Photo of the Week – August 16, 2012

This photo is actually several weeks old – taken at the Niobrara Valley Preserve right after the big wildfires had blown through.  On this particular evening, I was crossing a bridge over the river and saw a photographer working to capture the evening light coming through the spray of a waterfall.  I had just enough time to squeeze off a couple shots of him before he started packing up his tripod to leave. 

A photographer catching the evening light through the waterfall just upstream of the Norden Bridge – The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve.  Click on the photo to see a larger, sharper version.

When I took this picture, I was covered in soot from working all day in recently-burned areas.  The photographer, the beautiful light, and the clean water passing over the falls were all in stark and welcome contrast to most of the surrounding landscape, which consisted largely of scorched earth and trees.  The scene was like a small peephole into what the larger landscape had been like just a few days earlier. 

I’ve delayed posting this photo because I wasn’t sure whether I liked it because of my emotions at the time or because it was really a quality photo.  To be honest, I’m still not sure, but it’s time to post it anyway.  I hope you enjoy it.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.
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17 Responses to Photo of the Week – August 16, 2012

  1. Ryan Diener says:

    I really like this photo, thanks for sharing!

  2. Watchoot says:

    Excellent image, I really like it.

  3. James C. Trager says:

    I’m not always sure what people mean by artistic merit, but it IS a beautiful photograph!

  4. Tom Prunier says:

    Reminds me of the tons of biomass in an unburnt prairie.

  5. John Phelan says:

    I believe you are the professional here. Good job.
    John Phelan

  6. melmannphoto says:

    Well, it does show there are waterfalls in Nebraska! The presence of the photographer is important to show scale. And how we’re all looking out across some distance for a wonderful sight.

  7. Storm Cunningham says:

    I love that photo, Chris! No need to be hesitant about sharing it.

    It’s got a very special energy and combination of elements, and I wouldn’t even attempt to describe how they combine to create magic.

    Thanks for sharing! – Storm

  8. while I understand your feelings after spending time in the burn zone, it is an awesome photo and story well told.

  9. phardesty1 says:

    Beautiful photo Chris! My favorite time of day and light! Glad you shared it!

  10. Gorgeous photo! And melmannphoto is right: Seeing the photographer helps understand the scale — I wouldn’t have thought the waterfall was that big (it IS Nebraska afterall!) without the teeny man to demonstrate. Besides, at this point in the drought here in Oklahoma, where it seems like our entire state is burning, seeing ANY water is refreshing!

  11. Adam says:

    It’s like a modern day version of Ansel Adams capturing nature

  12. James McGee says:

    Your photo brings back memories. I canoed the Niobrara as a young boy scout. I was small enough at that time that I could sit on the bow with each leg hanging over the sides so my feet could reach the water. This actually balanced the canoe better because the scout leader, Mr. Hawkins, who was in the back, was so much bigger than me. While canoeing, the Mr. Hawkins and I traveled through a feature like the one in your photo. They called it “the shoot.” When we went through “the shoot” the canoe rolled sideways 90 degrees. Mr. Hawkins flew out of the canoe and into the water. As a flexible young boy, I was able to lean far enough over to not only stay on the canoe, but I was actually able to make it roll back to level. There I was, a small boy, sitting on the bow of a canoe, paddle in hand, going down the river alone. I paddled to the river’s edge and waited for Mr. Hawkins to catch up. After he got out of the river and composed himself, the first thing he asked me was “How did you stay in the canoe?” I did not know, I just did. :)

  13. Pat Halderman says:

    I love that photo! Good job. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Ernest Ochsner says:

    Chris, I have eyed that slit in the river every time we go up to the preserve, have photographed it a few times and you are the man. Great shot and as has been said the human scale helps.
    Ernie

  15. Mark Welsch - NFP Omaha Coordinator says:

    Dear Chris,

    It is a great picture.

    Do you have any pictures that closely show the contrast from one side of the river or a stream with burn on one side and green on the other? Or, just where the fire was stopped?

    Taking pictures at that exact same location, over a period of weeks, months or even years would probably be very interesting.

    In Peace and Justice, Mark Welsch, Omaha Coordinator Nebraskans for Peace P.O. Box 6418 Omaha, NE 68106 402-453-0776 NFPOmaha@nebraskansforpeace.org http://www.nebraskansforpeace.org https://www.facebook.com/NebraskansforPeace

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