Big Sky, Bird Runner Refuge

Big Sky, Bird Runner Refuge

I had the opportunity earlier this week to spend some time wandering around in the Flint Hills, which is always a good way to spend a day.  The day started by meeting fellow photographers from the Kansascapes Photo Alliance at the Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge where we are going to shoot a year long project.  This was the first time I had visited the refuge and it was beautiful.  The photograph above was made there in the early afternoon.  I’m really excited to help document the changes that occur at the refuge over the coming year.

Pillsbury Crossing - the wide view
Pillsbury Crossing – the wide view

After exploring the Bird Runner Refuge we ventured down to Pillsbury Crossing. Lots of water flowing already this spring.  For the photograph above I used a wide angle lens (16 mm full frame 35mm equivalent) to try and capture both the falls and the beautiful sky we had this afternoon.  This is the first time I’ve really attempted a photograph like this at Pillsbury. I’m happy with the way this turned out and I think I will be working on more photographs like this at Pillsbury. I think if I had moved in closer to the waterfalls it would have been a stronger composition.

Lone Tree
Lone Tree

After Pillsbury, the group decided to head out to Deep Creek Road where there are some great views of the Flint Hills for some sunset photography.  I was really drawn to the tree in the photograph above (which I have photographed before). I liked the way the slight bit of lens flare in the upper left corner of the photograph seems to be shining on the tree.

Lone Tree and the Flint Hills

Lone Tree and the Flint Hills

This next photograph is of the same tree, but I used a wider view to include more of the Flint Hills and the sun along with the tree.  The light and the colors in the clouds around the sun really caught my attention.

The whole picture

The whole picture

When I pulled back to a wider view of the tree and the flint hills I lost my ‘tunnel vision’ that had me focused solely on the tree and I noticed how beautiful the entire sky was so I made a photograph with a really wide view this time to show the tree, the Flint Hills, the sun, and as much sky as I could.  Three photographs of the same subject, but 3 very different perspectives.  It is easy for me to miss things like this as I can become so focused on one aspect of a scene that I miss others.

Grazing into the sun

Grazing into the sun

Right at the end of the sunset I decided to drive farther down the road where I had intended to try and photograph an old barn with what was left of the sunset.  On my way there I passed some cattle grazing on the horizon with the sun setting right above them. I knew this would make a very interesting photograph as the sun set behind them so I grabbed my telephoto lens and starting shooting as the sun slid down behind the cattle.  A great way to end a good day of shooting.