Thanksgiving morning was overcast with light snow here in Aurora, Nebraska. We had a big family gathering yesterday, but no plans for today, so I ventured out to get some fresh air. I took my camera because I always take my camera, but I wasn’t overly optimistic about the kinds of photos I’d get. Photography in flat low light conditions can be difficult because both color and texture are greatly muted. Accordingly, I looked for strong patterns and clear contrast between prairie plants and the 4-5 inches of snow that was on the ground.
I didn’t see any other people walking in the snowy prairie on Thanksgiving morning, but I wasn’t completely alone. I saw tracks of a big deer that had probably hidden in the little patch of prairie and woods on the edge of town during the recent rifle deer season. Tracks of rabbits and birds were all over the place too, the latter clearly foraging on seeds from a wide variety of prairie plants. I also got a brief glimpse of a vole that popped out of the snow at my feet, scurried about 8 feet across the surface, and then dove back into the snow again.
I spent a lot of time on my knees, exploring small holes in the snow where grasses and other plants were poking out. Yesterday warmed up enough to do a little melting of snow around the edges of those holes, leaving behind interesting patterns. In some cases, the ice crystals on those edges were the subject of the photo – other times, they just helped frame leaves or stems in nice ways.
I nearly decided not to go out this morning. It wasn’t terribly cold, but it was the kind of damp cold that seems to seep right through winter clothing. As I was waffling, the wind picked up, making me even more hesitant to leave the house. Eventually, though, my desire to be outside outweighed my doubt about whether I’d find anything worth photographing in the flat light and windy cold temperatures. I should have known better – deciding to go walk in a prairie is almost never the wrong choice, and once I was there, I had a great time. I hope you enjoy this selection of images from my hike. Happy Thanksgiving!