Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

1337

with 46 comments

This morning I got a notification from WordPress saying: “Congratulations on writing 1,337 total posts on Portraits of Wildflowers.” Not 1,000 or 2,000 or 1,500 or even 1,300, but precisely 1,337. I may be in my prime, but 1,337 isn’t even a prime number, because it factors into 7 x 191. Inscrutable are the ways of WP.

Now that you’ve been inveigled by a number, I’d better give you something botanical. Here’s some powerful purple in a mostly soft picture of that anything-but-soft plant you saw last time, eryngo, Eryngium leavenworthii, viewed from the top down. The location was once again the Elisabet Ney Museum on August 28.

Eryngo Viewed from Top 5228A

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 15, 2014 at 1:35 PM

It’s time again for those little purple false thistly pineapply thingies

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Eryngo Flower Head 5242

So there I was at the Elisabet Ney Museum on August 28th, as you’ve heard a bunch of times. Not far from the Maximilian sunflowers, and contrasting nicely with their yellow, were the purple flower heads of an eryngo, Eryngium leavenworthii. Despite appearances, this plant isn’t related to pineapples or thistles but is in the same botanical family as carrots, parsley, and celery. Just because eryngo isn’t a thistle doesn’t mean its spines don’t hurt. They do.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 15, 2014 at 5:46 AM

A yellow world

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Poecilognathus Fly on Maximilian Sunflower 5374 Detail

So there I was at the Elisabet Ney Museum on August 28th photographing Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani, when I caught sight of an old friend of mine, a tan fly in the genus Poecilognathus that’s only about a quarter of an inch (6mm) long. The nectar in the sunflower’s disk flowers* had attracted it, but I outdid the tiny fly by being attracted to it as well as to the flowers*.

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* If you’d like a reminder of why the word flowers is in the plural here, you can have one.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2014 at 5:33 AM

How do Maximilian sunflowers differ from common sunflowers?

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Maximilian Sunflower Head from Behind 5343

Yesterday’s picture of a Maximilian sunflower, Helianthus maximiliani, at the Elisabet Ney Museum on August 28th might have made you think the plant could just as well have been a common sunflower, Helianthus annuus. One difference, as you see here, is all the long, slender, and oh-so-gradually tapering bracts beneath the head of a Maximilian sunflower. In contrast, the common sunflower has wide, relatively flat bracts that suddenly narrow only near their tips, something you can confirm in a picture posted here last year.

The background in today’s picture looks dark because I set the camera’s aperture to be small enough (f/14, for good depth of field) and the shutter speed to be fast enough (1/400 sec., to stop movement) that even the clear blue sky wasn’t bright enough to register well on the camera’s sensor with those settings. The same would have been true for the sunflower but I illuminated it with a flash, which of course had no effect on the sky.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2014 at 5:44 AM

First Maximilian sunflowers for 2014

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Maximilian Sunflower Head 5322

When I visited the prairie restoration at the Elisabet Ney Museum on the morning of August 28th, I saw my first Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani, flowering this year. Compare the asymmetrically developed head of this Maximilian sunflower to the one on a roughstem rosinweed that appeared here not long ago.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 4, 7 and 18 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 12, 2014 at 5:39 AM

It’s tuna time

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_Long Spines Against Prickly Pear Tuna 2811

The fruits of the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii, are known in Spanish and now English as tunas. They ripen in the summer and often turn a rich ruby red, as this photograph from August 13th in northwest Austin confirms.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 11, 2014 at 5:52 AM

Discretion

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Shadows of Bugs Mating on Witchgrass 0308

Here you see a pair of bugs mating on a blade of witchgrass, Panicum capillare. Okay, so you don’t actually see the bugs because they’re on the opposite side of the blade of grass, but their shadows discreetly tell the story. It reminds me of the way Busby Berkeley used this technique six minutes into the Pettin’ in the Park number from the movie Gold Diggers of 1933.

Like the previous photograph, this one comes from July 29 in the southeast quadrant of Wells Branch Parkway and Dessau Rd. on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 10, 2014 at 5:25 AM

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