I spent much of this week in northern Nebraska, attending various events and staying at the Niobrara Valley Preserve. It rained much of the time, but I caught a break in the clouds Monday evening and happened upon the bison in our east herd as the sun was going down. I spent about an hour and a half tagging along with them as they moved slowly toward the setting sun. If you haven’t spent much time with bison, one of the things you notice immediately is how quiet they are. Apart from some contented grunting, the primary sounds I heard as I accompanied them was the crunching of their hooves in the grass and the sound of them tearing mouthfuls of food from the prairie. It was very peaceful, and provided the perfect accompaniment to the sun going down over the hills.
Last week, I posted some drone photos of the Niobrara Valley Preserve from the air. The sun popped out of the clouds just as it was nearing the horizon and provided some great light for those images. As I was packing the drone away, I kept an eye on the sky, and it looked like there might be some nice post-sunset color on the way, so I scrambled up the hill to my favorite sunset spot at the Preserve. For the most part, I get pretty easily bored by sunset photos, so it takes a pretty spectacular night to get my camera out of the bag. That night qualified as spectacular.
Over about a 15 minute period, I worked back and forth across the top of a ridge overlooking the Niobrara River, trying various angles and perspectives. The color and texture of the clouds was fantastic, but I knew the color would fade quickly. After I got back and sorted through the images, I had a hard time narrowing down my favorites. Nearly two weeks later, I still couldn’t decide on just one (or even two) shots to share with you. Instead, I chose a selection of four images from various angles and with different lenses. If you have a strong favorite, feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section. At this point, I like all of them for different reasons. I also like about 10 more, but I had to cut something…
I’m presenting these photos in the order they were taken. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the color tone changed incrementally over the 15 minute period. You might also notice that each successive photo was taken with a longer focal length. Part of that was me playing with different ideas, but the color was also receding into a smaller and smaller portion of the sky, so I was matching that with focal length changes.
It’s pretty hard not to take attractive photos at a place like the Niobrara Valley Preserve, especially when the sky does its part to add to the scenery. One of the hardest parts of working up there is keeping my camera in its bag long enough to get some other work done!