“Glorious Light” for photographers

One of the most important things I did as a budding landscape photographic artist was to study the work of others, particularly that of the masters. I was able to view their work and ask important questions such as:

  1. Why is this photograph successful (or not)?
  2. What is the light doing? (direction, quality, color, consistency, etc)
  3. How important is the subject matter?
  4. How are the elements arranged in the frame?

As a photographer-in-training asks these sorts of artistic questions, they will find that strong photographs often have many things in common, and weak photographs also tend to have things in common. If said photographer applies the attributes of strong photographs to their own work, their photographs will almost immediately improve and they will have a much clearer understanding of what they need to work on.

If you enjoy my work as a photographic artist and you are an amateur photographer, I encourage you to study the sixty-four photographs in my book Glorious Light. Ask the questions above for each image. While Glorious Light is not an instructional book, you can learn a tremendous amount by studying the photographs and reading some of my first-hand accounts, just as I studied (and continue to study) other photographer artists’ work.

If this interests you or perhaps you have an up-and-coming photographer in your family, you can pre-order my book now for only $39 ($10 off) and you’ll receive a special signed and numbered copy, plus a complimentary 8×10 matted print of your choice.

Click here to read more.

95 pages, Hardcover, 12″ x 9.25, 64 photographs, plus behind-the-scenes photos

 

 

2016 in Review

I hope you have had a wonderful, exciting, and/or productive year. If not, may 2017 be better for you! The highlight of my year certainly has to be having a new photographer’s apprentice. He’s quite a helper!

Tim, Miles, and Abbie at Yosemite

Accomplishments: I embarked on two photography trips, Utah and California.

Mesquite Sand Dunes at Death Valley

My booth won best of category at Rockport Art Fest and “Pine Cathedral” won best of show at the Pearland Art League juried exhibition. I was also accepted into my first gallery in Fort Worth (Weiler House Gallery, stop by and say hi to Bill for me!). Cottonwood Art Fest in Dallas finally accepted me into their show, and I hope to continue to participate.

My booth at Cottonwood Art Fest

 

Now let’s get to the photographs!

166 of my photographs have new homes.

Best Selling Color Photograph goes to “Moonrise At Bryce

Best Selling Black & White Photograph goes to “White House

White House - After Processing

Most Valuable Photograph goes to “Calera Sunrise

Most Popular Photograph Taken in 2016 goes to “Buffalo Spirit

I’m already getting my shows lined up for 2017 and working out in my mind where I’d like to photograph next. Plus, I will be officially releasing my Yosemite & Death Valley photographs at my gallery show in Brenham, Texas which runs from March 4 through April 29. The reception will be March 4th. I hope you can attend!

The Art Divide

Over the past few weeks I’ve been scouring the internet, compiling a list of galleries from each state that might be interested in my work. I’ve looked at close to one thousand gallery websites so far and have come to the conclusion that there are two basic types of artwork: understandable, and bizarre.

Of course, it’s ridiculous to narrow down all art, everywhere, to perfectly fit into one of those two categories, and there is certainly some overlap. But I think you can understand what I’m talking about when I use those two terms. Our boundaries between understandable and bizarre are certainly different, but overall do you understand what I mean?

"Parched": About as bizarre as I get.

“Parched”: About as bizarre as I get.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t like bizarre art. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but to me it flies in the face of skilled artists who have studied and practiced for years. I think the ideals (or lack of) that bizarre art proposes might even reflect the general direction of society as a whole, which is a depressing thought.

(Note that bizarre is not the same as “abstract”. I’ve seen plenty of abstract work that takes skill, study, and creativity.)

But rather than have a completely negative post about what I, as an artist, am against, I’d rather make the same statement by explaining why I produce the kind of work that I do.

1. My work is representational. It is a capture of a real time and place. This happened, I was there. I witnessed it. It is not fiction. Although it requires copious amounts of imagination and foresight, it is not made up.

"Lightning With Rainbow": A real moment that required vision, foresight, and experience.

“Lightning With Rainbow”: A real moment that required vision, foresight, and experience.

