Photo of the Week – November 10, 2018

A goatsbeard (Tragopogon dubius) seed hanging on the flower stalk of hoary vervain (Verbena stricta).  Lincoln Creek Prairie, Aurora, Nebraska.

Despite being a little slow to fully embrace it a dozen years or so ago, I’ve become very grateful for the world of digital photography.  One of the best perks, of course, is that it costs nothing but sorting time and storage space to take lots and lots of photos.  When I was shooting slide film, I was very selective about how many photos I took because I knew it cost me about 33 cents each time I clicked the shutter.  As a result, I didn’t take as many chances as I would have liked, and often didn’t take enough images of a particular subject to get what I really wanted.  

Today, I don’t mind taking way more photos of something than I think I’ll need to make sure I’m happy with the final result.  A great example of the benefits of this strategy occurred back in June of this year.  I had finished spending some time at my square meter photo plot, and was doing a quick meander through the rest of the nearby prairie when I spotted a goatsbeard seed that had gotten caught on the flowers of a hoary vervain plant.  I liked the color and texture the seed/flower combination, so I stopped to photograph it.

The seed was barely attached to the flower in one place, and a gentle breeze caused the seed to slowly rotate around on that fulcrum.  In my head, I had only a vague concept of the image I was trying to capture.  There was something about the fuzzy, webby texture of the seed and the strong vertical arrangement of the flower stalk, but…  As the seed shifted around, I just snapped away – kind of like trying to refine an idea by just talking it out.

Just when I was starting to get frustrated by not getting what I wanted, the breeze picked up just for a second and blew the seed into a new position, where it hung for a few moments.  That was it!  I slid my tripod a few inches closer and got exactly the shot I had been searching for the whole time.  It’s become one of my favorite photos from this year, both because of its simple beauty and because I had to wait for it to happen.

This is definitely the image that captured the essence of what attracted me to the tiny scene in the first place.

8 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – November 10, 2018

  1. Linda Jarsky November 10, 2018 / 9:52 am

    The starburst on the magic wand is truly spellbinding. I have Asclepias fluffs catching the morning light in my front yard, and they are exquisite. Thanks for making so many of my days better with photos of our beautiful natural world…a world that exists in spite of the efforts of some to diminish it.

  2. Anna November 10, 2018 / 1:13 pm

    Lovely! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your unique and inspiring view of the world.

  3. Kathryn Kerr November 10, 2018 / 3:35 pm

    Appreciative as always.

  4. Diane Ohlson Lincoln, NE November 11, 2018 / 7:34 am

    Beautiful pictures! I’m new to the blog. What brand of camera do you use? I was at Niobrara Valley preserve in October and saw your prints for the open house. Do you give permission to make re-prints?

    • Chris Helzer November 11, 2018 / 7:43 am

      Thanks Diane. I’m currently using a Nikon D7100 camera. I don’t usually sell prints because of the logistics hassle, especially at low volumes. Hopefully, we’ll see you again soon at either our Niobrara or Platte properties!

  5. nigel64 November 12, 2018 / 12:51 pm

    That’s the essence of the prairie, distilled.

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