Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: pīngao

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On February 13th we visited the Puheke Reserve on the northern shore of the Karikari Peninsula in the Northland region of New Zealand. My attention was soon drawn to a plant that on the whole grew toward the sea even as individual tufts tended to curl back in the opposite direction. The best I can tell, the plant is pīngao, a sedge that botanists classify as Ficinia spiralis. It’s endemic to New Zealand but animal grazing and the spread of a non-native grass have continued to curtail this sedge’s historical range.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 23, 2017 at 4:43 AM

New Zealand: still more things than the glacier at the glacier

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When we visited the Franz Josef Glacier on February 20th, my attention leapt not only to the glacier and nearby waterfalls, but to the many rocks in the area. In particular, lots of rocks were coated to varying degrees with a fine red-orange lichen, shown above, that made the stone surface it was on seem painted.

In many cases, as you see below, mosses vied with the reddish lichens for territory on the rocks.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 22, 2017 at 4:59 AM

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New Zealand: more than a glacier at the glacier

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The Franz Josef Glacier is in a part of New Zealand that gets between 2 and 10 meters of rain a year. When we visited on February 20th, I got the impression that glacial meltwater had combined with runoff from rainfalls to keep several local waterfalls well supplied. Above you see one of them in its full height. To get a sense of how high that was, compare the sizes of the trees.

Below is a detail of a more-accessible waterfall’s base.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 21, 2017 at 5:11 AM

New Zealand: a closer look at the Franz Josef Glacier

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Above is a February 20th view taken from the end of the trail near the base of the Franz Josef Glacier on the west side of New Zealand’s South Island. Below is an even better look at the details of the ice and rocks at the place where the glacier passes from existence to non-existence.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 20, 2017 at 5:00 AM

New Zealand: a bluish white

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February 20 is still the height of summer in New Zealand. Nevertheless, on that date we hiked the hour or so from the carpark to the front of the Franz Josef Glacier, which is located in the Southern Alps half-way down the western side of the South Island. Before we’d gone too far along the trail I stopped to photograph the still-distant glacier. Europe and North America have their glaciers, but none that I know of are within sight of tree ferns. They were an excellent accompaniment to the first glacier I’d ever seen in person.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2017 at 5:01 AM

A brighter white

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Brighter white than the old plainsman buds you saw last time are the flowers of southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis. I photographed this member of the rose family on March 15th between Arboretum Blvd. and Loop 360 in my northwestern part of Austin.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 18, 2017 at 4:57 AM

Old plainsman buds opening

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Again from the strip of land between Arboretum Blvd. and Loop 360 on March 14th, here are some opening buds of old plainsman (Hymenopappus scabiosaeus). Don’t you find them sculptural?

As with the previous image, I had to lie down to take this photograph, given that the small buds were little more than a foot (0.3m) above the ground. Unlike the Indian paintbrush and bluebonnet shown in the last post, old plainsman is a native plant that few people pay attention to, much less appreciate. On the contrary, I suspect many consider it a weed. Not I.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 17, 2017 at 4:50 AM

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