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For this months wallpaper image we venture out into the big wide open spaces of the Kansas Flint Hills. There is a drive in these parts that is well known to most who love spending time enjoying this wonderful scenery. Between highway K4 and highway 99 approx. 10 miles south of Interstate 70 a stretch of country road meanders through this great wilderness for some 15 miles. The road is Skyline Rd. also known as Skyline Scenic Drive. The views anytime of the year are vast, abundant and beautiful. One can see the distant horizon for miles and miles in all directions. Big skies, rolling hills and vast grasslands are the subject during this drive. Spring brings hundreds of varieties of wildflowers that continue blooming throughout the summer and fall months. It’s a drive I have taken countless times if for nothing more than to relax and surround myself with nature.

Summer days can be harsh in this environment with heat and winds playing an unending roll in it’s survival. I will typically make plans to be in these areas early morning or in the case of this image late afternoon into the evening hours. Clear blue skies during the day a week ago made an evening trip the priority. As I slowly made my way around the turns, up and down the hills this view seem to explode into my sight. The sun was still just above the horizon slowly setting perfectly with the small pond in the distance. So I pulled over parked the truck and began the wait.

Walking up and down the road trying to visualize the best spot for a soon to be made picture I plopped the tripod and camera down at the edge of the fence line and began making a few shots at various exposures just to see if the presence of the sun at the horizon would do what I wanted. It turned out with the sun up I wasn’t going to capture the colors as I had visioned in my mind. I will typically take shots all during the process of the sun setting and continue well after the sun has set. This shot as it turns out was about 20 minutes after sunset. The sky had darkened just enough for a single star to appear and the lands had just a touch of light left on them. All in all I spent about an hour in this one spot and took 88 pictures of this scene. As you can see the one I chose is one of the last made that beautiful evening.

A single point of light as the star produced is sometimes desirable but as I worked this image up I felt the need to help this little guy standout. I took the opportunity in post processing to help the starburst just a bit. I think it liked being made a big shot. I hope you enjoy this months free offering. “Twilight in the Flint Hills.”

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Kansas nature photography

© Brad Mangas

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