Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Photographers Snap Nature at Its Zenith

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Photographers Snap Nature at Its Zenith

Article excerpt

"Wow, look at all the shooting stars! There's Indian paintbrush all over the place, and what's this yellow flower?"

"Did you say there are British soldiers here?"

"Don't forget to use your tripod." Exclamations of delight, questions and answers and friendly words of encouragement ricochet around the amphitheater-like hillside at Valley View Glades Natural Area in Jefferson County. The Missouri Nature and Environmental Photographers have arrived. Moments earlier, MoNEP President Ruth Hoyt met a group of 13 camera-toting nature buffs where the trail opened onto a sun-splashed, flower-decked glade. Mindful of the effects that 26 feet could have on the vegetation clinging to half an inch of soil on the rocky glade, she gave everyone a short course in low-impact photography. "Keep in mind that this area has Fremont's leather flower and other rare plants that grow only under very special conditions. Some of them grow nowhere else in the world," she counseled. "This system is very fragile, so try as much as possible to step on top of rocks." This and a few other admonitions transform casual traipsers into cautious pussyfooters, examining the ground minutely to appreciate the astonishing variety of plant life thriving in one of the harshest environm ents in Missouri. Wild white indigo, hoary puccoon, yellow star grass, bird's-foot violets, Missouri evening primrose and dozens of other outrageous-hued flowers carpet the ground. Within five minutes, the excited babble of discovery subsides to the low murmur of photographic reverie. Individual photographers and occasional pairs dot the landscape, many prostrate on the ground as they compose visual tributes to natural masterpieces. By the time the group breaks for breakfast three hours later, they will have taken hundreds of color and black and white photographs with equipment ranging from state-of-the-art professional gear to modest "point-and-shoot" cameras. Table talk during the breakfast break at a nearby restaurant ranges across a wide variety of topics. …

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