Photo of the Week – December 10, 2015

Earlier this week, I mentioned the hike I took at the Niobrara Valley Preserve Monday afternoon and evening.  I carried my camera on the walk but waited in vain for decent photography light.  The heavy clouds started to thin as sunset time neared, but the sun dropped below the horizon before ever popping through.  However, a short time later, as the clouds continued to thin, they suddenly lit up with beautiful pink and purple color.

Tree skeletons in post sunset glow in the 2012 wildfire area at TNC's Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska.

This tree apparently supported a fallen tree or branch for quite a few years – long enough to have molded itself around it.

Tree skeletons in post sunset glow in the 2012 wildfire area at TNC's Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska.

Tree silhouettes against the post-sunset sky.

Not long after the color faded from the sky, the first stars started to appear and the clouds continued to disperse.  By the time I reached the car, most of the sky was clear and the stars were strikingly bright in the sky.  It was only about 7:30 pm, so I decided to extend my hike a little and found a few trees to put in front of the stars.

stars

Starry sky along the Niobrara River.  This pine tree is the same one I featured a few posts ago as I compared three years of photos showing fire recovery.

.

stars

At the time, I thought the glow on the horizon was the nearby town of Valentine, but now I wonder if it was actually the very last of the glow from the sun.

Listening to coyotes and great horned owls while admiring more stars than anyone could count in a lifetime of lifetimes was a pretty great way to end the day.

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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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8 Responses to Photo of the Week – December 10, 2015

  1. Stuart Bailey says:

    Inspiring photos!

  2. James McGee says:

    I miss the stars. I know they are up there, but I have not seen them in a long time.

  3. Jane says:

    Glorious night scenes! And you clinched it with that last sentence, Chris: “Listening to coyotes and great horned owls while admiring more stars than anyone could count in a lifetime of lifetimes was a pretty great way to end the day.” Yes, indeed. :)

  4. Crow says:

    Magic! Thank you for sharing!

  5. David W. Ellis says:

    Exceptional! Lifetime of lifetimes…yes!

  6. Florence Larsen says:

    beautiful photos of the Niobrara River area. I agree that it is the sun descending leaving darkness in its place. I have fond memories of that River from childhood (I am now 89). Keep carri g your camera and sharing!

  7. Mary Voges says:

    I am always amazed at your beautiful photos…but these are beyond words, so I’ll just sit quietly and admire.

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