2. Although non-fiction, there is still plenty of room for me to imbue my personal taste and vision into the photograph by choosing subject, moment, perspective, and by making adjustments to contrast, hues, saturation, etc…  This makes me an artist as opposed to a reporter.

"Gateway To Manzanar": There were 11 other photographers with me. None of them captured this perspective of Mount Williamson.

“Gateway To Manzanar”: There were 11 other photographers with me. None of them captured this perspective of Mount Williamson.

3. It is understandable by, I dare say, everyone. Not everyone likes my work, but you understand what you are seeing. And I think you can understand that I’m attempting to communicate an emotion to you. I try to make the sum of my photographs greater than their individual parts.

I find bizarre art to be pretentious, like the boy’s clubhouse that won’t let you in if you don’t know the password. My art doesn’t make the viewer feel unsophisticated or out of the loop.

4. My photography has required a lot of time studying and learning, plus practice and experience. Just one or the other wouldn’t be enough. It takes effort and initiative. Someone can’t just wake up one day and randomly produce the kind of art that I produce.

"Moonrise At Bryce": A very technically challenging photograph.

“Moonrise At Bryce”: A very technically challenging photograph.

5. It’s not solely based on imagination. Imagination is critical, but imagination alone begets chaos.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

 

How to “read” my photographs.

Okay, I’ll let you in on the secret to my photographs… how I make my “magic” so-to-speak. I utilize up to five main ingredients in every single one of my photographs. Some have only one, some have all five. Some have different amounts of each. But they all have at least one of these ingredients. When you are finished reading this, you should be able to view any of my photographs and identify which of these ingredients I used, and to what extent the success of the photograph relies on it.

Color

Color often makes or breaks a photo. And it isn’t as simple as just capturing as much color as possible and over-saturating until your eyes bleed. It must be controlled in a very coordinated way. Some of my favorite color photographs only have one color.

Red On White. A simple monochromatic color scheme.

Red On White. A simple monochromatic color scheme.

For photographs with multiple colors, I often use a painters color wheel to make sure each of the colors fits into a coordinated color scheme. I either subtly de-saturate or shift colors that do not fit, or I simply don’t take the photograph.

Sunset at Glacier - Many various shades of reds and blues, and just a touch of yellowish-orange, all carefully balanced.

Sunset at Glacier – Many various shades of reds and blues, and just a touch of yellowish-orange, all carefully balanced.

 

Guides

If you show 100 people a strong photograph, and you had some method of tracking their eye movement within the first second or so, you’ll find that they all pretty much follow the same path. That’s because a strong photograph leads the eye around the frame.

There are several ways to do this, but two of my favorite ways to do this are with lines and tonal variation.

Lines… well, they are lines. Anything in an image that makes a line, or a curve. They can be real or implied. Lines are strong geometric elements, and serve as great guides for the eye. I often use them to lead the eye into the photographs to give it a feeling of depth.

Harvest Road - Trail in the grass leads the eye to the horizon.

Harvest Road – Trail in the grass leads the eye to the horizon.

I also love to use tone to guide the eye. Our eyes are drawn to brightness before darkness. So if I create a subtle gradient from darkness to bright, the eye will almost certainly be pulled in that direction. I often use this to my advantage and love to wait until the clouds create just the right shadows to pull the eye into the distance, as demonstrated beautifully in “Monument Valley Cumulus.” This photograph, one of my favorites, has such a great feeling of depth.

Monument Valley Cumulus

Monument Valley Cumulus

 

Light

Some great photographs are really average subjects and not-so-interesting compositions taken under incredibly interesting lighting conditions. Although I use the terms good light and bad light when I’m in the field, I really mean interesting light, and un-interesting light. Admittedly, the difference between the two is difficult to describe.  But as an example, uninteresting light is straight-down noon-light without a cloud in the sky. Sunrises and sunsets are considered to be the best light, especially for color photography, because the light is coming in a more pleasing angle and is quite colorful.

Imagine “Tseyi Sunrise” with noon light. Not so good.

