Spiderwort Bounty I WFSP_1117

© Brad Mangas

I have written two posts over the last month neither one has made it here. Both started out mentioning why I hadn’t posted anything. Does that seem crazy or what! I don’t really want to bore anyone about why that is, let me just say I have been busy. That is so lame I know.

I went through a rather dry spell for a while in the creation of new work. Nothing uncommon in a creative life but frustrating non the less. It was that time of year when Spring was just here but not quite in full force. I wanted it to be but my wanting Mother Nature to cooperate is just like wishing I wasn’t getting older. Hope all I want but that still doesn’t change reality.

Has it been raining in your neck of the woods? Wow, what a last few weeks we have had in the Midwest. On at least two occasions I was out in what could be called a photographers paradise. Stormy skies, soft wet landscapes and then… lightning. I’m really not a storm chasing type of photographer. I love stormy skies but I don’t typically go out in search of “the storm”. Many are mesmerized by the lightning and I know put in many many hours trying to photograph such natural phenomenon. I would rather the lightning stay away and just let me capture the subtle landscape along with the stormy skies.  So when lightning is in the area I typically just set and wait. I have been doing a lot of waiting lately.

Spiderwort Bounty II WFSP_1133

© Brad Mangas

As of today things seem to be improving at least lessening up on the severe storms. If you live in the Midwest you know that can and most likely will change any day. What has taken place over the last few weeks can now easily be seen with any drive out into the prairies. They have literally exploded with growth! The tallgrasses and wildflowers are like I haven’t seen in years! All you have to do it look and then be willing to get muddy. I seem to like the mud I think it is a good thing when you think about it.

I will bring this post up to the present. Last Sunday (as of this writing) I decided to make a quick trip down south to an area lake. My plan was to go to Melvern Lake about 30 minutes south of town. As I headed that direction I made a change since there was only about an hour or so of daylight left. About 15 minutes south I would be going by Osage State Lake, a smaller county lake that I had visited over the winter. It is a rather nice little spot with a winding road that goes around most of it. I was hoping I could spot some wildflowers in the area and just play around a bit longer rather than drive a bit longer. What I discovered was startling at least to me. They had burned much of the area earlier in the spring so much of the grounds were lush with new growth. As I drove ever so slowly around on a heavy over cast evening with about an hour or so of daylight left I noticed in the distance out my driver side window and just easing up over a hill line the ground had a somewhat blue color cast to it. I stopped and looked for a minute and wondered if it was just the demishing light causing this or was there something growing that was causing this bluish appearance. I moved slowly down the muddy road and started spotting a few tall Spiderworts along the road and making their way up the open field. I stopped again, this time I wondered out loud, could that distant field with the bluish looking ground be covered in Spideworts? This wasn’t just a spot of blue in the field this was acres of blue. I really had a hard time imagining there could be acres of Spiderworts. I have never seen that many all together.

Spiderwort Bounty III WFSP_1137

© Brad Mangas

I quickly pulled off to the side of the muddy road grab my camera gear and began walking into the open field. As soon as I was able to see around some bushes my eyes filled with delight! Holy Cr@! the field WAS covered in Spiderworts! Just guessing I would say 3-5 acres had Spiderworts knee high along every step of the way! Well now I was just confused. This wasn’t necassasily a scenic location, no grand views off in the distant just acres of Spiderworts, a muddy road on one side and woodlands on the other three. All I really could do was to start attempting to compose something in the view finder that looked appealing. I had the 24-70mm lens on my D800e so the wide view was what I was after but as you may know the wider you go the smaller each element is in your frame. I decided I would work on specific compositions with specific groups of these purple blooming wildflowers. Seemed simple enough. Everything I looked at with my eyes seemed worthy of a photograph. The challenge comes when you view the scene through the view finder. It has a tendency to compress the scene and obviously frame it to specific dimensions. I would debate a scene take a look through the view finder and then try to frame it in an appealing way. Always aware that the closest blooming wildflowers needed to be the main point of interest. It was a fun challenge to spend an hour or so taking a few shots, walking a few feet, take a few more shots, walking around in circles looking at things from different angles, kneeling down on to the wet ground and attempting to capture the personality of these wonderful wildflowers. I never really know for sure if I am successful when I am attempting such personal image creation while in the field. I do what I like and what looks good to me at the moment. The result of my explorations usually come later once all the images are downloaded to the computer and I am setting restfully in front the monitor. Only then do I take the time to study each individual image that was made up close and personal noting what worked and what didn’t. I try very hard to not take random shots in hope of capturing something. That really isn’t even enjoyable. If possible I don’t rush anything but look at scene and try to find what captures my attention the most and then work on that within the landscape.

In that hour I spent walking I covered only about a fourth of this area and made 62 exposures. Keep in mind these were not 62 different compositions. I generally make multiple exposures of the same scene or composition. Attempting to fine tune each one with varying aperture settings, focus points, and shutter speeds. The shutter speed is critical in shots like this. The slightest of breeze and a  1/2 second exposure and all you have is a blurry flower. Many of these images were shot at 1600 iso in an attempt to keep my shutter speed as fast as possible to prevent the slight movement of the wildflowers in the slight breeze at hand. Most were also in an attempt to capture as much as I could and as sharply as I could. The 24-70mm nikkor lens has great sharpness and depth of field when stopped down to f/11 or greater most of these shots were at f/16 and I needed around a 1/60th of a second shutter speed at minimum. The sky was overcast and the sun going down so the light was very low. Thank goodness for the D800e’s high iso capabilities. I did play around with a few closer shots at minimum depth of field with my aperture opened to f/2.8. The problems with that as always is the ability to get a pleasing soft background. I found myself gravitating to the more wider views which seemed to be everywhere.

I do plan on returning but I know it is going to be a week or more be I have the time. Most of these Spiderworts did not have all their blooms open so I hope the last awhile longer. The hour plus that I was out not only filled my time with delightful views but showed me just how much Mother Nature can flourish in they right conditions. She is amazing.


Spiderwort Bounty IV WFSP_1149

© Brad Mangas

Spiderwort Bounty V WFSP_1156

© Brad Mangas

Spiderwort Bounty VI WFSP_1168

© Brad Mangas