The Texas Hill Country is one of the most ruggedly beautiful regions in the country. When traveling outside our state, I have tried to convey that point to those unfamiliar with our region on a handful of occasions, but have often met resistance. Many outside the Lone Star State don’t think of Texas as beautiful.
They think of Texas as flat, barren, and boring. Certainly there are parts of our state that resemble those remarks to some degree or another, but the hill country is not one of them.
The beauty may not always jump out and slap you in the face the way it will in some of the most popular scenic destinations around the world. You aren’t going to view the northern lights here, or see snow-capped mountains reflected in alpine lakes. You aren’t going to see a striking sunset on a white sand beach, or witness a downpour in a tropical rain-forest, but that is not what the hill country is about.
Rolling hills, towering limestone bluffs, meandering rivers, and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets can be found here year round. Each season paints those features with a different look and feel, and each one is worth seeing and photographing. That being said, as a landscape photographer, I find winter to be one of the most challenging times to take pictures of the Texas Hill Country. The trees have lost their leaves, the grass is on hiatus, and the often vibrant colors of other seasons have turned to gray. We are often left without many of the elements that give us a “wow” impression in hill country pictures. Admittedly, it can be difficult to motivate myself to get out and capture new photos of our region when the weather is cold and the scenery is a little bit drab.
Even with these challenges, winter photography provides the opportunity to capture a different look and feel of a landscape than any other season. The “mood” of a landscape can often be found when the landscape is in its most basic form. Muted or neutral colors are often highlighted by atmospheric elements that complement the landscape, like fog or mist. These photos tend to convey a feeling of peace and quiet. Sometimes they can be a little eerie, at other times the conditions lend to a feeling of mystery.
Either way, winter can be a uniquely beautiful time to get out and enjoy nature in the hill country. Mornings tend to be my favorite time to get out and photograph, usually in the “golden hour” around sunrise or sunset to capture the best lighting and atmospheric conditions, which are even more important in the winter for the best results.
If you happen to be interested in capturing the beauty of the hill country through the art of photography, you may find it somewhat challenging in the winter months, but the rewards can be worth the extra effort.