Tseyi Sunrise

Tseyi Sunrise

 

Simplicity

The simpler an image is, the easier it is to understand. It really needs to be about one “thing”, and all the other elements should carefully support that “thing” without becoming their own “thing”. Got it? If something doesn’t add to the photograph, it takes away. So everything should benefit, or it shouldn’t be included.

Starry Cypress - Very simple photograph and composition.

Starry Cypress – Very simple photograph and composition.

 

Moment

Moment is something that can break all the rules and might even transcend technical or compositional flaws in some cases. It is when something happens that is rare, unique, unbelievable, etc. Sometimes it’s planned, sometimes it’s luck, but it’s always a special thing to experience in person, and it can make a great photograph. The trick is to be ready for it, and to have the knowledge and experience to take advantage.

Lightning With Rainbow - Right place at the right time, with the right knowledge, experience, and the right equipment.

Lightning With Rainbow – Right place at the right time, with the right knowledge, experience, and the right equipment.

 

There are other ingredients that I could list here, but then the list would get too long and you would be less likely to read it all. Besides, these are my most used ingredients right now. I cannot think of one photograph of mine that doesn’t use at least one of these as primary “hook”.

Of course, as I photograph more, I learn more, and my technique is always subject to change as I grow as a photographer. I might even come back in a few years and re-write this list with completely new ingredients! But for now, this is where I am. I hope that having read this, you will be better able to understand each of my photographs now.

-Tim

If I were an art collector…

I started to write a quick guide to collecting art, but there are different definitions for “collecting”, and a bazillion for “art”. Also, people collect in different ways and for different reasons. Instead, I’ll tell you how I would do it, and maybe it will give you a different impression of art collecting, and how affordable it can be. (Note that I don’t have an art collection as described below, mostly because I’m too busy making my own art. I guess you could say that I build my own collection. However, if I was not an artist, I could very well see myself as a collector.)

Moonset Over Santa Elena

Moonset Over Santa Elena

Budget

When I think of collecting, I think about my rock collection that I built while travelling throughout the western US as a kid on vacation with my family. I loved stopping in at rock shops and buying one or two pieces… whatever I could afford with my meager earnings. Sometimes I could even find something along side the road that I liked.  Over the years, I built a nice little collection of interesting things, and probably spent less than $100.

The limit for me, like most people, is that some art is expensive, especially large pieces. However, small art is usually extremely affordable. So I would limit my collection to small pieces. Maybe 8×10’s or 11×14’s.

Then I’d figure out how many of these it would take for me to feel like I had a “complete” collection. I reckon this would be 10 pieces of art, maybe even as many as 20. How much would I spend per piece, and how many of these pieces could I afford to purchase in a year?  Let’s say I spend $200 per year, and that allows me to buy four framed 8×10’s. Not a bad start. In five years, I’ll have a very nice (and very affordable) collection.

Of course, that means I’d have to find not only an artist that I like, but one that offers small artwork in my price range.

Moon At Turret Arch

Moon At Turret Arch

The Art and the Artist

The most important part of this is that I love my collection and that it speaks to me. I expect it to help me to somehow feel connected with the artist. I also want it to be cohesive, so I would choose a single medium (let’s go with photography!).

I’d start searching for one artist whose entire body of work really spoke to me both technically and artistically, and who was able to create consistent work on a regular basis. This is important! I don’t want to be drawn to one photograph, when the majority of the other photographs don’t appeal to me at all. It’s important for the artist to have a desirable and cohesive body of work, and not just one or two “one-hit-wonders”.

It would be beneficial if the artist is local, or at least does a show nearby regularly so I could meet him/her in person. I would, after all, want to like the artist as a person as well as their art. I want someone that I can enjoy and appreciate, before I invest my time and money.

Of course, they would also need to offer their artwork at the size and price range that meets my budget and space requirements. This is most likely true with photography, although many other artists also offer affordable small prints.

Moon Over Windmill

Moon Over Windmill

The Plan

If necessary, I’d narrow down the theme for my collection if the artist’s body of work is too broad. I might narrow it down to subject matter, location, color palette, etc. Maybe a collection of trees would be nice, or photographs with the color yellow. Perhaps black and white photographs of the moon? This will depend on what the artist has available. The more photographs available, the more I can narrow my theme.

