Pic of the Week 7/8/22
Location: Ray Roberts Lake, TX
Date taken: 6/5/22
It is hard to believe this time has already arrived. To quote my wonderful wife, “It feels like a lifetime and just yesterday”. It has been one year (and now month) since we were married and to celebrate, I planned us a trip to Denton, TX. Though our anniversary would not focus too much on photography, we still had an amazing time. We walked in the square, visited bookstores, restaurants, arcades, theaters, spas, and nature preserves. It was jam-packed with adventure, but very little photography. For accommodations, we rented out an Airbnb ranch house on Windmill Hill near Ray Roberts Lake in Sanger. Just a short drive to downtown Denton, but enough out of the way we could still see the stars. Our humble ranch home was just a stone’s throw away form Ray Roberts Lake. We remained hopeful we would be able to photograph the lake at sunrise or sunset. However, the first night we were there, it was pouring rain. So no sunset shoot. We remained hopeful the weather would clear by the next morning and maybe we could try to catch sunrise?
The next morning, we awoke from our Airbnb just twenty minutes before sunrise. I honestly wasn’t expecting too much so I didn’t plan accordingly, and our peaceful morning quickly turned to a hurried dash to the lake to capture the good light. One of the local farm dogs, Willie, joined us for the sunrise sprint. Despite the proximity, we missed the best light and only had time to plop down our tripods in front of some trees near the lake shore. But the consolation prize was watching Willie and Ashlee swim around in the muddy lake water. We missed the sunrise, but we were eager to explore more of the area. Perhaps we could try the sunrise shoot tomorrow morning.
We trapsed around the muddy embankment searching out potential photographs with Willie attached to our heels. A small trail led us to an open meadow between the trees. Soon our ears were vibrating from the buzzing of bees and flies darting back and forth in the meadow. Hundreds of wildflowers were scattered all through the meadow. Horsemint, primrose, fleabane, winecup, thistle, and coreopsis flowers were blanketing the ground transforming the meadow into a multi-colored sea of wildflowers. Willie began to leap and frolic through the blooms. Now that’s more like it! I began scoping out my sunrise location while Ashlee focused her attention on the insects and flora of the area. My searching brought me to the edge of a patch of bright yellow coreopsis wildflowers. My eye was drawn into the scene by the natural leading lines created by the rows of flowers. I spent several minutes refining my composition and imagining the sunrise coming up over the landscape. Finally, I settled on what I thought would be the composition to best showcase the wildflower field, lake, and sunrise. Willie looked at me with a tail-wag confirming my thoughts. Looks like I found my shot.
Now, it was time to get back and enjoy our busy day of anniversary activities. We had a nice breakfast, then went to the Denton square to check out the bookstore and a local camera store. From there we drove to our couples massage at Ashlee’s favorite spa and grabbed some lunch. The final event of the night was a stop to the Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and a movie. After coming back from town (and thoroughly exhausted) we set our alarm, this time for an hour before sunrise, and drifted off to sleep. On our final morning, we awoke to find a wonderful layer of high clouds hovering over the eastern horizon, this could prove to be a great sunrise! With enough time to spare, we found our sunrise compositions we scouted before, and patiently waited for the light to kick off. As the early morning sun climbed higher and higher to the horizon the high cirrus clouds began to reflect the brilliant orange color. This reflected light back down to the coreopsis flowers in my composition causing them to glow. They almost seemed to resonate in the early morning light. It was like the flowers were singing all at once in jovial chorus to greet the morning. I excitedly snapped my camera’s shutter documenting the scene.
This image was somewhat of a technical challenge in both the shooting method and post processing. Since I was so close to the flowers in the foreground, I needed to focus stack. I would try to capture one image focused for the flowers in the foreground and then capture another image for the focus on the background. This would ensure I had a large depth of field throughout the image. But this procedure only works when the flowers are stationary. When the wind is blowing—even just a light breeze—the shot becomes incredibly difficult to achieve. Thankfully, I was able to capture the necessary exposures during a brief lull in the wind. It wasn’t long before the sun peeked over the horizon and all the meadow was washed in golden sunlight. Satisfied with my image, I packed up my camera bag and enjoyed the morning on the lake. While I didn’t pull my camera out too much on this trip, I did make sure to capitalize on the opportunities. What a fantastic way to celebrate our anniversary!