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11.12.2014
This spring we surveyed photo contests of various large nature organizations and decided to host our own contest for wildflower photos.
Now employed by landscape design firm Big Red Sun Austin, Justin Kasulka took this photograph of pink evening-primrose (Oenothera speciosa) in 2009 when he was doing contract photography work for a small newspaper out of Lockhart, Texas. Photographer Steve Schwartzman had to get really close to this old man's beard (Clematis drummondii) to take this winning photograph in Austin's Bull Creek Greenbelt. Randy Heisch of Georgetown, Texas, had visited the location of this contest winner several times before to photograph a lone, old pecan tree. Second place-LandscapeSouth Texas landscape that includes Phlox sp., Castilleja indivisa, Argemone sp.
Mexican native Jesus Corona spends his time between Piedras Negras, Mexico, and San Antonio, Texas, near where he photographed this winning image in Medina County this spring.
Wimberley, Texas, resident Winifred Simon photographed this bluestem prickly-poppy (Argemone albiflora) in a small plot right behind where a church and cemetery meet near Poteet, Texas.
When he retired three years ago, Bruce Leander set out to combine his love of photography with his passion for wildflowers. Just 23 miles west of Austin, Texas, this natural pool in the Texas Hill Country was created after the collapse of an underground river.
As a photographic area, this sanctuary offers some unique compositions as well as challenges. One of my favorite locations to spend time practicing my craft in Austin proper is on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol. I am occasionally asked the process I use to photograph the Milky Way over different Texas landscapes, so I thought I’d take a few minutes in an attempt to explain my thinking process.
On a perfect September evening in the Texas Hill Country, the Milky Way rolls across the heavens over the inconic Enchanted Rock. Speaking from a photographer’s perspective, you can find unique perspectives from all four corners of the bridge. From the southeast corner, you have a view of the bridge and the Texas Hill Country that stretches upriver to the western ridge. From just outside Austin, Texas, this is the iconic 360 Bridge at sunrise on a perfect September morning. The 360 Bridge seemingly rises from the dense trees along the intersection of the Colorado River and the Capitol of Texas Highway. Another place from which I photographed the high rises was beneath the First Street Bridge. I ventured out two times this past week to photograph the Perseids – once to Pedernales Falls State Park in the Texas Hill Country and once to the iconic 360 Bridge outside of Austin, Texas. Upon returning home, I reviewed the 180+ images, pulling out the ones that contained meteors, then aligned and stacked them in photoshop. Starting at about 2:00am, I let the camera roll, taking 3 hours of time-lapse images of the Perseid meteor shower over Pedernales Falls in the Texas Hill Country. I’ve spent the past 6 weeks exploring and photographing the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. This Austin, Texas, panorama was taken on a very warm July evening from the Boardwalk that runs along Lady Bird Lake.
Between Llano and Mason in the Texas hill country, storm clouds move to the east as the sun sets in the west over this lone Oak tree and a field of mixed wildflowers, including bluebonnets, coreopsis, and paintbrush.


