- Arts and Design»
- Photography Instruction & How-Tos
Habit 7 for Amazing Photographs.
The Road Less Traveled Has Made All The Difference.
When it comes to capturing unusually beautiful images following the road less traveled has been one of the best pieces of advice I could have ever followed. By taking the time to explore side roads, country roads, or simply taking the time to walk 5 feet off of the beaten path, I have discovered a world of beauty and wonder that I would have never known was there.
The fact is you don't have to travel far off of the beaten path to find something most people will never see. The flower in the above photo is a blossom from an American Lotus plant. Although they are common throughout the eastern half of the United States the majority of people will never see one growing in the wild.
I found the Lotus plant growing in a small pond that I had driven by for over 3 years yet because the pond was in the middle of a field approximately 50 yards away from the road I had never thought about taking the time to see if something at the pond might be worth photographing. It just so happened that one day as I was driving by I noticed a great blue heron landing at the pond. I decided I would drop by on a Saturday morning to see if there might be something worth photographing.
To my surprise I discovered that the small pond was covered with American Lotus plants, most of which were in bloom. The photo below is of a small section of the pond. The leaves of the American Lotus grow to be up to 2 feet across and the white blossom in full bloom is 12 to 18 inches across. In other words the plants are stunning to see.
I think what amazed me most about my discovery was that no one in a million years could have convinced me that something so beautiful could have been growing in a stock tank (pond) in the middle of a cow pasture in north Texas.
Because I haven't spent a lot of time outside of Texas I have no idea if people in the other part of the U.S. - or the world - are familiar with a stock tank. Much of north Texas (or most of Texas for that matter) is still used to raise live stock. Live stock can be anything from cattle, horses, sheep, and recently we have seen the addition of various exotic animals such as llamas. Since there are not many rivers, streams or natural lakes in Texas, ranchers will simply dig a large tank (just another name for a pond) and allow rain water to fill it.
A Sad Note.
I made two trips that summer to take photos at the stock tank (pond) - in hind site I wish I would have made many many more. The very next summer the city decided to build a new road through that particular field. Although the road didn't go directly over the location of the pond, it did run within 10 or 20 yards of the pond and so the city decided for some reason it would be best to simply fill in the pond. For the last 5 years I have looked for another location with Lotus plants but so far I haven't found any. Actually that isn't totally true - I found a house that sits about 300 yards of the road that has a small pond near the house that I can tell has Lotus plants growing on it - but I just haven't wanted to intrude on the owners privacy.
One of the reasons I decided to start sharing my photos of the native flora and fauna in the north Texas area is in the hope that it would make others more aware of the amazing beauty that exists all around us - and yet is quickly disappearing due to our neglect. The other action I have taken is to transplant native plants to my yard so that I can hopefully maintain a small oasis of native wildlife.
Take Time To Drive A Country Road.
One of my favorite outings is to simply get in the car and drive outside of town and find a country road to drive along looking for something new. I cannot think of a time that I have taken a drive along a country road that I did not find something new. Of course that may have something to do with knowing the best time to drive around looking for something new.
Along with my passion for photography, I have had a long standing love for the outdoors. I am a nature boy at heart who is more at home in the middle of a field or forest than I am in the middle of my local city. Because I have spent a great deal of time communing with nature (as well as studying it) I have a pretty good feel for what to look for when. Because Texas is in the southern part of the U.S. spring begins to appear as early as late February or early March. From that point on there are a number of wildflowers, animal and bird species that will begin to appear in our area continuing into November.
April and May are probably one of the most impressive months when it comes to wildflowers in north Texas. On one particular outing in May several years ago I discovered the white flower in the photo above. The White-flowered rosinweed it turns out is a native of Texas, and I believe it can be found in a number of other southern states as well. What is interesting is that because it tends to grow in rural areas it isn't noticed that often.
After photographing it I tried to do some research to discover the specific species, but was surprise how little information there was on it. The USDA plant site shows that the plant is only found in a number of counties in Texas which made it even more of a special find.
Stop and Smell the Roses.
Not only can you not smell the beautiful scent of a rose while driving by at 55mph, but there is a very good chance you won't even see the rose. Along with taking the time to drive along country roads, be sure you make a point to stop at various points along the way - get out - and walk around a bit. I have no doubt that you will discover some amazing things if you do.
The plant in the photo above is knows as a Purple Leather flower or Purple Clematis (Clematis pitcher). It was a very special discovery one day while taking an outing with one of my sons. We were out in the early part of summer and had stopped near a small river in the hope that we might find a few wildflowers, butterflies or anything really, hanging out near the water. Just as we were getting out of the car my son notice the purple bell shaped flowers growing on a vine that was growing along a fence near the road.
Although I have lived over 50 years in the north Texas area it was the first time I had ever seen this particular plant. Had I not taken the time to stop the car and get out and walk around I am certain it would still be unknown to me.
Amazing Images Right Outside Your Door.
Finally - if you can't seem to find time to take the road less traveled then at least take time to stop and notice the places around you - you might be surprised. As I was leaving the grocery store one day on an early fall day I happened to notice a plant growing down by a decorative pond between the grocery store and the nearby fitness club. The pond was put in by the property owners for decoration and to break up the monotony of the huge parking lot. Although I had noticed the cat-tails growing around the side of the pond I had never seen this particular plant and its bright yellow flowers.
Since I often carry my camera along with me just for such an opportunity, I parked my car and walked down to the pond to take a few photos. After I got home and had time to review the photos I also took some time to research the species and discovered that the plant was known as a Mexican Primrose-willow (Ludwigia octovalvis). Although it is listed as being native to the southeastern United States, it has only been identified in a small number of counties in Texas.
Whether it is taking the road less traveled or simply taking time to notice a flower growing in a pond or ditch next to your neighborhood grocery store - there are some amazing images out there just waiting to be caught by you and I - so get out there and start taking those amazing photos.
Your friend and fan, Bron
If you found this article helpful and would like to learn more about ways to enhance your photos the following link will take you to my first article in this series on 7 habits or techniques you can use to enhance your photos.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective Photographers.
Taking amazing photographs has very little to do with the cost of your camera or the number of Megapixels. Apply these habits/techniques used by great photographers and take amazing images instantly.
© 2014 Bron Praslicka