Austin Hobbiton Dream



Just about 45 minutes from downtown Austin, Westcave Preserve is a wonder to see. Visiting this collapsed cave provides a visitor with two different ecosystems and a breathtaking view of the cave at the end of the trail. A visitor can enter from the left-hand side of the photo and walk through the tunnel that goes around and provides a view of the grotto area. The photo was made mid-afternoon in the fall. Some light was coming in illuminating the various textures inside the cave walls. Although our eyes gravitate toward light, I wonder if the opposite happens here. There is almost a perfect golden ratio crop from the top of the photo to the LRC where the green and yellow flowers are. Edited in LR and Topaz AI Denoise. I also added a soft glow filter in Luminar AI to add to the dream feeling around the edges.

Specific Feedback Requested:

Any feedback is welcome.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:



This is simply spectacular, Egidio! It looks like a fairytale painting and not a photograph. The Luminar filter did indeed add a dreamy, glowing feeling around the edge. The colors are stunning and work well in a very harmonious way. The composition is nicely balanced and the eye is able to freely roam the interior of the image making it’s way to the outside trees. This just looks so computer animated. I can’t believe this is real!!! Just super natural and nature at it’s best. Holy molly this is interesting.

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@David_Haynes, thank you so much for your kind words and feedback. Austin has two places just about a mile from each other: Westcave Preserve and Hamilton Pool. They both offer magical views. The short hike to this area (by appointment only) is done with the help of a guide. It is fascinating to see how quickly the ecosystem changes as we go down to the area in the photo. Unfortunately, Hamilton Pool had some rock slides last year. One can still visit it, but not go through under the grotto walls. Thanks again for your compliment.

What a wonderful image. At first, I didn’t realize what I was looking at, but once I enlarged it, I was able to see all its beauty.

@StephenPrunier , thank you for taking time to look at the image and for your compliment. I appreciated the feedback.

Beautiful, Egidio! I had no idea this place even existed and it is so close to us. Definitely going to have to go there at some point. When you went did you go on the Photography field trip? Looks like a wonderful place!

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Egídio, this is beautiful view looking out of this cave. The turquoise water fits very well with the rest of the colorful interior. You’ve done well with the challenging lighting conditions. This seems like a prime candidate for blending two shots, one to get detail and color in the cave and a second ( 1-2 stops faster) to hold the colors in the distant trees and sky. That assumes that you can take a tripod in, although with the recent cameras you might be able to program to exposures and get both with a single push of the button.

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Linda, thank you so much for your feedback. This was just a regular tour in the afternoon. I would like to schedule a photography tour at some point and go with some friends. That way we could spend more time in a photo shoot. Whichever way you go, reservations are required. Thanks again.

Mark, thank you very much for your compliment and feedback. I was very surprised at how much I could recover by staying with ISO 640. I do not know whether tripods are allowed, but I’d think so, especially if one schedules a photography tour. In a regular tour, they move us around pretty quickly and only allow your own group inside the cave area. You are so right about the a two-shot blend. I am surprised I did not even try to get three shots. However, the idea of two targeted blends (the trees outside and the cave interior) would be ideal. Thanks again, Mark.

This is stunning, Egidio. I agree with what everyone else has said. My eye wondered down the right side to the opening and then to the left where those beautiful lit up stones with the moss are. I just took this site in for awhile. So much to see. The only suggestion I have, is the top part of the cave to the left might be a tad too bright. Maybe darken that oval spot just a little to blend in with the other. This is like walking into a fairly land. Great job!

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Thanks for your kind and thoughtful feedback, @Donna_Callais . Your suggestion goes hand in hand with what @Mark_Seaver suggested, too. I am going to try a radial filter in the area to see if it can cut back on the highlights. Maybe a luminosity mask may do the trick. Next time I visit the cave, I will definitely try to take a couple of exposures and blend them for a better result.

What an amazing place and amazing image. Both your composition and post-processing are great emphasizing the fairytale feeling.

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@Ola_Jovall , I very much appreciate your compliment and feedback. Thank you.