Another Visit to Cherokee Prairie

Most years, the vegetation at Cherokee Prairie is pretty much dry and dead by September, as is most flora in our region.  This year, though, was different.  On September 2, Labor Day, I drove by and saw late summer flowers and grasses.  Walking through the tall grass, I found flowers, spiders, butterflies and caterpillars.  It was a great, productive, and fun-filled couple of hours that morning…

Pearl Crescent butterfly; late summer

Pearl Crescent butterfly; late summer

Pearl_Crescent_Caterpillar

Pearl Crescent Caterpillar

In the background, you may have noticed a Purple Gerardia, aka Purple False Foxglove, (Agalinis purpurea).  There were a number of these flowers in bloom.

Purple Gerardia (aka Purple False Foxglove)  Agalinis purpurea

Purple Gerardia (aka Purple False Foxglove) Agalinis purpurea

An aster with a Crab spider in residence

An aster with a Crab spider in residence

Bicyclist passing by Cherokee Prairie on Highway 60

Bicyclist passing by Cherokee Prairie on Highway 60

Equipment included the Sony Alpha 77, Tamron 180 macro lens, Manfrotto tripod and Really Right Stuff ball head

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Butterflies, spiders, insects

This spring and summer, I’ve done a lot of macro photography, mostly of flowers, but I’m always ready for other subjects that make an appearance. Here are some surprises thus far this year…

 

 
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“Yellowjacket Flies” – on a wild rose

 

Eastern Tailed-Blue, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

Eastern Tailed-Blue, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

OK – I’ve shown this before, but it was also a surprise. 🙂

 

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Green Lynx Spider, on the back of a Sunflower.  You have to look on the back of flowers, as well as the front.

 

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Another Lynx spider, just not as green.  This one was on a yellow coneflower at Cherokee Prairie.

 

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This is another fly, but is really tiny.  The real surprise here is the dew drop on its back, that I didn’t see until I downloaded the images.  There is an image of the same flower you can see in the larger dew drop.

 

All images shot with the Sony Alpha77 and Tamron 180 macro lens, on a Manfrotto tripod and Really Right Stuff ball head.

 

Van Buren Main Street

Here are some images I shot on an early morning of “Historic Main Street” in Van Buren, Arkansas – just some glimpses of where we call home.

Magenta Staircase in Van Buren

Magenta colored stairs behind a metal gate lead up to a private residence in Van Buren, Arkansas

 

Antiques sign in Van Buren

Antiques sign below a roof in downtown Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

Red Bicycle Wheel Van Buren

Red bicycle wheel in a store window in downtown Van Buren

 

Street windows Van Buren

A trio of windows facing Main Street in Van Buren, Arkansas

 

Van Buren Door

A door off Main Street, Downtown Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

Flower Bouquet

One of several along Main Street, Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

Ice Cream Parlor bench

Bench in front of the Ice Cream Parlor, Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

Three Windows

Another trio of windows on Main Street Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

My intentions were to look for and photograph patterns and the color red; downtown Van Buren has plenty of both…

I used the Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 and Tamron 70-300 lenses – and the Manfrotto tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.

 

 

Cherokee Prairie

Cherokee Prairie

Each spring, I look forward to visiting Cherokee Prairie, an Arkansas Natural Heritage Site. There are a number of pieces of land in Arkansas similar to this; allowed to grow naturally, with only foot traffic allowed.
This spring, I’ve been able to make several visits to the Prairie, and here’s some of what I’ve seen – and photographed.
Among the first wildflowers to bloom is Indian Paintbrush. I visited once and they were just beginning to show color; a later visit and the Prairie was nearly covered with the colorful red flowers.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea), Cherokee Prairie, near Charleston, Arkansas

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea), Cherokee Prairie, near Charleston, Arkansas

Then, in the midst of the red flowers was this yellow version.

 

A yellow version of Indian Paintbrush

A yellow version of Indian Paintbrush

 

Here’s another image (my favorite) of the same yellow flower, juxtaposed with the red ones in the background.

Yellow Indian Paintbrush, Cherokee Prairie near Charleston, AR

Yellow Indian Paintbrush, Cherokee Prairie near Charleston, AR

 

Next, a few weeks later, the Purple Coneflowers covered the Prairie:

Purple Coneflower Duo

Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

 

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Purple Coneflower framed by Doll’s Daisy, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

Large patch of Purple Coneflowers, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

Large patch of Purple Coneflowers, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

 

There are other wildflowers there; these are some of my favorites.

