Today's Awesome Guest Blogger Jim Griggs Takes Us to Kansas

Thank you Rick for the opportunity to be a guest blogger on your site. We loved having you speak to our group a few months back . . . and my friend enjoyed playing guitar with you!

Weather is a driving force both in atmospheric dynamics and in photography.  When the weather turns bad, it means the chance for some superb photographic opportunities.  Living in Kansas, we are blessed and cursed with some absolutely crazy weather.  In recent years snowstorms have been infrequent but when they start I grab my gear and drive 15 miles to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, a 2800 acre microcosm of the great plains prior to arrival of the Europeans.  With a herd of over 200 pure breed bison and 80 plus elk, it offers some spectacular opportunities for me and my Canon gear.

The refuge is operated by the State of Kansas and was chartered by the donor to be a place for public education, a place to experience what we have basically lost on a large scale here in the plains.  A separate non-profit group, Friends of Maxwell, was established to carry out the education needs.  Run by all volunteers, the Friends group started running tours the year I moved to Kansas and we have enjoyed a great 20+ year association.

We keep a close eye on the weather here.  If I see the chance for some great weather dynamics I pack up my Canon 5DIII and 7DII with a couple of lenses and go to bed early anticipating a quick run out to the refuge for some great images.   I have been rewarded with some beautiful images including the group of bison moving thru the ankle deep snow toward my truck.  On other occasions the director of the Friends group has met me there for a quick run out onto the plains for some up close images of the wildlife surviving what winter throws their way.  The Friends group leads tours in trams for the public as a way to raise funds to keep their charter going strong.  A few years ago, I convinced them to let me lead some sunrise photographers trips in the winter.  We really didn’t have a name for these trips until after the first one when one participant said he almost “froze his buns off”.  From that point forward these were dubbed FYBO, or Freeze Your Buns Off.  We usually run two events in either late January or early February on consecutive Saturdays.  How cold has it been? The coldest was 7 degrees F with most somewhere just around freezing.

The result of the early morning, winter outings?  Spectacular images with participants having images published in state and local publications!  I have been shooting at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near Canton, KS now for over 23 years and my Canon camera gear has served me more than well! 

I hope you make it to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in Kansas someday!

And I hope you can take a look at my web site.

Thank you!