Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

I know more about cosh than cohosh

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Black Cohosh Flowers and Buds 8675

I know more about cosh* than cohosh. That said, on the way back home from the Midwest we stopped for a couple of nights in Bentonville, Arkansas, to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum for a second time, and on the museum’s landscaped grounds on June 20th I photographed some appealing flowers and buds of black cohosh, Actaea racemosa var. racemosa. The genus name was formerly Cimicifuga, which means ‘makes bedbugs go away,’ and an alternate common name is bugbane, but whether black cohosh really has that property, I don’t know.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, I’ll add that in taking this picture I made good use of point 4 in About My Techniques. The fact that a shaft of sunlight illuminated the black cohosh inflorescence amplified the contrast between black and white. Points 1, 2, and 18 also came into play.


* In trigonometry, cosh is the hyperbolic cosine.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2016 at 5:12 AM

Killdeer

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Killdeer Near Nest on Beach 8021B

At Illinois Beach State Park on June 14th we noticed a lot of clutter in one place, as you see in the first photograph. Flitting in and out of that clutter was a bird that I learned is a killdeer, Charadrius vociferus.

The “cage” of dead branches rising from the beach sand obviously wasn’t natural but had been placed there by people. When we got closer we could guess at the reason for the uprights: to mark the killdeer’s nest and keep walkers from accidentally treading on it, given how easily a passerby might take the eggs for just a few more stones out of the thousands on the beach.

Killdeer Eggs 8034

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 24, 2016 at 4:50 AM

Minuartia michauxii var. michauxii

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Michaux's Sandwort Flowers 7083

This post’s title is a mouthful. Only a little better are the common names Michaux’s stitchwort and Michaux’s sandwort. One article notes that the plant “is a gorgeous low-growing ground cover for dry, sandy, or rocky soils in full sun from New Hampshire to Virginia, with a disjunct population in the dunes around Lake Michigan.” Sure enough, I took today’s photograph at Illinois Beach State Park on June 7th.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2016 at 5:00 AM

No dulcimer, but a damsel*

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Tiny Damselfly 2955

This damselfly was tiny, and much tinier still were the colorful parasitic mites on it.

Today’s photograph comes from July 21 along the upper reaches of Bull Creek.

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* The reference in the title is to the last part of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2016 at 4:51 AM

That which we call a rose

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"There are 3 species of native roses that grow along the Beach and the river: Rosa blanda, R. carolina, and R. palustris. They all bloom there at about the same time, and their habitats intermingle, and they are very difficult to differentiate, but my guess would be that we saw R. blanda."

It may be the case that that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet, but changing out the sense of smell for that of sight, here’s an already faded native rose that I made a non-traditional portrait of at Illinois Beach State Park on June 7th.

As for which species this was, Melissa Pierson wrote: “There are 3 species of native roses that grow along the beach and the river: Rosa blanda, R. carolina, and R. palustris. They all bloom there at about the same time, and their habitats intermingle, and they are very difficult to differentiate, but my guess would be that we saw R. blanda.”

That said, I hope you won’t find this portrait bland.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2016 at 5:10 AM

Verdant Volo views, vertical and horizontal

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Swamp Loosestrife Flowering 7283

The vertical picture shows Lysimachia thyrsiflora, known as tufted loosestrife or swamp loosestrife,

Brown Leaf Fallen into Duckweed 7241A

The horizontal picture shows a curlingly dry leaf fallen onto the duckweed-covered surface of some water in the Volo Bog State Natural Area in Lake County, Illinois, on June 7. The first photograph comes from the same session.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2016 at 4:50 AM

One result of rain

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Rain-Lily Flower 3807

One result of the week of rainy weather we’ve had in Austin is that a new crop of rain-lilies, Cooperia drummondii, has emerged. Here’s one that I photographed in Great Hills Park yesterday.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2016 at 4:55 AM

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