Good photography requires many things. Having good equipment is one, although one doesn’t necessarily have to possess the most expensive equipment to create good photos, but good camera bodies and quality optics do make a difference. Finding interesting subject material that people can connect with is another. Strong compositional skills are yet another. However, one of the most important factors is being in the right place at the right time. Many times, this is pure and simple luck. Other times, however, you can plan it!

MacLennan Park, located directly adjacent to Cedar Crest (the personal residence of the Kansas Governor), is a 244 acre park with miles of hiking and biking trails, several small ponds, hills, woods, open meadows and is home to white tail deer, red fox, various small mammals, and many varieties of birds. It is a favorite place of mine to photograph because of the diversity of things to see and it’s close to home. This summer, a new trail (the Red Trail) was opened on the north side of the park. My husband and I hiked it numerous times after it opened, and there were several spots I thought might be really beautiful in the snow. Last weekend we had some wild weather – a record high of 67 the day after Christmas, followed by a rare December tornado watch, followed the next morning by light freezing rain, plummeting temperatures throughout the morning, and snow in the afternoon. I knew if I waited until sunrise the next day, the mud on the trails would be frozen and I could finally get out in the snow.

I bundled up to stave off the cold and headed out. The park was totally deserted when I arrived. The only sound was the occasional flock of geese flying in and out of the nearby Kansas River. The snow muffled a lot of the usual city traffic noise and it was peaceful and quiet in the woods. Several of the spots I had noted before were indeed beautiful with the light dusting of snow. The light coating of ice on the trees also gave me other possibilities. One place I had spotted on my previous trips was where a tiny spring trickled over a rock ledge. The cold overnight temperatures had slowed the water almost to a complete stop, and beautiful icicles had formed on both sides of the ledge. I spent half an hour just at this spot, getting some wider shots with the ice-coated trees in the background and some close-ups of icicles, the trickling water, etc.

Needless to say, I had an awesome time playing in the snow and shooting photos on this morning. Knowing ahead of time the specific spots I wanted to hit certainly made it easier and more efficient to shoot photos, rather than running aimlessly around, hoping to find something before the good light was gone. Preparation definitely paid off and made all the difference in the images I captured.

For more information about MacLennan Park, please visit this web site:

The trail system is maintained by volunteers through the Kansas Trails Council