One of the many gifts I have received from getting involved in landscape photography is being more attuned to what is happening in the natural world around me. Before I picked up a camera, I only really noticed the large changes going on in the natural world, mainly the change in the seasons. Since picking up a camera though, I’ve started noticing smaller changes in the world. I really enjoy following the changes in the grasses and in the different wildflowers that bloom starting in early spring and continuing into fall. I thought it might be interesting to show a series of photographs highlighting some of the wildflowers I came across out in the Flint Hills this spring – from May to the official start of summer on June 21st. Where I could, I included the names of the flowers in the photos. Some I wasn’t sure about.
May 5th – Wildflower Road, Pottawatomie County.
This was a dark day with overcast skies, but the small yellow (prairie ragwort (Packera plattensis)) and pink flowers blooming brightened things up nicely. This area was burned off earlier in the spring and you can see in these photos that the grass has already started greening up and growing back well. Both of these photos are also focus stacks, a new technique for me that I’m trying to learn. This technique allows you to extend the depth of field of a photograph by combining photos shot at different focus distances.
May 17th – Washington Marlatt Memorial Park, Manhattan
This photo was made right at the end of sunset and the clouds in the sky were reflecting the color as the sun disappeared below the horizon. I found this blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) as I was leaving the Marlatt Memorial Park. I think these flowers have a stately appearance and are one of my favorites of the early wildflowers.
May 31st – Wildflower Road, Pottawatomie County
This was another beautiful evening out along Wildflower Road in Pottawatomie County. Several wildflowers were blooming at this time of the spring. In the first photo for May 31st I found a very beautiful area of large beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus) that were lit up perfectly by the setting sun. After spending some time with these flowers I moved to a patch of Missouri evening primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa) whose bright yellow colors stood out nicely on the vibrant greens of the native prairie grasses. Wildflower road never disappoints me and is my go to spot when I need some nature therapy.
June 6th – Pottawatomie County
I came across this field filled with one of fleabanes (I’m guessing annual fleabane, Erigeron annuus L. Pers.) and had to make some photos of it.
June 13th Riley County
This photo shows probably my favorite wildflower, butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa L.) which also goes by a lot of different common names I’ve learned lately! When these flowers start blooming, I try to get out to the prairie as often as I can. I love the contrast of the orange to red (and sometimes yellow) flowers with the greens of the grasses.
June 15th – Chase County
Out again to photograph the butterfly milkweed, this time down in Chase County. The butterfly milkweed was very thick this year with patches having several clumps blooming as this photo shows (with some wild alfalfa mixed in (Psoralidium tenuiflorum (Pursh) Rydb.). It will be interesting to see what the butterfly milkweed does next year.
Marking the time by tuning into the changes in the world around me is better than crossing off days on a calendar. I’m very thankful that photography has allowed me to finally notice the amazing world around me and maybe helped me to be a bit more here, more in the present moment. It is ironic that photography has helped me be more present when I don’t have my camera with me, but sometimes when I do have the camera I can get more focused on “getting the shot” than on just being present. Nature is a good teacher though and hopefully the more time I spend in the present without my camera will translate into being more in the moment when I have my camera.
View more of my Flint Hills photographs here in these galleries on my website: