Morris Reserve: Local Tallgrass Prairie
There is something magical about a summer morning thunderstorm. It’s a cozy feeling, lying in bed listening to the thunder roll across the land. I was content laying there counting the seconds between the flash and the thunder. Then the landscape photographer in me kicked in. Once I envisioned this scene, I was out the door into the breezy darkness. When I was done, I was left with this composite image consisting of sixteen 30-second exposures over 13 minutes captured at dawn. This tall grass prairie scene outside Bellbrook, Ohio, features one of the trails at Morris Reserve which is part of the Bellbrook Sugarcreek Park District. The trail is lined with grey-head coneflowers and wild bergamot which head toward the stormy skies.
I wanted to share a few of the techniques used in capturing this image. In making this type of stacked composite image, the camera needs to remain in one place and one must avoid all movement. For me, this involves a tripod. My favored lens is an ultrawide zoom lens, so to capture the most lightning strikes, I set the lens at its widest zoom setting. With the camera locked to its view down the pathway, I operated my Canon 5D Mark IV via the camera’s wifi system from the safety of my truck which was parked a few feet from the trail. Another caveat lies in the time of day. The scene looks dark and ominous…because it was, but all shots were taken a few minutes before dawn through the official sunrise. The final caveat entails the methods I used while monitoring the storm. Drawing on the storm cell’s track and lightning strike detector, I could monitor trend data as the storm passed over Centerville heading toward Beavercreek, Ohio.
Landscape Photography of Morris Reserve
Morris Reserve is a local park close to home. Although this is a relatively new park, the park district has laid out walking paths that meander through the tallgrass prairie. These trails serve as natural leading lines which become compositionally interesting as they lead the viewer into the scene. Given its proximity, I visit it frequently with my camera and have captured sunrises and sunsets under a variety of seasonal and weather conditions. A gallery of these images lies under Morris Reserve (Prairie) Art Prints.
In the few years that I’ve been chasing sunsets, there are evenings when the subject of my images wasn’t the landscape before me, but in the sky above. I call these images skyscapes. As my number of interesting skyscapes grew, I began to subdivide them into small categories: Cloudscapes, Eclipses, Moonscapes, Rainbows, Stormscapes, Sunsets, and Twilights. This leads to the Stormscapes Gallery which entails stormy skies and cumulonimbus clouds over interesting landscapes. Given the presence of lightning strikes, I place this particular print in the subcategory of lightningscapes.