When I was up at the Niobrara Valley Preserve last week, I flew our drone a few times when the light was nice. It’s really hard to show the scale of this landscape by taking photos from the ground, and I’m having a great time experimenting with aerial photography in order to better illustrate that scale. Here are a few images from last week, taken right around the headquarters of NVP. I’m also amassing still and video footage of bison, but I’ll share some of that at another time.
This photo was taken in the evening, with late day light accenting the texture of the landscape. This photo looks east (downriver) and you can see both some piles of recently-cleared eastern red cedars in the foreground and our headquarters buildings on the right side of the image.
This image was taken right above the headquarters, looking to the east as the sun was breaking above the horizon. The skiff of fog didn’t last long once the sun came up, but made for some nice highlights while it lasted.
This image looks south. It shows where the northern portion of the Nebraska Sandhills (a 12 million acre grassland landscape) terminates at the wooded breaks of the Niobrara River. The woodland shown here went through the big 2012 wildfire, but many of the trees were protected from fire by the cool, moist north-facing slopes. Those same factors help support tree species (including paper birch) that don’t otherwise seem like they have any right to be in the hot and arid west. Many of the trees in the upper reaches of the draws are bur oaks, along with a few ponderosa pine and eastern red cedar trees that survived the big fire.
This image was taken just a few minutes after the foggy sunrise photo above, but is facing the opposite direction (upstream) and shows the day’s first light hitting the river bank.