Tag Archives: Wildflowers

Focus on More than Just the Mountain

Christine Falls

The National Parks Traveler published my latest photography article.  This month’s article deals with focusing on more than just “The Mountain” in Mount Rainier National Park.  Click on the photo above to be taken to the article.

 

 

 

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Filed under Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Uncategorized

Blooming Cacti

Strawberry Pitaya Bloom

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.

Engelmanns Prickly Pear Bloom

Englemanns (?) Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

Eagle Claw Cactus Blooms

Eagle Claw Cactus Blooms

Bee and Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

Pollen-Laden Bee and Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

Claret Cup

Claret Cup Bloom

Strawberry Pitaya Cactus

Strawberry Pitaya Cactus

Cholla Bloom

Tree Cholla Bloom

Bee and Cholla Bloom

Bee and Cholla Bloom

Two Bees In A Prickly Pear Bloom

Two Bees in a Prickly Pear Bloom

Prickly Pear Bloom

Prickly Pear Bloom

Nest In The Cholla View 3

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:

  • Canon 70-200 or Canon 100-400 telephoto lens zoomed in at their longest focal length
  • Canon 40mm “pancake” lens with a close-up filter attached
  • Pentax WG-3 point & shoot using its macro mode
  • Canon 24-70mm at the 70mm focal length with the image ultimately cropped

Prickly Pear and Chihuahuan Desert

Blooming Prickly Pear and Chihuahuan Desert Scenery in Big Bend National Park

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Filed under Big Bend, cactus, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Texas, Travel, Travel and Photography

Spring Means Bluebonnets

Field of Flowers

Spring means bluebonnets in Texas hill country.

It’s been maybe 4-5 years since I traveled into the hill country in search of those quintessential blue harbingers of a Texas spring.

Bluebonnet Scene

One day, last week, a co-worker emailed to tell me she had driven to Chappell Hill and then on to Washington-on-the-Brazos to view the wildflowers.  She said the color display was amazing.

Red Yellow Blue and Green

So on my next Friday off, I took my cameras and myself on a little drive along Hwy 290 to Chappell Hill to see the color for myself.

The Long Dirt Road

Field of Bluebonnets

The Road Up The Hill

Springtime in the Hill Country

Golden

Becky and the Field of Gold

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Filed under flowers, nature, Photography, Texas, Texas

Becky in a Field of Gold

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.

Becky and the Field of Gold

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.

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Filed under flowers, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Texas, Texas, Travel

Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

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.

Map

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.

Sea Oxeye

6983_Sea Oxeye

Tropical Sage

6992_Tropical Sage

Unknown seed pods.

6996_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.

7067_Unknown Yellow Flower

Unknown little white flowers.

7099_Unknown White Flower

Unknown red flowers.

7115_Texas Flowers

7122_Unknown Red Flower

Basketflower (at least my wildflower book has something).

7151_Basketflower ORIG

7182_Basketflower Hiding

7204-2_Basketflower

Unknown white flowers.

7165_Unknown White Flower

Unknown little purple flower.

7191_Unknown Purple Flower

Big Slough views from the boardwalk.

7632-2_Big Slough View3

7635_Big Slough View2

7638_Big Slough View REV

Big Slew inhabitant

7000-2_Dragonfly CROP

7034-2_Dragonfly On Branch

7107_Dragonfly and Blue Ripples

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….

7220_Path To My Car

7662_The Trail

Texas coastal marshland and wetlands as far as the eye can see.

7654_TX Coastal Marshland

7667_Reflections

7675_TX Wetland

Gull-billed tern taking flight.

7358_Gull Billed Tern in flight

Ibis in the water.

7419_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.

7421_Red WingBlackbird ORIG

7421-2_Red Wing Blackbird

Ahhhh…..Progress (??)

7352-2_Progress

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! Winking smile

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Filed under birds, flowers, nature, Photography, Texas

Spring Has Sprung

6081_Little Purple Flowers

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.

5206_SwampGreenREV

5122_Swamp Flora CROP

5293_SwampVeg

5561_Spanish Moss

5490_Swampland

I saw more spring flowers, like these primroses,

5387_Primrose CROP

and this herbertia,

5571_trefoil

and these spider lilies,

5009_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.

6040-2_Fuschia

I saw Indian paintbrush, blowing in the wind.

6095_Indian Paintbrush

And these yellow flowers (which I can’t identify, either), in the swamp waters.

5659_Yellow

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.

5640_Alligator Reflection

5339-3_Eyes On You

5354-3_Alligator Eye

5871_Toothy Grin

6019-2_Lurking

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),

5751_Herons Reflection

5797_Little Blue Heron

Spying lunch:

5926_Spying The Prey

Taking the plunge.

5927_In For The Kill

Crawfish catch of the day:

5928_Catch Of The Day

Lunch!

5929_Catch Of The Day2

I saw a number of snowy egrets,

5418_Snowy Egret

5447_Snowy Egret

roseate spoonbills (way off in the distance, so it’s not exactly a stellar image),

5399_Spoonbill

cardinals,

5889_Redbird

5849_Cardinal

red-winged blackbirds,

5283_Red Wing Blackbird

white ibis,

5362_Ibis

5254-2_Ibis Eye

American coots,

5156_American Coot

5168_HelloThere

turtles,

5697-2_Turtle On Log

5714-2_Turtle Head

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.

5815_The Wide Path

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Filed under Brazos Bend State Park, flowers, Parks, Photography, Seasons, Spring

Happy First Day of Spring!

Little Blue Flowers

An interesting little image of some lovely blue flowers taken while wandering around Brazos Bend State Park, Texas.

Sometimes, an image doesn’t have to be “tac sharp” to evoke a mood or a feeling.

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Filed under flowers, Photography, Spring