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Photo Binge 2014 – Day 3: Brazos Bend SP

July 18, 2014
American Alligator

© jmillerphoto.com – Immature American Alligator

Ever get someplace and realize that one day wasn’t going to cut it?  Ever get someplace and realize you should have been there at least two hours earlier?  Yep, that pretty much described my day at Brazos Bend State Park near Needville, Texas.

Day 3 of the Binge found me in this park after a long drive from the house.  Lesson learned:  Next time I come out to Brazos Bend I either need to leave the house at 4:30 AM or I need to spend the night in Sealy, Rosenberg, or Angleton.  But I digress.

My shooting partner and I got into the park around 10:30 but really didn’t hit the trails until closer to 11.  By then the good light was long gone.  Part of that was very disappointing.  After all, this is a Photo Binge.  But part of it was getting out, seeing what was there and moving forward.  And in this regard the trip was a complete success.

But the photography wasn’t bad, either.  There were also enough clouds in the sky that I could use some of the diffused sunlight and make some nice images.  And I made a ton of images.

There was a reasonably even split between types of subject material.  Butterflies and dragonflies were plentiful.

Blue Dasher

© jmillerphoto.com – Obelisking Blue Dasher

Tawny Emperor

© jmillerphoto.com – Tawny Emperor

Halloween Pennant

© jmillerphoto.com – Halloween Pennant

The birds were both far tamer than I expected and at the same time always seemingly in the wrong direction to the sun.  Still managed a couple of good shots plus two life list adds (White Ibis and Purple Gallinule).

White Ibis

© jmillerphoto.com – White Ibis

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

© jmillerphoto.com – Yellow-crowned Night Heron

And then there were the gators.  I was most disappointed with myself on the alligators because I just couldn’t get the light correct.  Given the very smart and sane rules that TPWD puts down (primarily don’t approach them and if you’re within 30 feet of them you’re w-a-a-a-y-y  too close), the light wasn’t going to do me any favors in making a good image.

American Alligator

© jmillerphoto.com – American Alligator (Crossing the Hiking Trail)

American Alligator

© jmillerphoto.com – American Alligator

So I mentioned at the top that I realized there was no way I could finish this trip in a day.  And friends this is the truth.  We hit one of the six lakes in the park.  We hiked just a little over a mile of the what surely must be at least 15+ miles of trails in the park.  There’s no way one could do this in a day.  Lesson learned.  Next time I’ll work towards 3-4 days.

And next time I will get there much earlier than 11 AM.  Thank goodness I wasn’t driving all the way home…

About the Images:
All images were shot with the Standard Gear, no flash, and on the tripod at ISO 400.  The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) that leads off the blog entry was well after the half-way mark of the hike.  This young one was hiding in the shadows, taking an afternoon siesta.  Shutter/aperture combo was 1/100 sec at f/7.1. All three of the insects were imaged before making the turn at the Observation Tower on 40 Acre Lake. The Obelisking Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) shutter/aperture set was 1/320 sec at f/11. The Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) butterfly settings were 1/160 sec at f/10 with the assistance of a passing cloud. I went a little artsy on the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina), using a slight backlighting at 1/250 sec and f/9. I was shocked when I got home and realized I had never made an image (or seen) a White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) in the wild. The good news was he was very cooperative. The bad news was he was too close and the sunlight was too strong. I went almost to a portrait look for this one with 1/320 sec at f/14 on the camera. I was closer to this Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) on other shots, but I just didn’t have the light. This one is further away but isn’t horrible at 1/320 sec and f/6.3. And then two more gators to finish out the set. The first one was crossing the trail I had been walking on. No stress, no hurry, just from one body of water to another. 1/125 sec at f/14, but I should have shot faster at expense of DOF (which I really didn’t need). The other gator was in the same vicinity around the Observation Tower with settings of 1/320 sec and f/9.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2014 4:25 pm

    Wonderful photos,Jim. I’d like to get there some day.

  2. July 18, 2014 9:25 pm

    Truly wonderful photographs.

  3. August 16, 2014 12:15 pm

    Excellent photos! We stayed at Rosenberg a few years ago. Still a drive to the park, but there’s not much choice out there.

  4. March 25, 2015 5:59 pm

    Really digging the butterfly and dragonflies Jim. Wonderful images.

    • March 25, 2015 7:15 pm

      Thank you, Paul. Glad you’re enjoying them. The dragonfly season is just starting in my neck of the woods and my shift towards the insects may start this weekend.

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