If you’re just here for the bribe (giveaway, drawing, whatever), feel free to skip the brilliant prose and head to the bottom for details.
Someone once said, “There are two seasons in Texas: Summer and not summer.”
In 2011, that was proved true, as the seasons went somewhere along the lines of:
Not Summer (Winter): “Ahhhh, yes. This is why I love Texas.”
Not Summer (Spring): “Eh, a little warm for this time of year, but it’s still oka…RUN!!!! A TORNADO!!!!!
Summer: “Man, I miss the summer of 1980. Oh look! Another small woodland creature just spontaneously combusted.”
Not Summer (Fall): “Can I come out of my house now?”
For about 10 minutes that summer, the traditional Texas bluebonnets appeared before realizing that natures’ broiler had been left on 350 degrees. Within that small window of opportunity, I managed to find a small group of flowers along Interstate 30 in Fort Worth that hadn’t yet been reduced to ashes and decided to photograph them.
Many people assume that professional photographers hit the shutter release and through the grace of God and Canon or Nikon, beautiful photos appear. We wished it happened that way too.
For the bluebonnet photo, I parked on the side of I-30 and hopped out of my car as other vehicles whizzed past me just below light speed. After hiking up a small slope, I set my bag down, grabbed my camera body, made the lens selection and hit the ground to get the bluebonnet photo to end all bluebonnet photos. Then the ants found me.
Some men attract good luck, some beautiful women, others large sums of cash. I attract insects. With stingers. And bad attitudes.
The ants proceeded to let me know that I was not welcome in their ‘hood and drivers along a major D/FW highway were treated to a man who appeared to miss his medication that day, flailing on his back and repeatedly slapping his right leg. Something tells me Ansel Adams never had to deal with this. If he did, his biographer was kind enough to leave it out.
Once the ants were satisfied with their conquest, I finally got down to the business of making photographs. I found a group of bluebonnets that looked healthy and had great color. Balancing my flash on my camera bag to produce nice, directional lighting, I composed a shot and started clicking away. There were clouds out that day, so I had to battle the changing exposure between sunlight and cloudiness. I was in “The Zone.”
Then Fort Worth’s Finest decided to stop by.
For the record, I truly have the utmost respect for police. As a photojournalist I had a front-row seat for many of the things they deal with and I will testify, it’s a tough, thankless job. But that day, I really didn’t want to get arrested for taking photos of flowers.
The officer pulled up to the stoplight on the access road above me and curiously looked down in my direction. I looked up, smiled weakly and nodded, hoping my body language communicated that I was far too fragile to go to jail and be some large man’s girlfriend.
While he had every right to haul me off to the pokey for committing a crime against photography (felony cliché picture taking of flowers), he simply shook his head and drove off once the light turned green. I tried a few more angles and figured that between sweating my way to dehydration and the vicious ant attack, I was done.
Getting home and editing the shots, I surprised myself by choosing a photo that didn’t have the traditional blue sky, but the shot you see above that had darker clouds which helped the flowers to really stand out. In hindsight, it was well worth the adversities.
Just don’t tell the ants that. They’re already a bit full of themselves as it is.