It was certainly a trying season this year. While we had some good rainfall last autumn which helped set the seeds for spring wildflowers, the rains stopped visiting much of the Texas Hill Country in the first quarter. It is those rains that the wildflowers depend on in order to flower.
However, there were still areas that received the required precipitation in order to see a beautiful crop of blooms. The two spots that seemed to do the best in early April when I was out and leading my Texas Wildflower Photo Adventure were the areas surrounding the towns of Floresville and Brenham. Luckily enough, these were two areas I had focused on last year as well and thus, knew many of the backroads in which to find these living gems of color.
Our very first stop was actually Castroville, TX. Here in this historic small town, the Alsatian influence from the original immigrants to the area lead to the cultivation of red poppies. Texas has white prickly poppies as a native species, so this variety can now be found along the roads in this town which is a fun addition to the portfolio from the trip.
Floresville had a wide mix of wildflower species ranging from the pink phlox to blue-eyed grass and of course the state flower and prize bloom the bluebonnet.
One accessory I did dig out of the back of my photography closet was a 5-in-1 portable reflector. Pretty cheap to purchase, they close up into a small disk much like those sunshades for windshields in cars. They expand to about four to five feet in diameter. This was wonderful, especially when working in a group, as one person is able to hold this reflector in a position that creates open shade on a particular flower or macro scene. Obviously it won't protect a full field from bright sun at noon, but it came in really handy as we worked through midmorning and were able to start back earlier in the afternoon maximizing our time in the field by using this time and gear to focus on smaller floralscapes and individual bloom portraits.
With the wildflowers so frequently found spread across fields and pastures with livestock, I included a few cattle into my frames this year. Of course the longhorns were one pasture over without any flowers, but that is just the way it happens sometimes.
It is unbelievable the smell that comes off these flower fields. The air is heady with the scent of bluebonnets when you find a field like this or the one below. It is the one quality of photography that does not transfer to the viewer. In most cases that is a positive. Here, I think you all miss out for sure.
When planning sunset, our luck ran out in having any sort of clouds during the evenings we were shooting, so this is where knowing and scouting fields beforehand can be instrumental in creating stunning images. I was able to give the group options of a field that was side lit with a vintage homestead in the background or a field that was backlit and have the sun setting directly in front of us. They opted for backlit flowers. I am so happy they did and I am sure they are as well! We were able to take advantage of the clear skies, which, combined with high humidity creating a haze, gave us cinematic-like golden light streaming down over the flowers for about fifteen minutes before sunset.
It was a true photography frenzy with each of us moving here and there, repositioning every few moments to capture another image of bluebonnets or Indian paintbrush that covered the landscape in front of us.
Location tip: I know I have said this before but the overwhelming majority of Texas is private property (~96% overall). So when photographing wildflowers be sure to pull fully off the road and only shoot from the shoulder when working outside places like local or state parks.
On the third day of the photo adventure we awoke to some very interesting and unique atmosphere. We had a dense layer of fog for several hours. In this area and at this time of year this is a rare phenomenon but we certainly made the most of it where we could. Visiting the old Baylor University homesite, I opted to frame the remaining portion of the original school's entry with the wildflowers and oaks that now surround the last of the historic architecture.
As the fog slowly broke apart, we continued to focus on flower portraits and utilized the soft light the lifting fog provided. We also played around a bit with in-camera multiple exposure options as well.
Overall, a wonderful way to spend a long spring weekend in central Texas and a welcome reprieve from the grey and brown of winter down here. Maybe next year will be a banner year and I will be able to capture the more traditional bluebonnet images in locations like Muleshoe Bend. We shall see!