Great weekend with friends old and new at Garner State Park. What a beautiful place.
A few months back as I was scanning through TED Talks, I came across this person and had never heard of him in my life (TED Talk – The Silent Drama of Photography). His story of his life and his photographs were totally breathtaking. I was very much moved by his talk, but soon forgot about him as days went by.
This past week I then also happened upon a full length documentary about him and his work – The Salt of the Earth (IMDB Link). This movie takes the story he shared for the TED stage and goes deeper into his background and life story. If you are a photographer or humanist or naturalist or part of the human race, I truly think you too will be moved by watching this film.
I recently made a somewhat overdue upgrade of my iPad 4 and got the new iPad Air 2. This in of itself was of course a significant upgrade, jumping into Apples model line that now carry their 64-bit processor. Man does everything run nice and smooth again, very impressed with the tablet. However, I also did another upgrade to my tablet kit and purchased the Zagg Rugged Book and would like to share with you my first impressions of this ruggedized keyboard folio case.
With my rekindled hobby of photography and the advances of tablet apps, the iPad has now found itself into the field workflow of many photographers (from the amature to the professional) so I too was curious how this new device would work for me in the field. Taking anything into the outdoors requires you to evaluate how it will survive the emminent drops and tumbles. I have also recently embarked on a PAD project (photo a day) that I wanted to utilize only a mobile device for editing, creating and publishing so having a physical keyboard also looked to be something that I would be needing. I have had Zagg products in the past and was always pleased with their quality and durability so I decided to see what they might have to offer for my new device and in the niche of outdoor usage.
Took a road trip across the Texas Hill Country above Uvalde, TX to shoot the rivers after the recent flooding rains we have experienced.
According to the Uvalde Leader News we have received 13.21 inches of rain during the first five months of 2015 (compared to the 8 inches we normally average by this time of year according to US Almanac Data). No doubt the majority of this accumulation has come down over the course of the past few weeks. Not just Uvalde, but the entire Texas Hill Country has been hit by one unrelenting storm after another.
Cook’s Slough Nature Park has an interesting history and for my fellow green initiative audience, I think you’ll find it particularly fascinating. The ground on which the park sits is the former site of the city’s landfill!
“Built on the site of a former landfill by the city and the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the park is a man-made wetland that is part of the city’s sewage treatment facilities. Wastewater is cleaned through a natural multistep process of settling ponds and mud flats that break down bacteria and filter the water before it is reintroduced into the Leona River.” (Austin Chronicle;3DEC10)
“That’s when the city listened to Uvalde resident Ken Cave, owner of the Kenneth M. Cave and Associates environmental consulting firm. Cave’s vision was to develop constructed wetlands to improve water quality in Cook’s Slough and the Leona River, to insure a wetland water supply, and to provide waterfowl and wildlife habitat in an educational setting. “It took a long time to put all the pieces together, but we did it at a fraction of the cost of a new mechanical system that would have done the same job,” says Cave.” (Treatment Plant Operator;JUL13)
The local chapter of Texas Native Plant Society have done numerous projects around the park. This includes signage of native plants along the trails and guides that are available at the main trail head. I sincerely appreciate their work and will be watching for upcoming opportunities to join them on work events.
Not all exciting treks come from remote places. The sun had peeked this Saturday and with the abundance of recent rains, wildflowers were waking to Spring. So, we decided to take a family trip to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens and it was an amazing adventure.
Photography is a hobby of mine, but the real attraction to photography for me and I would suspect for many of you is it’s ability to capture a moment that tells an entire story. I can remember so vividly turning the pages of National Geographic and becoming enthralled by it’s images long before I could comprehend it’s written stories. Deep down this is what attracts me to this day to take pictures and someday I hope to capture this same feeling in others when they look at my images.
The photo director for National Geographic, David Griffin knows the power of photography to connect us to our world. In a talk filled with glorious images, he talks about how we all use photos to tell our stories.
Economics PhD Sebastião Salgado only took up photography in his 30s, but the discipline became an obsession. His years-long projects beautifully capture the human side of a global story that all too often involves death, destruction or decay. Here, he tells a deeply personal story of the craft that nearly killed him, and shows breathtaking images from his latest work, Genesis, which documents the world’s forgotten people and places.
My original plans for tnis final weekend of Spring Break was to head up to Enchanted Rock SNA. I already had reservations made and actually packed and ready to go. When my daughter and I woke up this morning however, the radar looked horrible and the forecast showed it only to get worse. Determined to not have the weekend a complete waste, we decided to make it into a state park road trip and were able to score a double header – hitting both Garner SP and Lost Maples SNA in the same day.
Garner State Park
Garner is a quick thirty minute trip from Uvalde and is by far the most popular park in the area. Today was no exception with respect to the popularity factor. It was packed with people. This didn’t initially discourage us, so and we got the cameras out to hike down the Frio River and hoped to get some cool shots of wildlife and the many majestic Cypress trees. After a short hike, we just couldn’t seem to get away from running into more people so we decided to pack it in and head on towards Utopia (Texas that is, albeit not far from our true Utopia which is Lost Maples SNA).
Lost Maples SNA
Upon checking in and scoring the second of our double header, we were greeted by the familiarity of our favorite park. The rain had taken a break and the weather was perfect for hiking. We met a kind young man in the parking lot who noticed our cameras and told us that the birds were really active in the designated bird viewing station, so with gear in hand we headed over to the blind to take a look. It was a bird-a-pooluza! We lit up the little shelter with shutter clicks going off like it was the night at the Oscars!
After leaving the bird blind we proceeded down the East Trail to ‘The Ponds – Campsite C’. Between the two of us, we have literally walked this trail a hundred times, but with our new toys the trail was fresh and new as we sought out photo opportunities. We made it all the way to the ponds and even went a bit further past them, taking side trips where we felt led by our lenses. It wasn’t until we were back at the trailhead did it start raining again. What timing!
Lost Maples Cafe – Utopia, TX
It is an unspoken given that when we are in Utopia, usually after coming back from the park, we have to pull in at Lost Maples Cafe. In our own version of Diners, Drive-In’s & Dives, this place is at the top of Texas Hill Country dinning! If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend pulling in (and don’t forget to save room for dessert, their homemade pies are out of this world)!
One of my favorite nearby Texas State Parks is Seminole Canyon SNA, located near Comstock. The park is a quick drive from where I live and is where I run to when I want a break from the Hill Country and need to feed my desert cravings. The park is most noted for it’s Lower Pecos pictographs (more on the parks history page). I also took the White Shaman tour which isn’t part of the TPWD, but run by Rock Art Foundation and is located across the highway from the park entrance. This trip predates my getting into digital photography, so all the images I share with you below were taken with my iPhone, but I hope you still enjoy them. -ck