Images and words by Jerred Zegelis
It's that time of the year! Load up the car with way too many snacks, coolers, hand-held video game consoles for the kids and more. This summer as you and the family hit the road to see the sights, remember to bring a camera (or two)!
If you look up "travel" photography online, you're likely to see a lot of oceans, mountains and stunning waterfalls. With all respect to Smith Falls in Nebraska, we don't have a lot of those things in Nebraska.
However, that doesn't make the vistas any less beautiful. In fact, I'd argue that Nebraska is one of the most serenely beautiful places on earth.
Here are a few suggestions I've gathered as I've spend the last few decades of my life crisscrossing dirt roads and highways found all around the state:
1 - Dirt Road Exploration
Exploring dirt roads is a unique experience. These country roads hold many treasures, such as stunning vistas with classic red barns, classic cars and trucks parked in fields, and farmers tending to their crops. My advice: just pick a direction and go down every dirt road you can find to get there. Nebraska is cross-crossed with many highways, so even without Google Maps, it would be hard to get truly lost. Just make sure to get out of the car and walk around every once in a while, you’ll be surprised at what a difference that can make for finding great subjects for photographs.
2 - Find Beauty in the Ordinary
Nebraska has a lot of barns, plots of farmland, and old tractors all over the place. While the people who own these things might not think of them as photo-worthy subjects, I certainly do! A bonus beyond taking the photos is meeting the people who you’ll find along the way, who often can point you out to more places to take photos of!
3 - Sandhills. Oh my.
If you haven’t been out West, you’re in for a treat. Take a visit to the Nebraska Sandhills for some of the most stunning views on the planet. These rolling hills seem to go on forever, and when you have one of those epic skies full of clouds we often get here, you’ve got photo opportunities that never quit.
4 - State Parks
Nebraska has a ton of wonderful state parks, and many of them are little secrets full of places to take amazing photographs. Just do a quick search for ones you haven’t been to and spend some time exploring places you haven’t gone before. One of note: Toadstool Geologic Park. This amazing place is truly unique right here in Nebraska.
5 - Small Town Charm
Every year my family and I load up the car and travel to dozens of small towns across out state. Each one has a unique feel to them, and my son loves exploring the small town parks that have unique character. Every town has a story, and finding that story and history is part of the fun!
About Jerred Zegelis
Jerred or Mr. Z, as his students fondly know him, has been a photography teacher and photographer for more than 18 years. Jerred's goal for every class is for each student to find their voice through photography.
Jerred's former students include fashion photographers, landscape and art photographers, wedding and portrait photographers.
Take a class with Jerred Z or another one of our talented instructors at Rockbrook Camera EDU - Class Calendar