I took a quick trip to the Niobrara Valley Preserve earlier this week. I needed to talk with staff about some research plans and I hoped to also get out and scout some sites for those projects. I accomplished half of that plan.
There was a lot of snow on the ground, which was a nice bonus. We’d been without snow down south along the Platte River and I’d been hankering for a little snow photography. I’d arrived plenty early, so I stopped before I got to headquarters and walked around a little with my camera. It was cloudy, but I tried to do what I could with the available light.
I tried a few landscape photos but, as usually happens, I was more drawn to little subjects. In particular, there were little bits of color emerging from the snow here and there. A few smooth sumac leaves were still holding their autumn red color. Even better, I wandered into a big patch of prairie wild rose with bright scarlet hips (fruits) that hadn’t yet dried out and lost their vibrance.
I also played with the simple, nearly monochromatic patterns of grasses and shrubs against a muted white background. Snow loses a lot of its texture in the absence of direct sunlight. When darker clouds moved in front of the sun, I concentrated on those simple patterns. During brief periods of brighter light when the snow texture was more evident, I used my macro lens to photograph rose hips and sumac leaves. Before I knew it, I’d spent a very pleasant hour getting covered in snow.
Later in the day, after our research meeting, I ventured back out to scout for potential research sites. While I was doing that, the sun suddenly popped through the clouds. I decided to take a quick break and try to use that light. As I drove the road along the edge of one of our bison pastures, a few bison were grazing just a few hundred yards into the pasture. Despite the deep snow, the trail road toward the bison looked pretty accessible.
It wasn’t. I buried the truck pretty quickly and had to shamefacedly radio for help. In addition to having to pull other staff away from actual work to pull me out, I also wasted that gorgeous light trying to dig myself out of a situation I shouldn’t have gotten into. Not my finest hour. As a result, all the photos shown here are from earlier in the day when I’d parked safely on the road and WALKED into the snowy prairie like a reasonable person.
Happy Holidays, everyone! I wish you all peace and happiness. Thanks, as always, for your participation in and kind comments about this blog.
Also, try not to get stuck in the snow…