And, the visitor can also see some other “flying flowers”, such as this Eastern Tailed-Blue.  This was a first for me, and I appreciate our friend, Anne Sayers, helping identify it…

Eastern Tailed-Blue, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

Eastern Tailed-Blue, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

 

 

These images were all made with the Sony Alpha77, a Minolta 100mm macro lens and, more recently, a Tamron 180mm macro lens, Manfrotto tripod and Really Right Stuff ball head.  And, all the water drops were there before I was…  🙂

 

 

Black Bass Lake

Every two years, the Photographic Society of Northwest Arkansas (www.psnwa.org) hosts the Mid-America Photographic Symposium (MAPSYM). This year, for the first time, I was able to attend the weekend event, held in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Kudos to the PSNWA for putting on a first-class event, aimed at photography enthusiasts and professionals alike.

One outing I joined was an early morning “Nature Hike” at Black Bass Lake.  Even if you’ve ever been to Eureka Springs, a small community built on a steep hillside, I doubt you’ve heard about this lake. At least, I hadn’t, and I overheard another participant, from the area, say the same thing.  So, we drove down a steep hill on a gravel road, to the lake, and it was like going to another world; right in the middle of the community, we were suddenly in a wilderness.  It was so cool! (Are we supposed to say “cool” any more? I can’t keep up, so I just say what I feel.)
The morning was typical spring for this area; cool and damp. The lake had some misty fog hanging over the surface, and fortuitously, there were two fishermen in a small boat…

Two fishermen on Black Bass Lake, in the misty fog.

Two fishermen on Black Bass Lake, in the misty fog.

 

Walking one of the trails around the lake, I photographed this C-curved blade of grass, with a dew drop hanging on.  Those that know me, and especially those that have sat through a class with me, have heard me stress simplicity…

C-dew drop

Dew drop clings to a curved blade of grass, alongside Black Bass Lake, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

 

There were also a number of these purple flowers; according to Don Kurz’s Arkansas Wildflowers book, it’s called the Leather Flower.  Cool flower…

Leather Flower (Clematis versicolor)

Leather Flower along Black Bass Lake, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

 

So, it was an interesting weekend.  I learned a bit about how Hanson Fong takes portraits, saw & listened to Nikon’s Mark Kettenhofen deliver an awesome keynote presentation, and more.  Glad I went.  🙂

 

Camera used was the Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 f/2.8 (I love this lens!) and Minolta 100 macro, Manfrotto tripod with Really Right Stuff ball head.

 

Garvan Woodland Gardens

In April this year, I visited Garvan Woodland Gardens, in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  My first time there, although it is a place high on my want-to-go-to list for some time.  Mid-April was a little late for the tulips, which are reportedly spectacular, but there was still lots of colorful flowers covering the grounds.

So here are a few selected photos.  Hope you enjoy!

Rhododendrons by the waterfall.

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Garvan Woodland Gardens, small waterfall with rhododendrons.

Some remnants of tulips in front of red flowers (no – I don’t remember what they are.)

Tulip remnants with red flowers in the background.

Tulip remnants with red flowers in the background.

Along a path, there was a late blooming river of tulips.

A River of Tulips

A River of Tulips

 

 

 

Here is a tight crop of the tulips from the “river.”

The river of tulips, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

The river of tulips, crop, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Closeup of rhododendrons.

Closeup of some rhododendrons, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Closeup of some rhododendrons, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

 

 

The Gardens have flowers in bloom throughout the spring and summer, but are well known for their tulips displays in early spring.  Maybe next year…

Photos were all taken with the Sony Alpha 77, and the Sony 16-50 f/2.8 lens and the Minolta 100 f/2.8 macro lens.

 

 

Red Reflections

I first saw reflections in water drops in a magazine – probably Outdoor Photographer.  The photos were fascinating, and I decided it was a subject/technique I needed to learn.  There were a number of failures over the years, until this photo.

On the day I took this, I was visiting Cherokee Prairie Natural Area.  In fact, I had been there for a while, searching the Prairie for just the right combination of water drops, grass tangles, flowers, and light.  I had no success, and was walking back to my truck, when at the very edge of the parking area was a perfect arrangement.  I set the tripod up in the short grass of the parking area, and made a number of exposures…

One of the problems with making these photographs is that all of the vegetation – grass, flowers, shrubs, briars – is connected!  Setting a tripod up without causing the water drops to fall is sometimes impossible.  Often, I get it almost just right, move the tripod – or the camera & lens – and bump or pull something, causing the water drops to disappear.  So, finding this at the parking lot was exciting!  Ever since that day, I always look around the parking area before heading off into the grasses of the prairie…

Wild rose reflected in water drops on grass

Wild rose reflected in water drops on grass
Cherokee Prairie State Natural Area, near Charleston, Arkansas

I have always like the sharpness of this image, but would like to have the same situation again; I think it deserves some different compositions, and would like to shoot it with one of today’s higher resolution cameras.  However, photographs are the reflection of a moment, then it’s history.  As much as we might wish to relive our past, we cannot…  😉

 

Minolta Maxxum 7D, Minolta Maxxum 100 mm macro lens, Manfrotto tripod.