I converted some of the flower photos I took at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. I was aiming for something a little different, and I think I got that with this photo. I used Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro and got rid of some of the structure, but not all of it. I wanted some detail delineated, but nothing that would overwhelm.
Category Archives: flowers
As usual on a weekend, I find myself restless and wanting to get out with the camera rather than tackle the chores that need to be done at home. Outside was rain and thunder, and I thought – even though it was 1:00PM and not a prime photography time – I’d take the short drive to Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Mind you, I already knew that I wouldn’t be getting any stellar bird images with my 70-200mm, and I couldn’t be assured of any dramatic clouds. Nonetheless, I gathered the gear together and headed out the door.
What I *did* manage to find were flowers I either had not previously seen, or simply didn’t feel like photographing – like this common sunflower.
One of the things the Groom’s mother most wanted was a photograph of the bride’s wedding and engagement rings. The Groom’s mom was soooo excited to know that someone good (that’s *moi*) was taking lots of photos; she recounted to me how she only ended up with 8 decent photos of her own wedding and she wanted more for her son and new daughter-in-law. I was happy to oblige.
Although I have a full plate of things to do around the home during the 2012 three-day Memorial Day weekend, I still tend to get a little stir crazy if I can’t go out and photograph something during my time off.
While I may bitch about living in southeast Texas (being a gal from the mountains, I’ll always be doing that), I readily admit that it’s rather nice to have two very interesting photographic ops right at my back door: Brazos Bend State Park, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.
Right after visiting with my mother on Saturday morning, I grabbed my cameras, loaded them, tripod, and myself into the car, and drove the 20 miles south-southeast to check out the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge.
I’ve been there before, but that was back in 2007 (if I remember correctly). At that time, the road to the refuge center was only paved for maybe 2 miles, and the remainder was all gravel. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that now, in 2012, the entire road to the refuge center is paved.
For the photos you see here, I used my Canon 5D Mark II cameras and my 16-35mm and 70-200mm lenses. I carried everything in my new Lowepro Fastpack 350, which, btw, is AWESOME! I am going to Mesa Verde NP and Arches NP later this year, and wanted something that would carry a camera and long lens, as well as water, snacks, etc. Ok, sorry, I went off on a tangent. The 16-35 lens was attached to the tripod for landscape shots, and I hand held the 70-200 lens (with IS turned “on”) for the wildlife and more close-in images. I find I hand hold this lens more often as not, eschewing the tripod ring. I was pleasantly surprised upon post processing that I really only had to do a very little editing for light/brightness and a teeny bit for sharpness details on some (but not all) of the photos. The light was just right that day – very sunny but with some interesting clouds. So I kept the ISO at 200 and the aperture around 7.1. Oh, and I gotta tell ya, a long lens is a must-have for this area. Unlike Brazos Bend State Park, there are not many places to comfortably get up close and personal to the birdlife, and there is slim-to-no parking alongside the one-lane gravel road past the refuge center. My 70-200mm was ok, but what I really needed was a lens 400mm or more. But….one makes do with what one has.
Next to the refuge center is a boardwalk across Big Slough (pronounced “slew”), leading to a plowed path called Big Slough Trail. I didn’t go very far down the path because:
1) The mosquitoes were horrible (they must have been as large as egrets!) and I forgot to wear bug repellent (I was in too much of a hurry to leave the apartment and that is one of the things I forgot, although I did remember to apply sunscreen and grab a hat).
2) As far as I can tell from my walk and the map, this trail doesn’t lead down to the water’s edge, which is where you really want to be to get those bird shots.
So I did some landscape and flower photography along the boardwalk before heading out along the gravel-road auto tour.
Note: the Texas wildflower book I own is total crap and didn’t list half of the flowers I photographed. I ran some searches online and couldn’t come up with much either, so many of these flowers won’t have captions to them. If you think you know what the un-captioned flowers are, do let me know.
Unknown seed pods.
