Photos of the Week – December 18, 2020

We’ve got snow on the ground, which normally gets me out the door and excited about photography. I’ve tried four times. Each time, I just wasn’t able to get into a groove. My first two attempts were thwarted by the forecast, which kept calling for the sun to emerge through overcast skies. Both times, I drove out to a prairie hoping to be there right when the sun broke through and waited in vain. The second two attempts were after the sun finally did come out, but, for whatever reason, I just wasn’t feeling it.

On all four trips, the one subject that attracted my eye was sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula). That’s not a new phenomenon – sideoats has always been a minor obsession of mine, no matter what time of year it is. This time, I was hoping focusing on it would get my brain energized for other subject matter. That didn’t happen so much, but I did come away with a few interesting sideoats photos… So – here they are.

Frosty sideoats grama and snow at Gjerloff Prairie in foggy overcast conditions. Nikon D7100 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/16, 1/250 sec.
Sideoats and snow at Gjerloff Prairie in sunshine. Nikon D7100 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/11, 1/640 sec.

The last three photos here are all from the same single seedhead of sideoats grama at our family prairie. Surrounded by 100 acres of snowy prairie, all I felt like doing was making a close personal inspection of this one plant. I don’t know why.

Sideoats and snow in sunshine at the Helzer family prairie. Nikon D7100 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/14, 1/250 sec.
Sideoats and snow in sunshine at the Helzer family prairie. Nikon D7100 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/14, 1/400 sec.
Sideoats and snow in sunshine at the Helzer family prairie. Nikon D7100 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/20, 1/200 sec.
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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.

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