In my recent experience of judging photographs, I saw several images that showed superior planning and execution, but came away feeling nothing. I’ve been asked several times where my favorite places are to photograph the Texas landscapes. Even more remote than the Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend rises from the desert and might be my favorite Texas landscape to capture. After a storm over the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, a rainbow appeared in the east as clouds still loomed over the western landscape.
Corona had been taking photographs in this location for seven or eight years, but says he'd never seen anything so beautiful as the scene of Phlox sp., Castilleja indivisa and other wildflowers in the shadow of a Live Oak in this picture before this spring. Rogers considers herself lucky to have many plants she'd like to photograph on her small (100 x 200 feet) city lot and the smaller (20 x 100 feet) woods behind her home. Most of the major landmarks of downtown are featured in this image, including the glowing UT Tower (after the Texas-OU football game), the Texas state Capitol, the Frost Tower, the Austonian, the 360 Condos, the Springs Condos, and many others.
When photographing from the back of the grotto, the difference in light is considerable, and you’ll need to shoot several bracketed images in order to create a balance of what you actually see. Go in the morning or on a day where swimming is not permitted if you are solely interested in photography. In morning or evening light, the “sunset Red” granite that makes up the historic building seems to change color and glow in the half-light of day, and the subtle tones the camera can capture bring to life an impressive and iconic Texas landmark. After a nationwide contest, Meyers won in 1881 and received his reward – three million acres in the Texas Panhandle! Rose gardens, flower gardens, monuments, trees, and other objects make great foreground elements for photographing the architecture, and the morning and evening light can be captivating. Near this location is a boat launch, and the ramp was plenty busy this morning with folks enjoying the perfect central Texas weather. While I love Texas, I also enjoy the cooler temperatures and sweeping mountain vistas the high country offers.
These Rocky Mountain wildflowers are beautiful in late July and bring color to a majestic landscape. The clouds were streaming over the rocky peaks and created a landscape not seen by too many folks. For this, I’ll often shoot several images for varying depth from front to back and blend them together on photoshop.
That being said, the most important aspect of a photograph is the impact it has on the viewer.
Yes, the beaches are nice, but I enjoy photographing the life the fishing boats bring at dawn as the chug in with their nightly catch. The little harbor between Rockport and Fulton, Texas, along the gulf coast turned shades of morning. It’s iconic mountain is El Capitan, though El Cap rests in the shadow of the tallest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak.
It is the 8th tallest summit in Texas at 8,085 feet and rests in the shadow of the highest point, Guadalupe Peak.
Bluebonnets and other Texas wildflowers were thankful for the water, and I was thankful for such a beautiful scene. I’m fortunate to live in the Texas Hill Country with easy access to several state parks.


A senior engineer, Heisch has been photographing landscapes since high school and has donated several wildflower images to the Wildflower Center's image gallery.
The self-taught amateur photographer says he turns to his "library of photography books" and emphasizes practice, practice, practice to hone his craft.
In the distance, the historic Texas landmark rises 308 feet into the cool air as the Goddess of Liberty statue on top of the Capitol welcomes in a new day for all Texans.
Back at home, I’ll stitch these images together producing a large and detailed photograph of the Milky Way. I usually like to leave the foreground pretty bright so the viewer can see the details of the landscape as well as the amazingness of the night sky. This view looks directly at the bridge with the distant Austin, Texas, skyline on the horizon. The sky photographs were taken using an astro-tracker, then stacked together using photoshop. From the San Juans to the Maroon Bells to Denver, I head up there each summer in hopes of climbing a few 14,000 foot peaks and photographing the amazing landscapes, including Colorado wildflowers, along the way.
From the road that cuts around this Texas national park, you can pick up a trail that leads you up to this point.
One of our contest judges, Leander offers this advice to aspiring amateur photographers who want to take better wildflower pictures. The foreground was shot later in the morning as the sun’s light was just beginning to light up the landscape. Immediately upon my return, I only had time to throw the luggage in the living room before heading to downtown to photograph the Austin skyline. Eventually, the path connects with the El Capitan Trail and affords wonderful views of this rugged landscape.
If you are willing to stay out late or rise early, the Milky Way is yours to both enjoy and photograph. If you can catch a colorful sunrise with no wind, you’ll be in coastal photography nirvana. I’ve photographed this heart of this park, the Chisos Mountains, from the desert floor with a tripod in the middle of the road and not seen another person for my entire time there. Some of the most well-known include statues of the Texas Rangers, the Texas Cowboy, and Heroes of the Alamo. I’ve also been on a dirt road shooting the landscape with rivers of bluebonnets in the foreground for hours. This image from the Hill Country was taken with a wide angle lense to show the grandness of the night sky across the Texas landscape. After scrutinizing the test images, I decided to go with my super-wide angle – the 11-24L to give me more of the rugged landscape and more of the night sky. And the boardwalk that skirts the waters of the Texas version of the Colorado River does offer nice views of the highrises.



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