In an attempt to get back on track thought I would jump right back here today. The last few days the weather has been spectacular in these parts. With temps as mild as I have ever recalled for mid July. But as I write this it has already began swinging upwards with today’s forecast to 99 and tomorrow 103! Wow!

I decided over the weekend I would stick close to home, very close and found myself roaming the grounds of Shunga Park here in Topeka and actually right across the street for my house. I have been wanting to do a little exploring there and since I hadn’t made it there in months I thought it would be perfect.

There is an area that has been designated a natural rejuvenation area, or something to that effect. Which basically means they have let the land do it’s thing without any intervention from things like mowing. I stuck to an area that is a few acres in size and has wonderful native grasses growing. These would be grasses such as Big and Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, Gamma Grass, Switch Grass, and I’m sure a few others. Along with some wildflowers this small area is simply wonderful! I was really impressed by how well everything looked. The rains and mild temps so far this year has really helped the native landscapes out.

One of the more dominate wildflowers in this area is Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s a common wildflower for the simple reason that it is quite invasive and can take over areas quite easily. It is always present here and over the last few years I haven’t noticed it’s presents increasing much but, it sure hasn’t decreased in number either. I think one of the reasons is that the native tallgrasses are so thick it helps to hold the spread of it down (I hope).

Regardless of it’s nature it is hard not to photograph it. I was lucky during my 2 brief visits which took place Saturday evening and Sunday evening both for only around 2 hours. I waited till the last hour or two before sunset to venture in hoping the winds would be calm. If there is much of a steady breeze at all trying to photography these tall slender flowers and the grasses becomes an exercise in futility. That is if you are after any type of sharpness in outcome.

Knowing this I made a decision to shoot with a 70-200mm lens at maximum aperture f/4 and even high iso if needed, which it was. I would go for minimum depth of field but maximum sharpness of the main subject. This is very different than my typical approach when out in the wide open prairie lands where I want everything in focus and shoot to obtain that. I have to say it was quite fun doing this.

I will share more of wonderful flora life I came across in the coming days but for now here is one of the first I made of the Queen Anne’s Lace.

wildflowers, prairie, Kansas

© Brad Mangas

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