Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) is one of my favorite grasses, and certainly among the most distinctive in North American prairies. It’s also a great photographic subject, though a tricky one. In close-up photography, there is little depth-of-field to work with, which can make it tricky to get multiple items in focus at the same time. One trick is to move the camera so that all those objects are the same distance from the camera and simultaneously in focus. That’s more difficult than it might sound, even with a subject like sideoats grama, in which all the flowers are arrayed along a single stem.
Depth-of-field issues aren’t the only challenges involved in photographing sideoats grama. It’s tough enough to situate my camera so most of the flowers are in focus, but in addition to that, I try to do so in ways that provide some open space behind the flowers and produce a clean background. The vagaries of prairie winds, and the difficulty of photographing small subjects waving around in the breeze add yet another layer of difficulty. I’m not complaining, mind you – just trying to explain how satisfying it is whenever I am able to capture a clean sharp image of sideoats grama. The exquisite beauty of the plant makes all the struggle worth my while. I hope you enjoy this selection from my sideoats library!