Photo of the Week – January 26, 2018

Leftovers.  When we cook a big meal and don’t eat it all, we bundle the rest up and save it for later.  We might not feed it to company, but there’s a distinct pleasure (at least for me) in coming back later to dig back into the remains of a great meal.

In a funny way, the idea of leftovers applies to many of my photography excursions as well.  Often, I’ll get out in the field and a theme of sorts will start to emerge as I wander around with my camera.  I usually notice something interesting and then look for other aspects or examples of that.  Sometimes, it’s a particular plant species, and the variety of pollinators or other insects using that same plant.  Other times, the theme is a little more broad – having to do with the impacts of some prairie management strategy or a recent weather event.  As a result, when I get home with a batch of photos, many of them can be strung together into a story I use for blog posts and/or presentations.  Scattered among those photos, however, are the leftovers.  The leftovers are the photos that I really like, but that don’t fit into a particular theme or story.

During the winter, when I’m not as active as a photographer, I have time to dig back into the remains of those earlier photo excursions.  While it’s not necessarily polite to share leftovers with company, I’m going to break that rule today and share some of mine from last summer.

Wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota). This is one of the better portraits I’ve managed to get of this great plant.
American germander (Teucrium canadense) is fairly uncommon in our Platte River Prairies, but when it does occur, it often grows in large patches. It’s always been a difficult flower for me to photograph because it sticks out in all different directions, and it’s hard to figure out what to focus on. As I walked past this plant one morning last summer, my brain saw something that might work, and I ended up with a photo I liked.
Getting sharp photos of spiders on their webs is always an accomplishment. Even the slightest breeze pushes them around substantially, making it really hard to get a photo that freezes that motion.  During a pleasant morning walk at the Niobrara Valley Preserve last summer, I spotted this spider and managed to get at least one sharp image as it swayed gently in the wind.

10 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – January 26, 2018

  1. Mary January 26, 2018 / 11:46 am

    I love leftovers, thanks for sharing them. My uncle always called leftovers ” drag-outs”. That kind of fits here too. Again, thanks for sharing!
    Mary Grey

  2. Robert Dana January 26, 2018 / 11:53 am

    The “Canada milkvetch (Astrag. canadensis)” looks like Wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota). The banner petal is much more sharply pointed than the milkvetch, and the leaflets are also.

    • Chris Helzer January 26, 2018 / 12:06 pm

      Robert!! You’re absolutely right. The label on the actual photo is correct, but when I was going through photos, I didn’t look closely enough and mislabeled it in the blog post. It’s particularly embarrassing because the two species always confuse my technicians and I work with them to see the differences… Thanks for pointing out the error, and I’ve fixed the post.

    • James C. Trager January 26, 2018 / 3:26 pm

      Pointy, ovate leafletsalso point to (if you will) Glycirrhiza lepidota, rather than more ovoid/elliptic leaflets of A. canadensis.

  3. Caitlin Mroz January 26, 2018 / 1:43 pm

    is that a cat-faced spider? aka orb-weaver aka jewel spider?

    • Chris Helzer January 29, 2018 / 10:12 pm

      I don’t know! I’d take your word for it if you say it is… : )

  4. Jamie Vesay January 27, 2018 / 10:27 am

    “Leftovers make you feel good twice. First, when you put it away, you feel thrifty and intelligent: ‘I’m saving food!’ Then a month later when blue hair is growing out of the ham, and you throw it away, you feel really intelligent: ‘I’m saving my life!'” – George Carlin, comedian

  5. Linda Chafin January 27, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    Your photos brightened a dreary winter day, thanks!l

  6. Dick Kahoe January 28, 2018 / 1:42 pm

    I know little about prairies, but I’m enjoying the learning–your photos and essays are wonderful. I hope to come visit your prairies someday.

    I had the opportunity to photograph a prescribed burn at the Turkeyfoot Prairie here in Warrensburg, MO. Here’s a link to the video https://youtu.be/8f4rQfmJ9e4

  7. K. Wiederholt January 31, 2018 / 12:01 pm

    Oh those licorice plants. They are the bane of long-haired hunting dogs and their owners on the prairie. They tighten their way right to the skin as the dogs move. We garb our dogs in orange cloth jackets that have short ‘sleeves’ to keep those burs out of their front armpits. I was surprised the first time I saw licorice in flower – they’re attractive enough to let me forgive them a teensy bit.

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