Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sneezeweed Flowers

with 23 comments

Sneezeweed, Helenium quadridentatum

Walking in the bed of an unnamed tributary to Bull Creek a couple of weeks ago, I came across a few sneezeweed plants, Helenium quadridentatum, that were flowering. The flower heads were in bright sunlight, and I crouched down to position them against the dense juniper trees that were in shadow across the creek. The result, as rendered by a camera sensor that is much less sensitive than the human eye, is a photograph with a black background that nicely sets off the saturated yellow of the plant’s ray flowers.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(Here is information about Helenium quadridentatum, including a map showing where the species grows.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 7, 2011 at 5:06 AM

23 Responses

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  1. […] to get such a neutral background in this photograph. Following a technique I’ve mentioned once before in this column, I got down low to the ground and held my camera in a position where the bud and […]

  2. Looks good against that dark background.


    July 31, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    • Agreed. I was happy with the effect, which eliminated a background that was all too obvious to me as I saw the scene with my eyes; the camera sensor has a much more limited range.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM

  3. […] When I looked at the map on the USDA website, I was surprised to see fall sneezeweed shown for all the contiguous American states except New Hampshire, and for most Canadian provinces. Helenium autumnale is a relative of another sneezeweed that very early readers of this blog—which is to say almost no one—saw in its fourth post, on June 7. […]

  4. Excellent!


    December 17, 2012 at 11:30 PM

  5. Wow! Just, wow.


    April 6, 2015 at 4:55 PM

    • This was from the first week of my blog, close to four years ago, and I was excited to begin showing off some of my recent nature photographs. This was one of the images that gave me the idea of describing some of the techniques I’ve found effective.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2015 at 8:01 PM

      • Really? That is neat. I wish there was interest in producing a field guide from your work. In my pursuit of plants, I find the existing guides woefully lacking.


        April 7, 2015 at 10:35 AM

  6. My friend and I spend a lot of time out in the field and she also struggles with photographing white and yellow flowers, I told her I would send her a link to your post, is that alright with you?


    April 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM

  7. Love this one! 🙂


    April 10, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    • It’s one of my favorite too. I remember the spot where I took it, although when I’ve walked past there more recently I haven’t seen any plants of this species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2015 at 9:00 AM

      • I found some lovely wild orchids (I think!) on the cliff tops this morning. Always happy to gaze at flowers. 🙂


        April 10, 2015 at 11:53 AM

  8. Beautiful!!


    September 9, 2019 at 9:09 AM

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