deeper water for me to get a really clear shot.
We had taken a lot of photographs. It was hot and humid and we were hungry and thirsty. Next stop – Utopia, Texas and the…
LOST MAPLES CAFE
Lost Maples Cafe is like a step back in time.
We got there just a little after the lunch hour so there were some empty spaces. That made it easy to photograph. I just used my phone to take these photos.
My vintage lovin’ heart was delighted with the atmosphere. The rusty corrugated tin walls, 1950’s porcelain enamel topped tables, and vinyl and chrome chairs just added to the charm. The food was great, too.
After lunch, we headed Lost Maples State Park is at Vanderpool, right up the road from Utopia. That’s where we found…
Oh, wait!!! I am out of time!!! You will have to come back to see the butterflies, wildflowers, and cypress trees.
“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2
“til next time,