Happy Earth Day to you, this April 22nd, 2018. I feel like I experience Earth Day every time I visit a national park. On this occasion, I was up with scads of other people at Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, watching: the sunrise.
Strawberry Pitaya Cactus Bloom
One of the reasons I traveled so far to visit Big Bend National Park, Texas, in late April, was to view and photograph the blooming cacti. I don’t know what it is about being so excited to see these lovely flowers as opposed to any other spring wildflower. Perhaps it’s because I am always so amazed to see something so prickly and painful produce something so colorful and delicate.
Englemanns (?) Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom
Eagle Claw Cactus Blooms
Pollen-Laden Bee and Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom
Claret Cup Bloom
Strawberry Pitaya Cactus
Tree Cholla Bloom
Bee and Cholla Bloom
Two Bees in a Prickly Pear Bloom
Prickly Pear Bloom
Bird’s Nest in a Blooming Cholla
I used several different methods for achieving these blooming cacti shots – all without the use of a dedicated macro lens:
Blooming Prickly Pear and Chihuahuan Desert Scenery in Big Bend National Park
Being on vacation, I’d totally forgotten that my latest photography article has been published in the National Parks Traveler website. It deals with photography in the spring. Go on over and check it out!
Yesterday, I drove out toward Texas hill country to capture some images of the bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and other wildflowers – like this field of gold wildflowers (whose name I need to look up). It was a beautiful day and I managed to get some great shots, more of which will be in a future post.
If you are currently in the southeast/central part of Texas, drive Hwy 290 over to Chappell Hill and then take 1155 from there toward Washington-on-the-Brazos state park to see some lovely carpets of blue, red, and yellow covering the fields as well as much smaller spots of scenery.
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.
Spring – I’m wishing for it.
Spring is one of the most beautiful times of year here in Texas, and the weather is pretty much perfect: not humid, not too hot, not too cold. The bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, spider lilies, and primrose pop up to blanket swaths of fields, boulevards, and front and back yards with blues, pinks, purples, reds, and whites.
At the same time the wildflowers are coloring up Texas, they are also popping up in my favorite state in the whole US: Washington.
I lived there for 10 years (Seattle), I have family there, and I hope to retire there. I try to make it out to WA to visit family and favorite sights every year, but last year (2011) I didn’t make it because of my big Ireland trip (see my previous posts about that trip). I generally like to visit Washington in April, to celebrate my and my brother-in-law’s birthdays. I also like to visit during that month because my bro-in-law is a flower grower extraordinnaire and their front, side, and back yards sport tulips, daffodils, iris, and other spring flowers of every shape, kind, and color grow-able in that state.
Since the flowers are not in bloom yet down here (it’s January 21 as of this post), I’ve been digging through my spring flower photos (I’ve got a pretty large archive of stuff through which to dig) and thought I would post these reminders of the season in which I was born.
For most of these images, I used a macro lens or a wide-angle lens, depending on how I wanted to capture the images. The cameras vary, from the Mamiya medium-format images and Canon film cameras (which were then scanned years ago to digital format) to a Nikon D70 and D40X to the Canon 5D and 5D Mark II.
Spring is not only lovely in color, but in monochrome as well.
Spring – I’m wishing for it.
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