Our Adventures

Big Bend Adventures

Erica & Neil go to Texas

May 2021

Wedding photography is demanding. As photographers, you need to be sharp, on point, and focused all day (puns very much intended). Organization and communication is key between clients, their family, and all of the vendors. Beyond that, wedding photography requires passion. When all of those things are added up, it is so fun and the best job ever! We absolutely love it and all of the hard work, sweat (especially for summer weddings!), and hours behind the computer are so worth it to see clients love themselves in images! We get to make a significant positive impact on a day that is so important to our clients! On top of that, we get to be creative with our work and make our own schedules! Recently, we were able to travel to Texas for Makaela & Dylan’s engagement session and then turned the few days after that into a mini vacation with our Big Bend Adventures!

Big Bend Adventures

After Makaela & Dylan’s engagement session in Del Rio, we headed to west Texas where the desert goes on for what seems like forever! Big Bend National Park is on the border of Texas and Mexico and it is massive! From San Antonio, it is roughly a 6 hour drive to get to the entrance of the park. However, once you enter the park, it is still about an hour drive to get to the campground! But the long drive is worth it to explore the desert, the mountains, and the Rio Grande!

We arrived to the park pretty late in the evening and it was perfectly clear without a cloud in sight. Because the park is so far away from all big cities, it makes for a perfect location for star shots! So, we decided to stay up late and make it happen! All of the star shots were taken between 2:45 – 4:15am when the stars are at their brightest because the sun is the furthest away from where we were on the Earth at that point in time. Additionally, star shots are the best during a New Moon, meaning we cannot visibly see the moon at night. And our timing during the moon cycle was absolutely perfect for our Big Bend Adventure!

The Milky Way stretched all the way across the entire sky – it was so incredible! (f/5; 24mm; ISO 3200; 30sec exposure)

Star trail shots are long exposures where we see the movement of the sky. But what we are really seeing is the earth rotating on it’s axis!

This first one I shot is my absolute favorite! I decided to put the brightest spot of the Milky Way in the background. It made the background of the star lines look like an incredible painting! There are so many amazing colors in there showing the varying levels of the burning stars! (f/5; 24mm; ISO 400; 15 min exposure)

Then I decided to take pictures in different directions. Depending on the direction and angle of the camera, you will see more ‘lines’ versus ‘circles’. East and West will produce more lines whereas towards the south will produce more circles. North will make it seem like there the stars aren’t moving at all because that is the celestial pole of the earth.

f/5; 24mm; ISO 200; 18 min exposure
f/5; 24mm; ISO 800; 9 min exposure
This last shot I took of the night is my one of my favorites of the Milky Way! (f/3.5; 24mm; ISO 2500; 30 sec exposure)

Day 1 – Rio Grande

After staying up until 4:30am, we had a somewhat lazy day with getting up around 8am and relaxing with some coffee around the campground. Then we drove to the Rio Grande, which was about an hour and 15 min drive from the campground. From our campground to the Rio Grande, it was about a 30 degree increase in temperature. The campground is at elevation in the mountains, so it was about 75 – 85 degrees for a high while we there whereas the Rio Grande is down in the valley, so the high was 110 degrees.

The view from our campground
The Rio Grande
Neil at the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park
Neil cooling off in the water!

On the way back to the campground, we stopped at a few overlooks and they were amazing views! We could seriously see for miles and miles!

Another super cool thing was that all of the cacti were blooming! We got to see a big variety of flowers from pink as seen above, to bright yellow, orange, red and purple!

Day 2 – Hiking Day

Because it gets so hot in the desert, it is advised each person carries a gallon of water with them while hiking. People have gotten in serious trouble before with not bringing enough water and there is no medical treatment accessible within a few hours of the park. Because Neil and I have been in MN with winter and an easy spring, we definitely weren’t acclimated for heat! Therefore, we decided it would be best to get out early and be done before the hottest part of the day. We started before the sun came up and watched it rise once we got to the peak.

Starting out early in the morning!
Tarantula! We also saw a kit fox, deer, and a mama bear and two cubs!
Sun starting to come up!

In total, we hiked about 10 miles and were done by 11am. We took a break at the peak to eat, rest, and enjoy the views before heading back down. To finish out the day, we drove to another area of the park where we learned about some ghost towns and wonderful history of the area! On our way through, we even saw a mare and foal wild horses.

Wild Horses
Mare and foal heading towards the Rio Grande for water

For our last night, we wanted to watch the sunset through ‘The Window’ between two mountain peaks. But a huge storm rolled through and it was incredibly windy! We were trying to get a few ‘nice’ photos of us with the amazing background, but we ended up just having to embrace the wind and rain!

Neil’s amazing timing with his cell phone shot of the lightning storm!
But later, the storm started to lift a bit, so we were able to see the sunset just slightly! It made for amazing depth in the rolling mountains below the clouds still releasing rain miles away!
Then as the sun went even further down, the lighting got even softer and so beautiful!

Day 3 – Early Morning Exit

The summer months are the slow season for Big Bend, so it is the opportune time for road construction. While we were there, the single road coming into and out of the campground was closed from 8-11am and 1-3pm. So we left the park before 8am to get back on the road to San Antonio to catch our flight! We had an amazing time and hope to get back out there again sometime!

Until next time Texas!

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