The Beauty of Prairies in 2020 – January/February

Despite everything going on this year, there was still a lot of beauty to be found in 2020. I saw it in the small acts of kindnesses between people, regardless of a global pandemic and widespread political and cultural division. I was also very fortunate to be able to capture the splendor of Nebraska prairies, though I ranged less widely than I have in other years. As 2020 comes to an end, I’d like to put together something that reminds others of the beauty around us, particularly in prairies. I’m hoping you can help.

1.) The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve on January 1, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Tokina 12-28mm lens @ 12mm. ISO 500, f/22, 1/60 sec.

In the coming weeks, in addition to other blog posts, I’m going to share some collections of prairie photos from 2020. I hope you enjoy seeing all of them, but I’d also like your help in choosing the ones you think are the best. I’ll try to incorporate those select images into some kind of project (still in the design phase) that both highlights the beauty of prairies and helps people feel better about the world in general. With each collection I share, I’d love to get your feedback about the images. If you’d like participate, just go to the comments section at the end of this post and list the numbers of any images that resonate particularly with you. Thanks in advance for your help, and I hope you enjoy the photos.

2.) Ice bubbles in a restored wetland at The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/25, 1/60 sec.
3.) Grouse tracks. The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve on January 1, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Tokina 12-28mm lens @ 18mm. ISO 500, f/18, 1/250 sec.
4.) Ice bubbles at Springer Basin Wildlife Management Area. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/13, 1/400 sec.
5.) Sunrise on a frozen wetland. Deep Well Wildlife Management Area, Hamilton County, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Tokina 12-28mm lens @ 19mm. ISO 500, f/22, 1/400 sec.
6.) Frozen beetle at Springer Basin Wildlife Management Area. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/20, 1/125 sec.
7.) The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve on January 1, 2020. Aerial photo with DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. 4.4mm lens, ISO 100, f/2.8 @ 1/800 sec.
8.) Cattail seeds and frozen bubbles at Springer Basin Wildlife Management Area. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/16, 1/125 sec.
9.) Ice and wetland plants. Deep Well Wildlife Management Area, Hamilton County, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/18, 1/400 sec.
10.) Sunrise and frozen wetland at the Helzer Family Prairie, Hamilton County, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Tokina 12-28mm lens @ 12mm. ISO 500, f/22, 1/125 sec.
11.) Frozen frog in the ice at the Helzer Family Prairie, Hamilton County, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/10, 1/200 sec.
12.) Ice bubbles in a restored wetland at The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/14, 1/100 sec.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

39 thoughts on “The Beauty of Prairies in 2020 – January/February

  1. Numbers 1 & 5. Really like the way you have the plant tapping into the sun on #5. It’s a very symbolic reminder of the connection of our Earth to the Sun.

  2. 1, 5, 7, 10 are all inspiring. All the ice and snow “bubbles” would fit into their own category, not sure what to call it. The dead critters would probably make some people sad, although we should all be mature enough to know about “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.” All of your stuff is good, Chris!

  3. 1, 3 and 11 are standouts for me. And if I picked an ice bubble one, 12 definitely stands out. I like the grouse tracks quite a bit – the prairie in winter is often a portrait of stillness and hibernation, but that one is a reminder that some critters are still busy out there.

  4. 1, 3, and 11 are standouts for me. If I picked an ice bubble one, it would be 12. I like the grouse tracks quite a bit – the prairie in winter is often a portrait of stillness and hibernation, so it is nice to be reminded that some critters are still actively making a living out there.

  5. I like the pastorals the best not as interested in the minutiae as you. Still l look forward to each week’s offering I like 1 3 and 7. This week and have thought many of your shots up the Niiobrara River should be in Print. I would purchase in a heartbeat. Those shots capture a longing for adventure and instil a sense of peace. Keep up the good work. I read your square meter book the day I received it. Thank you for your thoughtfulness

  6. Photo 3 reminds me of how the year was going one way and then upon hitting an obstacle, made a U-turn. This is the same pattern a boat makes on a windy day when the motor goes out and it is, dangerously, let loose, into the wind and waves, from the pressure that drives it.

  7. I really loved #1, and also #3, #10 and #12. From the majestic to the intimate, these are beautiful photos of beautiful places. I agree Nature has the power to heal, and look forward to future posts!

  8. Pingback: The Beauty of Prairies in 2020 – March/April | The Prairie Ecologist

  9. 1, as it’s classic, like the ones used for ‘Inspirational’ works.
    3. as it shows signs of life moving on

    Yes, the others are wonderful in their way, but don’t fit what I understand you’re looking for.

  10. I’m not personally fond of sunbursts, but #7 is a winner in all respects. I’d certainly include #11 for its uniqueness. It puts me in mind of poor Yorick and his skull. “Alas, poor Froggie. I knew him, Chris — a fellow of infinite hops!”

  11. 5, 7, 12. I enjoy all the close ups of the ice and who is trapped in the ice. They make me ponder, and be amazed what nature does. The 3 I chose lit more of a spark.

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