Photo of the Week – August 4, 2016

This Wednesday, I arrived at Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska just as a heavy morning fog was beginning to dissipate.  I had about 10 minutes before a meeting, so I grabbed my camera, threw on some rain pants and waded into the wet grass.  Lanceleaf blazing star (Liatris lancifolia) was blooming in large patches in the restored prairie near the parking lot, so I wandered over to take a look.  A wet bumblebee was sitting on one of the flowering stems, waiting for the sun to dry it off.  Using a wide angle lens, I took several photographs of the bee and surrounding flowers, trying out some different angles and compositions.

Here’s the problem: I can’t decide which composition I like best.  So, as I’ve done many times before, I’m presenting them to you.  To be honest, this crowd sourcing method hasn’t been particularly helpful to me in the past, since there is rarely a strong majority among voters.  Being an eternal optimist, however, I’m going to keep trying. Plus, many of you seem to enjoy voting.

SO – tell me which of these you like best.  Please?  Thank you.

Bumblebee on blazing star. Photo #1.

Bumblebee on blazing star. Photo #1.

Bee and blazing star #2.

Bee and blazing star #2.

Bee on blazing star #3

Bee on blazing star #3

Bee on blazing star #4. (Vertical - just to complicate things)

Bee on blazing star #4. (Vertical – just to complicate things)


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.
This entry was posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Photo of the Week – August 4, 2016

  1. Carrie Cronin says:

    I like 1

  2. Brandon Timm says:

    #4. I like that the bumblebee is in the sky. It looks like it is trying to climb a cliff to the freedom of the sky.

  3. Brandon J. says:

    Photo # 1 has got my vote! Did you use your macro lense to take the photos?

  4. My choice is #2., but the bee position on #4 is the best. :)

  5. Mark Norton says:

    I like #1

  6. Neal says:

    C’mon Chris. Clearly it’s the first one. The depth and spacing of the upright flower stalks give one the sense of an enchanted forest. On second thought maybe that comment indicates an inherent bias induced by sharing a home with a 10 year old girl?

    • thompsonxyz says:

      I’ll add my vote for #1. Maybe I always think like a 10 year old? Besides, it’s not meant to be a bumblebee photo. Besides, discovering the bumblebee in #1 is a nice reward for observing photo longer.

  7. If the title is “Bee and Blazing Star”, then it’s #4 hands-down. If it’s “Blazing Star”, then #1, with a very close #2.

  8. Kim says:

    #4 coz it is all about the nice bee.

  9. I like #1, but also like the bee silhouette in #4.

  10. steve clubine says:

    #1 is first; # 4 second.

  11. Paul says:

    I have to go with #4 Chris . . . just a more striking photo in my opinion. Photo #2 is a close second for me. Very nice and thank for sharing them Chris!

  12. Valerie says:

    Number 4, if you want to highlight pollinator and plant. If you want a broader community view, number 1.

  13. Jane Papsdorf says:

    Number three

  14. Pat says:

    Number four.

  15. marknupen says:

    Ah, Definitely #2. The composition is clear and not too confusing and the bee there easy to see. The yellow flowers add some nice contrast and not too complicated with a jumble of flowers. Such a glorious flower for the end of the summer up here in northwestern Wisconsin for me!!!

  16. avanraaphorst says:

    Number four

  17. Linda B. says:

    #1 is a close 2nd because the bee is so perfect

  18. Ed May says:

    #4 Chris.

    Sent from my iPad


  19. Simone says:

    #4… love the perspective

  20. Carl Kurtz says:

    Chris-#2 is the best composition. Watch out for putting things to close to the edge of the frame. The vertical is ok, but #2 gives one the best balance of the elements in the photograph.

    Carl Kurtz

  21. Ruby says:

    #1 it takes a minute for your eye to find the bee….a little surprise.

  22. Ken Schaal says:

    Ken from the N. American Prairie Conference picks #1.

  23. Julie says:

    I do like voting. I like #4.

  24. Samantha Craigie says:

    Photo 1 for me! Nice work :-)

  25. Wallace Ward says:

    Picture 1 definitely. The subject of the picture is the Liatris, and the bumblebee is a secondary character. Picture 1 is the best presentation of the Liatris.

  26. #1. It gives the viewer the impression of being in a “forest” of blazing star. Overall, these perspectives makes me think about how many other organisms experience the prairie.

  27. Suzanne Tuttle says:

    #4. I like seeing the bee silhouetted and also like the vertical shape of the photo which compliments the verticality of Liatris.

  28. says:

    Bee #4, without doubt. This “vertical” would win a Gold Medal in Rio this week! Dwight

  29. Kelly says:

    Like them all-love #2! Thank you for sharing.

