Who's in charge of the weather?!?

I recently spent four days in southwest Texas photographing the desert landscape. My plan was to be in the middle of the wet season (late June to early September) and take advantage of clouds, atmosphere and fewer visitors in this normally dry, blue-sky area. Well, apparently the weather missed the “wet” memo. There were some isolated thunderstorms the first afternoon / evening I was there, but that was it. Clear blue skies, hot and dry* …although to be honest, it didn’t feel nearly as all-emcompassingly hot as it does here in Louisiana now that I’ve returned home.

* Ironically, when I’ve come to this same area for astronomy over the past 30+ years, clear dry skies would be desired and appreciated (although not in-frequently weren’t the rule of the day). Of course, now that I came looking for clouds…

Given the clear skies I had to do whatever I could do and these photos were the result. I’ve not posted everything here and there are some more on my Flickr Photostream if you’re interested.

Canon T8i / 850D, Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro, Canon EF 70-200 f/4L, ART 1.21, Affinity Photo 2.1

(Apologies for the width of the panos, but due to the long aspect ratio they go to nothing when reduced excessively)

The heavens open up above Blue Mountain

With the first day’s showers just dying off, I was driving 60 miles to a sunset location when I saw this scene. I pulled over, hastily shot a pano and roared off again to make my appointment with the sun. Don’t look too closely – You can see it was hastily done. I’ll just say “black and white covers a multitude of sins” and leave it at that… :slight_smile:

Sawtooth Mountain rainbow

Davis Mountains golden hour

Star Mountain in the morning light, viewed from Wild Rose Pass

Amtrak Station, Alpine, Texas


Alpine, Texas golden hour


You still managed to get some nice captures and nice light?

The world is changing… Its broiling here in California. When it was still 70F in early June I thought to myself “wow this will be an excellent summer to go downtown a lot of urbanscapes. Sun sets at 8:30, so plenty of time after work to get out there!”

And while that was a nice thought, I have been out once because its too damn hot to go outside and I e been having a lot of problems staying hydrated :crying_cat_face:


Yeah, there were still photos to be taken. Mostly what the clear skies did was severely limit daytime shooting outside golden hours. The light is just too harsh for most subject matter, at least most of what I’m shooting.


It’s been hot since late May here. June got to 100F pretty quickly. Here’s our week forecast (and this is in the context of the deep south US):


Not quite as hot as some places purely by the numbers but the moisture makes it feel VERY hot. It’s oppressive.

Yes, gross. Best of luck!


Lovely photos. I think my favourites are Sawtooth Mountain and Star Mountain.

Re weather, I’m a bit apprehensive about our coming summer here in Aus. The last few years we’ve been sitting with the La Nina weather pattern (to do with ocean currents and stuff) which means cool moist weather (relatively). But now it’s swung over to El Nino, which means hot, dry and most likely bushfires. And they’re forecasting record temps. :neutral_face:

1 Like

You should try living in the UK. We have two seasons: warm and raining (summer), and cold and raining (winter). Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain.

It wasn’t until I joined the pixls.us forum and looked at everyone else’s photos that I realised that the sky was blue — here in the UK, it’s just various shades of grey.

We’re in the middle of summer right now, and the whole of July was just one miserable, damp, muggy mess.

They say that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun, and there’s a reason for that: we only get the mid-day sun for about two days out of the year, and it lasts for about ten minutes at a time before the clouds come over and cover it back up again.


Thanks! Those are my two favorite mountains by appearance in the area, but Blue Mountain is a close runner-up. It’s not in this group of shots, but here’s one from 2010:*

It looks like a sleek yatch or something! Of course from above it’s spread out and totally loses the sleek look.

Sawtooth isn’t miles high, actually just over a mile at 6k+ a few feet, and obviously the surrounding ground isn’t sea level. Actually Blue Mountain is about 1k feet higher. Star Mountain is a unique shape and it, too, tops out at about 6.1k feet. Here’s a “view” of it from Google Maps in 3D:

But Sawtooth is still a big chunk o’ rock. Here’s a random image off the web:

My image was taken around from the right hand side, looking back up at it end-wise (just about at the right edge of this image). These are all igneous / volcanic mountains formed by weathering away the surrounding ground.

Anyway, this is a neat area and I like it a lot. Can you tell? LOL

* I just noticed I lied - Blue Mountain was indeed in the first, B&W, shot.


