Pic of the Week 1/28/22 "Enchanted Pines"

January 28, 2022  •  1 Comment

Pic of the Week 1/28/22

“Enchanted Pines”

Location: LBJ National Grasslands, TX

Date taken: 1/23/22


Enchanted PinesEnchanted PinesSunlight breaks through the piney woods found in LBJ National Grasslands © Ben Jacobi


Ashlee and I have returned to the LBJ National Grasslands. This 20,000 acre tract of public land lies right in the heart of the Cross Timbers region of the state. Its nice to know that we have so many diverse locations we can visit in a days drive. Wanna see some dramatic canyons, sashay on down to Palo Duro or Caprock Canyons State Park. Looking for some mountain, well just head on up to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. How about some tall pine trees? That’s easy just scoot on over to…Alvord, TX? Yup. That’s right just 1.5hr drive there is a place which boasts of 1100 plant species—including pine trees.

Though this wasn’t always the case. Early settlers tried to farm and cultivate the land and decades of poor land management practices resulted in the soil eroding and the land failing. Many of these farmers abandoned their plots after the Dustbowl period of the 1930’s. The federal government purchased the land from these farmers and worked to restore the land back to its former state. Now we can go and visit the area the way it was supposed to be. I tired visiting this location last time but was blocked by the numerous hikers and campers in the area. This time I was more than happy to see we were the only ones at this portion of the grasslands.

We pulled into the parking area with a half hour to spare before sunrise. This didn’t give me much time to scout and find a good composition before the good light started. I quickly took off in the direction of some ponds I found through Google Earth in hopes that they would be a good starting point. As I walked along the trail the scent of pine and the scattering of pinecones held my attention. I needed to find a way to photograph these pine trees in the forest and not reflecting in some pond. With my attention redirected I started scoping out smaller intimate scenes of the forest. But as is usually the case with woodland photography, its so overwhelming its hard to find a simple shot. I was able to get a decent composition and a few frames captured, but nothing that really excited me.

When I started to head back to the car, I noticed the sunlight beaming through the forest and as I walked the sand kicked up sending dirt particles in the air. These particles reflected in the low angled sunlight and created shafts of light on the scene. Now I was starting to get excited. All I needed was to find an interesting composition with the sun backlighting the trees. It didn’t take long before I found my shot and armed with a handful of sand, my photo started coming together. I would throw the sand and capture multiple images as it blew through the scene. This created lots of different smaller light rays that I could blend into the final image later. Luckily, in this area almost all of the trails were made of really fine sand.

I would grab a handful run over to my shot and throw the sand just in time to trip the shutter. I repeated this process many, many times. This is the result of the better or more interesting light rays from the sand throwing. This particular photo is comprised of twelve different frames stacked and blended into this final composite. This isn’t my usual style, nor photography subject, but it was the only way I felt I could do the scene justice. And I do believe I captured that “enchanting” feeling amongst the lofty pines. No doubt the LBJ Grasslands will become another favorite photography location for us.



So beautiful.
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