The Beauty of Prairies in 2020 – March/April

Many thanks to everyone who voted on their favorite images from my first post in this series. The results were very helpful. So far, it seems pretty clear you like sunrises and scenics more than closeups (are you following the right blog?). To be fair, two of those closeups included dead animals, which I can see might diminish their attractiveness to some… We’ll see what happens when we get more into flower/insect season, I guess.

If you want to keep score at home, the top votes for January/February (in order) were for #’s 1,5,3,7,12, and 10.

Here is the second installment of my favorite images of 2020. I’m lumping March and April together, but I’m probably going to handle the rest of the months individually since I have so many photos from those months. Once again, I’d really appreciate your votes for the images that most resonate with you – just put the numbers you like best in the comments section for this post. Thank you in advance, and I hope you enjoy the photos.

1.) The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve – Niobrara River and moonrise. March 9, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 28-300mm lens @140mm, ISO 640, f/11, 1/13 sec.
2.) Leaves and melting snow, Lincoln Creek Prairie in Aurora, Nebraska. March 15, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 400, f/18, 1/400 sec.
3.) Roundheaded bushclover and melting snow, Lincoln Creek Prairie in Aurora, Nebraska. March 15, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 400, f/29, 1/80 sec.
4.) Marsh ground beetle along a wetland drainage. Helzer family prairie. March 25, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/13, 1/400 sec.
5.) Ant and wetland. Helzer family prairie. March 25, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/14, 1/640 sec.
6.) Seed head of wild bergamot. Helzer family prairie. March 29, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/20, 1/60 sec.
7.) Seed head of Illinois bundleflower. Helzer family prairie. March 29, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/18, 1/250 sec.
8.) Dormant grasses and wetland. Helzer family prairie. March 29, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Tokina 12-28mm lens @14mm, ISO 500, f/14, 1/200 sec.
9.) Ice and barbed wire. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies. April 3, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 640, f/18, 1/320 sec.
10.) Plains garter snake. Helzer backyard. April 5, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/7, 1/640 sec.
11.) Frost on wetland plants. Helzer family prairie. April 15, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 320, f/11, 1/400 sec.
12.) Pasqueflower at The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve. April 15, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 320, f/16, 1/50 sec.
13.) Pasqueflower and sunset at The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve. April 15, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Tokina 12-28mm lens @12mm, ISO 400, f/22, 1/60 sec.
14.) Buffalo pea flowers at the Helzer Family Prairie. April 19, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 250, f/13, 1/125 sec.
15.) Rockjasmine flowers at the Helzer Family Prairie. April 19, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/400 sec.
16.) Water drops on bracted spiderwort. Helzer backyard prairie garden. April 26, 2020. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens, ISO 320, f/16, 1/80 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.

59 thoughts on “The Beauty of Prairies in 2020 – March/April

  1. I love your photos – for these cold images I do appreciate your obvious dedication!
    My favorites 11,9, 3, 13, 2, 12, although all are excellent. Thank you for this ray of sunshine. :)

  2. 4, 5, 12, 13 I like them all. Sometimes people gravitate toward landscapes because we are conditioned to look AT nature–all vision, all the time. Keep doing the closeups. They guide us to encounter nature, being to being. That is closer to the reality of the situation. Pretty landscapes can reinforce the illusion that we are more a part from nature than we really are.

  3. 2,6,7, 16… I like the emphasis on what is special about certain particular aspects of nature, what rewards are in store for us as we look closely at that which we normally don’t. I love your landscapes, insects, the snake, the flowers, but most of those don’t seem to fit this project as I understand it.

  4. Thank you for a year of “my homeland” photos which have kept the downside of 2020 at bay. I remember a little girl and her dog wandering the sandhills checking out scenes like you post. Left me with tales to tell to my grandson who now phones to hear yet another Sandhill story.

  5. That was a hard choice to narrow down a preference! My top two were chosen for entirely different reasons.

    #2 – I’ve always been intrigued by ice and the twisted leaves add an element of nature’s whimsy.

    #6 – This is an artful capture of texture, shape and the transition of illumination across the image.

  6. 8, 7, 10, 11, 12
    Really hard to choose favorites among such beautiful photos! But the quality of light in #8 is outstanding.

  7. #2 seems to show nature dancing, and also recalls the old-fashioned metal icicles that hung on Christmas trees. #6 is a marvelous abstraction, and #9, the iced barbed wire, is proof that even man-made objects can be beautiful when nature transforms them.

  8. I vote for 1 and 4.
    My son’s birthday is March 9th, the same date that gorgeous moon shot was taken.
    And the colors on the Marsh Ground beetle in #4 are amazing!!

  9. 13. I’m admittedly biased as a prairie land manager. Honestly though, it blooms in the snow. How cool is that? I relish visiting local areas to see this harbinger of spring every year. It is exactly the right medicine after a long winter.

  10. 12,13,11,7,2,10,15 The pasqueflower in the snow; love the pale violet bloom shriveled, delicate. and the landscape showing its place.

  11. 7, 9, 13, and 15
    13 is my favorite (I see I have a lot of company). While the close-ups fascinate me, and I love seeing them and discovering plant and insect details I’d never noticed, for a vote I find myself gravitating toward those I might be able to “live with” :)

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