Keep in mind that I don’t live where these photos were taken (southwest Texas). I’m ~800 miles to the east in Louisiana* and in a totally different climate (Koppen humid subtropical). We don’t have four seasons. Spring and fall are just a few weeks that transition from cool / cold and wet to hot and (usually) wet or vice-versa.

Right now, we’re in a drier pattern than usual but in a typical year we get roughly between 60" and 70" (150cm and 180cm) of rain. It’s not unusual during the summer to get weeks of hot / humid weather with no wind and high solid overcast that turns everything grey. But it still manages to get in the mid / upper 90sF (upper 30s C) just the same. It can be quite oppressive.

* My European friends are quite often astonished by the size of Texas. It’s literally as large as several European countries (nearly 1,000 miles across). In fact, their tourism slogan several years ago was, “Like a whole 'nuther country”. :smiley:


You certainly have some interesting topography! :slightly_smiling_face:
I know it’s not your pic, and it’s a little flat but I love the way the road leads at the mountain in the last one you posted. Same in your Star mountain shot.

Do all your roads have yellow lines on them? Round here, they’re only yellow in the mountains, for better visibility in snow and ice, otherwise they’re white. (not counting some parking stuff in cities).

We have pretty good seasons here (SE NSW), although spring can feel pretty short. Other parts of Australia can be very different though! In the north of the country, the seasons are generally known as ‘Wet’ and ‘Dry’ - and that’s it. Although, the Indigenous people actually recognize six distinct seasons which is interesting and not surprising when you consider that they depend (ed?) on the land for all their food, shelter, everything.

That road is a ~70 mile loop (along with another highway) through the Davis Mountains that called – interestingly enough – the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop. :slight_smile: It’s a very nice drive and the scenery is almost non-stop. It goes from wide and flat to close-in mountains to flat nearby but mountains in the distance, you name it. It even passes a world-class astronomical observatory en route.

If you’re really bored and want to virtually “explore” it using Google Maps Street View imagery, go here. Sawtooth Mountain is at bottom center and TX 166 (the highway in the photo) goes away to the upper right. The viewpoint in the web photo is looking back to the lower left (SW) toward Sawtooth from upper right. Turn satellite view on if it’s not already and Street View as well. Click the road up the NE, rotate and you’ll see Sawtooth, albeit with Street View’s ultra-wide-angle view.

1 Like

Ha! Not right this moment but I will have a look later. :smiley:

I have to admit… When I read those abbreviations my mind automatically thinks “southeast north southwest”. :grin: I have to manually correct to New South Wales just about every time. Probably wouldn’t happen if I lived there…

1 Like

Gosh, never thought of that - pretty obvious too! Just goes to show what you don’t notice when you’re used to something… :smiley:

Mmm… another thought - it’s usually actually written South-East NSW… maybe it’s just me who abbreviates the whole thing!

1 Like

Great photos all around. The third one is specially great in my opinion. I’m a sucker for that golden foreground with very neutral clouds and background. Would make a great print too.

1 Like

Thanks. I kinda shot it at random but when processing it, came to like it more. I wish I had handled DOF better, though. It should’ve been focus stacked (but the light was fleeting and I wasn’t at my most methodical!). It looks OK smaller but when 100% (original) you can see softness in the foreground. Despite sharpening… LOL

But I agree, I like the colors. Thanks again.

1 Like

Spencer Cox at PhotographyLife has a simple method for picking a focus distance:


I use it rather informally and it seems to work well.

These photos take me to a certain category of time/place that I think is just magical: remote mountain locations in the morning. Crisp, silent air; changing light, which changes shadows, which changes colors; the smell of whatever flora (and sometimes, fauna…), all in topographical relief that reminds me of how puny I really am. Thanks for posting…


The interesting part of some of my post-first-evening shots is that despite being early morning, the sun was rapidly heating up the atmosphere. Even though I focused at an appropriate point, the warming air prevented crisp focus throughout. I think that’s why the distance in the Star Mountain shot(s) isn’t as crisp as I’d expect - turbulence.

But after all, we don’t humanly see with great detail across all distances near and far, so to make a photo unrealistically sharp at all distances can be artificial looking.



I had to go to Bedford today, and the forecast was for loads of rain, so I wore my most waterproof coat, and it hardly rained at all. The sky even had some (small) patches of blue.

1 Like

Update – Aaannddd, two days after I left this is what the skies looked like in southwest Texas (screen copied from FB). Of course, drat it …

2023-08-01 16_03_34-Clipboard

2023-08-01 16_09_56-Clipboard


Of course!

1 Like