Va Va Bloom!

Brenda and I are spending over a month in the Hill Country of Texas during the latter part of March through April. We planned our trip to coincide with the spring wildflower bloom. Texas wildflowers: legendary, diverse, vast expanses of colour ranging from orange, magenta, blue, yellow and red.

Roadside oak tree and bluebonnets

Roadside oak tree and bluebonnets

The rainfall patterns in fall and winter are important factors that determine the quality of the spring bloom and we are fortunate this year to have had sufficient precipitation to promise an above average bloom. I feel fortunate, especially after experiencing the brutal winter in Northern Ontario this year. Texas has been in a protracted drought in recent years and the wildflower bloom has been less than optimum these past few years, the last good year occurring in 2010, according to noted wildflower photographer Gary Regner who lives in this area. Gary’s website and blog http://www.texaswildflowerpictures.com/update.htm is a great source of information and updates for the visiting photographer.

Ranch fence and Texas paintbrush

Ranch fence and Texas paintbrush

Oak trees and Texas wildflowers- paintbrush, phlox and bluebonnets

Oak trees and Texas wildflowers- paintbrush, phlox and bluebonnets

The pictures I present at this point have been harvested from areas south of San Antonio. We are still awaiting the full bloom in the Hill Country around Austin, Johnson City and Marble Falls but patches of colour are appearing every day as March slides into April with an expectation of a mid April peak.

Texas paintbrush and bluebonnets surrounding a cactus

Texas paintbrush and bluebonnets surrounding a cactus

Diverse patches of clourful flowers

Diverse patches of clourful flowers

The areas south of San Antonio are flatter with pastures and farmland dominating the scene. Travelling the country roads we find flowers in the roadside and in the fields beyond. When the sky is clear I can include the blue sky. When the light is soft and overcast I try to exclude the white sky, concentrating on more intimate scenes. Focus stacking technique is sometimes necessary to extend the range of sharpness near to far in these flat landscapes.

Texas wildflowers bloom on the grounds of a country residence

Texas wildflowers bloom on the grounds of a country residence

Bluebonnets and paintbrush with spring trees

Bluebonnets and paintbrush with spring trees

The traffic at times is fearsome, especially on the major highways around Austin and San Antonio but the smaller side roads are well maintained, less heavily travelled with wide shoulders for safe pull-offs. With careful planning it has been possible to use secondary routes to avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic in and out of the big cities.

Texas paintbrush and spring trees, Somerset TX

Texas paintbrush and spring trees, Somerset TX

Texas  bluebonnets and oak trees, near Somerset TX

Texas bluebonnets and oak trees, near Somerset TX

Alpine Meadow Gardens

Meadows in the Sky, with alpine flowers in bloom

Red paintbrush, purple lupine, yellow arnica, mauve daisies, green fir trees, grey rocks. Intense colour abounded everywhere. I felt like a kid in a candy store. It is nature’s Butchart Gardens. This is Mount Revelstoke National Park in British Columbia, at the peak of alpine flower season. The ecologically fragile alpine meadows are traversed by well- maintained trails of varying lengths. The park itself has easy access from the Trans Canada Highway near the city of Revelstoke. The Park Service has constructed a 26 km Meadows in the Sky Parkway, a paved road up Mount Revelstoke, taking the visitor to a parking area. From there you can hop a 1 km shuttle bus to the trail heads. Depending on your physical fitness I would advise the photographer to walk the road, at least one-way, ideally both, as the flower displays along the road are particularly exquisite. More information on the National Park can be obtained by visiting the National Park’s website.

For flower photography along the trails and road I carried my backpack and tripod with lenses ranging from 16-35 to 200-400. I used my macro lens sparingly. My lens of choice was the 70-200 but I liked using the 24-70 when the skies cooperated. I prefer soft overcast light for flower photography but when the sun was out and the skies were filled with nice clouds it enabled me to include the spiky fir trees in landscape images. The best time to visit is in August. This past  year (2011) was a late bloom- third week of August. I found the Park Service staff to be very friendly and generous with their time, answering emails and phone calls as I checked in on progress of the flower display.

Lupines, paintbrush and arnica in bloom

Alpine meadow with red paintbrush and rocks

Red paintbrush blooming along the Meadows in the Sky Parkway.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.