Last weekend we took a short trip to Ennis, Texas in search of bluebonnets. If you're from Texas, you know that the bluebonnet is the state flower, and is one of the most heralded signs of spring. The problem is that in Texas, bluebonnets are as fickle as the rain. Two years ago, Abilene had one fine display of bluebonnets. Last year we barely had a trickle, and this year, it wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say we had none at all. It is also true, though, that the closer you get to the gulf coast, the more reliable bluebonnets (and all wildflowers) become.
This uncertainty, year-to-year, has spawned a network of wildflower reports available over the internet. So with a few hundred clicks, you can find up-to-the-minute reports on the state of the bluebonnet on virtually any backroad in the state of Texas. So, we had originally planned a trip to Fredericksburg, because of that town's historical reliability in the wildflower department. But last-minute intelligence suggested Fredericksburg was not producing much and so at the suggestion of a much more traveled friend, we shifted our gaze to Ennis.
Hailed as the bluebonnet capital of Texas (a claim held by at least a half-dozen other towns, by the way), the super-secret spy network of wildflower watchers suggested that Ennis was on target for a banner year. So we booked a quick motel and began making plans. A few days later, we were on our way.
Because it was going to be a short trip, I summoned all my charm and managed to convince my wife to get out of bed at 4:30 (yes, that's AM) so we could get there while there was still the chance of some reasonable light. This was no easy feat, and I clearly burned a few credits I'll have to replenish. But it was worth it. The bluebonnets were spectacular.
The weather, however, was not. For one thing, it was overcast, which I normally don't mind much. Actually, I often prefer it as it makes color and contrast much more pleasing to the eye. But there's something about a field of wildflowers glowing in the sunlight against a bright, blue sky that just makes the heart glad. So I was hoping for a little of that. In fairness, I got a little, but not much.
The other problem was the wind, which blew just a bit harder than I like for landscape photography, especially where flowers are involved. When your plants are swaying in the breeze, you need a higher shutter speed to stop motion, which, at the small apertures we're often shooting at, requires that you bump your ISO up, something I just don't like to do much, in spite of the fact that our cameras do a much better job handling higher ISOs today than ever.
I should mention that if you're not a photographer and you just tuned in to look at the pretty pictures, that last paragraph may have thrown you. If you're interested in deciphering what I'm talking about, you can see this post on the Exposure Triangle.
Well, we had a great weekend nonetheless. I could have used another day there, but came back with some images I'm happy with. Here are a few more: