If you are anything like myself, and you love to get behind the camera, but find you have come to a dead spot with your photography, or a creative block, then I am here to help give you inspiration. To do that I had to go on a little road trip, ( if you call an 11-hour car ride there little) , to get the inspiration I needed in order to write this. Hence, the name, photography and fun. I needed to have a little fun, to get the inspiration for my photography. This isn’t a lesson on how to shoot, or angles or anything. I simply wanted to share an experience and a place with you that has inspired me to go out and search for more places to shoot. Hopefully the next place is just a little closer.
This idea to go on a road trip and take photos came from one friend, Nathan, needing to get out of Houston for a while. He called me to take him on this trip, because I am that person that goes on as many road trips as possible throughout the year, though I don’t always take my camera as I should. This time, knowing I wanted to do an article on photography, but not wanting to use old photos, and having no ideas for a home shoot, I planned an epic camping trip. This trip was going to be to Big Bend National Park. A huge national park that has every terrain in it, and beautiful scenery for photos.
I planned this trip for a couple of months and added a few other friends to the list of passengers, Caleb and Jeff. Now yes I know what you are thinking, a girl and three guys! crazy! But Jeff is also a photographer and long time friend, and Nathan wanted Caleb to come, so there we have it. I went camping with three boys, it was hilarious and drama free.
Now it did take us longer to get there than it did to get back. Why? because it was raining on the way out! You would think that would deter us from completing our trip. I mean who wants to go camping in the rain? But! Once you see the pictures you will know it was worth it!
That is my first piece of advice when it comes to adventuring. NEVER TURN BACK! You never know what will happen when you get to your destination, or what you could find instead if it doesn’t pan out. Things are not always going to go as planned, so leave room for error and other adventures.
My original idea was to get a time-lapse of the stars at night at Big Bend. Apparently, because of it being so far away from everything else, and it being one of the least visited parks, there is no light pollution. Allowing you to see the milky way at night and thousands of other stars! Though it was rainy and cloudy while we were there, so we did not have such luck with that. We did however still walk the trails and get some gorgeous photos of the mountains and the clouds over them. I wish I was able to take photos on the way out there, but because of it raining, and me being the driver the whole way out and back home. ( completely by choice for all 19 hours of the round trip)
I chose the Chisos basin for our camp grounds for us to camp in. When doing my research I thought it would be the best place to see the milky way, as I said earlier. I was not wrong, it would have been the perfect place to see it, if not for the overcast. Once we reached the park and were driving down a mountain to the basin, I can not express enough just how beautiful it was. All four of us in the car were captivated by the sights, even with the clouds hanging around the tops of the mountains. It made it a little more Erie, which in my opinion just made it even better.
We were so captivated by it, that we did miss out turn for our campgrounds and got a little lost, but thankfully we did find our way after stopping at one of their stores they had near our camp ground. When we did get to the campsite, we quickly pitched our tent, put our food in the metal contraption they had to keep it from the bears and other wildlife, and set out for a trail.
Window view trail!
The very first trail we went on was the window view trail. This trail is, if I remember correctly, 3.1 miles round trip. Along the way, you can see waterfalls coming from the cliff sides in the distance, streams running through the trail, and all kinds of wildlife. We saw roadrunners, deer, and even a tarantula! That last one was not my favorite, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. I can’t say I have ever come across a wild tarantula before, and I will be perfectly fine if I never do again.
Now I will let you know, because I didn’t know. In the off-season, which is May through October, that is when all the waterfalls are coming off the cliffs, and the rivers are running through the trails. The on season, November through April, is much dryer, and less rainy. One day I will go back in the off-season to capture that experience as well.
The other thing I noticed during this trip, is that there were also places where someone has stacked rocks. You know, where they balance them perfectly on one another in a weird spot like a river, or on a boulder on the side of a cliff.
You can believe that I did spend some time to get the perfect photo of this. That meant laying on the ground at a downward slant, slightly in the river, definitely in the mud, adjusting my focus, and settings till it came out right. I would say it was a job well done though .
I wish I had been able to go all the way to the end of the trail, I feel like I am cheating ya’ll by not having it captured. The reason for that, is because of us going in the off-season and everything being rainy. We got to a point where we couldn’t really cross with our camera gear on us. I stayed back with Jeff, while sending Nathan and Caleb to the end to see what was there.
According to their description of the end of the trail, it is a window between two mountains that come to a V. Then it drops off down the side of the mountain, and you are looking out over miles and miles of rolling hills, and mountains in the background. They also could not get too close to the end, because of the wet rocks and the fear of slipping and falling to what would be a long drop to a painful death. Or at least that is how they described it after making their way back.
The Only Night
One night! We drove all that way for just one night! yes, of course we did. It was a quick adventure. It doesn’t matter how long you adventure for, just that you go adventure.
The Chisos basin is not only a good place to see the stars, but also the best place to see the sunset! I am biases, I haven’t stayed anywhere else at the park yet, so this is all I know. Seeing the sun set between the two mountains that make up the Window Trail was breathtaking. Sadly I missed shooting the mountains behind us, they looked as if they were on fire or bleeding. They were just all red from the sun set. Everyone that was camping around us, had come out of their tents, and were standing around trying to get pictures or just to view the beauty that was upon us.
I did capture the sun setting though.
I couldn’t decide on my favorite photo.
I was playing with my setting on my camera, these are my favorite three from that night.
Which one is your favorite? Would you like it if I attempted to re-create your favorite in a painting?
Lost Mine Trail
Day two, and the day we leave. We all wanted to do one more trail before we left. Caleb, Jeff and I walked up a short distance on this trail the evening before while Nathan rested, and just where we stopped was enough for all of us to agree that we couldn’t leave till Nathan saw we had the pleasure of seeing.
This trail round trip was about 4.7 miles. Up hill the whole way to the top, and downhill the whole way back. Lets just say all of our calves were yelling at us after this trail.
The beginning of this trail there isn’t much to see, not till you get to the first ridge at least.
Then it just gets better and better as you go up. There are bunches of little paths along the way that lead to rocks you can climb for a better view or just to a clearing past the trees so you can really take in the view.
Because of the over cast, we rarely got the chance to see the tops of the mountains, but when they did show, it was almost as if a current had been lifted just for a moment before the wind carried the clouds back in to cover our view again. The whole process of it was humbling.
As we climbed higher, the clouds started to disperse some, but it wasn’t till we started to leave that they were all gone.
This last photo is probably my all time favorite. I took it as we started our way back down the mountain. The clouds had just lifter and reveal the entire mountain. It was so breathtaking, we all had to stop and just stare for a few minutes.
Now I feel it is only right to share a few photos of the guys that I took along the way, and share a group photo we got at the top of the mountain. I do have permission from all the guys to use their first names and their photos just to be clear on that. I will say these boys do know how to hold a pose for a photo. Not many people can stand still and look natural as someone aims a camera at them.
All four of us together in all our glory.
What does one do after having the humbling experience of traveling somewhere so beautiful? You create more. This trip was for inspiration and that’s exactly what I got from it. After getting home, I spent a few nights working on an old landscape painting I had started a few years back, but lost the inspiration to finish. I will have to share that with y’all a little later. There will be more trips and photography to be shared in the future. I am not the best at explaining how I take my pictures, for I was self-taught for years, before actually attending college for it and interning under a few different photographers.
If you are a photographer, and would like to share some tips and tricks and photos of your own, send me an email and we can talk about getting that up on the website. Soon I will be starting interviews with other artist, If you would like to be one of them let me know and we will go about getting your work up for everyone to see.