The Glory of a Bluebonnet Sunrise


William Ervin has devoted the past two decades to driving and hiking his way through some of America’s most beautiful and haunting landscapes. The vistas and the sights he witnesses always amaze him. They are always changing. The time of day, the angle of the sun, the weather, both good and bad, the shifting seasons continually make a difference.

Ervin points out, “I want to capture the feeling of seeing, to share the excitement of being there in all of that beauty, to preserve the magic of a fine moment. Sometimes, I come close.”

He began his career photographing birds and other wildlife, but his interests quickly broadened to include all kinds of natural subjects, especially landscapes.

They mesmerize him.

Often, they haunt him.

While continuing to use 35mm equipment for wildlife, he now shoots landscapes with a custom built, panoramic view camera, which, he says, is perfect for capturing the grandeur of his Colorado homeland and the American West.

The camera is big. It is heavy. Ervin customized it himself, adapting the film back from an old-fashioned V-Pan camera and placing it on a regular 5 X 7 view camera. It gives him frames that are two-inches high and seven-inches wide. He only gets four shots per roll of film. As he explains, “The camera is something special.”

He hauls it up the sides of mountains, carrying it into glacial meadows more than ten thousand feet high, where the air is very thin, and moves into country that few, if any, have ever seen.

Even if the area is heavily photographed, he always finds something different and unusual and unforgettable, even using a High Dynamic Range technique to ferret out color and detail from dark and shadowed objects.

His camera catches magic.

Of The Bluebonnets of Mason County, Texas, he writes:  Mason County looked much like the mythical Texas was supposed to look. I had seen the location I wanted to shoot the day before, so I set up long before the sun rose, and waited for the right moment to catch the prairie scene – big sky, a stock tanks that looked almost as large as a lake, and a hard, rocky earth that was wall to wall bluebonnets and blanketed with a mass of incredible color. I had been hesitant to seek out the woman who owned the ranch and ask if I could bring my cameras onto her property. A lot of ranch owners don’t want anybody trespassing. She, however, was generous and seemed genuinely proud that someone thought the wildflowers on her land was as beautiful as she had always thought they were.


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