Enchanted Rock with pre-dawn light. Image # 1







Photography at Enchanted Rock State
Natural Area

Article and photography by George Hosek

I woke up around 6:30 am to a clear, cold spring morning. I bundled up in a few layers then started to walk around the campsite, the nearby parking area, and the road trying to figure out the best way to photograph the fast approaching sunrise.

I quickly focused on nearby Big Sandy Creek, the light was reflecting off the calm water creating what I thought would be a worthwhile photo opportunity.  I tried several shots from the bank ( image # 2 )  but wasn't happy with the images I was getting, not only was there little color to work with but I couldn't find an angle I liked.

Sunrise Big Sandy Creek. Image #2

As I was walking back up the bank I noticed several large boulders by the side of the road, one had a large flat top, a perfect platform I could use to stand on and take a silhouetted self portrait. The question was, could I scramble from the road ( where my tripod and camera were located ) to the top of the rocks before my camera's ten second self-timer went off. The answer was, yes but just barely ( image # 3 ).

Hiker at sunrise at Enchanted Rock. Image #3


After taking several self portraits I started walking back up the road toward the campsite area, that's when I noticed several trees on a hill, I grabbed a couple of quick shots of them ( image # 4 ) and that was the end of the sunrise shots.

For some reason I was still determined to get a shot of Big Sandy Creek, so I loaded my equipment into the car and drove back towards the park headquarters and parked at the nearby day parking area. I walked down to the creek but still couldn't find any decent shots but while I was there I couldn't help but notice the massive rock dome across the way was starting to glow in the pre-dawn light. I quickly walked back to parking area and took several shots of the giant rock formation towering over the cars and tents in the campground ( image # 1 ).

Sunrise Enchanted Rock. Image #4
I really needed to move fast now in order to get in position to catch the boulders with early morning sunlight shinning on them. I got into my car and drove back to the campground area and parked at the head of the Summit Trail, I grabbed my camera and tripod and took off down the trail.

By the time I reached the base of the dome sunlight was already hitting the tops of the boulders. I took one last scan of the area, located the largest most interesting boulders and headed straight for them. It only took a few minutes to hike up to the spot near the huge rocks. I was somewhat surprised to see another photographer already there, I took a quick shot of him ( image # 5 ) turned around and started to focus on the amazing landscape in front me.

Photographer shoots the sunrise at Enchanted Rock State natural area. Image #5
One particular massive boulder caught my eye. Many of the shots I took at this location I used the boulder as my main subject. I tried several different foregrounds before I finally settled on a spot that had all the elements I thought would make a great photograph ( image # 6 ), however, It wasn't until I tried a vertical that everything came together ( see cover photo ).

After about 15 minutes of shooting I decided to hike back down and see what else I could find before the magic light disappeared. After a few minutes I came across two large monolithic boulders and took several shots of them ( image # 7 ). I tried a couple of other nearby locations but wasn't getting anything good and the light was starting to get a bit harsh so I decided to head back toward the campsite area.

Early morning scene from Enchanted Rock. Image #6
Early morning light illuminates these large boulders at Enchanted Rock. Image #7
As I was walking away I turned around and took one last shot of the Summit Trail ( image # 8 ). Shooting for magazines over the years has taught me to get all the photos you'll need to tell the complete story of a place and that's what I try to do whenever I can. With that in mind I hiked over to the camping area and grabbed a few frames of the campsite ( image # 9 ).

From there I hiked back to my car and drove to the Loop Trail ( image # 10 ), I was still determined to get a shot of the Big Sandy Creek, hopefully with Enchanted Rock or Turkey Peak in the background. I knew there was a great photo there somewhere I just had to do a bit of searching.

Summit Trail at Enchnated Rock. Image #8
Camping area at Enchanted Rock. Image #9
Now that the sun was up and the magic light was gone I didn't need to be in such a hurry, I could take my time and just enjoy a relaxing hike on a beautiful spring morning. Although, this time I decided to bring along my Canon XH-A1 video camera so I could shoot some high quality video.

Not far down the trail the creek had formed a small rapid, I set up the video camera and started filming, I also took several frames with the still camera but wasn't to excited by either the video or the images. I really liked the view but there wasn't much color and the dark foreground and the bright sky wasn't really working for me so I decided to keep looking.

Loop Trail at Enchanted Rock. Image #10
After hiking a little further I finally came across a scene of the creek I really liked ( image #11 ). The sky was deep blue with a few white fluffy clouds. The sand bar, the trees and the grass had a nice warm reddish hue. Not only did the scene have some nice color but the composition came together as well.

The creek leads the eye right to Turkey Peak, the trees on the left and the high grass on the right help focus attention to the center of the photo. I finally captured the shot of the Big Sandy Creek I had been trying to get all morning. I tried a few other locations but didn't really get anything else worth talking about. Overall it was a wonderful experience! This park is truly magical, I now understand why they call it "Enchanted" Rock.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Enchanted Rock

Map of Enchanted Rock

16710 Ranch Rd 965
Fredericksburg, TX 78624








Photography Services

Writers Wanted

Content copyright George L. Hosek. The articles, photographs and videos on this site are for viewing on your computer only, absolutely, no commercial or personal reproduction without written consent from George Hosek.