I’d reserve an area in my home for my collection. Either a wall, a room, or a hallway. Something with good light, or more likely I’d add track lighting. Art dramatically benefits from good light.

Finally, I’d purchase one or two of my favorite pieces and either have the artist frame them, or choose a matching frame that I know will still be available a year or two down the road. I’d hang my new artwork in it’s reserved spot, and enjoy it for several months. After my new collection has had time to acclimate in my mind, I might already have another piece in mind that I had seen before that I would like to acquire next.

Moonset At White Sands

Moonset At White Sands

Follow

Perhaps even before I make my first purchase, I’d get to know the artist better. I’d read through their website, subscribe to their newsletter, and find more about who they are, what they’re up to, and what inspires them. I’d keep up to date on their latest releases to see what direction their work is going, and if I can better understand where he/she is taking me. I might even send them an email asking about a certain piece – perhaps why they composed it a certain way or how it makes them feel. In short, I’d get involved in their work and build an ongoing relationship.

Moon At Bryce

Moon At Bryce


 

Not only is this the way I would collect art, it is also my favorite kind of collector. The most exciting order for me to fulfill is not the largest and most expensive, but the one that’s going to someone who has purchased my work in the past, even if it’s just a $25 8×10.

I am so thankful for each of my customers, and especially the collectors that have added to their “Tim Herschbach” collections. Thank you so much for allowing me to serve you.

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Ansel Adams had more influence on me than I thought.

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I’ve been slowly working my way through Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs. I would say “reading”, but it’s mostly photographs. In any case, I’m really enjoying this extensive collection.

What’s most interesting to me is that the book breaks his works into decades. I made it through the 40’s last night and it’s really neat to see the progression from seemingly documentary, to much more artistic and skillful compositions.

I also ran across some surprises. I know that Ansel’s work has influenced my style to some degree, but I didn’t realize how similar some of our compositions were. For instance, I didn’t realize that he had photographed at Bodie until I saw this photo in the book.

Ansel Adam's 1938 photograph of Bodie, California

Ansel Adam’s 1938 photograph of Bodie, California

Unaware, I took almost the same composition when I was there.

"Downtown" (2012)

“Downtown” (2012)

Judging from the background hills and buildings, I think he was a bit closer than I was and used a wider angle. It was also a different time of day and probably season, and of course I was blessed with some awesome clouds which I based my composition around. But when I saw his photograph, I was amazed. I felt connected to him, like we had the same vision of this place.

The same thing when I saw his “White House Ruins”.

Ansel's "White House Ruins"

Ansel’s “White House Ruins”

I had seen this photograph before, and loved it, but I hadn’t studied it closely or commited it to memory. I love Ansel’s composition, but I actually prefer the contrast and detail of Eliot Porter’s version. The contrast in this particular photograph is part of what inspired me to process my photographs the way I do. There are more highlights and shadows than there are mid-tones, giving it a very stark and textured quality.

Porter_Whitehouse-ruin

Eliot Porter’s White House

So my take was a blend of both, except I cropped out all the foliage at the bottom to keep it “clean” and included two buzzards in the sky, which I think completes the photograph.

White House - After ProcessingIt’s actually a difficult site to shoot because the ruins themselves are fenced off so it’s impossible to get close for a wider angle. That’s why most compositions of the location end up looking similar overall. It’s the minor details and processing that sets them apart.

Anyway, if you’d like to study some of Ansel’s work and don’t have access to his photographs on display, this is an excellent book.

Your Favorite Photographs in 2015

Time for a 2015 recap!

7 states photographed in 4 trips – Washington, Montana, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.

21 Art Shows

3,434 Exposures

19 Photographs Released

 

Top 3 Most Popular Color Photographs:

#3 – Big Bend Sunrise

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#2 – Moonrise At Bryce

moonriseatbryce_thumb

#1 – Aspen Reflections

aspenreflections_thumb

 

Top 3 Most Popular B&W Photographs:

#3 – Moonrise Over Santa Elena

moonsetoversantaelena_thumb#2 – Pine Cathedral

pinecathedral_thumb#1 – Pumpjacks (again!)

