Prairie bloom

July 16, 2022 – The Midwest Summer Prairie
One-Day field nature photography workshop
Location: starts at Marietta Sand Prairie Preserve (near Marshalltown, Iowa)
Start: 7:00am / Concludes: 3:30pm

Main Topics Include: Summer prairie wildflowers and landscape immersion. Macro and nature photography techniques to create beautiful summer wild flora images.

What to Expect

Grasshopper on grey-headed coneflower in prairie

Mid-summer on the lovely Midwestern prairie –  a full day of nature photography field education while photographing summer prairie wildflowers, plants, insects and other fauna, and the classic Midwest prairie landscape.

This summer workshop has always been one of my favorites – we’ll begin early in the morning while the prairie is still saturated in dew – at one of my favorite “hidden gem” locations for amazing Midwest summer prairie  photography.

We’ll photograph wildflowers such as Purple Coneflower, Prairie Phlox, Prairie Blazing Star, Blue Vervain, White Campion, and numerous others [*see note].  Likewise, in the morning, opportunities to photograph dew-laden insects such as dragonflies are likely to abound.

Additionally, those who photograph birds may want to bring their bird lens, as well – finches and other prairie birds are common at this location. There is also a fen – a marsh area that attracts birds and wildlife, and in past years has led to unique landscape and wildlife photography opportunities. Finally, a wooded “thicket” area (too small to be “woods”) has been productive for mammals during this workshop in past years.

This particular prairie is quite unique: “sand prairies” as named for their soil substrate, are quite rare and there are only a few of them in Iowa. They are home to several rare species of flora, and harbor a unique combination of plant life due to their sandy soils. This is the only sand prairie in Central Iowa – here’s a simple documentary image of this interesting and unique soil:

Depending on the prairie flower bloom we encounter, we may also travel a short distance to another prairie, as well as to another nearby location to photograph an oak savannah natural landscape. 

*note: there is no guarantee that we’ll be able to photograph each of these wildflower species, but all are regularly found at these locations during this general timeframe.  Actual blossoms the week of our workshop, of course, will depend on local conditions which vary year-to-year]


The workshop will be held rain or shine – in fact, often the best nature photography is in the rain! In the event of dangerous storms or tornadoes, however, the rain date will be Sunday, July 17.

A liability waiver will be sent to all participants at registration – a signed returned liability form will be required from each participant prior to the workshop.

The workshop will be limited to a maximum of 10 participants.


The workshop will take place at Marietta Sand Prairie Preserve, near Marshalltown, Iowa. A map and meeting location will be sent to participants prior to the event. Over the course of the day, we may also travel a short distance to another favorite nearby prairie location.

Who Should Attend

This workshop is open to photographers using DSLR or Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras of all skill levels, who have general familiarity with their camera and its settings. Bring your camera manual if you will be using a new or unfamiliar camera.

What to Bring

A detailed gear list will be emailed to participants upon registration. Participants will at a minimum want to bring
– a DSLR or Mirrorless camera (required)
– a macro or close-focusing lens, if you have one
– other lens(es) for landscape photography
– a sturdy tripod (required)
– enough batteries and memory cards for a full day of active photography
– waterproof/rain/Goretex pants (the prairie will be saturated with dew in the morning, so I generally recommend wearing water-repellant pants in the morning hours)
– mosquito/tick repellant

Food and Drink

Please plan to bring a lunch – we’ll break mid-day to eat together. We’ll also hold a general Q&A session at this time. Bottled water and snacks will be available throughout the day.

Physical Activity Level

This workshop requires moderate physical activity: participants should be in good enough physical condition to be able to walk carrying their own photographic equipment for up to 200 yards or so at a time, in uneven terrain. Please come prepared with comfortable hiking shoes/boots (or rubber boots if it’s been raining heavily in the days preceding the workshop).

COVID Safety

COVID safety protocols will be emphasized, as we work as a socially-distanced group to photograph throughout the day.

Post-Workshop Image Review

In past years, we debriefed at the end of each workshop day to review and discuss images from the day. Currently, I’m using Zoom to host an image review session from each workshop, a few days after the event. We’ll schedule this during an evening or the weekend following the workshop, giving each participant time to cull, select, and edit some favorite photos from the workshop. We’ll each share a few photos from the day, and I and other participants will provide feedback. This session is included with your workshop registration.

Workshop Date and Time

Saturday, July 16, 2022
Start Time: 7:00am
End Time: 3:30pm


$169 per person, includes instruction, handout, and snacks/water throughout the day.