Photo of the Week – January 8, 2015

I was able to take a trip up to the Niobrara Valley Preserve just after the first of the year.  Snow covered the ground and it was bitterly cold much of the time I was there, but there was one evening’s worth of good light and reasonable temperatures that allowed for some photography.  Here are two images from that evening that show the landscape from two vastly different perspectives.

The

Ice and snow covered The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve last weekend.  This is a panoramic image comprised of several photos merged together.  You can click on the image to see a larger version of it.

The Niobrara Valley Preserve is a place that feels big (and it is).  From some of the higher vantage points on site, you can see for many miles in every direction.  It’s easy to feel swallowed up by that expansiveness – something that I find exhilarating, but others find overwhelming.  At the same time, much of the beauty of the place is found in the smaller details, including simple things such as the top of a ragweed plant emerging from a glistening hole in the melting snow…

Ragweed in snow.  Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska.

Ragweed in snow. Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska.

I am very fortunate to be able to make regular visits to the Niobrara Valley Preserve.  Despite the cold, snow, and wind, this latest trip was one of my favorites.  I’m sure I will go back soon.

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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 – January 8, 2015

  1. Your photos often make me miss my native Iowa. Beautiful shots and thanks for sharing.

  2. Angela Anderson says:

    wow!

  3. Bob Stine says:

    When I saw these I literally gasped. So pretty!

  4. Janet Schlicht says:

    So beautiful. Thank you.

  5. Marge Smith says:

    Beautiful photo. I try to paint some of your photos but am just learnig to paint with watercolors so they aren’t very good…so far. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Ann Bleed says:

    Fantastic pic of the river.

  7. Ed May says:

    Happy New Year Chris. Your photography has inspired me in a variety of ways. One of which is trying to become a better photographer myself. I just left Rockbrook Camera with a new camera! I plan on taking a basics course they offer and taking better landscape pictures and doing a better job of documenting the plants on my property. Thanks for all you do Chris. Ed

  8. James C. Trager says:

    Stunning, wild place. I must get there some dday!
    Are the tree mostly fire-killed pines, Chris?

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Yes, mostly dead Pines and cedars, with some topkilled oaks as well

      • So many questions…
        Are new baby pines showing up among those skeletons?
        Which oak species?
        I could go on. I know, I just have to visit.

        • Chris Helzer says:

          James T – so many answers…
          We have not seen any baby pines yet, but also no (or very few) baby cedars either, so it could be worse. We’re hoping to institute some burning on those slopes to prevent cedars from re-establishing, but that will make for some interesting challenges re pine establishment as well… The oaks are all bur oaks, and most have resprouted from the base and are growing very strongly now. But yes, you should just visit!

  9. I enjoy the color contrasts in your panorama — the cool blues in the shadow light and the warm oranges in the sunlight. A lovely winter scene!

  10. James McGee says:

    I often wonder why I do not see Chris Helzer credited in my Nature Conservancy Calendar or Magazines. This is a blatant hint that you should submit some of your photos.

  11. Ernest Ochsner says:

    Nice photo stitch Chris. Did you use Photoshops Photomerge or another program on this? I use Photoshop and PTGui Pro, both work great, some images work better than others in each program and a few only work well in one or the other. Winter does offer a strong light to dark problem, though most new cameras have such wide latitude that that isn’t a big problem anymore.
    Again beautiful, if you need company on a trip let me know.

  12. Pingback: A Hole New Mystery to Consider | The Prairie Ecologist

  13. Derek Luchik says:

    Wonderful post Chris, and spectacular photos as always. It was such an honor to be at the Niobrara Preserve in late September this past year to help with the West Bison Burn Unit.

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