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Thank you for supporting my work and making 2015 a record breaking year for me. I can’t wait to see what awesome photographs await in 2016!

Introduction to Photography: Interview with Jeff

In March of 2014, my buddy Jeff and I took a week-long photography trip to west Texas. I recently asked him about some of his thoughts on trip, and how it’s changed his views of landscape photography as an art form.

Jeff and me hanging out at our home base in Study Butte - a single-wide with a courageous mouse that would come out at night.

Jeff and me hanging out at our home base in Study Butte – a single-wide with a courageous mouse that would come out at night. He kept us on our toes!

Tim: So how much, if any, experience have you had with photography before this trip?

Jeff: Oh, back in middle school, my dad was really into photography and he used to take pictures for the newspaper, but he didn’t really teach me very much so I ended up getting a camera from my grandmother. I actually shot pictures for the middle school newspaper, but I didn’t really know what I was doing though.

Tim: Did you enjoy it?

Jeff: Yeah, it was enjoyable, you know. It was fun. Past that I really didn’t do much with it.

Jeff trying a different perspective next to the highway in Big Bend State Park.

Jeff trying a different perspective next to the highway in Big Bend State Park.

Tim: You still have the camera?

Jeff: I do still have it. It’s not digital so I don’t use it. It was my grandmothers. She was really into photography. She used to take pictures for her newspaper too, for the Weatherford Oklahoman. But uh, I didn’t really know a whole lot for the trip. I learned lessons from you the first drive out there, reading through the books.

Tim: So knowing that this was going to be a photography trip, what were you expecting?

Jeff: Really just to get out and see nature and be able to record that, and to learn a little bit about it. Maybe be able to put what I learned into action and take some decent pictures that would be fairly good quality that I could print out and put on my wall.

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Tim: How closely did your expectations match your actual experience on the trip.

Jeff: I think you taught me a lot about a different way to look at things; about lighting and using the right settings. Not just the location but the timing. Being there at sunrise or sunset to get the right light, using clouds for more depth in the photograph, things like that. I thought I learned a lot on the trip. I thought I captured a lot of good quality shots.

Tim: So your happy with what you came home with?

Jeff: I like the ones I took. You might have seen something different when you looked at the same setting as me, and took it at a different angle, but I enjoyed what I got.

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Tim: Any particularly memorable or exciting moments from the trip?

J: I liked driving along the highway by the river in Big Bend State Park and stopping at different sites along the way. Walking down Closed Canyon was really awesome. Most people don’t see those things because they don’t want to stop.

T: What was your favorite location on the trip?

J: Santa Elena Canyon, I loved that area. I liked walking back into the canyon by myself. You didn’t come back there with me because you’d already done it before and it was nice to get back there and set up on my own and take my own shots. That area was pretty awesome.

Inside Santa Elena Canyon

Inside Santa Elena Canyon

T: Several of the sunrises and sunset had what I call “peak” color that lasted less than a minute, sometimes only a few seconds. Did you ever find yourself scrambling to get the shot?

Jeff: I think that the minute or two window that we had to take the picture and then set up for another one, I think that was scrambling but the first composition we were already set up for and once we took that, we’d have 30 seconds to move somewhere else for another shot to try to get another before that perfect light was gone.

Just before sunrise.

Just before sunrise.

Tim: So you pretty much knew the first shot you were going for and once you got that one, you would get busy looking for others.

Jeff: Some of that was kind of cool because when we were working below Castalon peak, you took a picture there, but then if you moved in toward the mountain a little more, the sun still hadn’t quite come up over so you had a small window to get a different angle.

Working some wildflowers in a dry river bed.

Working some wildflowers in a dry river bed.

Tim: How has this trip changed how you look at a landscape photograph?

Jeff: I’ve always enjoyed landscape photographs. It’s probably one of my favorite types of photography. Portrait photography is not as.. you know… landscape is capture the moment in a certain place. Just the beauty of what you saw, and you can see it again without having to go there.

