A prairie restoration at Homer Lake, in HDR

I hardly ever subject images to the intense photoshopping of High Dynamic Range photography. HDR is just too often overdone. All the same, with half an hour on my hands at Homer Lake yesterday before the firefly show, why not kill some time?


The image is merged from 5 input files taken at different shutter speeds. To get a sense of what the camera records without manipulation, here is one of the component images:


You may have already seen the firefly picture that came later, if you follow me on facebook or G+. If you haven’t, here is about 10 minutes of Photinus pyralis above the restored prairie. Click on it to view large:



10 thoughts on “A prairie restoration at Homer Lake, in HDR”

    1. Yeah- the restoration site didn’t seem as rich to me as some of the other ones in town. Tons of goldenrod, not much flowering. I chose the site for this photo project because Homer Lake is a ways from town and far from city lights. I’m planning on putting in more effort next year- ideally, I’ll find a site that has plenty of plants blooming during peak fireflies.

  1. [ Love the firefly shot…. but curious about your avoidance of worthy video sequences. There is something magical about an evenings’ fireflies.]

    Golderods ? just temporary… as many things are.

    “Look for signs of farming that took place here until the mid-1970s. You’ll see examples of succession, as trees have sprung up in old fields.”


  2. If our experience in this region is any measure, BioBob, Solidago canadensis/altissima, a long-lived, rhizomatous, colonial plant, will dominate this site for the rest of our lives.

    1. And our lives last for … how long ?

      Or until it gets shaded out by trees, burnt in a fire, washed away in a flood, plowed under, or whatever else changes. Last time I passed through, Illinois was still eastern deciduous forest biome unless some other perturbating factor like fire-caused tall grass prairie, glaciers, poor soils, etc. intervened.

      The ~5,000 feet of ice found in the area a mere 10-15 kyr back might take out Solidago, despite it’s tenacious nature. 😉

      1. James C. Trager

        Let’s just say “decades”. I take your points, but invasion by this goldenrod is demonstrably ruinous for a prairie “restoration”, which is the goal of those who are the stewards of this site.

        1. It’s an interesting situation. My understanding is that virtually all of the Illinois (and other eastern ‘natural’ tall grass prairies) were in fact the result of fire rotations used by native americans for ‘wildlife management’, war (burning out their competitors), etc., although actual data versus oral history is pretty much lacking. They may not have had flashy tech but they weren’t stupid.

          Somehow I can’t envision the current residents using fire to manage thousands of Illinois hectares today. 😉 I know virtually nothing about natural controls of golderod but assume there are species that can be used to ‘control’ monocultures and management regimes (mowing, grazing, etc.) that favor other species.

          I still love fireflies ever since I was a munchkin. I used to rear them on terrariums full of snails and watched them build little igloo shaped pupation chambers. They kinda scarce round here tho.

  3. I grew up roaming the woods and fields around Ames, Iowa. One of my favorite haunts was a couple acres of prairie behind our high school. It was an incredibly important place for me, as a budding entomologist. I distinctly remember it was dominated by big blue stem, with lots of purple cone flowers, yarrow, etc. This was maintained by controlled burns.
    Last summer I went back for the first time in about 20 years, and I barely recognized it. It was obvious that the controlled burns had long stopped, and the area was now taken over by shrubs and goldenrod. Anyway, succession became very real for me that day.

    1. I have so many experiences like yours, Marcoli, and each becomes sadder than the last one. I’m inclined to say “I’m sorry for your loss”.
      Some have suggested that levels of atmospheric nitrogen and CO2 may have something to do with the increasing dominance of species that can take advantage of them, e.g. tall goldenrod, poison ivy, fast-growing woody plants, some cool season grasses. The latter especially have nearly obliterated the diversity of the naturally low-fertility limestone grasslands of northern Europe. The problem is compounded by cessation of annual haycutting that harvested some of the nutrient input (and fed it to livestock), a rough equivalent of the once traditional burning practices of North America and southern Europe.

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