Last Saturday, July 13, 2013, the Austin Shutterbug Club had a picnic at the Emma Long Park in west Austin.
You get to the Emma Long Park by going west on RM 2222, for about a 1/2 of a mile west of Loop 360, and then turning south on City Park Road. Stay on this windy, scenic road for about 7 miles to get to the park, which is on the north shores of Lake Austin. Now Lake Austin isn’t really a lake, it’s really the Colorado River immediately downstream of Mansfield Dam (which creates Lake Travis) and the Tom Miller Dam in west Austin (West Lake Hills) near the Hula Hut restaurant.
This was not an actual club “photography outing”, but rather an actual, old-fashioned picnic, as seen in the opening photo. (Only half of the members even brought a camera with them.)
I got there right at 9:00 AM, and after spending about 45 minutes socializing with the other club members who had also arrived, I grabbed my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, with my “usual” Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens, headed across the street and over to the water.
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The photo above is the root of a bald cypress tree. They grow right along the shores of the rivers here in central Texas, and extend their roots right into the water at the shore. Here’s a photo of the leaves and branch structure of this tree.
Here’s a photo looking across Lake Austin to the south shore.
With drought-stricken Lake Travis so low, there are no longer any public boat ramps still open (they don’t go down low enough to get to the current water level), many weekend boat owners have taken to using Lake Austin instead.
As this is a dammed-up river, there really aren’t any waves, except for the ones created by the ski boats!
While standing around talking to a few other club members who had brought their cameras and had come down to join me at the water, this tree seemed to catch my attention.
A couple of the ladies in had even waded into the water, looking for interesting and different photographic opportunities.
Linda, the lady on the left, had a Canon 5D Mark II, with the EF 70 – 200mm f/2.8 L II lens on it. She was not happy with the focusing of her camera, even after Canon had examined it.
After less than 10 minutes at the water’s edge, I decided to head back up to the rest of the group under the large oak shade tree. On the way, I passed this unused cooking grill.
It will remain unused for the time being; due to the severe drought, there is a burn ban, even in the parks.
Even at 10:00 AM, in mid-July, the cloudless Texas sky is very hard and contrasty. There isn’t much you can do about it, other than just not take any photos for about 10 hours of the day….
Or you can just try to make the best of it.
Here’s a photo taken from the position of that rusty grill, looking back toward the water, and the other club members under the tree on the left.
Looking for pretty much anything interesting to take a picture of, I spent a minute playing around with the colorful balloons that Brian had tied to the light stand that he had set up to let the arriving members that this was our spot.
Not wanting to immediately sit down, I wandered around the picnic site for a few minutes, while listening in on the various conversations taking place around me. While doing that, I noticed this unusual axe head (someone had brought it to drive the stakes into the ground for the horseshoe game).
And now to the point of being silly, here is the webbing on the back of the lawn chair that I had brought.
About 10:15 AM, I headed off to the restroom, which was a clean, but steaming hot outhouse. The temperature was certainly close to 90 degrees (32 C) by now. On the way back, I noticed this tiny little flower, so even though it was in direct, mid-day Texas summer sun, I put my lens into macro mode, flipped out my rear LCD panel, held my camera about a foot (30 cm) off the ground, and snapped this photo.
Since we weren’t going to eat until about noon, I still had plenty of time to wander around and take some more photos before it really got hot.
I headed back down to the water’s edge and just waited for some “interesting” waves to roll in.
Even in the summer sun, you can still slow down the shutter to 1/80th of a second (f/7.1 and ISO 200) to get some motion blur to make these tiny waves appear to be much more active than they really are….
Even though my “kit lens” only zooms out to 100mm equivalent (on a full frame camera), it still had enough of a reach to get a few photos of the passing boats. This next photo was cropped to show about 2/3 of the original image’s length and height.
It was now close to 10:30 AM, and the temperature was certainly above 90 degrees, so I decided to head back to the picnic area (again) and put away my little camera and be more social than I had been.
And I’ll let this photo be my closing photo (as the boat goes away into the distance).
We had a very, very nice picnic lunch, and I enjoyed the conversations that flowed around the group. There was a gentle breeze blowing under our large shade tree, which made it surprisingly pleasant – as long as you didn’t move around too much. When we packed up the cars to leave at 1:00 PM, the temperature had already risen to 104 degrees (40 C).
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