Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Woods along a dry creek in the shade of the late afternoon

with 8 comments

Dead Tree by Rocks and Dry Leaves in Dry Creek 0485

Click for greater size and clarity.

On December 5th I went walking in Great Hills Park. Because this neighborhood—which is mine—lies just inside the eastern boundary of the Texas Hill Country, the land is in fact hilly and there are places where higher ground soon blocks the declining sun from reaching lower areas. It was in that kind of afternoon shade that I came upon this autumn scene of rocks and dry leaves strewn across a waterless creek bed.

(It occurs to me that this is the third more or less traditional landscape I’ve presented in the past six weeks, the other two being cliffs along Bull Creek and a pond with ghostly Sesbania stalks in it. Today’s view leaves out any water, which is appropriate because Austin hasn’t had more than a few drops of rain in all that time. In fact this was the first completely dry November on record here since 1896.)

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 13, 2012 at 6:22 AM

8 Responses

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  1. The irony is that, even without a drop of water in sight, the leaves have created the sort of illusion often seen at sea, where the line between the ocean and the sky becomes blurred and indistinguishable. With so many leaves and such a uniform distribution of rocks, which is creek bed and which is land? Hard to say, although the trees give a clue.

    This is quintessential hill country autumn – a lovely vision. Did you have your new camera with you? I’ve been told recently that full-frame cameras increasingly are being favored by landscape photographers.


    December 13, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    • That’s a nice comparison with your experience of having the sea and the sky become indistinguishable. Landlubber that I am, I nevertheless did have that kind of feeling about the way the would-be creek blended into the gently sloping land beyond, and that merging is what attracted me to the scene, even if I couldn’t have originally said what the appeal was.

      Although there’s no water now, these Hill Country creeks are notoriously (and dangerously) prone to flash flooding, and after a heavy rain I’ve often seen debris caught in nearby trees at or even above the level of my eyes.

      Yes, I did take this picture with the new full-frame EOS 5D Mark III camera. I’m still experimenting with it, trying to get the feel of it. Because of the low light, I cranked the ISO all the way up to 3200 for this picture, something I wouldn’t have done with the 7D because of the (visual) noise that would have been generated in the image. In the full-size version of this picture, only when I enlarge to 200% on screen do I notice noisiness in the background. It’s good to know that I have the option of using such high ISOs if I want to or need to. (The alternative would have been to use a tripod and set a lower ISO and slower shutter speed.) I was hoping to use a high ISO to get new pictures of the grackles in dim light, but they didn’t oblige me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2012 at 8:18 AM

  2. “In fact this was the first completely dry November on record here since 1896.”
    ~~That is an ominous thought.~~

    I find your dry creek bed restful. ~Lynda


    December 13, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    • I guess that’s because beds are supposed to be dry and restful. On the serious side (though I sleep on my stomach), the lack of rain the last couple of months is worrisome; I hope we’re not so soon heading back into a drought like the horrible one of 2011.

      Thanks for appreciating the tranquility of this picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2012 at 10:17 AM

  3. I always like your landscape scenes. (but of course- I like what ever you post) We have some creek beds north and west of me not too far away that look similiar to this one. And within the part of this town where I live. Lots of ravines with dry creek beds and sometimes no vegetation at all.


    December 13, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    • Creeks are great places to hang out, sometimes even with no water in them. It’s good that you don’t have to travel far to be near one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2012 at 2:24 PM

  4. This does exist in France.. specially in the South where I live. When it’s raining, water can’t penetrate the soil, it’s much too dry.
    Have a nice week end


    December 14, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    • Interesting how some phenomena are widespread and others much rarer. Perhaps someday you’ll be visiting a place that has frostweed at a time when it does its icy thing.

      It’s Friday morning here, but the weekend is indeed coming. May we all enjoy it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 14, 2012 at 7:16 AM

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