Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


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On a day like today, which is to say one in which the date (12) was twice the number of the month (6), we visited a place I’d never heard of till this trip. It’s known in Keresan as Kasha-Katuwe, meaning ‘white rocks,’ and in English as Tent Rocks. The picture above makes sense of both descriptions, while the one below emphasizes the tapering shapes of the prominent “tents.”

© 2017 Steven Schwartman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 16, 2017 at 4:43 AM

Flaming flameleaf sumac fruit

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I’ve posted plenty of pictures showing the bright autumn leaves of prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata. On August 11th I was driving up Alum Creek Rd. east of Bastrop when a group of sumacs caught my eye with the sunlight-saturated rich red of their freshly forming fruit clusters against the greenery of the trees’ foliage. I’m not sure which species or Rhus this was, as there are several similar-looking candidates in Bastrop County.

I’d gone out that morning to get acquainted with a new 100–400mm lens, so I used only it on the entire outing. The fruit clusters high up in the sumac trees proved worthy subjects to zoom in on, as you see below.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 15, 2017 at 7:01 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Cryptantha thyrsiflora

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Atop Scott’s Bluff in western Nebraska I saw some smallish white flowers that later got identified as Cryptantha thyrsiflora. Vernacular names for the plant include calcareous cryptantha, calcareous popcornflower, limestone cat’s eye, mountain cat’s eye, and miner’s candle. By the time I took this picture on May 29th, many of the flowers had already wilted, as you can see.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 14, 2017 at 4:50 AM

How could I show you one without the other?

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That is, show you pearl milkweed flowers (Matelea reticulata) without also showing you one of the vine’s pods. By June 22nd this one had already split open and was beginning to release its seeds, each attached to a bit of aeronautical fluff. I followed suit and attached not fluff but a flash to my camera because the area wasn’t bright enough for me to get all the important details in focus without an extra helping of light.

By the way, the shiny fibers attached to the seeds explain why an alternate name for milkweed is silkweed.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 13, 2017 at 4:48 AM

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Haven’t shown you this for a good while

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2014 was the last time I showed you a flower of the pearl milkweed vine, Matelea reticulata. To compensate for that long lapse, here you have not one but two pearl milkweed flowers I photographed on a vine in my neighborhood on June 22nd. What happy propinquity.

If these flowers weren’t so common here, they’d be rare.* What I mean is that while pearl milkweed readily grows in northwest Austin, it’s easy to forget how seldom we see green flowers, much less any that possess net-like patterns and have a tiny pearly shelter covering their center. Notice that the central structure is curvily pentagonal, with each vertex gesturing toward the tip of a pointy petal. Milkweeds speak in fives.**

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* Google turned up no hits for “If they weren’t so common, they’d be rare,” so I’ll claim that witticism.

** In this case Google says I’ve just spoken a novel four-word sentence about fiveness.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2017 at 4:54 AM

Bandelier National Monument

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On June 11th we spent a few hours at a place in Northern New Mexico that I’d visited only once before, way back in 1981: Bandelier National Monument. Below is a closer view of some of the Swiss-cheese-like rocks that make the site holey.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 11, 2017 at 4:52 AM

Soar, sunflower, soar

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Helianthus annuus. Cedar Park, Texas. June 22.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2017 at 3:34 AM

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