One of my travels this year will take me to McCook, Nebraska. Nebraska? What the hell is in Nebraska? My friends, that is a very good question. Tony will be switching schools and going to a small school located smack dab, as they say, in the middle of nowhere, following his dream to play basketball. Topping the list of states that I’ve never been to are Nebraska and Kansas, both located in fly-over country, both plains states. Yes, Nebraska and Kansas are part of The Great Plains:
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The Canadian portion of the Plains is known as the Prairies. Some geographers include some territory of Mexico in the Plains, but many stop at the Rio Grande.
Having lived in Dallas, TX for 20 years, which is part of The Great Plains, I can say that I have absolutely no love for The Plains! There is nothing there but horizon! It’s great for farming, as there are no trees to get in your way.
As a photographer, I find photographing in the plains to be difficult, because the place does not move me. It offers nothing that excites me.
Now, if you’ll allow, I’ll break landscape photography into a few, very broad categories, ordered by my preference.
I realize that these are pretty wide. I’ve done photography in each of these categories, or perhaps zones. My favorite is forest/woods. There seems to be a calming influence in a place full of rivers, streams, birds, different types of animals, and lots of trees. I can spend hours here and never tire of it.
Second on the list, the desert, or perhaps more accurately, the high desert, where most of the colors are browns, reds, and yellows. There you get to see dunes, bluffs, buttes, mountains, arroyos, cactus, and a wide array of desert flowers and plants. There seems to be always something interesting. However, I don’t know if I could spend my life there, living in that environment every day.
Third – Mountains: This was really hard as mountains and desert are probably really tied at 2nd place, perhaps on certain days, they even gravitate to first place. I just love the power and majesty of the mountains, the spirit of the desert. They both inspire me to shoot, shoot, shoot!
Coming in fourth, coastal. This is one that I have difficulty shooting, sometimes. Though it could be argued that this environment is the most dynamic, as the beach is always changing, second by second with each successive wave, it doesn’t seem to hold my interest very long. I see myself moving further away from the beach and coming back inland to explore greener spaces. I’m thankful for the time that I got to live in Charleston, SC – that gave me an entire 19 months to see if I really liked that type of photography and to explore it in depth, but it doesn’t move me so much.
Numbers 5 and 6 could be swapped, as I have no idea about shooting polar landscapes, though I would imagine that it would be somewhat similar to desert landscapes, but with blues and whites and a whole lot colder!
As I think about the trip to NE, probably in August, of course I will take a camera with me, but I’m just wondering what I will photograph, out there in those wide open spaces. It’s a long drive between here and there, some 23 hours, passing through some of the least picturesque parts of the country. I’m thinking that, maybe, just maybe, I’ll head on up to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota and to Badlands, since I’m up that way, but then again, after driving 23 hours over so many days, another 8 hour drive seems quite unpalatable!
This will be a challenge to photograph in places that don’t necessarily move me.