Photo of the Week – February 27, 2014

For a nature photographer like me, Nebraska winters can get pretty long.  Especially winters like this one with very little snow.  How many photos of brown grass and dried flowers can I take, after all?  I don’t have the equipment or patience to photograph wildlife very well, so I’m kind of stuck with landscapes and close-up photos.

Well, a guy’s gotta photograph something…  While I was visiting my in-laws in Sarpy County, Nebraska (south of Omaha) last weekend, I decided to challenge myself to find something interesting to photograph within the small restored prairies on their property.  I guess you’ll have to judge whether or not I was successful.

Indiangrass.  Weiss Acres - Sarpy County, Nebraska.

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans).  Weiss Acres – Sarpy County, Nebraska.


A false sunflower seed head is backlit by the setting sun.

A false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) seed head is backlit by the setting sun.


The double helix pattern of an open partridge pea seed pod.

The double helix pattern of an open partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculate) seed pod.


Another false  sunflower seed head.

Another false sunflower seed head…


Another (yawn) sunflower seed head.  This time it's Maximilian sunflower.  The light was kind of interesting, though.

Another (yawn) sunflower seed head. This time it’s Maximilian sunflower. What can I say?  The light was kind of interesting.

So, there you go.  Now, how about a little snow?  Or some nice hoar frost?  Ice storm??

Spring is coming soon, right?



About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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20 Responses to Photo of the Week – February 27, 2014

  1. Paul says:

    Your first three photos of this post are among my favorites from your blog. Great job capturing an overlooked subject in a captivating manner!

  2. Sue Coder Kagarise says:

    You have managed to find beauty in what first appears to be drab.

  3. Sundry says:

    Wonderful shots. So intimate. It’s hard for people to see the value in plant diversity, but these are beautiful examples of the sheer beauty of the subject matter.

  4. Sundry says:

    Reblogged this on Any Given Sundry and commented:
    I don’t know if I have ever reblogged a post before, but this one is too gorgeous not to share. Thanks to Chris Helzer for posting on his blog, The Prairie Ecologist.

  5. Bob Stine says:

    Don’t badmouth that back-lit sunflower picture — it’s my favorite! “Nice light” indeed!

  6. Joanne says:

    Beautiful pictures, nature has a way of showing off any season. About your last post which I didn’t respond too — The February issue of National Geographic has a small photo of a barn owl — wings up. Underneath these, tiny wings with what looks like four wing tips which would go along with the other comments. It is easy to see how those smaller wings would touch the snow when the owl swoops in for a kill. This is before the Geographic numbers pages – just a few pages before an article on the brain.

  7. bugman13 says:

    Really like the partridge pea image.

  8. Becky says:

    Exquisite photos Chris, you do have a real knack for seeing that special light. As to the weather, we need some rain here in north Texas and lots of it. Hope you get that snow you want.

  9. Gene Sengstake says:

    That so much beauty can be found in seemingly simple photographs – – –

  10. I love all the close ups! The small details are very interesting and beautiful. Even in their Winter Brown.

  11. Kathy says:

    Wonderful pictures! What nature doesn’t give you in color (Spring, Summer, Fall) or contrast (Winter), it gives in texture.

  12. Jeanine Lackey says:

    Love the textures, the colors and the subjects….very prairie!!!

  13. Sharon says:

    Your photos fascinate me – Spring can wait.

  14. Tom says:

    Love ’em.

  15. Kody says:

    Hey, I also have a small restored prairie in Sarpy County. Nice photos Chris!

  16. Lisa Reid says:

    It would be great to have a field guide of wildflowers and grasses in winter (maybe one already exists) so I know what plants I am looking at in late fall through early spring as I’m walking/snowshoeing/skiing through the prairies. So I think all these photos of dried plants are great!


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