Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

What’s that on the flat rock?

with 12 comments


As intriguing as the rocks themselves are at the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, when we visited on October 24th we found that some of them also offer up traces of human activity from bygone ages. Click the excerpt below for a much-magnified look at the details on the flat rock.


I wonder whether the ancient inhabitants darkened the surface of this rock so they could scrape it away to create those orange glyphs.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2016 at 4:54 AM

A different Spanish moss

with 21 comments


An alternate common name for California’s lace lichen, which you saw last time, is Spanish moss. That’s stretching the truth, because a lichen isn’t a moss, and it’s been a couple of centuries since Spain had any claim over California. In Texas, Spanish moss is a differently incorrect common name: Tillandsia usneoides is an epiphyte, a plant that grows on another plant or object for physical support but not sustenance. On November 30th I visited Monument Hill State Park in La Grange, 80 miles east of my home in Austin, and found Spanish moss in some of the trees there. Click the excerpt below if you’d like to zoom in on the intricate texture of this plant.


© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2016 at 5:07 AM

Temperate forest

with 22 comments


When we visited the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve in Guerneville, California, on October 27th, we encountered rain. That’s not unusual in a temperate cloud forest, but it meant we couldn’t enjoy, nor I photograph, the redwood trees the way we’d hoped to. There were times when Eve held one umbrella over herself and another over me so I could take some pictures. Many of the resulting photographs were so-so, given the rain and the low light, but near the end of our stay the rain tapered off for a while and I made this lush picture of lace lichen (Ramalina menziesii) hanging from the trees.

While preparing this post I learned that in 2015 California made Ramalina menziesii its official state lichen. I searched online but didn’t turn up any other state that has chosen an official lichen. Oh, California.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2016 at 5:05 AM

Another grand geological landscape at Zion National Park on October 22

with 11 comments


© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 2, 2016 at 5:00 AM

More crowding

with 13 comments

(The title of today’s post was meant as a follow-up to the post called “A subspecies” that should have gotten e-mailed to subscribers early yesterday morning. A WordPress glitch prevented that, so if you didn’t see the post, you can check it out now.)


The main part of Zion National Park in southwestern Utah was just as much a zoo when we visited on October 22nd as the Grand Canyon had been a few days earlier. Adding to the crowding at Zion was the fact that all the schoolchildren in Utah had no classes that week. Lucky us.

Nevertheless, we overlooked (literally and figuratively) the swarms of people and managed to see some great sights. The ones shown here are the first two I photographed that morning as we drove into the park from the southeast.


© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2016 at 5:04 AM


with 14 comments


For whatever reason, subscription e-mails seem not to have gone out this morning, and my WordPress notifications don’t include the usual confirmation that this morning’s post got published (which it did). To see whether the glitch has been fixed, I’m following up with this post that includes another picture from the Grand Canyon on October 19th.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 30, 2016 at 7:54 AM

A subspecies

with 36 comments


Behold Homo turisticus ssp. congestissimus, a subspecies* that was impossible not to notice and hard to avoid when we visited the Grand Canyon on October 19th. That was a Wednesday, so imagine the horror of a weekend visitor running a gauntlet of ten thousand phones and selfie-sticks.

But this is a nature photography blog, so let me show a personless picture from that visit.


* Last year I found that the same subspecies has spread to New Zealand.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 30, 2016 at 4:59 AM

%d bloggers like this: