Image #1. Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes Brenham.

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Brenham - Chappell Hill Wildflower Adventure
Article and Photography by George Hosek

I just couldn't take it any longer, after seeing all the wildflower pictures being published on Facebook and the photo forums I just had to go see them for myself. I woke up at 3:45am and stepped onto the porch to check the weather, as soon as I walked out the door I knew it was going to be a perfect morning for shooting flowers. 

Clear skies above, no wind and a thick layer of fog hovering over the ground. Sometimes when you have cool surface conditions, moisture present at the surface, dry air aloft and very light winds you'll get what's called radiational fog. These are outstanding conditions for not only wildflower photography but just about any type of outdoor photography.

I pulled out of the driveway at 4:00am, my destination was the back roads near Chappell Hill and Brenham, more specifically where FM 1155 meets FM 2193, a well known wildflower hotspot.

An hour and a half later I was in downtown Chappell Hill. I pulled over to stretch my legs, when I got out of the car the scene was a bit surreal, the fog had engulfed everything, all you could see was the diffused glow of the lights from the houses and buildings. In one yard someone had set up a Christmas type decoration but instead of reindeer they used steers.

Image #2. Close up of a Texas Bluebonnet.

   

I just couldn't resist, I grabbed my camera and tripod and took a few images of them ( image #3 ). It was now 6:00am and even though I had an hour and a half before the sun would rise the pre-dawn light would start to make an appearance around 6:30 so, I really needed to get started scouting the area. I knew I was going to have a beautiful morning to work with but I didn't know if there were going to be any wildflowers.

As I was driving north on FM1155 I didn't see any flowers, unfortunately, all I could see were large stands of bastard cabbage. After 6 miles I reached FM 2193 and took a right, I still couldn't see any flowers. Once the light started to get a little lighter I began to notice a few Indian Paintbrushes and some Bluebonnets.

Image #3. Downtown Chappall Hill.
 

One particular stand of Paintbrushes caught my eye, I made a note of where they were and continued down the road. Now the light was getting bright, fast. I went back to the spot where I saw the Paintbrushes and parked my car in the driveway next to the flowers using my headlights to illuminate them.

I was really happy with the shots I was getting ( image # 4 ), using the lights from the car worked perfectly. Twenty minutes and nineteen photos later I felt I had covered this location about as thoroughly as I could. I got back in the car and went west on FM 2193.

Image #4. Light Painting Indian Paint Brushes.
 
Now that there was more light and I was able to see better I started noticing more and more flowers. After a few minutes I took a right on a gravel road, there was pastureland on both sides and plenty of flowers.

To the east the light was really starting to look good, there was no doubt the sunrise was going to be awesome! I drove down the road a little way, turned the car around and parked. I grabbed my camera and tripod and started shooting ( image # 5 ). A two-stop split neutral density filter really helped even out the light, without it the sky would have be completely blown out. It was now 7:15, I had fifteen minutes to find a place to photograph the sunrise.

Image #5. Foggy morning with wildflowers near Chappell Hill.
 
Earlier in the morning I pulled into a driveway and noticed a small pond with trees on the far bank, the water was perfectly calm creating a really nice reflection. I just can't resist reflection shots so, I decided this was the spot where I wanted to shoot the sunrise.

I got back into the car and headed east on FM 2193 until I came to the driveway where the pond was located. I grabbed my camera and tripod and found a location on the west side of the pond, right when I got into position the sun started to slowly rise above the horizon.  I photographed here until the sun was above the tree line ( image # 6 ). At one point I ran back to the car a got my Canon XH-A1 HD video camera and shot some video of this scene as well.

Image #6. Foggy morning reflected in a pond near Chappell Hill Texas .
 
After finishing with the reflection shots I noticed some wildflowers next to the driveway and took a few shots of them ( image # 7 ), this time using the two stop split neutral density filter and a warming filter. As I was walking back to the car another scene jumped out at me, this time looking west (Image # 8 below ).
 
Image #8. Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes Brenham Texas.
Image #7. Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes Brenham.
 
I hopped back into the car and started driving west. Earlier when I was on my way to the pond I noticed a cluster of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes on the side of the road, it didn't take long before I found them again. I pulled into a nearby driveway, when I got out and walked over to where the flowers were, I was blown away by what I saw.

Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes, spider webs, everything was coated in dew and backlit by the early morning sun. These are the type of landscapes I love to shoot. I quickly set up my tripod and camera, slipped on the two stop neutral density filter and warming filter and started shooting away ( image # 9 ).

Image #9. Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes backlit by the early morning sun near Chappell Hill Texas.
 
Image #10. FM 1155 Brenham Texas.
 
After I was done with the backlit shots I walked to the middle of the road and took a few shots looking west ( image #10 ). At this point I had only traveled a few miles in either direction on FM 2193, I felt it was time to try somewhere else maybe Brenham or Lake Summerville. So, I headed west towards Hwy 105.

Just before I got to 105 I saw a photographer on the side of the road, it looked like he found a pretty good spot, so I stopped and took a few shots from there ( image #11 ). Once I reached 105 I decided to go north towards Navasota, after a few miles I spotted FM 390, I had luck with wildflowers on this road in the past, so I went west towards the small town of Independence.

Image #11. Wildflower Photographer near brenham Texas.
 

I only traveled a couple of miles when I came across a gravel road, for some reason I decided check it out. I'm really glad I did! On one side of the road the hills were covered in Bluebonnets ( image # 12 ) on the other side a massive stand Indian Paintbrushes ( images # 13 below ) I couldn't believe my luck! I stayed here for about an hour and took tons of images.
 

Image #13. Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes Brenham.
Image #12. Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brushes Brenham.
 

I drove back to FM 390 and went west to the La Bahia Trail, I took a left towards Independence then another left on FM 50 to Brenham. I didn't see anything worth stopping for, so I decided it was time to head home. I thought I was done for the day but just a few miles outside Brenham I came across an unusual scene, dozens of people were out taking photos on a huge hill covered in Bluebonnets. I just couldn't resist. I shot some portraits for about thirty minutes then packed up and left. Overall, I'm very happy with this trip.
 

Girls gets their picture taken with Bluebonnets in Brenham Texas.
Girl gets her picture taken with Bluebonnets in Brenham Texas.
 
Girl get her picture taken with Bluebonnets in Brenham Texas.
 

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Content copyright George Hosek. The photographs on this site are for viewing on your computer only, absolutely, no commercial or personal reproduction without written consent from George Hosek.