Photo of the Week – October 23, 2014

I needed a walk in the prairie the other evening.  There are times when I just need to change focus and think about something besides my own life, and hiking through a grassland is the perfect tonic.

Our family prairie was resplendent in golds and browns as the sun was going down.  As the last light hit the fuzzy seed heads of stiff goldenrod and other late season wildflowers, the plants seemed to glow – as did the numerous thin strands of spider silk strung between the plants.

Stiff goldenrod seeds caught on a stray strand of spider silk.

Stiff goldenrod seeds tenuously held by a stray strand of spider silk.

More stiff goldenrod seeds.

More stiff goldenrod seeds.

As the sun continued to sink, I kept climbing uphill – until I finally ran out of light completely.  Just as the sun was dropping below the horizon, I spotted a wild lettuce plant with its beautiful wispy seeds waving in the gentle breeze.  I had just enough time to capture one image before the sun disappeared.

Wild lettuce seeds at sundown.  Helzer Family Prairie, near Stockham, Nebraska.

Wild lettuce seeds at sundown. Helzer Family Prairie, near Stockham, Nebraska.

I stood up, stretched, and enjoyed my long walk back to the truck.  The world looked pretty good…

 

Photo of the Week – December 13, 2013

Monday morning was cold here.  If I remember correctly, it was about 4 degrees below zero when I decided to go for a walk with my camera.  (Because, hey, what else would you do on a morning like that?)

There wasn’t much wind, so it honestly didn’t feel all that bad, especially since I was dressed for it.  However, my camera was sure cold.  It worked fine, but I had to keep an extra battery in my pocket (so it would stay warm) because batteries don’t last long at very low temperatures.  The biggest issue, though, was that the viewfinder on the camera kept frosting over from my breath.  Those of you who think photography is easy haven’t tried holding your breath every time you put the camera up close to your face…

As the sun came up, the prairie was populated with seedheads wearing little snow caps.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I couldn’t seem to find a single one that photographed well.  So, I ended up with this photo of milkweed seeds, in which you can’t even really tell it was snowy.

But trust me, it was cold.

Common milkweed seeds on a frigid, snowy day.  The Leadership Center Prairie, Aurora, Nebraska.

Common milkweed seeds on a frigid, snowy day. The Leadership Center Prairie, Aurora, Nebraska.

Oh, and by the way – I took several versions of this photo and struggled to decide which I liked best.  You might ask, “Chris, why don’t you just put a couple versions up and ask us which we like better?”   Sure, that’d work great.  I tried that yesterday with the bison photos.  Twenty four hours later, well over 100 people voted, some contacting me outside of the blog, and the vote was almost exactly evenly split.  A number of you tried to have it both ways, so your “vote” didn’t really help.  The remainder of you did, at least, express an opinion, but in the end, there was no consensus.

I suppose I could take my cue from the United States government, and decide that since the readership is polarized I should just shut down the blog for a while.  However, as an example to my country, I’ll take the high road and compromise.  Both photos will be included in next week’s “best photos of 2013” feature.  You have only yourselves to blame, though, when you look at through that photo montage and think to yourself, “Gee, this is nice, but it seems like there’s one too many images in it…”

(Seriously, though, thanks for voting.  Both images were obviously popular.  Some people felt very strongly one way or the other.  Others liked them about equally.  It was fun to read the reasons people chose one over the other.  While there were some very thoughtful responses, my favorite was definitely the one from Mary, who chose photo B  because the bison reminded her of her old uncle!  As of the time I’m writing this, the vote count is 53 votes for A and 50 for B…)