  30. Len says:

    #1 has the best composition and depth of field.

  31. Nate M says:

    #4 because of the contrast of the bee against the sky, though I wish I could see the top of that liatris in the frame and the bottom has a little too much dead space. It’s still my favorite. I also really like the composition of #2 but I wish the bee popped more. I like the quartering shot of the bee in 3 but the liatris on the far left doesn’t do much for me in the frame.

    They’re all pretty dang good though Chris!

  32. Mark Kobylinski says:


  33. Teresa Lombard says:

    From the standpoint of balance, symmetry and sheer beauty of a delicious blue prairie sky contrasted with the liatris blooms I prefer #1 to all the others, but from the standpoint of the subject of bee and bloom I prefer #4. If I were going to pick one for my living room wall where a more general landscape-type topic would fit better, it would be #1, but for my office/den (which is more a clutter of many different subjects that I love individually), it would be #4.

  34. Bill says:

    The first one- has depth and movement throughout the image!

  35. Gretchen Graff says:


  36. Seth says:

    I don’t like any of them Chris – I jest, of course, they all have appealing attributes. For me it’s #2 mainly because of the aspect of the clouds in it, and the blue is a bit more washed out than the others (which I normally wouldn’t like as much, but works here).

  37. Lisa says:

    #4 for the bee; but I love #1 for the composition with the bee as a surprise.

  38. Danelle Haake says:

    For a unique depth and perspective, you can’t beat #1. I completely got the ‘enchanted forest’ feel that others mentioned. If I didn’t know what I was looking at, I might think this was a landscape shot with 2-3 foot tall grasses and 30 foot tall columns of some flowering, saguaro cactus-like plants. Until I would see the bee. :-)

    The realist in me is quite fond of #4.

  39. cpowersbrady says:

    I agree with Lisa. Besides the surprise of the bee, #1 also has an interesting off-center perspective to the horizon (what’s the word I can’t recall? parallax?) with blazing stars in various stages of flowering lined up like lampposts.

  40. Travis says:

    #4 Chris. This perspective gives the viewer a feeling of being small, like the bee, in a “forest” of blazingstar. Great photo!

  41. Robert Dana says:

    Number 3, by a mile. Great balance, and the bee is the natural center of attention.

  42. Gary Dunsmoor says:

    All great photos- but #4 is my favorite.

  43. I think #1 is the best/most appealing composition. The depth of field makes this more of an environmental portrait of a bee in its habitat and not just a macro image of the bee and flower. I like how the Liatris plants create a pyramid/triangle that fills up the space in the photograph and create and upward movement that gives the illusion of more height. I also like how the plant to the right of the image creates a stopping point for your gaze and helps push your eyes back to the left.

    I like the bee in #4 best, but I think the left side of the picture is dead space. If the flower had been placed on the left third of the picture it would give the bee “space” to take off into – kind of like having an animal looking into an image and not off to the nearest edge.

    In #2 I think the Liatris just divides the picture in half. It makes me want to just look at the right half of the photo where the bee is located and ignore the left side of the picture.

    To my eye, Photo #3 has too much dead space in the top half (especially the left side). Just like in photo #4, I think the bee is too far to the outside of the photo with nowhere to visually “go” if it takes flight.

  44. Mike Arduser says:

    Chris, got to be number 4 because I can tell what species/gender of bumblebee – male B. griseocollis, and that informs the entire image – the bee is getting on the tallest thing around so it can see potential mates. Plus the verical image is cool, it grabs you. Thanks!

  45. Katharine Hogan says:

    This doesn’t seem to be one of the popular choices, but I’d actually go with #3 because it maintains focus on the bee itself (it’s more apparent than in #’s 1 and 2) while still retaining more of the context and sense of depth than #4. I also think #3 just has a more balanced overall composition than #4.

  46. Jennifer Owens says:

    My first choice would be #4 because of the reasons above…more or less and my second choice would be #3. Chris, you always have really, really great pics! Thank you!

  47. Dee says:

    #4 then #2

  48. Gisela Fisher says:

    My first choice is No. 1. The composition is pleasing to me. My second choice is No. 4.

  49. Mo Horner says:

    Definitely the last one.

  50. Jess says:

    In order from most to least: 1, 4, 3, 2

  51. Marie says:

    Well, from an artist’s eye, #2. Strong composition, less cluttered than the others, much more bold than the others. Too much going on and the eye doesn’t know where to go. These three plants pull your eye around the image, making it very dynamic.

  52. Pingback: Voting Results: Prairie and Bee? or Bee in Prairie? | The Prairie Ecologist


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