Tall sunflower, Hayden Prairie State Preserve - In early September 1996, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and other organizations held a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the state's purchase of Hayden Prairie. I attended in my official capacity as state representative, so I went wearing a sport jacket, tie, slacks, etc., instead of my regular field clothes. But I was not totally unprepared: fortunately, I had brought along my "car camera," a 1968 Pentax Spotmatic, which I kept stowed behind the front seat in an old, towel-lined Army surplus ammo box. The ceremonies were brief, and it was one of those bright, cool, clear September afternoons that beg you to get out and look for pictures. So as the crowd broke up, I pulled out the old Pentax and 28mm and 105mm SMC-Takumar lenses and headed into the tall grass. This image was made with the 105, on Fujichrome Provia film, f/13.5 @ 1/125th.
Rainbow at Cedar Hills Sand Prairie State Preserve - About 4:30 in the afternoon of a daylong steady rain, I looked out the window of my office at the University of Northern Iowa and saw an unbroken thread of sunlight across the western horizon. Realizing that a rainbow might be in the making, I dropped everything, dashed home, and grabbed my camera bag and tripod. I had been observing and photographing at the sand prairie the day before, and I could visualize almost exactly how and where I could frame some flowers with a rainbow. The heavy rain curtain moved ponderously eastward, and when I arrived at the prairie just before 5, the rainbow was just brightening and filling its arc. I hurried out to the spot I'd visualized and spent a few minutes composing the image. I set the tripod low to the ground, to simplify the composition AND avoid casting its shadow into the picture. I had to do likewise with my own shadow--and lie on my side in the soaking grass. Nikon FM, 24mm f/2.8 Nikkor, with polarizer, f/16 at 1 second on Kodachrome 64.
Iris at moonrise, King-Stiles Prairie - A long-time acquaintance, Bruce Stiles, learned to love and treasurethis small, wet prairie from his grandmother, Addie King, who delighted in it in her girlhood in the 1890s, preserving it from tillage until she died. Bruce Stiles struggled for years to gain full title to his grandmother's beloved prairie and to undo a relative's determined (and expensively unsuccessful) efforts to drain and plow it. Bruce finally succeeded, and he has spent 18 years nurturing its ladyslipper orchids, blue flag irises, and other unusual and beautiful species back to health. Kodak DCS-Pro digital slr, 20mm f/3.5 Nikkor, f/4.5 at 1second at ISO 400.
Bill Witt is the photographer of Enchanted by Prairie