Photos of the Week – August 7, 2020

This week, I made the Fellows help me with a research project I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I’m excited about it, but the logistics of actually setting up the project were a little unpleasant (I think Ashley is planning to post about the details later, so I won’t spoil it). Regardless, after we got done, we rewarded ourselves with a little photography time at one of our restored wetlands in the Platte River Prairies.

When we started, there were some light clouds diffusing the light, but they didn’t stick around long and we got less photography time than we’d hoped for. It was still nice to explore the wetland – especially compared to what we’d been doing earlier. Today’s photos are a sampling of those I took during that brief wetland exploration.

Well, actually, this photo took place earlier in the day after a light rain. This monarch was perched on some Canada wildrye, trying to dry off and I made the Fellows stand around for several minutes, waiting for me to get the photo I wanted. (To be fair, I offered them the chance to photograph it to, but they turned me down.) Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, 1/200 sec, f/10.
Here’s Ashley experimenting with some photo techniques at the wetland. This is a former sandpit lake that we’ve restored over many years into a stream with lots of backwater wetlands, side sloughs, and isolated pools. Tokina 12-28mm lens @ 12 mm. ISO 500, 1/500 sec, f/18.
There were numerous examples of this plant sprawling across dry sandbars left by flooding earlier this year. According to my friend and helpful botanist Gerry Steinauer, it is Mollugo verticillata, aka green carpetweed. I enjoyed both the orange color of the maturing leaves and the webbed pattern of the stems across the sand. Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 500, 1/200 sec, f/16.
Obedient plant, aka false dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana) is not a common plant in the Platte River Prairies, but when we do see a patch, it’s usually full of gorgeous flowering stems. I hung out with this patch for quite a while, playing with light and compositions. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, 1/320 sec, f/16.
Here’s a wider view of the whole patch of obedient plant. Nikon 10.5mm fish eye lens. ISO 500, 1/200 sec, f/20.
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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 7, 2020

  1. I’m newish enough to your blog that you might have covered this before, but now I am fascinated by what you did with the sandpit lake over the years. More details?

  2. I’d love to see some current “side-by-side”comparisons of the restoration using photos from previous posts if have them to share.


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