“Dawn at Shaw Nature Reserve”
Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens @ 92mm, ISO 160, f/18, 1/13 sec
First of all, I hope the title of this post doesn’t give too much away about my love for everything Paula Abdul. ;=) My hope for this post is to present the possibilities of experiences that Shaw Nature Reserve offers the nature lover, hiker, birder, artist, or anyone trying to escape the confines of modern culture and everyday life. SNR is located in Gray Summit, MO, about 30 minutes outside the St. Louis metropolitan area. It is an easy to get to spot to find yourself in a well-managed and diverse range of native Ozark habitats.
I love spending the early morning hours at SNR. I have spent many a Saturday morning, having arrived before first light, with the entire reserve to myself. I try to have a plan for those ephemeral golden hours where I can pretend I am the only person on the planet: macro photography of wildflowers, a hawk’s nest, a particular landscape image, etc. More often than not the weather or light or my desire to put some miles on the trails forces me to forget my plans and try to take advantage of the best available opportunity.
Everything in nature seems to be fully awake at dawn and just like the opportunities for the photographer the stimulus for the senses at dawn are almost infinite. During this morning the frogs were still advertising, song birds – Towhee, Field Sparrow, Carolina Wren, and Redwing Blackbird are singing their unique songs, the Barred Owls are talking to one another. The light and colors of early morning are constantly changing and the brisk temperatures and fog in the air are pleasant on the skin and a joy for hiking.
Being a little windy on this particular morning I knew that my goal of photographing spring wildflowers would be a bit frustrating. I also felt that need to walk so I started on the trails knowing there would be ample opportunities for some early morning landscapes. This section of this trail emerges from denser woods to a savannah-like habitat with a cattail pond. I tried several compositions and focal lengths and this one was one of my favorites with a Redwing Blackbird perched facing the sun.
So, please join the crowds and make a visit to Shaw after 10:00 in the morning. Maybe I’ll see you on my way out. ;=)