Photographing Caprock Canyons

The incredible majesty of Caprock Canyons State Park was created over millions of years by wind and water. Wind, the Texas Plains have plenty of. Water, they do not. At least not on the surface. The park sits at a natural transition between the high plains of the Llano Estacado to the north & west and rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country to the south & east. Most of the water that created these wonderful canyons ran underground in a process called “piping”. More on this next week for you geology buffs.

For you history buffs, this is a place with a long and rich history. Archeologists have found evidence of human occupation dating back over 10,000 years. Coronado explored the region in the mid 1500’s and the Apache Nation dominated the area until the Comanche pushed them out in the 1700’s. The Comanche made these rugged canyons their last stronghold prior to being forced onto reservations by the government in the late 1800’s. And yes, this whole area looks like the backdrop for a John Wayne or Henry Fonda western.

Caprock Canyons

Caprock Canyons – Quitaque, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on Aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 19mm, f/16 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 200 with a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and 3-Stop Graduated Neutral Density Filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Hiking and photographing the canyons for the first time was a wonderful experience but the late June heat was tough to deal with. The views from around the park are spectacular, especially if you hike to some of the more remote spots. Bring plenty of water, a good GPS or compass and your walking shoes. The strong winds along the rim of the canyon cease almost completely on the canyon floor and the bright red rock reflects a lot of heat back at you. Shade is almost nonexistent so come prepared. Even my carbon-fiber tripod became almost too hot to handle in the late afternoon sun.

This is one spot that I’m sure to visit again and again!

12 thoughts on “Photographing Caprock Canyons

  1. Glad to see you venturing north to some of my favorite places. 🙂 Next time you’re out that way, lemme know – I can show you some hidden spots in the Canyon.

        • Derrick,

          I hiked portions of the upper canyon trail from the South Prong river and the loop trail around Hayne’s Ridge. I’d have gone further but the heat on the canyon floor was extreme and my carbon-fiber tripod was almost too hot to carry. I ran into one other photographer around Hayne’s Ridge who was heading back due to the heat and I followed his advice.


  2. Reminds me of the area around Kanab as well, beautiful image Jeff and no one can do Tx skies like you.

    • Thanks Terry.

      It was a real treat for me to finally visit the Texas panhandle. Now that my daughter is attending Texas Tech, I’m sure I’ll find plenty of opportunities to visit.


  3. I love the clouds… they add a lot of drama to the picture. I also noticed a lot of your images have the most amazing fluffy clouds. I’m going to put Texas on my road trip map. The joy of living in Seattle… as I look out my window right now, all I see are shades of gray.

    • Emily,

      Not to brag on Texas any more than usual, but we really do have the most incredible skies here. The clouds are usually very high altitude, pure white in the afternoon but dark gray before a storm and the blue is a deep cobalt most days.


  4. Beautifully done. I like how you brought out the red of the rocks. Did you go with a polarizer or an ND filter or good ol’ fashioned LR3?

    • Thanks Michael,

      I shot this using a circular polarizer and 3-stop graduated neutral density filter to help balance the exposure differences between the green brush, the red caprocks and the blue & white sky. Almost no post capture processing was done except normal cropping and sharpening in Lightroom 3. The red is exactly what you see when hiking there. No saturation was added at all.


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