Texas Hill Country Workcation


"Enchanted View" shows the panoramic view from atop Enchanted Rock in the heart of the Texas Hill Country.

So glad I didn't leave the camera behind

I travel a lot. As in nearly six months each year, and the 2022 travel season kicks off in February with a three-week road trip to Florida. So before things get too crazy my wife and I headed to the Texas Hill Country for a bit of relaxing and just spending time together.

My initial plan was to leave my camera gear at home, so I could focus on Yvette and not producing new work for my online gallery.

However, as we packed up she told me she was OK with me working a little. Stress on "a little."

So I threw my gear in with the suitcases — and, boy, am I glad I did.

I honestly only took one or two shots a day. And it was nice to just wake up whenever (we didn't get out for a single sunrise), leisurely enjoy some coffee and breakfast, and then leave the house in which stayed whenever the whim hit us.

Instead of quantity, my focus from a work standpoint was quality. I wanted every shot I took to be something I knew would be a great addition to the body of my work.

Here are the highlights of the trip:


This old homestead is best known for the bluebonnets that carpet the field around it in the spring. But it looked great when the early morning light struck the stone walls!

After settling in to our home for the week, I reached out to a Texas photographer to see if there were any must-sees in the area. One of the places he suggested was an old homestead that has been dubbed the "Bluebonnet House."

Well, obviously there wouldn't be any bluebonnets decorating the field around the house, but Yvette and I headed there when we woke up early (as in couldn't sleep late) our first morning. The sunrise painted the sky as we drove, and there was a part of me that wished I had gotten out earlier.

But when we pulled up the the parking lot next to the Bluebonnet House's fence, the south-facing walls were aglow from the gorgeous morning light. And a bit of purple still hung in the clouds above.

I asked Yvette if this was a card I could use, and she smiled and told me to go for it.

I was soon setting up my Benro tripod and getting my camera mounted. It was cold, so I was working quickly as my chilled fingers would allow.

The first shot was a closeup of the house, but I it really lacked something special.

So I zoomed out to include the old stone shed and the old barn, along with a couple of rusted farming implements. I then eased my camera angle up to minimize the amount of empty field and maximize the amount of sky in the frame.

The final print is magic, with those beautiful clouds wisping toward the top of the frame!

I ran across this cool chainsaw-carved cowboy statue and just had to get a shot of it.

Luckenbach, Texas. Those two words are sacred to any Country Music fan. It was immortalized by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, and remains one of the iconic music venues in the United States.

Even though it is tiny. To say it's a town or even a village is to give it too much credit. But what it lacks in size it makes up in whimsy.

There are amazing photos everywhere you look.

This was my second visit to Luckenbach, so I started looking for small vignettes I might have missed on my first visit while my wife poked around the gift shop.

When I rounded the corner of a little shed to see this cool chainsaw-carved sculpture, I knew I had a winner.

I mean, the wooden carving encapsulates everything that goes into being a cowboy, from the oversized cowboy boots emblazoned with the Texas Lone Star, to a bushy beard to the cowboy hat. It's all there.

I also loved that background, with the license plates from all over the country.

Just cool scene of a cool little Texas town.

I spied these dead live oak trees on the side of the towering Enchanted Rock after hiking to the top, and took just a few minutes to create a print that expanse of the Texas Hill Country.

You can see the Enchanted Rock long before you arrive at the base of the huge dome. It's amazing to see it rise above a landscape that otherwise is pretty much covered with trees.

My wife and I drove out to Enchanted Rock State Park one morning, and I really tried to leave my backpack in the truck. I really, really wanted to, so I could just spend time with Yvette.

But my work side came out, so I shouldered the 30-pound pack and headed out.

I did, however, leave my tripod behind. Hey, it's something! 

The trek to the top of Enchanted Rock involves an elevation change of 425 feet, with an average incline of 30 degrees. It's not the most challenging hike we've ever made, but it also isn't the easiest.

It was so worth the effort!

The view of the surrounding Hill Country is panoramic. It was amazing to stand and look to the bend of the horizon.

I took a few shots around the peak of the trail, but it's so hard to give scale to the scene. So I started looking for something that would provide some perspective.

That's when I saw these two dead live oak trees that had sprouted out of a crevice in the face of Enchanted Rock. I quickly moved down the trail and pulled out my Sigma 14mm Art lens. I slipped a Lee Filters .6 soft grad neutral density filter into the holder to darken the sky a bit and polarizer to add contrast.

I knew I wanted a black-and-white photo, and the final print turned out exactly as I envisioned.

The trees really add needed scale to the view, with the Hill Country spreading out in the background. The clouds overhead were perfect, with fingers seemingly reaching toward the top of the frame.

And "Enchanted View" already has become one of my best selling prints!

MTA and I descended into the depths of the Hill Country to tour the magical Cave Without a Name.

Yvette loves caverns. And I have to admit, they can be pretty amazing places. So when she saw there were several options in the Hill Country, we talked it over and settled on a visit to the Cave Without a Name near Boerne, Texas.

I had shot some cool photos in Alabama's Cathedral Cavern, so I asked the guide if I  could drag my tripod along with us. Since the only people on the tour were me and Yvette, he quickly agreed.

What I didn't count on was the humid, warm air inside the cave. My camera, which had been stored in the chilly temps above ground, immediately fogged up. I mean, really fogged up.

I wiped the lens off and gave it some time to acclimate as we walked through the beautiful underworld, and just before we ascended I captured this view of the largest room.

It's not my best work, but the print does show the beauty found in this wonderful cave .

By the way, if you wonder why the cave doesn't have a name, well, that's because during a naming contest decades ago a young boy said the cavern was too beautiful to have a name. That stuck, and it's now known as the Cave Without a Name!