Life after central Texas flooding

Early this year parts of the Texas Hill Country were in the most severe category of soil moisture drought – “exceptional” – for the first time since February 2012.

We can remember however as recently as 2010 when lake levels around Texas were near all time high levels, more than 50 feet higher than they were in the first part of this year. It was more than five years ago when Lake Travis was completely full. Contrast that with April when Lake Travis was less than a few feet from its all-time low.

Wimberley bridgeBlanco River bridge at Wimberley, TX, Memorial Day, 2015. Photo by Jay Janner, Austin American Statesman.

Change came quickly and with devastation this Spring as weather conditions brought record conditions. May 2015 became the wettest May and the wettest month on record for the lower 48 states dating to 1895, according to the State of the Climate report released by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Record rainfall ripped through parts of South Central Texas over the Memorial Day weekend causing flooding and displacing thousands of people.

In Austin extremely heavy rainfall on May 25 dumped 5.20 inches of rain at Camp Mabry, lifting Austin to its wettest May. The month’s rain tally was 17.59 inches, making it by far the wettest May on record since 1895.

The welcome and much-needed rain came with a serious price — severe flooding and catastrophic devastation. The Memorial Day weekend storms, combined with more rain from Tropical Depression Bill, brought widespread flooding to Texas, killing more than 30 people and resulting in flooding that damaged thousands of homes and other structures.

After the floodwater subsided, I had the chance to conduct a macro photography session with a friend and student, Nancy Norman. We went to a wooded  roadside parcel on the banks for the Blanco River near the town of Blanco, Texas. This is the same Central Texas stream that rose more than 43 feet above normal, wiping out several bridges, destroying more than 800 homes and resulting in the deaths of ten people in the Wimberley area.

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Our purpose was far from photographing flood damage, but to photograph the life thereafter. And we were quite successful. We found many birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, lichens and fungi in the wake of destruction. As we were focusing on macro, we concentrated on insects, and fungi.

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Hundreds of cave swallow nests line the concrete structure of one of the bridges destroyed over the Blanco. Photo © Nancy Norman.

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A small, yet perfect mushroom arises from the stem of a Possum grape vine on the river bank.

_MG_9756-cicada.blanco A small, recently emerged Rush cicada found near the water’s edge.

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Nancy concentrates on several small groups of mushrooms. Her equipment includes Canon 70D, 100mm macro and 430 EX Speedlite flash, all on a tripod with ball head and Mike Kirk flash bracket.

All together we had a good morning. Lots of good images were made successfully. We also learned that Mother Nature rebounds quickly. Life goes on.

Copyright © 2015 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Meet Austin Artist, Shakti Sarkin

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to photograph my artist friend and previous photography student, Shakti Sarkin. I was invited to do so with some of her new abstract art in progress. She is developing a very interesting theme around trees and water. In the images may also be found additional forms that really stimulate the imagination.

As my followers may know, this is a big departure for me as my work is predominantly natural science. Never the less, I got a big thrill in making this portrait. I must admit I had a little preconceived idea as to how I wanted to work.

The portrait is in front of a window to our left with indirect light from an overcast day. In addition, I place a much diffused Nikon SB-910 Speedlight on a stand high and to the camera right using a lot of the ceiling as fill.

I believe these types of images must be created with much care to reproduce the artist’s colors and skin tones accurately. I used a Color Checker Passport to get white balance, color and exposure values down correctly. this is a tool that I use regularly in my natural science work and it makes great sense to do so with this type of work as well. The image was post processed primarily in Lightroom and in Photoshop CC.

To see more of Shakti’s inspirational art, visit her web site at: shaktisart.com.

Copyright © 2015 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.
Artwork © Shakti Sarkin.

Do you know what this is?

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You should!
It’s a Color Checker Passport (or CCP) !

If you are not familiar with this device you are missing a great tool for calibrating exposure, white balance and accurate color with one or two clicks in the computer. And in any light. Never more do you need to guess at how the subject looked at the time of exposure.

It works in two ways: First, it may be used to establish a camera, lens, light profile for use in Photoshop, Lightroom or other software. You may establish these profiles for standard lighting situations that you may encounter such as daylight, studio flash or your favorite Speedlight and/or softbox combination.

When first photographed it may look like this:

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In the computer software, use the ACR eyedropper tool to set white balance then set mid-tone, black and white values using the palette squares provided. Then save the file as a camera profile in your preferred post processing software. A bit of software is provided by the CCP from Xrite to do this.

Once the profile is loaded into your software, open the set of images you wish to adjust, click on the profile and voila, one or many more images can be simultaneously set.

Second, without a profile, white balance, tone values and color may still be set using the standard palette squares for any image and synchronized to a batch photographed in the same conditions.

With one click, this image:

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Can be processed into this:

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And with a little cropping, dust removal, dodging and burning you are all set! And the good thing- white balance, tone values and color are all standardized. No guessing or trying to remember how the subject and scene looked. Because our eyes play tricks on us and because people don’t see color the same, this makes our photography accurate.

If we want true-to-life accuracy, this is the tool to use.

Copyright © 2015 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Photograph South Texas Specialties & Fall Migrants

Workshop Dates:  October 30 – November 1, 2015

Goluch Jays
Image by participant, © Richard Goluch.

Join noted photographer Brian Loflin for a highly instructional, hands-on bird photography workshop in the heart of the South Texas flyway. The workshop features a half-day of full, hands-on instruction and three half-days of shooting in some of the best South Texas birding habitat available where the neotropical South Texas varieties abound. Take a moment to view participant images from previous workshops here:

The workshop will be held at the Laguna Seca Ranch north of Edinburg, Texas in the heart of the lush Rio Grande Valley. Features of this 700-acre ranch are purpose-designed for photography and preserved with all-native plants and animals. It features four constant-level ponds, each with permanent photography blinds oriented for the best use of light. Each location has been hand-crafted, and they all provide outstanding birding and photographing opportunities. Nearly eighty species have been listed on the ranch. Laguna Seca Ranch clearly offers a unique South Texas birding and photography adventure!

At Laguna Seca Ranch we bring the birds to you! We will set up natural perches considering the best photographic light possible. Most photography of the best scenarios is just 12-15 feet from your lens! Birds have water, dripping attractions and are fed year-round so attraction of the best species is stress-free.

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Image by Participant, © Dolph McCranie.

This workshop is designed for serious photographers who are competent in the use of their camera and equipment, yet may not have experienced the thrill of producing bird photographs of the highest quality. Copious instruction will include hands-on demonstrations in bird photography, understanding best exposures and camera settings, and the use of flash. Instruction will also include how to set up in a blind and shooting etiquette, setting up perches, best management of backgrounds and light and much more.

“Brian put so much work into this workshop, it was amazing! He took care of absolutely everything that you could imagine, meals, lodging, bird attracting set up, and always making sure that we were comfortable. At times there were so many birds around us, you didn’t know which shot to take first. We all had a great time, and I am ready to go back again! ” –C.C. – Austin, Texas

For more information see:  RGV Bird Workshop
or, Email direct to:   bkloflin@austin.rr.com

Copyright © 2015 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Three-day Intensive Nature and Macro Photography Workshop

Here’s short slideshow of typical images from nature. The Nature and Macro Workshop will guide you in the tools, techniques and skills required to make great images like these.

To read a previous post on the workshop see: Nature and Macro Workshop

For more information see: www.thenatureconnection.com
Or Email me directly at bkloflin@austin.rr.com

Copyright © 2015 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Nature & Macro in the Texas Hill Country

Originally posted on Brian Loflin - Natural Science Photography:

Join me at Mo Ranch in the very heart of the magical Texas Hill Country for a three-day nature and macro photography workshop geared to shooting in field settings and indoors. Dates are Friday-Sunday, September 18-20, 2015.

This workshop will be packed with hands-on instruction to help you grow your photographic abilities with new found skills, techniques and proficiency. Two nights lodging and six meals provided.

GalliardiaMoth-1533-SmTX Bluebonnet-3560-Sm

The historic, 500 acre Mo Ranch is located in a beautiful setting on the North Fork of the Guadalupe River. Here, habitats include: aquatic, riparian areas, grasslands, oak-juniper woodlands, and limestone hills. We will make use of all of them.

DA01-bloflin0312   MacroSetUp-4352-Sm

The workshop will feature classroom instruction, hands-on learning, and computer demonstrations  with native flora and fauna of the area. A computer lab is available for all participants for processing images. The workshop will cover many subjects including discussions on:

•    Equipment for getting…

View original 64 more words

Nature & Macro in the Texas Hill Country

Join me at Mo Ranch in the very heart of the magical Texas Hill Country for a three-day nature and macro photography workshop geared to shooting in field settings and indoors. Dates are Friday-Sunday, September 18-20, 2015.

This workshop will be packed with hands-on instruction to help you grow your photographic abilities with new found skills, techniques and proficiency. Two nights lodging and six meals provided.

GalliardiaMoth-1533-Sm TX Bluebonnet-3560-Sm

The historic, 500 acre Mo Ranch is located in a beautiful setting on the North Fork of the Guadalupe River. Here, habitats include: aquatic, riparian areas, grasslands, oak-juniper woodlands, and limestone hills. We will make use of all of them.

DA01-bloflin0312   MacroSetUp-4352-Sm

The workshop will feature classroom instruction, hands-on learning, and computer demonstrations  with native flora and fauna of the area. A computer lab is available for all participants for processing images. The workshop will cover many subjects including discussions on:

•    Equipment for getting close   •    Wide Angle Close-Ups
•    Backgrounds   •    Tools to make macro work easier
•    Lighting with Flash & High Speed Flash
•    High Key and White Box
     •    Macro Panorama
•    Extreme Macro   •    Focus Stacking

For more information, visit my website: Nature-Macro Workshop 
Or, E-mail me direct: bkloflin@austin.rr.com  .

Copyright © 2015 Brian K Loflin. All rights reserved.