Gallery of Images from the Riverwalk
past 30 years have been kind to downtown San Antonio with the emergence
of the Riverwalk (listed as "River Walk" on the official
website) as the #1 tourist destination in San Antonio (and possibly
Texas?). As we see it today, the Riverwalk was created in 1939 by
architect Robert H. H. Hugman as a cleanup and beautification project.
After several shady years, the Riverwalk was revitalized in the
1960's with the area really taking off in the last 20 years or so.
Several festivals are held throughout the year with the most visually
event stunning occurring between Thanksgiving and January 4 every
year as trees on the banks of the river are decorated with thousands
(from Austin): Take I-35 South into downtown San Antonio. Parking
is scattered around the Riverwalk with a large deck located off
of Commerce street at the River Center Mall.
trip was my first trip in this series that wasn't exclusively photographic.
With relatives in town, and a Friday to kill, we set for San Antonio
to visit the Alamo and Riverwalk. As such I only had about an hour
to shoot the river, and the huge crowds due to a combination of
Christmas break and pep rally for the Alamo Bowl made for a very
frustrating and somewhat limited adventure photo-wise. However we
did enjoy the trip and I was able to get a couple of decent shots.
night fell, the family went for ice cream (yes, December in San
Antonio is ice cream weather), the river lights came on, and the
crowd multiplied in size as the football pep rally swung into gear.
As the amphitheater was crazy, I headed the opposite direction with
camera and 15-30mm lens attached to my tripod. The crowds are a
challenge as some points the river paths are very narrow and there
is a serious risk of falling into the river. That and the fact that
tripods take up significant space means that one has to look hard
for the few prime spots while trying to stay out of the way. The
key here is patience and be aware of where you step.
photography itself was fairly straight forward - mirror-lockup tripod
shots with +/- 1 2/3 bracketing at ISO 400 and f/8 (or so). The
shutter speeds were usually 1-5 seconds long and so as long as people
were moving they didn't show up in the images. There were lots of
river boats which presents interesting light trails, and occasionally
you had the clueless person wander within view and take a flash
photo. This of course does two things: 1) generates a poor photo
for the person with the flash, and 2) adds an additional light to
Friday after Christmas on the eve of the Alamo Bowl is probably
the WORSE POSSIBLE TIME to take photos, but I had to deal with my
conditions. Ideally I'd like to have the river to myself (yup, I'm
greedy like that) so to get the shots I really want I have to been
down there really late (after 11?) and possibly with someone who
can look over my shoulder. The area is "safe", but....
I'd feel safer if I had company that late at night.
the lights: I got mixed answers when I asked about when they go
up (one guide said they are up year-round, the other said they are
put up each year over a 3 month period). However I did get consistent
answers about when they are turned on. The river is lit from the
day after thanksgiving to the annual mud festival on January 4.
In case you're wondering the mud festival is when they drain the
river and clean it. Apparently people enjoy combing through the
day I'll go back, probably late at night when its cold.
The Riverwalk is located in the heart of San Antonio and is an extremely
popular tourist destination. The river is lit during the Christmas
season from Thanksgiving until just after the New Year. Recommended
time for photography are during off-peak hours, but you may want
to bring a friend if you go really late at night. If you do go at
night, shoot tungsten or RAW (most of the lighting is tungsten)
and bracket each shot due to the extreme differences between the
lit areas and the shadows.