Lean In

Lean In - Luckenbach, Texas
Lean In – Luckenbach, Texas
I drove out to Luckenbach for the first time around 2003, shortly after acquiring my first camera. The old song performed by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson among others, was enough to inspire a thirty minute drive to get there. I was quite surprised to see a hundred people sitting around picnic tables drinking beer and listening to Texas roots music. I’m not sure what I expected to find but it turned out to be pure Americana with a Texas accent. Since that day I’ve made dozens of visits to Luckenbach and enjoyed every one.

Similar old venues dot the back roads in Central Texas with Austin acting as a hub. Some of the best musicians in the world live or work in Austin. Good music just overflows out into the country as players get together more or less informally.

The great thing about Luckenbach from a photographer’s perspective is having pretty much unlimited access to roam around and take pictures. It is a target rich environment you might say. During the warm months of the year free music is performed on the outdoor stage. If you want to take a picture of the band all you have to do is walk up to the stage and click. The only requirement is that you don’t become a pest for the audience or the performers.

Photographing the crowd is just as easy. Luckenbach attracts an eclectic mix of people. Tourists, well heeled bikers and Texas characters are regulars. I’ve never seen a group of people more laidback. There is never a serious argument to be heard. You can work the crowd with a camera as long as you follow a few simple rules. Most importantly everyone is there to relax and get away from the cares of the world. Don’t be too serious.

In some ways I feel as though just talking about Luckenbach causes it to change. Eventually it will be discovered in a major way and succumb to the pressures of commerce. At least more than it has so far. In the end kitsch may be the ultimate fate for Luckenbach but we can still hope for the best.

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The North America calendar
Weeks starting on Sunday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 44 – North America

The International calendar
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Phototrice Calendar No. 44 – International

Waiting for the Sun

Desert and Mountains - Big Bend Texas
Desert and Mountains – Big Bend Texas
Early morning light in areas with extreme elevation changes is often very interesting. This photo was made several minutes after sunrise on a clear morning but no direct sunlight is evident in the image. That is because the sun is rising behind a ten thousand foot high mountain range directly behind the camera. The elevation at the camera is about three thousand feet and the mountain in the image is little over five thousand feet high.

The difference in altitude and the position of the sun gave me an opportunity to shoot in soft light. In this case the desert floor acted as a giant reflector. The light is still directional enough to cast shadows but not harsh. A similar situation can occur at the end of the day. Sometimes it is possible to shoot in bright soft light with clear sky for an hour or more before the sun actually goes below the horizon. That presents opportunities to photograph wildlife and other subjects that emerge once the sun is not overhead. Something to keep in mind when out shooting in mountainous areas.

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The North America calendar
Weeks starting on Sunday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 43 – North America

The International calendar
Weeks starting on Monday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 43 – International

Yuccas Whisper

Yuccas Whisper Among Themselves

The Big Bend National and State Parks are treasures that are largely unvisited. They are remote with few amenities that people find necessary for comfortable vacations. Conditions are hot by day, cold at night with some of the darkest skies in the lower 48 states. It frightens some people because there are only moon and stars for light and the sounds of nature. That is exactly why you might want to explore the thousand square miles of parkland for yourself. There is no other place where you can hear the Dagger Yuccas whisper in the breeze.

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The North America calendar
Weeks starting on Sunday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 42 – North America

The International calendar
Weeks starting on Monday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 42 – International