Posted by: kerryl29 | August 9, 2022

The Story Behind the Image: Bluebonnet Farm

It was a poor wildflower season in south Texas this past spring, largely due to an ongoing drought that has plagued the region for some time. As a result, finding good locations to photograph bluebonnets (and Indian paintbrush) between Houston and Austin was a challenge.

I spent a day in and around Brenham, in Washington County, during the wildflower bloom in 2021 and found some decent spots, but a return to the area this year was much more challenging. While I discovered several impressive fields of flowers, bucking the trend of the season, most of these spots didn’t make for good “flowerscapes” (as I refer to broader scenics where flowers are a prominent element). There was always something wrong. The vast majority of these scenes are on private property, usually fenced, which makes it difficult to get into place to optimize photographic opportunities. And most of these fields also had truly unappealing backgrounds. Either there was no real background at all, due to the placement of flowers on slopes, or the backgrounds were littered with unappealing elements, such as utility poles and power lines. It was a frustrating experience.

I had been made aware of one location that sounded very promising–actually located in neighboring Austin County, way off the beaten track. When I first tried to find the location–I was given GPS coordinates–I simply couldn’t. I looked and I looked but where I was told that there was a large field of bluebonnets…it wasn’t there. Discouraged, I drove the nearly two hours back home to the Houston area never having so much as removed my camera from my bag. In addition to the less-than-exciting locations, the weather on the day of the scouting session was uncooperative–blue skies and windy. Had the spots been more interesting, I would have waited for the golden hour and hoped that the breeze calmed down, but the scenes I had found had been so uninspiring I didn’t bother. Perhaps I’d been spoiled by the bluebonnet scenes I’d experienced in Ellis County the previous year. Whatever the reason, it had been a supremely disappointing day.

After I returned home, I contacted the person who had provided the location information and we discovered that he’d given me the wrong coordinates. I was provided with a corrected set of coordinates, a copious description of how to get there and an assurance that it would be worth a return trip. I planned to head back to this single location three days later, late on a Saturday afternoon. The forecast was for partly cloudy conditions. It would mean a three-hour round trip, but I decided to make it. The alternative was no bluebonnet photography that spring at all, since I wouldn’t have the chance to head up to Ennis.

The forecast for Saturday proved wrong. There was some partial cloudiness in the morning, but by mid-afternoon it was clear as a bell (and would remain that way for the rest of the day). It was, however, almost windless, so I decided to make the trip, leaving at about 4:30 PM with the expectation of arriving on scene at about 6, just as the light would be getting good.

When I arrived, I saw what the fuss was all about. There was a field of wildflowers–bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush. It wasn’t the most magnificent or densest collection of flowers I’d ever seen; not by a long shot. But it was nice. And the backdrop was better than nice. A dilapidated old barn, surrounded by trees in the early stages of spring greenery. I still had, I estimated, 30 to 45 minutes before the light would be at its most sublime, so I moved down the country road a half-mile or so, to check out another field of bluebonnets. This was a much denser field, but without the idyllic backdrop.

I produced a few images at the second location, but I was mostly just killing time. After 20 minutes or so, I returned to the field in front of the barn. The property was deserted, but it was clearly privately owned, so I stayed along the roadside. That was fine, because there was no fence to deal with and clusters of wildflowers encroached on the shoulder of the road; I didn’t need to wander into the field to find pleasing compositions.

Setting my tripod up very low to the ground, I fine-tuned my compositions. I made, all told, something like eight images. The photograph below–the product of a six-image stack, as I was just inches away from the nearest subjects, making depth of field an issue (good thing there wasn’t a whiff of a breeze, as executing the stacks took some time)–is emblematic of the opportunities that were available.

In the final analysis, I was glad I made the return trip. The images made that evening were the only ones I produced in Texas this spring.

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush, Austin County, Texas


  1. Lovely photography

  2. Lovely image, Kerry. Well worth the 3-hour trip (I know, easy for me to say…)

  3. […] bloom across Texas last year, but there were some gems to be found, and, with some assistance, I unearthed the one below in Austin […]

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