Photos of the Week – August 9, 2019

This is a great time of year for foggy mornings with (fairly) calm winds. Those mornings offer some pretty fantastic opportunities for photographers, especially as the sun just begins to break through the fog. I do, however, recommend good rain pants and waterproof boots, though even that often doesn’t keep my pants and socks from becoming completely saturated. Ah, the suffering I go through for my art…

A couple weeks ago, I shared some photos from a foggy morning up at the Niobrara Valley Preserve. Last weekend, I spent a really nice morning at our family prairie. Here are some of the images from that trip.

I took this photo of our wetland, featuring false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), while the fog was still really dense. My legs were still safe and dry inside my rain pants at this point.
While photographing these velvety gaura flowers (Gaura parviflora), I was still comfortably dry.
When I found this bee perched atop a silver leaf scurfpea plant (Pediomelum argophyllum), its legs were wetter than mine, though I could start feeling some dampness creeping in. The sun was also becoming more visible through the fog at this point.
Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) is always a wonderful photographic subject, though even the slightest breeze creates a real challenge for focusing. (I could definitely feel moisture inside my boots by this point).
This painted lady (Vanessa cardui) was soaking up the sun’s rays, trying to warm up and burn off the last of the dew from its body (you can still see some on its antennae). Speaking of soaking, the humidity was getting really uncomfortable as the same sun warming the butterfly was also creating a sauna effect inside my rain pants.
This smartweed plant (Polygonum bicorne?) was just starting to open its flowers and my legs were getting pretty wet – it was hard to say how much was humidity and how much was sweat induced by the rain pants sauna.
This wild lettuce leaf (Lactuca sp) was beautifully backlit by the sun and I was able to isolate it against some dark shadows. My socks were making a little squishy sound now.
By the time I took this, I might as well have been standing in 4 feet of water, as wet as I was. It took me about 10 minutes to get a few sharp images of this sideoats grama flowering stalk because the breeze was just strong enough to sway it agonizingly back and forth. The spider webbing and dew drops were too good to pass up, though, so I stuck around until I got the shot. I’m 85% confident none of the droplets were from the sweat dripping off of my nose.
This bush cicada (Megatibicen dorsatus) sat complacently while I snuck up closely enough for some good photos. I can’t believe it didn’t hear the sloshing of water in my boots or the torrents of sweat running down my legs and forehead as the sunlight continued to intensify. I peeled off my rain pants, which were keeping more moisture in than out by now, and headed for home.

Special Note: This Sunday, August 11, I’ll be appearing on “Digging Deeper”, a Facebook Live broadcast by “Backyard Farmer”, with Nebraska Educational Television. Tune in to Facebook Live at 6:30pm if you want to watch the program, or you’ll be able to find it on YouTube, starting Monday. Jim Locklear, of Lauritzen Gardens, and I talk about prairie conservation and the use of native prairie plants. It was a lot of fun – I hope you enjoy it.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – August 9, 2019

  1. I just watched the Digging Deeper with Backayrd Farmer. I love the show and I’ve enjoyed their Sunday night extra segments! Always good topics. It was great to see you on there! BYF is the only show I watch that I just can’t miss!

  2. Wonderful photos. I’d be happy to trade our sweltering temperatures and humidity for your dew. The last time I was out and about, I ended up looking like I’d been standing in a shower for a good while. No matter — it’s still worth it, especially when you bring home photos like this.


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