Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another Beginning

with 15 comments

A basket-flower, Centaurea americana

In my “About This Column” page I noted that everything we create must have a beginning. The photograph shown here marked the beginning of what I think of as a new approach to nature photography for me. The date was May 3, 2000, and the place was Round Rock, a rapidly growing city north of Austin. I was in a field on one side of a cul-de-sac, a bit of prairie that members of the Native Plant Society of Texas had taught me was a good place to see lots of native species. That day I’d gone there alone so I could take my time photographing (other people understandably get impatient if I spend fifteen minutes or half an hour in the same spot, as I often do when I take pictures).

I was pleased to find a colony of basket-flowers, Centaurea americana, growing in the field, but they weren’t far from the road that had brought me there (which has since been expanded to a superhighway). In order to keep the road and the apartments across the way from ruining my picture, I leaned down so that my eyes would be closer to the level of the flowers. Not good enough: I could still see distracting things in the background. I ended up lying flat on the ground—a skin-threatening thing to do in Texas—and looking up at a single basket-flower so I could isolate it against the sky. The result was the picture you see here, which has become my best-known photograph. A view from this angle makes it clear why Anglo settlers called this a basket-flower.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(Here is information about Centaurea americana, including a clickable map showing where the species grows.)

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2011 at 8:21 PM

15 Responses

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  1. I love this one, Steve. Just beautiful!

    Nikki Smith

    June 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM

  2. What a pretty plant! A remarkable photograph!

    montucky

    June 15, 2011 at 1:14 AM

  3. [...] is the two-month anniversary* of this blog’s first post, so I had the idea, number-nurturer that I am, of looking back to see what I’d photographed [...]

  4. [...] marks three months since Another Beginning appeared as the first article in this Portraits of Wildflowers blog. I hope you’ll join me in [...]

  5. [...] end of Meister Lane in Round Rock, the same place where (again, a decade ago) I took the picture of the basket-flower that appeared as this blog’s first photograph. The northern border of the lot has expanded [...]

  6. Very nice! I’ve tried also to shoot some flowers with the sky as their background and here my results:

    http://godslover.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/weekly-photo-challenge-wrong/

    But obviously mine is not as good as yours. :)

    Inge

    December 17, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    • One thing you can try if the sky comes out too bright is use flash fill and a shorter exposure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2012 at 7:01 AM

  7. […] one post a day since June 6, 2011. I’d started priming the pump a couple of days earlier with one venerable photograph, then skipped a day and continued priming on June 6th with three more posts. The following day I […]

  8. It’s gorgeous. What a great, nay magnificent, photo to start with.

    Gallivanta

    June 6, 2014 at 5:51 AM

    • I’m pleased that you like this early bit of photographic gallivanting among the wildflowers. By coincidence I revisited that plot of land last week. In recent years it has been rather heavily mowed, but last week I found a fair number of wildflowers (along with some aggressive non-native species, alas), so I stayed a while and took a bunch of pictures. There were some basket-flowers, too, descendants of the colony that included the one shown above. Then I went on to a much denser and larger basket-flower colony half a mile to the east, where I took many more photographs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2014 at 6:17 AM

      • And we will see these photos one day soon?

        Gallivanta

        June 6, 2014 at 8:13 AM

        • Certainly, but not as soon as I’d like or you might expect. That’s because I’m planning to do an unprecedented three weeks of posts based on a single field trip I went on near the end of April. Things will get more out of sync than they already are, but c’est la vie.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 6, 2014 at 8:59 AM


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