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San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

Description:

The Spanish Missions built along the San Antonio River, are now in metro San Antonio and are preserved as a National Historic Park.  There are 4 missions in the park each at a separate location, so to visit them all you have to travel to 4 different places in San Antonio.  The four sites are Mission Conception, Mission San José, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada.  The 5th San Antonio Mission and the best known, the Alamo, is not a part of the park.  The missions are nearly 250 years old, continue to operate as active parishes of the Catholic church and all are open to the public. Through a cooperative agreement with the Archdiocese of San Antonio, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park of the National Park Service administers and maintains these missions today.

The missions were much more than just churches, the were each self contained communities, with ranching and farming for food production.

Cost:
There is no entrance fee for the Historic Park.

Best Time to Visit:

Spring through fall you will have green grass and flowers to add color to your images, the missions make excellent subjects for B&W photos, that can be made at any time.  The park hours are a great restriction on being able to shoot at the prime photography times of sunrise and sunset, but it is possible to photograph some of the missions after hours, others will have locked gates.

Where it is:

Mission Concepción
807 Mission Road
San Antonio, Texas 78210

Mission San Juan
9101 Graf Road
San Antonio, Texas 78214

Administrative Headquarters
2202 Roosevelt Avenue
San Antonio, Texas 78210

Mission San José
6701 San José Drive
San Antonio, Texas 78214

Mission Espada
10040 Espada Road
San Antonio, Texas 78214

Directions:

From downtown and the Alamo area:•Travel south on South St. Mary’s Street. Approximately one mile south of downtown, after passing beneath railroad tracks, South St. Mary’s becomes Roosevelt Ave. Continue on Roosevelt 4 miles, to a drive-in theater on your left, followed by a large stone structure: Mission San José. At the first stop light past the mission turn left onto New Napier Ave. Follow the signs into our parking lot or bus lanes, as appropriate.

Map:

Click here for National Park Service map

Links:

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park

Hours of Operation:
Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1.

Tips for the Photographer

Equipment:

There is no special equipment needed, you can get great shots with just about any camera and lens combination.

What to Photograph:

The mission buildings, churches, and grounds.  Pay close attention to the detail and workmanship of the 250 year old structures.

Photography Tips:

Photographing during the midday outdoors can cause very high contrast and make it difficult to accurately capture the scene.  Photographing on an overcast or cloudy day will help to soften the light.  Using the technique of HDR or High Dynamic Range can also improve your photos.  All of the photos I have posted here used HDR.

More Photographic Destinations in Texas:

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2 Comments
  1. Dear Greg,

    Loveds you Missions Nat. historic park pics!!! How did you get all those great vantage points, doorway shots, interiors etc. without other people in the pics????!

    I know you have been shooting for a long time, but I think you are getting better and better.

    May see you at a full moon shoot in this area,

    Bob Livesay

    • Thanks, Bob
      The San Antonio Missions National Park was not very crowded even though it was Memorial Day weekend (everyone was at the Alamo), and with a little patience it was possible to get just about any area clear of people.

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Greg Disch
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