Over the weekend, I went out to our family prairie to see if the high winds from the previous week had caused any damage. Everything looked fine from that standpoint, so I wandered down to the pond to see if there was any fun ice to photograph. The main pond had a thin skin of ice across it, but not much for patterns. Along the edges, though, there were some small pockets of ice that had some interesting lines and texture so I explored those for a little while.
After I checked out all the ice possibilities, I decided to play with the texture of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and the late day sun. To be honest, I was challenging myself to find beauty in the winter prairie. I recently wrote a magazine article about winter hiking aimed at convincing people to venture out in the cold. Despite that, I’ve been pretty bad about getting outside myself over the last couple weeks. I felt like I needed to follow my own advice.
I’ve always found bergamot seed heads fascinating and worthy of photographing. The numerous tubes packed together make for beautiful abstracts up close. On this particular day, though, the light and wind made it seem more sensible to eschew the macro lens and try some other perspectives. I started with a fisheye lens, with which I stuck my lens within an inch of the closest seedhead and tried to deal with the sun right in my face. After that, I backed up and used a long telephoto to condense the heads together. Both were fun to play with as I tried to capture the golden highlights framing each of the seed heads.
Once I flipped the switch and started really looking at was around me, I found plenty to enjoy. In addition to what I photographed, I followed tracks of several different animals, watched a gaggle of tree sparrows bounce from shrub to shrub, and looked (fruitlessly this time) for frogs beneath the thin ice. And, of course, I enjoyed the fresh air and stretched my legs. The temperature was below freezing, but my spirits were high by the time I headed home.