Are of Field Mice and School Children (from the 1800’s)

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve schoolhouse

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas

A few weeks ago I ventured out to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas to do some epic photography.  Clearly we all go out in hopes of epic photography right?  I had a couple of things to cross off the list while I was out there.

  1. Meet up with an HDR Insider Member, Richard
  2. Get epic Sunset and Sunrise shots
  3. Get some Milky Way shots
  4. Fly the drone around the Prairie and get some shots where my legs couldn’t take me.
  5. Hike and enjoy myself with the camera.

While we all go out with a list it doesn’t always happen as we plan.  Of course a solid plan with no flex is bound to be broken.  However, I didn’t have much time for flex, I had a 24 hour period!  As it turned out the list went more like this:

  1. 🙂 Met with Richard (Awesome guy by the way)
  2. 🙁 The clouds in the afternoon slowly started to build, I saw one cloud, then 10, then  100 and then there was no sky which meant no sunset
  3. 🙁 The cloud cover ruined the chance of a Milky Way shot, not even a hole in the cloud coverage
  4. 🙁  They don’t allow UAV’s in the park.
  5. 🙂 This one was a blast and I am glad I left it in the plan.  I rolled with the punches and got some great stuff!

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve coach in the barn

Much of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve covers an area that was flourishing in the late 1800’s.  The park revolves around a mansion, the barn attached to it, and the copious amounts of rolling hills and lush tallgrass around it.  I only budgeted a 24 hour period there.  In reality I could have made it a week long trip to cover the amount of area it spans.

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve covers a great length of Kansas.  It is right side justified, just off from the center of the state and nearly spans the state from bottom to top.  That is quite the amount of area to cover in one 24 hour trip.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve swingset

One of the key buildings on the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the school house.  It is a magical little place that still resembles a school house from the late 1800’s.  I spent the bulk of the first day there and most of the morning with Richard.  After hiking nearly 2.5 miles to this point I was awe struck by its presence.


In Conclusion

While I may not have gotten my epic Milky Way shot or my glamorous sunset or rise, I am thrilled with what I walked away with.  The point of this little visual rant is not to get discouraged when your photo plan goes sour.  Forget about the epic stuff you see on 500px and drop the jealousy factor of the Milky Way shots you see everywhere.  When it comes down to it,  I think we all know that someone didn’t actually plan to have an epic sunset.  It’s not like you can buy it it off of some à la carte photo menu of tapas.

My Dad always told me to not worry about what I cannot control but focus on the things I could.  This is true with all things in life to include photography excursions.  After all, would an epic sunset shot really be worth it if I could pay someone to make it brilliant?

The answer is no.  The real sense of satisfaction comes from the surprise factor, the Wow Moment.  You can’t plan a Wow Moment.  You have to be open to them and be aware that it wasn’t necessarily a missed opportunity if things didn’t go according to your initial plan.  In reality there is opportunity all around you.  Don’t death spiral toward what you expect, because the unexpected will always be right there giggling at you.

I may not have gotten what I initially planned, but what I did get was much better!  I’ll take that any day of the week.

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Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve


Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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