Photographs of yet another Austin Daytrip

Austin Skyline
Austin, we meet again in December. The first time I came to this handsome city was on a beautiful Sunny early November afternoon . The second time I came here, it was freezing cold and raining and there was not much to do in the way of photography.

This time around, I was determined to find the best day of the week to go there during my off time and saw that Saturday and Sunday were both listed as “Partly Cloudy”. Saturday, at least in Houtson which had the same forecast was almost all Sunny. Sunday, it was Sunny again so I packed my stuff and got on the road. All was well until about halfway when I noticed ominous clouds appearing and I knew I had lost the weather battle yet again. At least it wasn’t raining and I enjoy the cooler weather.

First stop, around Town Lake (or Ladybird Lake as out of town folk call it) and the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge. I don’t recall seeing this bridge the last time I was here in 2010 and according to my half-assed google research, it was completed in 2011 so it stands to reason. It’s a nice hippie bridge for bikes and such and I didn’t bother uploading the picture of the actual bridge to flickr, but here is the view you see from this bridge of another bridge. Normally I hate graffiti, but that rusty piece of crap railroad bridge is already an eyesore so at least the vandals err graffiti artists added some color.
View from Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge

I walked around the dog park and the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue and took a few test shots but the day was just too overcast to get a nice picture so I decided to go to Mount Bonnell Park instead and come back there later. Mt. Bonnell is breathtaking even on an overcast day. I need to come here on a clear day and night. And yes, those people who live in those houses do quite well. A boat garage type of “doing well”!
Austin, TX

Everybody had cameras there. I get a kick out of watching people take pictures with their iPads. I always volunteer to take pictures of families who don’t have a tripod as well. It’s common courtesy and it makes people happy to be in the picture.
Austin, TX

The days are very short so I came back to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike trail saw that while it was dark, it wasn’t quite dark enough yet for the lights on the buildings to show up:
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail

This would normally be the golden hour at this time of the year and perfect for photographs of people, but not on a day like today. Still, there is a beauty to Texas winters. The city looks peaceful but not quite sleep.
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail

Austin Skyline

Now it was time to get to work on the Statue. To be honest, I think it was already a bit too late because the background had faded so I had to do a long exposure and use flash. The challenge here was the lighting and color temperatures since there were 3 different temps:
The sky was very cloudy so 6500-7500K
The buildings had warm lights so about 2500-3500K
and my flash was Daylight at about 5500k (plus some ambient light on the statue)

I didn’t want to have a gray looking overcast look so I gelled the flash and used tungsten white balance which made the already cool white clouds turn into cobalt blue. It could be even more blue if I wanted, but I wanted the statue to match the lights in the buildings better so that’s what I got.
Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue in Austin, Texas

It’s not perfect, but that’s what I came up with in the few minutes I had before it got really dark. Couple of things I wish I did differently: the statue is not quite in focus. at f/5.6 and the wide angle, I was hoping the hyperfocal distance was reached but not quite there. Also, my goal in the composition was to get the shadow of him playing the guitar in the picture, but then the shadow of the flash would cover it up if I tried to match the real and artistic shadow so I went with the lesser of two evils .

There was some time left before the park was completely dark (and my with thousands of dollars worth of gear) so I took a few more pictures of the Austin skyline and got out of Dodge.
Austin Skyline

This one is my favorite but it doesn’t show the entire skyline:
Austin Skyline

I love the reflections here too. Got very low to the ground:
Austin Skyline


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