Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

It’s orchid time again

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Ladies' Tresses Orchid in Woods 1898

The rocky, hilly, northwestern part of Austin that I live in lies along the eastern fringe of a large region known as the Texas Hill Country. Just a few miles from my home is the slope shown here, which on October 29th was home to this Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchid, Spiranthes magnicamporum (in fact magnicamporum is botanical Latin for ‘of the Great Plains’, even if the species’ range extends into Austin’s hills as well). The dark trunks in the distance are Ashe junipers, Juniperus ashei.

If you’d like a closer look at one of these orchids in isolation, you’re invited to check out a post from the fall of 2012.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2014 at 5:44 AM

The poverty weed was pretty good this year too

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Poverty Weed with Fluff Blowing 2659

It was Halloween afternoon, and the breeze that had come in with the cold front overnight caused the poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta) to release bits of seed-bearing fluff with each gust. Photographing it was like photographing a snowfall, except much warmer. This bush lives happily on Morado Circle in my northwest Austin neighborhood.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that the second part of point 13 in About My Techniques is relevant to this photograph. I used the approach explained in the first part of that technique for a different sort of poverty weed photograph three years ago.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 13, 2014 at 5:36 AM

Posted in nature photography

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The goldeneye was pretty good again this year

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Goldeneye Flowering Near Bull Creek Cliff 7461

The goldeneye (Viguiera dentata) in Austin was excellent in the autumn of 2013, and it was pretty good again this fall. In the previous post you saw a closeup of a bud, but now pull back for a glorious goldeneye colony as it looked on October 16th in the panhandle of St. Edward’s Park in northwest Austin. The limestone cliff in the background was worn away over æons by water rushing through Bull Creek, as it regularly still does after a heavy rain.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 12, 2014 at 5:38 AM

A study in yellow and green

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Goldeneye Bud by Flower Head 6254

The green in the title refers to the buds of Viguiera dentata, a shrub in the sunflower family that’s called goldeneye, some yellow flower heads of which light up the background of this photograph.

I took this picture on October 10th along Loop 360 in southwest Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 11, 2014 at 5:34 AM

A study in yellow

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Poecilognathus Fly on Maximilian Sunflower by Broomweed 5761

Click for greater clarity.

Here are some harmonious old friends: a tiny fly in the genus Poecilognathus; a Maximilian sunflower, Helianthus maximiliani; a flurry of broomweed flowers, Amphiachyris dracunculoides.

I took this picture on October 9th near the edge of a large property in north Austin where I’ve photographed nature repeatedly during the past decade. Unfortunately for me, construction took over a large part of the site this year, but some areas remain untouched for the time being.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 10, 2014 at 5:30 AM

Petroglyphs

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After the recent posts with nature photographs from Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, a couple of people asked to see pictures of petroglyphs, so here goes. The first photograph is from September 23rd; the flowers at the base of the rock are broom snakeweed.

Petroglyph with Broom Snakeweed 0273

This second picture is also from the Boca Negra Canyon section of Petroglyph National Monument on September 23rd. This time the plant at the lower right is a four-wing saltbush, Atriplex canescens.

Petroglyphs with Four-Wing Saltbush 0283

And here are some petroglyphs from September 30th at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center in northwest Phoenix. Note in the lower right what appear to be two male deer.

Deer Valley Petroglyphs 2152

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 9, 2014 at 5:29 AM

From gray to green, or death and rebirth

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Gnarly Dead Trees and New Growth 1313

The last picture included a distant view of a forest destroyed by one of various wildfires that have swept across parts of Mesa Verde National Park in the last few decades. When I’d gotten about half-way back out of the park on September 26th I stopped above a grove of trees that had similarly died in a forest fire, but here enough time had elapsed for new growth to have dominated the understory and turned it green again.

The visual density of all the gnarled trees fascinated me and I took pictures from various angles with two of my zoom lenses as I tried to optimize the interplay of so many branches in one space.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that point 15 in About My Techniques is relevant to this photograph. So is point 7, if you take as your area of focus the apparent tunnel of branches that’s two-thirds of the way over from the left edge of the photograph and two-thirds of the way down from the top edge.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 8, 2014 at 5:45 AM

Posted in nature photography

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