When the sun goes down and the stars come out, the beauty of Texas’ State Parks Dazzles anew
A carefully crafted itinerary can only get you so far when planning a trip to a Texas state park. Schedules are thwarted by all kinds of events out of our control, and soon, a vacation to one of Texas’ natural spaces becomes a race against the sun. But a late arrival doesn’t have to dampen the outing. Night ushers in its own appeal as the park’s critters come to life. Great horned owls swoop overhead looking for smaller animals—cottontails, geckos—to scoop up. Snakes both venomous and benign slither beneath and between rocks. Nine-banded armadillos stalk through the wilderness, safe from daytime predators.
The scenery can be more immaculate than it is at midday. Constellations puncture the darkness to illuminate the flight of Mexican free-tailed bats, night herons, and hawks. As quiet hours descend, the commotion of campers settles and the nighttime symphony begins.
“There’s a different world at night,” says Houston-based photographer Kathy Adams Clark, who teaches classes on night photography in far-flung locales like Big Bend National Park. Clark, whose photo of Huntsville State Park is included on Page 51, is one of several featured photographers who reveal the tranquil beauty of Texas state parks after sunset.
Many factors come into play when setting up the perfect shot, Clark says, and trial and error are essential to learning to effectively capture the night. The main challenge in night photography isn’t the darkness; it’s the light from heedless campers. “People don’t realize how much light they produce,” she says.
For Austin-based photographer Theresa DiMenno, photography has always been about how light informs connection. “The biggest challenge is hoping elements align with nature’s rhythm in an aesthetically pleasing image,” says DiMenno, who photographed Stephen F. Austin State Park.
From bright starry nights at the Davis Mountains to riverside sunsets at Guadalupe River, the views, sights, and sounds of a state park after dark offer their own escape.
Stay up late, and you’ll see the beauty does, too.—Julia Jones