The Oasis Restaurant, which sits on a cliff some 450′ above Lake Travis in Austin, labels itself as the sunset capital of Texas…and it may very well be. I recently visited with an out-of-town guest and a few of my daughters and was amazed at the enormity of what they are building out there. You see, in 2005 the Oasis burned as a result of a lightning strike. It has since been rebuilt and then some. An employee informed us that the place currently seats 2600 people — enough to be the third largest restaurant in the USA. Construction is well underway on an expansion which will increase the seating to 4000…largest in the country is their claim! According to their own website there will also be about 30 retail shops on site.
The signature architectural feature of the Oasis is its many levels of outdoor decks. Large patio umbrellas cover the tables and about ten minutes before the sun hits the horizon the staff makes a mad scramble to collapse all the umbrellas to maximize the view. As the sun sets, a bell rings out, hundreds of cameras click, and everyone cheers.
What’s the food like? Let’s just say that I’m not all that picky and I still don’t like it much. Oh well, I go (once every 5 years maybe) for the sunset and not the food.
I took brackets of three different compositions on our last visit. One was an immediate reject and I processed one of the others (shown above). Standard-ish 3-exp (or was it 6???) HDR tonemapped in Photomatix, combined with bits from the original exposures, and run through a bit of curves adjustments, etc. I plan to get out there again sometime soon and really spend a bit of time taking photos from various vantage points.