Monday, April 10, 2017

I Took a Walk Down by the Lake

Yesterday, I went out hunting bluebonnets. Now, for those of you not from Texas, allow me to explain. Each year, if we're lucky, and by luck here I actually mean if the Gods, nature, the stars, the drought conditions and the cold fronts that move along the northern hemisphere actually all cooperate, Texas gets blanketed in a bouquet of wildflowers in the springtime. These wildflowers are blossoms you might have heard about, things like primrose, black-eyed Susies and the like but, in this neck of the woods, the king, the absolute heavyweight champion of the wildflower season, the Muhammad Ali of dandelions and the like is a beast we call the "Texas bluebonnet." Yes, you read that correctly. There is actually a species of plant named the "Texas bluebonnet." Note: they put the word Texas right in the name! Yes, it really is that popular around these parts. Bluebonnets are all but a religion around here I can assure you.

So, these wildly popular bluebonnets usually grow in places along the highways and sometimes in fields, in different settings you might expect to see them; places like by the post office or growing in the fields near the elementary school. Parks are a popular place for these guys too, in part because, come every April our official outdoor pastime becomes photographing things sitting in fields of bluebonnets. Nary a Texas toddler has gone a spring season without getting plunked down and photographed sitting in a field of bluebonnets, I tell you. Most dogs have sat in there as well. It's just what we do come April. I should also point out that bluebonnet season also marks the height of rattlesnake mating season. Yeah, we Texans are tough like that but, come every spring, we venture out into the great unknown, plunk our kids and our dogs down, rattlers be damned, and take some snaps. Woo hoo!

A couple of years ago, it was an amazing year for the bluebonnets. When I say amazing I mean there were actually a million bluebonnets blooming in Bastrop State Park. I am not making up that number. A million freaking bluebonnets! It was more than a field, it was like a way of life. Once in a lifetime showcase of springtime color, that was, I swear I will never forget it. Trouble is, now I've gotten a bit, shall we say, spoiled, and so now anything less than this spectacle leaves me wanting more. It's a curse, I tell you, a curse. So, this year, not to miss the season entirely, I decided to venture out and do a wee bit of late season hunting, just so I don't miss the bluebonnets entirely. Now, I know it isn't as good a year as what we've recently had, no, but I thought, it was a nice day and, heck, I'd much rather hunt bluebonnets than do my taxes, so out I went into the wild blue (excuse the pun) yonder on the hunt.

I researched some rumored bluebonnet locations on my local Internet (I did say this was "just like a religion" yes?) and found Brushy Creek Park was rumored to have a field or two of flowers. Since this park also has a lake and a bocce court (I swear I'm not making this up) I thought, why not? So, I packed the camera and headed over to the park on the lake to try and find some bluebonnets.

Now, what I did find might surprise you. At first, there were a few bluebonnets. I found a rather small-ish clump growing beneath a tree, which I actually rather liked, since it cut the sunlight and allowed me to photograph in the shade, freeing me from the ugly shadows that I don't like in my flower photos. All well and good but this was about 10 bluebonnets in total, a far cry from the million in years past. I shot a little bit and then made my way down towards the lake, where they have the little boat dock like landing space. Here I found what amounted to be a small-ish field of bluebonnets. It was well past peak season, mind you, but I did, in fact, plunk my butt down in a field of bluebonnets. Bucket list item for 2017, check! I'm also alerting you to this fact so you realize I did in fact photograph a bluebonnet this year. Of course, you'd never know that from the images I wound up processing but, hey, I did shoot a bluebonnet, so help me, I really did.

After my butt had been firmly planted in the bluebonnet field, I started making my way back to the car. I spotted a rock, which had some nice colors in it, so I did a close up abstract. Then I noticed the path was rather cool, but a bit boring, so I decided to play a bit and try to jazz up the paths through the trees. These are the paths that snake back to the parking lot. I started playing with some motion blue and movement. It was a windy day and so perhaps this was my inspiration here but I felt I had to try and do something. Then, I got distracted by this red leaf sticking out from a tree, it was a young leaf and the light was hitting it quite right. I did manage to go out near sunset so the light was starting to get a bit interesting, although it was still a bit bright for the bluebonnets to my taste. As I followed the winding path back to my car, I got more and more experimental, playing with the camera, playing with abstraction, looking for light poking through the trees and making the trees dance in the wind. That's what you see here. This image was taken on the walk back to the car, with a shaft of late afternoon light shining through the trees.

Now, I got a bluebonnet photo. I also took a few shots of the path and you can sort of follow along visually, if you were to check out my lightbox. You could actually trace my descent into madness, as I like to call it or perhaps a more polite way of putting that would be my foray into abstraction. I got more and more abstract as I went along my path back to the car. At the risk of being kicked out of Texas over the entire religion business, honestly, I must confess. I feel the more abstract work is far more interesting than any bluebonnet images I might have taken. Even if that field had a million flowers in it, why, heck, I'll admit it. I actually prefer this kind of stuff. Maybe I had to go hunting for the bluebonnets to find what it is I really want, but there you have it. Abstraction was the end result.

But, technically speaking, I did photograph a bluebonnet this spring. I won't tell if you won't.

Until next time...

PS This image taken with the Canon 5dS and the 100 macro lens in Brushy Creek Park, Texas.