I’m going to art shows now. Certain artwork does nothing for me at all. Landscape photography, I’ll stop at their booths and look at their work. And not just landscape but a lot of photography booths I’ll stop and look at.  Photography is the media I enjoy the most.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

Why I Cherish Your Honest Feedback

A perfect corner, tight and low profile. Important to me, but unlikely that most will ever notice.

A perfect corner, tight and low profile. Important to me, but unlikely that most will ever notice.

As an artist, I put myself into each piece that I create throughout the entire creation process; from planning the photography trip all the way to signing my name on the canvas. This ties me closely to my work as I tend to focus on the details and it can be difficult, if not impossible, to take a step back and see things from your perspective.

I am a very self-critical person, but I still believe that you can see things about my photography, craftsmanship, marketing, and customer service that I cannot. That is why I absolutely cherish any and all feedback from you, whether positive or negative. I receive an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on my work at shows, but it’s the honesty of that one critical comment on a particular photograph that I will never forget.

Shorts hiked up while trying to get the best angle on a submerged log.

Shorts hiked up while trying to get the best angle on a submerged log at Glacier National Park.

I recall speaking with a collector at an art show last year. He and his wife had purchased a few photographs from me the year prior and I was showing him one of my large canvas photographs. He liked the piece overall, except for one specific area that he felt made it appear unnatural due to the way I had processed it. Now that he had brought it to my attention, I agreed with him that it could be improved and decided to change it on future prints. It has also changed the way I have treated that situation in similar photographs since. I am absolutely grateful that he was honest and straightforward enough to bring it to my attention.

Prints that didn't make the cut.

Some prints that didn’t make the cut. “Okay” isn’t good enough for me.

My purpose in writing this is not to invite you to become my harshest critic, although you are welcome to. I also greatly appreciate honest positive feedback as well. The more specific, the better. This tells me to keep doing that thing that way, because it’s what you like.

I am nothing without satisfied collectors. I am always looking for ways to improve my compositions, construction, and marketing. And most of all, I want my collectors to be completely happy with their purchases and feel that they are getting a great value for their money. But because it’s difficult for me to see certain things from an outside-looking-in perspective, I truly value honest feedback, both positive and negative, that brings things to light that I may not be able to recognize.

 

“I don’t want to hurt your feelings!” you may think; but I want to serve you better. I want to exceed your desires. I want to always be improving.  I want my artwork to blow your mind and impress people who visit your home or your office. I want you to be completely satisified. If you come to me with a concern or input, you will not be bothering me or hurting my feelings.

Thank you all so much for being my greatest supporters!

Thoughts on shooting the Forts and Missions of Texas

In February I launched a week-long project to photograph several of the historic forts and missions of Texas. I find both to be an important part of Texas and US history. With this in mind, I wanted to capture the beauty and peacefulness of these places. (Note that the photographs in this post either did not make the final cut or are only for documentation.)

For this trip, I invited Dad along as he seemed to really enjoy last years trip through Arizona and Utah and I bought him a camera for Christmas so I wanted him to have a good opportunity to use it.

Our first stop was San Antonio. We woke up at 2am to shoot the moonrise over the Alamo. It was mostly cloudy, but there were just enough breaks to make me hopeful. While we were waiting, we met a security guard walking around the premises and talked with him for a while. Later, a very drunk or high or mentally challenged lady was cussing me out from the other side of the street trying to get my attention. I dared not to turn around as I wasn’t much interested in what she had to see at that point.

The clouds were still thick and no sign of the moon coming through. We were about to leave when we finally caught a break. Unfortunately it was already high in the sky and further south than I expected so I didn’t get the shot that I wanted. To make matters worse, all of the chains and posts in the foreground were an eye-sore that I simply couldn’t get around. I’ll just keep this as a documentary photo.

Alamo at moonrise, with a belligerent woman behind me cussing me out.

Alamo after moonrise, with a belligerent woman behind me cussing me out at 3:30am.

