Cattail Stems

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Cattail Stems

I’m a sucker for patterns. Recent findings in psychology show that we are hard wired to identify order in the chaos that so often surrounds us. So when I stumble on a pattern in nature I get a little frisson of pleasure–like I just solved a puzzle.

I came across this bed of cattails in a marshy area in the Wau-Ke-Na preserve of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. I stumbled on this gem of a preserve when exploring the back roads of Allegan County between South Haven and Saugatuck. It’s a wonderful mix of forests, meadows, and wetlands with an extensive trail system. Huge areas have been planted in native prairie grasses . When I visited there was a lovely self-guided nature trail that introduced many of the plants and insects that call this place home.

I framed this photo to emphasize the pattern of the vertical stalks, but included a few gracefully arched leaves as a reminder that the order you find in nature is seldom rigid. I chose a relatively large aperture of f/5.6 to defocus some of the background clutter.

This photos is also a reminder that you can find compelling images at all times of day. Harsh noon-day sun backlit the leaves and, along with a polarizing filter, enriched the colors. When I first developed this image I reduced the color saturation to make it more believable. But then I decided that it was these deep rich colors that I saw through my lens and that took my breath away on first sight, so I share them here in their full glory.

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