scott bean photography

In my last post, I wrote about a recent afternoon spent photographing landscapes and bison at the Big Basin area of Kansas. After photographing the landscapes at Big Basin for a few hours, my friend Mike and I headed back to the Gyp Hills area around Medicine Lodge for sunset. I’ve really enjoyed past trips to this area of Kansas and was looking forward to another chance to photograph the unique landscapes there.

Kansas Wildflowers
Indian Blanket Flowers – ISO 100, 24mm, f/8, 1/100

(click on any photo in this post to view larger)

Indian blanket flowers
Indian blanket flowers –  ISO 200, 105mm, f/8, 1/160

Before we got back to Medicine Lodge though, there was a stop I wanted to make. On the drive over to Big Basin we passed several areas near Protection, Kansas where the roadsides were full of wildflowers. I’ve always wanted to be down in this area of Kansas when the Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) flowers were in bloom and I was there at the right time this year. There were several patches along the road and the where we stopped there was an area probably 30’ long of Gaillardia and other flowers. It was fun to spend some time photographing the flowers and their intense color. The beauty that can be found in nature never ceases to fascinate me. These flowers were obvious and easy to spot; things like this make me wonder what other, more subtle, things of beauty I miss as I go through life worrying about inboxes, to-do lists and tomorrow…

Gyp Hills of Kansas
Gyp Hills of Kansas – ISO 100, 16mm, f/8, 1/20

While at Big Basin, most of the afternoon had been partly cloudy, but as we got to Medicine Lodge and headed out into the hills on the Gyp Hills scenic drive, the sky was heavily overcast…not ideal for landscape photography. Not long after we arrived though, the clouds started to break and provided some really dramatic textures in the sky and interesting light. Nice conditions for photographing the unique landscapes in the area. In the photo above, the clouds were forming some interesting shapes and textures and the sun was just starting to break through the clouds, providing nice light on the red colored hills. This photo has an old feeling to me…maybe primal is a better word. The sky looks a bit stormy and maybe like it could be violent (it wasn’t) and the landscape looks old and tired (but pretty).

Wide open views in the Gyp Hills
Wide open views in the Gyp Hills – ISO 100, 105mm, f/8, 1/6

As the clouds continued to clear out and the sun started to set, some beautiful color began appearing in the sky. We had a nice view from a hillside out across the landscape that was lit nicely by the setting sun. I really liked the open feeling in the photo above. That sense of space is peaceful to me.

Sunset in the Gyp Hills
Sunset in the Gyp Hills – ISO 100, 45mm, f/8, 1/8

The view to the west was equally beautiful and even more dramatic. The clearing storm clouds were beautiful and added some strong elements to the sky. Not a bad way to end a day of landscape photography!

Spring in the Gyp Hills
Spring in the Gyp Hills – ISO 100, 35mm, f/16, 0.3″

The next morning we were up for sunrise out on the Scenic Drive, but never did find a location that really grabbed our attention. We ended up shooting along the highway between Medicine Lodge and Coldwater that is the Gyp Hills Scenic Byway. You could really tell that all the plants in the area were enjoying the unusually heavy rains that had been falling across Kansas. The early morning light coming across the photo above really showed off the prairie grasses and lit up the wildflowers in the foreground.

Before leaving the area, Mike and I made a stop at the Barber County State Fishing Lake which I had never stopped at before. Definitely a place I will visit on my next trip down to this part of Kansas.

I’m glad I had the chance to visit the Gyp Hills in the spring, especially this spring when everything was so lush and green. I’m going to make a point of coming back again next spring/early summer. I’d also like to visit this area after a moderate snow and photograph the hills in winter. I enjoy experiencing areas in different seasons and the Gyp Hills is one of my favorite places in Kansas. I’m looking forward to doing more exploring here.

If you would like to see more Kansas Landscape photographs, please browse feel free to browse through my Flint Hills gallery and Kansas Landscape gallery.

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Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Scott (249)