Photos of the Week – February 11, 2022

About two weeks ago, I was feeling a little stir crazy and needed to get some fresh air. This winter hasn’t provided very well for my favorite winter photography opportunities. We’ve had almost no snow, no ice storms, and only intermittent periods that freeze streams and wetlands and provide ice bubbles and other patterns. I looked outside and the light was reasonably good, so I pushed away from my desk, grabbed my gear, and headed over to Lincoln Creek.

I was planning to walk the prairie in search of interesting seeds or anything else that caught my eye. As I walked past the creek itself, however, I noticed with some surprise that it appeared to be still frozen. I guess the high banks and trees kept it shaded enough that even with recent warm weather, it hadn’t yet thawed. I gingerly tested the ice depth and found it sufficient to hold my weight. The surface of the ice was littered with leaves and seeds (as well as some less attractive litter like cans, plastic bags, etc.). I started walking slowly with my eyes down, scanning for anything interesting.

Maple leaf in a galaxy of ice bubbles. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, f/14, 1/60 sec.
Lincoln Creek; frozen and with leaves and seeds. It doesn’t look like much from a distance, but up close, there were some fun photo opportunities. Cell phone photo.
A partially submerged leaf and frozen bubbles. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, f/18, 1/60 sec.
Leaves and seeds. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/13, 1/60 sec.

The dappled light through the tree branches was both interesting and challenging. A few times, I found a leaf or seed I liked the look of, but it was in the shade instead of the light. Sometimes, I photographed it anyway, but more often, I marked the spot and returned a few minutes later when the sun’s movement had shifted the shadows away from my target.

Maple leaf and ash seeds. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, f/14, 1/80 sec.

After about 45 minutes or so, I crawled back up the eroded banks and headed back to the truck. As often happens, the photos I came away with weren’t anything like what I’d envisioned before arriving, but that wasn’t a bad thing. I guess it’s yet more evidence that it’s always worth getting out to explore. You never know what you’ll find – even on an eroded. litter-filled creek on the edge of town.

Ice bubbles and ash seeds. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, f/14, 1/60 sec.
A honey locust pod, red cedar leaves and a gnawed-on locus seed. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, f/18, 1/100 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.

9 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – February 11, 2022

  1. You have encouraged me to seek out frozen streams. Now if only we had cooler weather down here for a while. It’s been quite a warm winter.

  2. I lost a “wildfriend” coyote this year who had been on my trailcam for most of his life. Succumbed to the 29 degree weather, I guess. He just lay down as if sleeping. So sad. Took many photos of how nature dealt with him and the interactions of the many types of vultures and caracaras.

  3. Chris, I so much enjoy your photographs. I don’t know if you thought about it, but the pattern of the cracks (??) in the center of the first image make it look just like a rose sitting on top of the maple leaf with fern leaf sprays behind it. The perfect photo for Valentine’s Day. How fortunate you are to be out looking for and finding the beauty of Nebraska. Thank you for sharing, Roxanne

    Roxanne Smith Tourism Supervisor

    Office of the Nebraska Capitol Commission 7th Floor, Nebraska State Capitol P.O. Box 94696 Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4696 402-471-0449

  4. Captivating microcosms and stories revealed in these images. Can’t escape the loveliness of Nature’s winter debris in contrast with the mention of trash nearby. Sigh.


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