Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Snow on giant ragweed stalks

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Approaching the end of three hours out in the snow and sleet in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on January 10th, I came to a group of Ambrosia trifida. Not for nothing have people given the name giant ragweed to a species that occasionally grows as tall as 5m (16 ft.) Dried out by December, its stalks persist through the winter. Often they remain upright, but sometimes they don’t; snow may have had a hand (does snow have hands?) in making the stalks in the second picture lean more than they already had.

WordPress says this is post number 3333 in Portraits of Wildflowers. Call me dedicated or call me crazy.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2021 at 4:31 AM

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An ice cap is a nice cap

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Behold a cap of sleet on the seed head remains of a horsemint
(Monarda citriodora) in Great Hills Park on January 10th.

And here’s a quotation relevant to the current freezing out by some large technology companies of opinions and even facts that they don’t like: “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.” — John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty,” 1859.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2021 at 4:35 AM

Snow on bare stalks: horizontal and vertical formats

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Back to the January 10th snowfall in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183.
The stalks below were Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Prairie verbena flowers in winter

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Glandularia bipinnatifida; January 6, 2021; far north Austin.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 22, 2021 at 4:08 AM

Return to the cliff: textures

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Beyond orange and green things, I mostly focused on geological textures during
my January 16th return to the cliff along the Capital of Texas Highway south of FM 2222.

In the next picture, those among you of the pareidolic persuasion may see
a right-facing profile in the shadow, perhaps even that of George Washington.

And let me close by pulling back to a more expansive view showing an especially photogenic portion of the seeping cliff. At its top you see Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), seemingly ubiquitous in many parts of Austin.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Return to the cliff: orange and green

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On January 16th, two weeks after my first foray this year to the cliff on the west side of Capital of Texas Highway south of FM 2222, I returned. I did so because when driving past there the previous day I’d noticed that the recent snow/sleet had invigorated the water’s seeping on the face of the cliff. Some of my new photographs highlighted orange areas among the rocks. In the first picture, notice in the upper left how the dead roots or stems of plants were slowly become mineralized. And a little right of center near the bottom it was good of a pillbug to appear as a token representative of the animal kingdom.

In the middle photograph, some of the drying southern maidenhair fern leaves (Adiantum capillus-veneris) at the upper right were taking on a paler version of the orange in or on the rocks. What the green stuff in the final picture was, I don’t know.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2021 at 4:37 AM

A seeping cliff, a shrine, a medallion

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The cliff on the west side of the Capital of Texas Highway just south of FM 2222 seeps water, especially in the days after rain. The picture above shows how a section of the cliff looked on January 2nd after we’d had rain a few days earlier; I’d say you’re looking at a height of about 20 ft. (6m) here. In one place on the face of the cliff some southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) adorned a small natural shrine whose not deep but deep-shadowed interior a flash provided visual admission to. Notice how a few drops of water, inviters and sustainers of ferns, hung from the little grotto’s upper lip

Elsewhere the same kind of ferns made up part of a large medallion. The many darkened ferns testify to the previous period of several months when we’d had almost no rain.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 19, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Little snow islands

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Last month I posted a photograph showing the bed of the San Gabriel River that low water had given a better look at than usual. Some viewers thought the light-colored bedrock with narrow channels of water running through it looked like little islands of snow, and now the snowfall of January 10th has unexpectedly given me a chance to show the real thing. Below is a closer look at one snow islet. I took both of these pictures in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” — Robert Henri.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 18, 2021 at 4:30 AM

Bulrushes in the snow

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Schoenoplectus californicus; Northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183; January 10th.

And here’s a closer look:

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Two views of snow-covered greenbrier leaves

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Smilax bona-nox; Great Hills Park; January 10.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 16, 2021 at 4:32 AM

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