I frequently hear that people like living in forests and/or the mountains, but it’s pretty tough to see the sunrise when you’re surrounded by all those visual obstructions. I feel badly for people who have never seen a prairie sunrise, especially in a landscape of horizon-to-horizon grassland. Having said all that, I rarely photograph sunrises these days. That’s not because I don’t appreciate them – I certainly do. It’s just that I’m usually pointing my camera away from the sun, trying to capture the prairie and its organisms as they are bathed in the gorgeous warm light of early morning.
I broke pattern this week, though, at the Niobrara Valley Preserve. I meandered out early on Wednesday morning and saw a hazy horizon with an orange/pink glow where the sun was about to pop up. I climbed a big hill in the east bison pasture and captured photos of the sun as it peered over the horizon for the first time. I stayed on that hill for a few minutes, watching and photographing the sun as it climbed higher. After a while, I went looking for some subjects to put between me and the sun before it got too bright.
With all the rain we’ve had this year, indiangrass is blooming prolifically in the Sandhills prairie. Morning light coming through indiangrass flowers is pretty hard to resist. I found a few different ways to frame the indiangrass/sun combination.
After a while, I started looking for other foreground subject matter and enjoyed the linear nature of a two-track driving trail and the south fenceline of the bison pasture. I played around with that theme for a little while, but I had other work to do, so I eventually moved on. Don’t feel too badly for me, though – my next project was to find the bison and get some aerial photos of them with the drone. Mine is not such a bad job, all things considered…