Posted by: kerryl29 | June 14, 2021

Texas Bluebonnet Bloom, Part III

The first few hours scouting for bluebonnets in Ellis County had gone pretty well. I had covered basically the entire South Trail, managing to squeeze in a bit of photography and identifying a number of sites that begged for a return in better light.

Among those spots was a sunrise location for the morning of the one full day I would be in the area. This was located down a lonely local rural road somewhere south of Ennis. I had taken a chance that there might be an interesting place or two down this road on Day 1 of the trip and it had paid off. I found a field, behind a barbed wire fence, on the south of side of this road, with a nice field of bluebonnets and a few distant trees. The view was east facing, so I thought it would work for sunrise. It was only about a ten-minute drive from where I was staying and since I’d marked the spot on my GPS, I had no difficulty finding it again in the pre-dawn darkness.

Bluebonnet Sunrise, Ellis County, Texas

It was a cool, windless morning and there was a nice wash of clouds in the eastern sky as the sun slowly came up. I had to jump across a small gully to get close to the fence and, jammed between a couple of bushes framing an open view of the field from the fence line, I set up and produced a couple of exposure sets; the scene held too much dynamic range for the image sensor.

Bluebonnet Sunrise, Ellis County, Texas

I didn’t actually shoot over the fence; the lines of barbed wire were separated enough for me to aim the lens between the top and middle strands, which allowed me to avoid shooting from eye level. Weeds and grass at the base of the fence made it impossible to shoot between the bottom and middle rung of wire.

When I was finished at this spot I walked across the deserted road to take a look at the field on the other side of the pavement. It was unfenced and it wasn’t clear whether it was private property; it wasn’t posted and the location appeared to be used as a kind of informal storage/staging area for several public utility trucks. Being uncertain of the status of the land, I stayed at what appeared to be the edge of the tract. This was a west-facing view, and there was a cluster of bluebonnets just a few feet off the road. I set up very low and right on top of this cluster. The light was very soft, meaning exposure bracketing was unnecessary, but given how close I was to the flowers and greenery, a substantial focus stack (14 manually obtained frames) was necessary. (If you look closely at the image below you may be able to see dew drops on some of the fronds; they’re clearly visible in the full-size rendition of this image.)

Bluebonnet Dawn, Ellis County, Texas

From this location, it was only about a two-minute drive to the wetland location I had visited at the end of the previous day. Given the cool air, I though there might be some mist coming off the water at this spot, so I made a quick run over there and found it worthy of a shot.

Bluebonnet Dawn, Ellis County, Texas

In anticipation of worsening light, I thought this was a good opportunity to head off and explore the North Trail. It took me about 20 minutes to reach the beginning of this area–about 12 miles north on I-45 from the site of the wetland image above. I quickly found a couple of interesting spots–again, behind fences, on private property, but still nice scenes.

Bluebonnet Field, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field, Ellis County, Texas

Eventually I reached the Sugar Ridge area and, though the light was now not so great, discovered another couple of scenes. The first was a horse in a field of bluebonnets that required me to pull out the telephoto rig for the first time on this shoot.

Horse and Bluebonnets, Ellis County, Texas

The other spot that caught my eye had nothing to do with bluebonnets. I was glad I noticed it because it implied that I wasn’t operating with full-on bluebonnet tunnel vision.

Morning Pond, Ellis County, Texas

I checked out the rest of the North Trail, but I wasn’t nearly as impressed with it as I was the South Trail. I did mark a couple of spots for a possible return the following morning and then, as it was approximately noon, retreated to my lodging to check email.

It was during this email check that I discovered a note from an East Coast camera dealer I had contacted about six weeks earlier, informing me that a second Z7ii camera body had become available and would be in my hands before the end of that week. That would mean that I would have that camera in my possession when it was time to begin the trip to the desert southwest at the end of April. With the guarantee of two Z cameras (as well as two Z lenses) in my possession, I decided to rethink my decision about which camera system to take with me on that trip. So, I thought, it might be a good idea to see what it would be like to shoot with the Z camera in the field–something I had not done to date–right away. So, even though the light was still pretty harsh, I headed out early that afternoon to see what the experience would be like. After playing around with a plot of flowers in an open field across from the hotel where I was staying, I took my gear–all of it, Z-system and F-system (in case the Z-system experience was less than pleasing)– to Veterans Memorial Park in Ennis, a public location that allowed me to freely roam over an extensive field of bluebonnets (and a few other wildflowers), unencumbered by fences or private property restrictions.

I took only one of my Z7ii bodies as well as the 24-70/4 and 14-30/4 Z-mount lenses into the park. While the sun was out, it was partly cloudy. Even when the sun wasn’t behind a full blown cloud bank, it was diffused by a thin layer of clouds that covered most of the sky.

Bluebonnet Field, Veterans Memorial Park, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Intimate, Veterans Memorial Park, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Intimate, Veterans Memorial Park, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet and Indian Paintbrush, Veterans Memorial Park, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Intimate, Veterans Memorial Park, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Intimate, Veterans Memorial Park, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field, Veterans Memorial Park, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Intimate, Veterans Memorial Park, Ellis County, Texas

I had a great time working with the camera for an hour or so at this location and then moved on to explore some of the other areas in and around the South Trail for the rest of the daylight hours.

Pastoral Black & White, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field Panorama, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet and Indian Paintbrush Intimate, Ellis County, Texas
Wildflowers, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field at Dusk, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet and Indian Paintbrush Intimate, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet and Indian Paintbrush Intimate, Ellis County, Texas

As sunset approached, I returned to the same spot where I had photographed at the end of the day 24 hours earlier. This time, the sky was much more interesting and I hastened to take advantage of it.

Bluebonnet Field at Sunset, Ellis County, Texas

I was treated to some absolutely beautiful light and sky conditions over the next half hour or so.

Bluebonnet Field at Sunset, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field at Sunset, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field at Sunset, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field at Sunset, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field at Dusk, Ellis County, Texas

The following morning, though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, I returned to the Sugar Ridge area of the North Trail at first light for one parting bluebonnet shot, at a spot I’d expressly earmarked during the previous day’s scout, before I made the trek back to Houston.

Bluebonnet Field at Sunrise, Ellis County, Texas

That was the end of this spring’s bluebonnet photography for me. If this had been a bad bloom–as I had been told several times–I could only imagine what a really good year would look like.

My time with the Z cameras had proven so pleasing that I made the decision to take that system, not the older F-mount cameras, on the trip to the desert southwest. I’ll start detailing that experience–which ended in early May–over the next few weeks.


Responses

  1. These are absolutely gorgeous!

    • Thanks very much!

  2. Love the colour and light.

  3. Lovely pictures

  4. Wonderful with the skies.

    • Thanks very much!

  5. The pink flowers are pink evening primroses, Oenothera speciosa.

  6. Such beautiful images, Kerry. What a treasure….

    • Thanks very much, Scott!

      • You’re welcome. 🙂


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