The N4C annual fall convention was held in Des Moines this year. Linda, Beverly, Terri and I were able to attend and wish you all could have been there. The Des Moines Camera Club hosted the event and provided lots of opportunities to learn something new and take great photos.
The four of us took advantage of the Downtown Des Moines River Walk Thursday, taking night shots of the Des Moines skyline and the Des Moines River (a tributary of the Mississippi).
Friday morning we were up bright and early to venture out to the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. While we didn't see the longed for monarch migration, we did see some incredible sights. One I'll never forget is a colony of spiderwebs (and some really big spiders!) spread across a few hundred feet alongside the road. It was early morning and the dew still dripped from the elaborate webs. It was amazing.
After lunch we carpooled to the ISU Demonstration Garden. It was late in the season, but there were still dahlias, lantanas, zinnas, rudbeckia and other flowers in beautiful bloom. While it was extremely hot in the sun and I was happy I had brought an umbrella to provide some shade, the bevy of butterflies fluttering around all of these flowers couldn't have been happier. I saw monarchs, yellow sulphurs, cabbage whites, painted ladies, skippers and red admirals. Don Komarechka, a master at macro photography, was also available to give us some hands on experience in refracted water photography.
Don Komarechka was also our keynote speaker at the banquet Friday evening. It was a meeting of science and camera as he shared his knowledge of photographing snowflakes and frozen bubbles. On Saturday he gave a talk on capturing nature's glow with UV light.
On Saturday, while Linda took the Madison County Bridges field trip, Bev, Terry and I opted to head for the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market, a multi-block event with over 300 vendors and some of the tastiest blueberry strudel I've ever eaten.
On the way to the farmers market we had passed an old cemetery and decided to stop on the way back to the hotel. The oldest cemetery in Des Moines, Woodland Cemetery was created in 1848 and had some incredible headstones and tombs. We had the pleasure of meeting two volunteers who were trying to locate headstones that had long been buried under the turf and were gracious enough to give us a tour of the cemetery and share its colorful history. An added bonus was when a kaleidoscope of monarchs (yep, that's what you call a flock of butterflies, I looked it up) descended on a pine tree Terri was standing under. It was a cool, cloudy day and late in the afternoon, so these migrating wonders decided to stop for the night in the cemetery. I felt so lucky to have witnessed that and we were all super excited, even if I had left my telephoto lens at the hotel.
Saturday's keynote speaker was David Thoreson who spoke about his work as a conservationist and his incredible journey through the Northwest Passage. I was lucky enough to win his book, "One Island, One Ocean."
After a weekend of spending time with a group of people who shared a passion for photography, it was hard to leave on Sunday. Everyone we met was super friendly and I learned so much. I'm already looking forward to next year's convention, which rumor has it may be sponsored by the Sioux Falls and Sioux City camera clubs.