Photos of the Week – December 2, 2022

I dithered.

I should have just gone out yesterday when I first noticed the good light, but I had some things to do. Plus, it was windy. And I couldn’t decide where to go. So I dithered. Eventually, I decided I just needed to get out of the house. I hopped in the truck and drove to the Platte.

I figured I’d explore the river and maybe photograph ice and frost along the edge of the channels. Unfortunately, when I arrived, the river level was higher than I’d expected and there was less ice than I’d hoped. As a result, after checking out a couple potential access points, I left the river without even getting out of the truck. Still dithering.

The sun was getting higher and the wind velocity was increasing, so I needed to find a spot quickly. I stopped messing around and headed a little further west to the site where we converted an old sand and gravel pit to a wetland. It never fails to provide good opportunities and I don’t know why I didn’t just start there.

Here’s a cell phone feeling of the wetland, including a beaver dam and a (mostly) frozen wetland surface.
Ice on a rush sticking out of the frozen surface. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/18, 1/160 sec.

I needed that place and time. Lying on the ice and photographing ice bubbles and other hidden treasures, I was reminded of how long it had been since I’d been out with my camera. I was noisily buzzed by a big flock of blackbirds, followed some mouse tracks through a patch of light snow along the shaded river bank, and only punched my foot through thin ice once (in very shallow water – never fear). It was wonderful.

A lot of the shots from yesterday are eerily similar to photos already in my library. It didn’t matter at all. The photos were still fun to take and it was just comforting and enjoyable to be there. Finding new versions of familiar subjects was perfectly acceptable. I left feeling refreshed and ready to hit the pile of other work waiting for me on my desk. The prairie (and embedded wetlands) are always there when we need them, huh?

Bubbles in algae-filled ice. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/16, 1/125 sec.
An rush that was uprooted and embedded in ice. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/18, 1/125 sec.
Ice bubbles! Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/13, 1/500 sec.
More ice and rushes. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/10, 1/500 sec.
More ice bubbles and algae! Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/16, 1/125 sec.
Ice chunks dislodged when a beaver or other animal broke the frozen surface near the beaver dam. Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 500, f/20, 1/160 sec.
Even more ice bubbles! Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/20, 1/160 sec.
Ice around the base of some rushes. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/13, 1/500 sec.
Bubbles and more bubbles. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/20, 1/160 sec.
A frozen volcano erupting with a rush. In a sense. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/16, 1/125 sec.
The last ice bubbles for today. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/20, 1/160 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.

10 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – December 2, 2022

  1. Chris, thanks for sharing what you see. You help me see the prairie with clearer eyes, and I am grateful for that. — Dave

  2. Great photos! Frozen bubbles remind me of pillow lava. I love the British term for dithering. Faffing. Glad you had a good day out. Just FYI. I am fascinated by the South American plant, yareta. Plants are survivors and ubiquitous.

  3. Pingback: Photos of the Week – December 2, 2022 — The Prairie Ecologist – Nursing

  4. Hi, Chris and thanks for your faithful nature blog. I’m a fan (and married to an old ultrarunner, nowadays just trotting shorties). This morning I was trying to cull my horrible email collection and noticed that during the holiday build-up I missed a couple of your essays. I’d love to use a few of your ice bubble photos in my “desktop photo” folder. I always note item name & photographer, although I’m the only one that ever views them as they are shuffled past my eyeballs randomly when I boot up. I’m not sure how to tell you which ones; maybe you can suggest, if amenable. Hope you’re outside as we speak. Linda A-G

      • I’d love having a photo gift-package. If we can ever figure out how to travel again, I’ll come over and say howdy. We are west of Longmont CO, and have made many wonderful trips to the NE prairies over the years. I’m currently recruiting volunteers to help me ID the last of my no-ID photocopies of native grasses! (the product of a workshop with Steve Jones).


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