Pic of the Week 5/22/20
“Wichita Bluffs Sunset”
Location: Wichita Falls, TX
Date taken: 4/24/20
I love beautiful untouched picturesque places. I mean, I guess that is expected with me being a nature photographer, but there is something different about a natural wild landscape that I just gravitate to. There are few natural places in Texas that are public but compared to private land the number is quite small. I guess that’s why I enjoy things like state parks and nature preserves. I’m fortunate enough to have a city nature preserve in the town I live in—the Wichita Bluffs Nature Preserve.
I have photographed this area a few times before, one I even did a blog entry over, but rarely have I come back with any exciting photography work. It’s a shame really. But the way the bluff is oriented, the number of houses on the ridgeline, and the amount of urban distractions make it very difficult for me to find an interesting composition. But due to the effects of COVID-19, many public lands have been closed and I was without a photographic outlet. While out walking with my girlfriend, I noticed how the sun was backlighting the leaves and grasses of the hills. This caught my attention and made me want to explore new compositions in the area.
The next day, I decided to head back over to the park. The forecast was very similar to the previous day which meant clear skies at sunset. This was crucial for the photo I wanted to capture. I started out just right at the southern trailhead and almost immediately found my location. I was actually quite shocked I hadn’t noticed it before, but I found a nice looking hill that gave the scene a nice sense of depth. The hill also created a natural leading line that I hoped would frame nicely in my composition.
Once I found my location it was now time to start searching for the best composition, but I was running into a problem all too familiar with this area. Houses were lined along the ridgeline across the valley and the sharp edges of roofs were poking out between tree branches while powerlines bisected the skyline. Determined to not let those get in my way, I started playing with my perspective and found that I could use the existing vegetation to minimize (and in some cases remove) these urban problems. That meant significantly less Photoshop work in the end.
Now that my composition was locked in, all I had to do was wait for the light. As the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, the trees, flowers, and grasses in my shot started to glow with a brilliant warm rim light. This made all this vegetation pop against the cooler shadowy background and even gave an almost magical look to the scene. If I concentrated hard enough, I could almost imagine this land in its virgin state with no houses on the ridgeline, no power lines cutting across the sky, no cars, no buildings, just raw unbridled nature. I stayed there after the sun went down just enjoying the nice view before the sky faded to a post-evening black.