I recently spent a few days in what is known as the Smokey Hills area of Kansas. This area borders the western edge of the Kansas Flint Hills in a gentle changing of the tallgrass prairie to the mixed grass prairie which is just what the name implies, a mixture of tallgrasses and short grasses before the tallgrasses give way to the short grass prairie lands that dominate western Kansas.

One of the main reasons for the trip at this particular time was to visit the Smokey River Festival  which is one of the largest annual arts and craft festival held in Kansas. It was quite an impressive display of very talented artists from all over the country.

My lovely young bride and I decided to spend a couple of nights at one of the cabins at Kanopolis Lake.  We spent a weekend there last year and found it a very relaxing place. Of course I had plans to do a little picture taking while there as well. This area of Kansas and the smokey hills in general is a very rugged landscape as opposed to the gentle flowing hills of the flint hills area.

As you make your way to the lake you pass by a country road that takes you to Mushroom Rock State Park. It’s really quite a sight to see these Dakota Sandstome formations sticking out of the ground in a place like Kansas! This was my second time to visit this state park.

I made my way to the park early Friday evening and planning on staying until just after sunset when the full moon was going to rise. I hadn’t made any particular plans with the moon in mind but since it was going to happen I thought I might as well have some fun with it or at least try. I spent a little time with the photographers ephemeris app on my phone to see where the moon would make it’s appearance and planned accordingly. One of the issue was going to be that the full mo0n would not become visible immediately as it broke the horizon since the view to the east went up hill from where I was at.

I spent an hour or so before sunset making various shots of what is one of the main “mushroom” rocks that the park is noted for. I had this small park, which by the way is the smallest state park in Kansas all to myself this evening which was very relaxing. I had no worries whether any of the pictures I had planned would turn out exactly the way I wanted since I was there to basically have fun with some new areas and experiment with a moon rise and this big foreground element. Even with some years of consistent photography in my pocket there are many aspects of this craft I needing to learn to be able to expand my possibilities. I have owned and been taking pictures with a Nikon D800e for well over a year now but I know I am not getting the most out of this cameras capabilities so I’m finding myself wanting to expand on the typical photos that I have gotten used to taking. What that means exactly I’m not real sure other than not being so hesitant when it comes to trying new things that I might not be sure will work.

The picture here is a single exposure taken directly into the sun through the tree and is one with that “trying something different” mindset. I was walking around this small area looking at this rock from all different angles trying to develop some kind of composition in my head. Keep in mind this is a small area that has fence on the east and south, a large tree to the west and the trail leading in from the south through woodlands and a creek. All in all it was a really great time just being there plus I got to take some pictures!

Here is my take on the moonrise as it peaked over the eastern hillside that I posted on my facebook page. You can also check out a quick snapshot I took with my iphone on instagram.

Mushroom Rock State Park, Kansas - ESSSP_6026

© Brad Mangas