Unknown yellow flower. There were a number of “look-alikes” in my useless wildflower book, but none of them really fit this image. So I don’t know what these flowers are called.
Unknown little white flowers.
Unknown red flowers.
Basketflower (at least my wildflower book has something).
Unknown white flowers.
Unknown little purple flower.
Big Slough views from the boardwalk.
Big Slew inhabitant
Nope, I didn’t see any American alligators. It was hot already and I’m pretty sure they wanted to stay in the water to remain cool, rather than sun themselves in the growing heat.
After my visit to the refuge center boardwalk area, I climbed back into the car (followed by hoards of mosquitoes) and started along the gravel road auto tour. It’s basically one-way, although they don’t have arrows – instead they have signs with numbered stops (which means there is probably a tour guide within the center that I should have gone in get). It’s practically impossible for one car to pull over to allow a car from the opposite way to pass you….as I can attest….
Texas coastal marshland and wetlands as far as the eye can see.
Gull-billed tern taking flight.
Ibis in the water.
Red-wing blackbird. You can’t see its red markings in these photos but I did when it spread its wings out.
If any of you are interested, I just published to my Blurb Bookstore a 150-page journal titled Texas Coastal Images. Half of the journal is filled with totally awesome photos taken in such places as Brazos Bend State Park, Port Aransas, Padre Island, and the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and the other half is nothing but blank lined pages for writing/artwork. It would make a great gift for yourself or someone who is a fan of coastal Texas landscapes, flowers, and wildlife (mainly birdlife). Click on the book link on the left side of this blog and it will take you directly to that particular book in my bookstore. You can preview the pages of this journal and see for yourself the Masterpiece that I have created.
Hey, it’s all about marketing!
Yup, that’s its name: Erect Dayflower. If you like images of the Texas coastal area, then stay tuned for my next Blurb photo journal. Many of the photos you have seen on my WordPress site of Brazos Bend State Park, the Port Aransas area, and Padre Island, will be in this book, along with an equal number of blank, lined pages for one’s doodles, musings, artwork, and other writings. Stay tuned!
Sounds like the title for some sort of novel, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s the name for the aquatic flowering plant below. I caught sight of this lone bloom while rambling around 40-Acre Lake at Brazos Bend State Park. I didn’t go around the entire lake, so I don’t know if there were any other American Lotus plants there. I only saw this one flower but lots of the lotus pads.
During a wedding I photographed at a winery, I caught sight of them finally bringing out the “nude” wedding cake. The woman in charge of the whole thing had with her a newspaper photo of a similar wedding cake that she used as a go-by in placing the roses and adding the finishing touches. When photographing a wedding or any event, for that matter, it’s the extras like this that add to a memorable photo shoot. And the technique of focusing in on an object (or objects) in the foreground while leaving the background sort of “bokeh’d” makes for a more interesting image than just a straight all-in-focus shot.
The last time I visited the Skagit Valley tulip fields was back in 2005. And I left in a huff after capturing some really cool photos because I (and a number of other people, photographers and non-), were yelled at by what I assume was the foreman of the tulip pickers. We’d parked before they opened and our bodies were in the way of the pickers (they weren’t, I’m here to tell you). We all understood the deal and that obnoxious cretin didn’t have to yell – all he had to do was simply ask us to please move our cars because the parking area was not yet open. That would have done it and none of us (read: me) would have been bent out of shape. I vowed never to return and I wrote a letter of complaint to the organizers of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. There was no sign, no nuthin’ telling us the area was not open. And apparently none of the tulip field owners or the tulip festival organizers were photographers, else they would have known that sunrise and sunset shots of the fields are the best, so there should be at least one field allowing people (who might buy their bulbs or their cut tulip bouquets) to come and set up their tripods.
Fast forward to 2012. I decided – now that I understood most parking areas were not going to be open at sunrise-thirty AM – this year would be a good time to break my promise never to return, and actually go back to the tulip fields.
Although I try to have no expectations, I guess for the tulip fields, I had way too many. I do admit to being tired on the day of my arrival, having driven a little over 3 hours from Mt. Rainier National Park up to the Mt. Vernon area (about 60-70 miles north of Seattle). I did capture some really nice images (I think). But….well….it just wasn’t what I thought it would be. When I lived in Seattle some 17 years ago, I remember there being more than just 3 fields, which is the number of tulip fields I found that day of my arrival (Ok, I didn’t look too hard, I’m sure there must have been more). Only one of those fields was open and available to the public: Tulip Town.
Quite the little enterprise, is Tulip Town. For $5, you can park your car, enter and walk through a huge tent full of cut tulip bouquets, a couple of food stalls, a couple of art gallery-type stalls, a few tables and chairs, and then find yourself out among a couple of small tulip fields. Although walking between the rows was prohibited, people were allowed to get as close as possible to the flowers. They even had a tractor trailer to ferry people around (for a fee, I believe).
It’s been a very cool spring up there (ironic, since it’s been an exceedingly warm spring here in SE Texas), so the majority of the tulips were not in bloom or only just beginning to open up.
The red and yellow tulips were in full bloom, so I have a lot of red and yellow tulip photos.
The day was sort of ho-hum, but I could discern a little bit of detail in the uniformly-spread cloud cover, so with my Lightroom 4 gradient tool, I managed to get that slight detail/drama to show through in some shots.
For these images, I used a 70-200mm lens and my trusty 24-105mm lens (for the close ups). I don’t have a macro (next on my “to buy” list) at this point in time, so no really close close ups.
I left satisfied with my image captures. No dramatic sunrise or sunset with the mountains and foothills in the background. No barns surrounded by tulips. That was ok, though. I got photos of my favorite flowers and I was content.
I wrote a post awhile back about Brazos Bend State Park in the winter. This post is about Brazos Bend State Park in the spring – well, almost spring – I visited 3 days prior to the official first day of spring (March 20). I wanted to see if anything had changed since my winter visit. Plus, I didn’t have to return the Canon 100-400mm rental lens for two more days.
First thing I noticed: water. More of it. In all the places that had been high and dry before. In case you were not aware, Texas has been experiencing a horrendous drought. Everything that should be wet and swampy, instead was dull brown dirt covered over with clumps of green dry slime that reminded me of nori (seaweed). For this visit, everything looked as it should look in a swampland.
I saw more spring flowers, like these primroses,
and this herbertia,
and these spider lilies,
and this sweet little purple flower which I can’t identify (I’m not very good with wildflower identification, even with two Texas wildflower books in my possession). Anybody know what this flower is? The photo at the very beginning of this post is a wider-angle shot.
I saw Indian paintbrush, blowing in the wind.
And these yellow flowers (which I can’t identify, either), in the swamp waters.
There were more alligators. I overheard one set of walkers tell another set of walkers that during the mating season in April, the alligators get quite aggressive and can sometimes be seen clamped to each other’s necks, rolling over and over in the water or even along the pathway. Now that would be a photograph! All I saw were alligators lounging in the still, reflective swamp waters, posing for the tourists and looking menacing; it really doesn’t take much for an alligator to look menacing, and woe betide the person who so close as to elicit a low, rumbling growl from deep within, as the alligator’s jaws gape open to warn the hapless visitor to back off.
I saw lots more birds. It’s ironic that my photos of the alligators turned out better than my photos of the birds, since the birds were the main reason I drove to the park that day (0f course, alligators don’t’ move much, while birds move a lot). I saw three different little blue herons (you can tell they are the little blues by their brilliant blue beak),
Taking the plunge.
Crawfish catch of the day:
I saw a number of snowy egrets,
roseate spoonbills (way off in the distance, so it’s not exactly a stellar image),
one moorhen in its breeding plumage (none of my photos turned out very well), and a number of other little birds that I could not identify nor could I photograph very well (they just won’t stand still for me, dammit!).
The next time I visit will be later in the summer. We’ll see what other changes (if any) have occurred during that season.