Archive for the 'North Dakota' Category

11
Jun
09

6/11/2009

Prairie Lake with Storm

Prairie Lake with Storm

The North Dakota Prairie sometimes seems as much water as land. There are potholes, ponds, marshes, and fair sized lakes dotting the landscape wherever you look. This small lake is on the edge of Chase Lake NWR, again, on a day full of intermittent rain and glowering skies.

Sony DSC H50 at full wide. F5.6 @ 1/400th @ ISO 100. Programed Auto.

Dual graduated filters in Lightroom. From the top to darken the sky to its natural tone, and from the bottom to increase brightness and contrast. General Vibrance and Clarity and Landscape sharpen preset.

From Potholes and Prairies 2009.

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10
Jun
09

6/10/2009

Fringed Puccon

Fringed Puccon

I have mentioned twice now the scarcity of real prairie remnants on the North Dakota prairie. Everywhere you look it is wheat or soybean desert or the prairie-like mix of invasive plants, mostly Kentucky Bluegrass and Timothy. The section pictured yesterday, and one we found a few days before in better light are exceptions, not the rule. I say we found it, but of course the refuge Waterfowl Production Area manager who was our guide knew exactly where it was, as it harbors the last of the native prairie plants she hopes to see reestablished someday on the lands she manages.

Fringed Poccon is just one of the spring wildflowers found only on remnant short-grass prairie.  As a bonus I am including images of a few of the others we found that day at the foot of this piece.

There are few cameras better for photographing wildflowers (imho) than the Sony H50. The articulated LCD allows shots from ground level, and the 2 cm close focus in macro makes close detail easy. The only drawback is that the small sensor size makes the relative size of the aperture, even wide open, physically small, which leads to more depth of field and more distracting backgrounds than some like in a wildflower shot. I have come to like the more present background as being closer to our actual experience of the flower in the flied, but I will admit to admiring those flower portraits where the bloom floats on sea of attractive but undistracting bokeh. This is not one of those. It is the flower as it sits in the world.

Sony DSC H50 at full wide and macro. F5.6 @ 1/320th @ ISO 100. Programed auto.

In Lightroom, some cropping for composition. Recovery for the bright yellows. Added Clarity and Vibrance, and Landscape sharpen preset.

From Prairies and Potholes 2009.

Wild Flax

Prairie Smoke

Prairie Smoke

Pussy Toes

Pussy Toes

09
Jun
09

6/9/2009

Prairie and Pothole

Prairie and Pothole

The weather man said intermittent rain and gray skys. Not an ideal last day in North Dakota, but what I had to work with. And of course, seen rightly, the lowering sky only adds drama to the vast prairie landscape.

This is a classic Prairie and Pothole shot, taken where a road crosses a section of native prairie near Lake Louise and the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in  North Dakota. The theory is that retreating glaciers left large blocks of ice on the landscape, which melted slowly and left these more or less circular depressions. They fill with water to form resting and nesting areas for wild-fowl, bringing the prairie to life each spring.  Later in the season they remain wet, and provide habitat for many prairie species.

Sony DSC H50 at full wide. F5.6 @ 1/400th @ ISO 100. Programed auto.

In Lightroom, I used two graduated filter effects. One from the top to darken and bring out the detail in the sky, and one from the bottom to punch up (+ Clarity, + Exposure, and + Contrast) the foreground. Globally, I added Clarity and Vibrance and used the Landscape sharpen preset.  I just slightly cropped from the bottom and top for composition.

From Prairies and Potholes 2009.

08
Jun
09

6/8/2009

Little Shed on the Prairie

Little Shed on the Prairie

What is left of a more extensive farmstead on the North Dakota prairie. A large shelter belt attests to the fact that someone used to live here, but farm consolidation moved the dwelling away from this corner of the prairie. The light is the real subject here. Light and shadow, both on the large scale and on the local, as in the molding of the grasses. We are far north here, and the shadows are long even an hour after noon.

Sony DSC H50 at just under 50mm equivalent. F5.6 @ 1/640th @ ISO 100. Programed auto.

In Lightroom, cropped from the bottom to improve composition. Added Clarity, Vibrance, Contrast, and Sharpen landscape preset. Recovery to darken the sky.

From Potholes and Prairies 2009.

07
Jun
09

6/7/2009

Prairie Pothole Dawn

Prairie Pothole Dawn

As I noted yesterday, the true prairie is mostly gone in North Dakota, replaced by wheat and soybean deserts. Even what appears to be open prairie on the National Wildlife Refuges (some of the first in the nation, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt’s love for the Dakota Territory and wildlife) is really a mix of mostly invasive species of vegetation. While the prairie is intact, the native plants are hardy enough to keep invasives out, but once the prairie is broken, then faster growing, more opportunistic plants that have followed man to the prairie rush in and claim the ground. Even intentional replanting of native species has not had much success in rebuilding broken prairie.

So this is close to to a Prairie Dawn as you get these days. The topography is right, and if you ignore the striding powerline and don’t look too closely at the vegetation, you can imagine yourself on the prairie.

Still, there is something to be said for embracing the moment as it is. This is what is, in North Dakota today, and in the early light of day it is beautiful. It has a value and a validity all its own…and is…I dare say, just as worthy of preservation, and of recording in this image.

Sony DSC H50 at about 80mm equivalent (for cropping). F4.0 @ 1/250th @ ISO 100. Programed Auto.

Cropped from the bottom in Lightroom to eliminate a fence and position the horizon. Added Clarity and Vibrance. Recovery for the sky. Black point to the right. I used a graduated filter effect from the bottom of the image up to just over the horizon to brighten, and to add Clarity and contrast for detail. Landscape sharpen preset.

From Potholes and Prairies 2009.

[After some comments: compare this. Which?

A Little Less Sky...more Landscape

A Little Less Sky...more Landscape

05
Jun
09

6/6/2009

Modern Prairie Skys

Modern Prairie Skys

North Dakota. Somewhere near Chase Lake NWR. There are only remants of the true Prairie anywhere in the state. This is not one of them. Still it has a beauty of its own.

Sony DSC H50 at full wide. F5.6 @ 1/500th @ ISO 100. Programed auto.

Cropped slightly in Lightroom for composition. Recovery for the sky. Blackpoint to the right. Added Clarity and just a bit of vibrance. Pulled a Graduated Filter up from the bottom to just above the horizon. Added Brightness, Clarity, and Contrast. Landscape sharpen preset.

From Potholes and Prairies 2009.