Picture Perfect

With more than 45 years of Texas Highways wildflower issues, we’ve seen our fair share of memorable wildflower photos. Here we pick a few of our favorites—the ones that take our breath away upon every viewing — and share how the photographers captured the spring magic.

BEACH BLOOMS:

McAllen-based Larry Ditto has been a nature photographer for 46 years. He started while working in the National Wildlife Refuge System all over the country, and pursued photography full time after retiring in 1999. Accustomed to the challenges of taking pictures of birds and animals, Ditto appreciates “colorful subjects that aren’t going anywhere,” like wildflowers, he says. As displayed in this image taken on South Padre Island, he prefers to shoot from a low angle. Sometimes his body doesn’t agree with that method. “As I get older, I’ve found that each shot must be carefully planned so that I can avoid getting on the ground and then seeing a better photo a few feet away,” Ditto says. “Getting down is still easy. Getting up? Not so much.

STARRY NIGHT:

Photographer Rob Greebon captures wildflowers in a less common light—illuminated only by the Milky Way. To ensure the stars appear bright in the photograph, Greebon mounts a star tracker device onto his camera, which allows for long exposures that last two to four minutes. “This allows more stars to show and that they are pinpoint sharp,” he says. The galaxy hanging over the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park “always brings a sense of wonder,” Greebon says. “I love that sense of remoteness you feel in Big Bend.”

DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE:

Due to Theresa DiMenno’s prowess behind the camera, it’s hard to tell that this majestic photo was taken on the Interstate 10 frontage road just outside of Houston. While DiMenno has mastered wildflowers, she has spent most of her career photographing musicians, including the Foo Fighters and Johnny Cash. Still, she feels most at home outdoors. “I love the serendipity of being stopped in my tracks by an awe-inspiring scene,” DiMenno says of snapping wildflowers. “I love discovering what lies beneath the surface; the veins, dew, bugs, pollen.” She has two simple tips for amateur shutterbugs looking to capture similar springtime scenes: “Leave a light footprint, and please do not trample the flowers.”

MISTY MORNING:

The fresh morning dew and dreamy rays of light reaching through the clouds give an ethereal quality to this photograph, taken at South Llano River State Park in Junction. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Tim Fitzharris has been working as a nature photographer since 1981. Fitzharris says he enjoys shooting wildflowers because of “the peacefulness of the quiet moments” and “hearing the sounds of the meadow.” One of his most memorable moments on assignment, though, wasn’t so serene. “Once I was eating some Doritos while shooting, and a honey bee snuck into the bag and stung my fingertip,” he recounts. “After a brief scream, I started laughing.”

JUST DESERTS:

Rob Greebon managed to capture the light in this photo taken along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive in Big Bend National Park before a quickly moving rainstorm turned the sky dark. “It was such a thrill to race against a storm—and to have that image to show for it,” he says. Working with the weather and natural light are just a couple of the challenges that come along with shooting wildflowers. “At times, I’ve given up on a sunset, only to have the sky explode in color that lasts only for a few minutes,” he explains. “I’ve also enjoyed a sunset while shooting bluebonnets near San Saba with my dad that was one of the most amazing and long-lasting beautiful skies I’ve ever seen. You just never know what will happen. I suppose you just have to research, plan, and hope for the best. Sometimes you’ll experience a sunrise or sunset that will last a lifetime.”

Railroad Vine blooming on South Padre Island beach, morning clouds over Gulf of Mexico Bluebonnets under the stars in Big Bend Wildflowers captured alongside Interstate 10 Verbena flowers in a meadow on a misty morning Prickly pear at sunset in Big Bend National Park


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The July 2020 cover of Texas Highways Magazine, Secret Rivers


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The July 2020 cover of Texas Highways Magazine, Secret Rivers


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