Photos of the Week – November 19, 2021

I have a favorite vantage point at The Niobrara Valley Preserve. From the side of particular hill, I can get a great view of an ‘S’ curve of the Niobrara River to the east. Over the last decade or so, I’ve taken quite a few photos from (roughly) that same spot. Each was taken at a different time of day and/or under very different lighting conditions. I love how different each image looks – it’s a real testament to the importance of light to photography.

Nikon 28-300mm lens @100mm. ISO 250, f/11, 1/4 sec.

Nikon 28-300mm lens @122mm. ISO 400, f/9, 1/50 sec.
Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 250, f/6.3, 1/30 sec.
Nikon 28-300mm lens @135mm. ISO 320, f/13, 1/50 sec.
Nikon 18-300mm lens @100mm. ISO 250, f/11, 1/10 sec.
Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 250, f/11, 1/250 sec.

When people see a photo they really like, they often remark, “wow, that photographer must have a really good camera!” It’s interesting that the same doesn’t happen with painting or drawing. I’ve never heard someone say, “wow that painter must have a really great brush!”

The quality of camera matters much less than the ability to recognize light and capture it with whatever camera is at hand. There’s a certain skill involved in manipulating the controls of a camera to get the desired results, but the quality and attractiveness of an image starts and ends with light.

It also helps to find a favorite vantage point and the time to return to it over and over…

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.

12 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – November 19, 2021

  1. Years ago, when I was studying photography and production in a midwest university, they took our cameras away from us, and handed each of us an Instamatic®, from which we were supposed to produce a publishable news photo (it was a J-school) along with studio, landscape, architecture (spoiler: two-point perspective only), and portrait photography. The shots were amazing, proving the point the professor was trying to convey: the most important element in photography is the photographer.

  2. Great point regarding light! I am an aspiring nature photographer, in addition to my real job, and I still have so much to learn about all the camera settings. Thanks for posting your so we can see the effects of different settings!

    Brent E. Moon
    Chair, Horticulture, Greenhouse, Facilities Community-APGA
    Houston Botanic Garden
    713.715.9675 ext.142


    Enriching life through discovery, education, and the conservation of plants and the natural environment.

  3. And here it is: the photographic version of your square meter project. I’m going to find a spot, and follow your example.

    I was amused a few days ago when I had reason to consult a map of a Pflugerville subdivision (outside of Austin) and discovered that, among the scenic spots they’d chosen for street names, they’d included the Niobrara River.

  4. Of course photographers are artists, you’re right. Thank you for making it so clear. I love every one of these shots and could not possibly choose a favorite. Someone should design an exhibit with many interpretations of the same view. The Mono Lake committee shows many ways of enjoying the tufa, but I don’t know anyone else who has done what you did right here.

  5. Beautiful photos, beautiful spot:) It really is all about the light. I, too have taken and retaken same-vantage point photos in different times and weathers. I, too, have bee perplexed at that all-too-common question: “what kind of a camera do you have?” Well, the answer depended on which photo they were looking at at the time. I’ve used lots of different cameras over the years, and not one of them could see like a human can. They are tools. It is nice to have a good tool, but a good tool doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to do with it.


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