The next day we spent visiting each of the missions along the Mission Walk. Some were more photogenic than others. The best was the San Jose mission. Large, lots of rooms, doors, windows, and arches. Plenty of opportunities.

Dad shooting the chapel at San Francisco de la Espada mission.

Dad shooting the chapel at San Francisco de la Espada mission.

San Jose Mission arches

Arch windows at Mission San Jose.

Defensive Turret at Mission San Jose

Defensive Turret at Mission San Jose

Presidio de San Saba

Presidio de San Saba

After shooting into the early afternoon, we moved on down the road to Menard and stayed the night. In the morning we photographed Presidio de San Saba at sunrise, but there wasn’t much left of the fort and I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired as it had been mostly reconstructed.

We went down the road to Fort McKavett which was pretty cool. Many of the buildings are locked and the insides are staged with period furnishings so you can look through the windows. There are a few interesting ruins though that you can go into. These were my favorite.

Ruins at Fort McKavett

Ruins at Fort McKavett

Through a window at Fort McKavett

Through a window at Fort McKavett

Fort McKavett Bakery

Fort McKavett Bakery

Our next stop was the Calera Chapel in Balmorhea. This was a great little church to photograph. Because it was still in use, the door was unlocked and there was no one there so we had free reign. We shot sunset, had dinner in town, and then came back to try some night shooting. We got creative with our headlamps. It was fun but spooky at the same time as it was pitch black out there. It gets very dark in the desert with no moon.

Inside the Calera Chapel, late afternoon

Inside the Calera Chapel, late afternoon

Playing around with the headlamps. I'd trip the shutter, run inside, and paint dad with the light. Took several tries to get it just right.

Playing around with the headlamps. I’d trip the shutter, run inside, and paint dad with the light. Took several tries to get it just right.

Fort Davis Ruins

Fort Davis Ruins

 

After a quick sunrise shoot at the chapel, Fort Davis was next on the list. This is a huge place, but I didn’t find it to be as scenic as McKavett. Interesting photographs abound, but not exactly what I was looking for. Regardless, we spent a few hours there exploring most of the grounds before moving on to the border town of Presidio, home to Fort Leaton.

 

 

 

My buddy Jeff and I had briefly visited Fort Leaton the year before on our Big Bend trip, but we didn’t stay long enough to photograph. I saw enough to know that I desperately wanted to return. For me, Fort Leaton was the highlight of the trip. Beautiful soft light, natural southwest architecture, rugged and dirty but tidy and clean at the same time – just a fun, inspirational place to photograph with a multitude of possible compositions.

Fort Leaton Architecture

Fort Leaton Architecture

Fort Leaton Supply Room

Fort Leaton Supply Room

Dad next to a HUGE cart!

Dad next to a HUGE cart!

Wood Planes in the blacksmith shop

Wood Planes in the blacksmith shop

Terlingua Ruins

Terlingua Ruins

The next day we drove to Terlingua and photographed there. Terlingua is half ghost town, half tourist trap. And the line between the two is blurry. Some of the buildings are difficult to distinguish between abandoned ruins and working shops. Most of the ruins are small and not kept up, so it was common to see evidence of people having used them as overnight drinking locales. This made for a very run-down feel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; a few of my favorite photographs here actually have trash in them!

Terlingua Window with stacked rocks

Terlingua Window with stacked rocks

After shooting Terlingua for a few hours, we had lunch at Study Butte and drove down to Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park for a quick peak. I wanted Dad to see it, as I consider it to be Texas’ most impressive geologic structure. Santa Elena is difficult to shoot, but we were gifted with some nice clouds.

Santa Elena Boardwalk

Santa Elena Boardwalk

On the way out of Santa Elena, we stopped to shoot some bluebonnets that were attracting some bees. I wanted to Dad to see how much fun it was to work with a macro lens. Then, deciding to cut the trip short so we could spend a day processing and discussing his photographs, we drove 9 hours straight home.

Blue Bonnet Bee

You are invited to see the nine choice photographs from this trip at my home gallery show on September 26th 2015, in Pearland, TX, 5pm-9pm. Email me now to reserve your spot!