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Spring Photo Binge Day 3: South Llano River State Park

May 6, 2013
Painted Bunting

© jmillerphoto.com – Painted Bunting

The first two days of the annual spring Photography Binge were hiking days.  And the legs were tired out after those two hiking days.  Really tired out.  But all along I had planned day 3 for a place to sit.  If I had my way, it would have been in a private blind either somewhere in the Hill Country of Texas or somewhere more near the US-Mexico border.  But the money saved up to do a private blind got eaten up by an untimely and very much needed brake job on my trusty SUV.  Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.

So instead, I went for something a little more achievable.  And that was a blind at one of the local state parks.  My choices were South Llano River SP and Pedernales Falls SP.  Pedernales Falls is closer mileage wise, but I’d have to travel through more of San Antonio and I’ve been there a couple of times this year.  South Llano River SP, on the other hand, was a park that I had not been to since last August, there are 4 blinds (3 of which are great for photography) and there’s a lake down the hill from one of the blinds where I’ve had great luck with odonata.  I was still deciding in my head which way to go when I came to the point of no return: The turn-off for Interstate 10.  And with that I hit my blinker and headed to South Llano River SP.

Light conditions were awesome for photography in the Acorn Blind.  Light clouds above created incredibly useful diffused sunlight.  That made the overall temperature of the light a little cool, but that’s what Lightroom is for, right?

Two hours and over 600 images later, I figured I had my fill of the blind and it was time to go out and make some images at Buck Lake.

Well, at least that was the thought. The cloudy cool conditions, while great for the bird photography, proved incredibly non-productive for odonata. I saw a grand total of 2 specimens in over 30 minutes of looking, and they were a pair of damselflies. So ready to cut my losses, I went back to the blind. And shot another couple hundred images.

And as I was sitting there, enjoying the quiet and tranquility of the blind and I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of birds on the metal roof of the blind. And then I realized there was no way there were that many birds on the roof. Gosh darn it, it was raining. Bother.

Thankfully I keep a grocery bag in the back pocket of my vest. The bag is just big enough to cover my camera with the 300mm lens attached. So slowly I made my way back to the car, camera still attached to the tripod, thinking “Wow… this has been a great day.”

American Rubyspot damselfly (Male)

© jmillerphoto.com – American Rubyspot damselfly (Male)

And then on my way out of the park I decided to spend a couple of minutes driving to a part of the park I’d never been to. In previous visits the gate had been closed to this part of the park because it is also a turkey roosting area. But it was open today. The road took me to a pair of parking lots for day-use within the park.  The 2nd of the parking lots was right on the river, with stairs going down. And I thought to myself, “Why not take a look.”

So after navigating the stairs I looked along the banks and my inquisitiveness paid off–about a dozen American Rubyspot damselflies. By this point the rain shower had stopped, so I went back to the car, grabbed the camera, and made a few shots.

Wanting to make it back through San Antonio before rush hour, I picked up my gear and headed back to the house. After all, I also have Day 4 to look forward to (and this one I don’t have to drive all by myself…)

About the Images:
I chose 2 images…I could have chosen 8-9 and I’ve just barely started to look at today’s bounty. Both images were shot with the Standard Gear, minus the macro extension tube. The lead image is my good buddy Pabu, otherwise known as the Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris). There were up to 5 of these Technicolor wonders working the blind at any given time today. Technical details were ISO 400, 1/80 sec at f/10. The 2nd image is a beautiful immature male American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana). He almost had me fooled as his coloration spoke more to female than male. But alas, the tail (or the last segment) told the true tale as did a short review of his undercarriage. Technical details were ISO 400, 1/125 sec at f/13.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2013 10:17 pm

    Amazing. Like a painters palette. Truly beautiful and sweet. Incredible colors. Thank you so much for letting me see this adorable and most artful of birds.

    • May 6, 2013 10:41 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. Painted Buntings are by far the brightest birds I’ve ever had the opportunity to make images of.

  2. May 6, 2013 10:21 pm

    The red dragon is delicate and magical. I feel as if he/she is royalty, wearing the color of those who have earned the respect of other dragons, through their tenacious dedication.

    • May 6, 2013 10:44 pm

      And thanks again. Every once in a while the little extra effort is rewarded and today I got mighty lucky. And as pretty as he is here, at 3800×3000 he is magnificent.

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