Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mountain pink bud

with 17 comments

A tapering bud in front of an unfolding flower of mountain pink, Centaurium beyrichii.

The bud of the bluebell is long and tapering, and its length corresponds to that of the bell-shaped flower it will become. Also elongated, and tapered even further to a bulletlike point, is the bud of the mountain pink. At first white-tipped, its shape and color give no clue to the type of flower that will emerge: neither white nor, once fully open, tall and narrow. Have botanists plotted the distribution of correlations between the shapes of the buds of many species and the shapes of the flowers they give rise to? If so, let them speak.

Let’s move from the statistical to the photographical, and I’ll explain how I managed 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 flower happily lined up with a shadowed portion of the trunks of a group of Ashe juniper trees in the near distance. The trees were far enough away that my aperture of f/7.1 was sufficiently large to render them completely formless yet small enough to keep the nearer side of the bud in focus. The flower, by virtue of being behind the bud—ah, virtuous flower—is pleasingly out of focus but remains recognizable. An active imagination may do more than recognize: it may see a yellow-headed dancer facing forward with upper body thrown back and pink arms upraised.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(Look here for more information about Centaurium beyrichii, including a clickable map that shows where the species grows.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 19, 2011 at 7:27 AM

17 Responses

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  1. Steven, this is exquisite!


    June 19, 2011 at 8:49 PM

  2. Your photos are amazing. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m adding you to my blog roll. Love that you told us how you got this photo–and yes, I do see the dancer!


    June 21, 2011 at 5:37 AM

    • Thanks for your comment, Kateri, and for adding me to your blog roll. As a veteran teacher I often find myself explaining things, in this case how I took the picture of the mountain pink bud and flower against the darker background of the junipers. I’m pleased that you see the dancer too; what imaginations we have!

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2011 at 5:50 AM

  3. […] photos of the buds of a bluebell and a mountain pink that I recently posted in my other blog made me think of the Spanish word for bud, capullo. In […]

  4. Love the photo, and even more the write up on how you did it. Very informative.


    September 21, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    • Glad you like it, Katie. As for the explanation of how I did it: once a teacher, always a teacher. I started this blog with the intention of making the photographs primary, but somehow the words keep fighting for equal time. I let them have their way, but only after the photograph that occupies pride of place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2011 at 3:27 PM

  5. This is like a great stage of a ballerina… So beautiful, so lyrical… You are amazing dear Steve, Thank you, with my love, nia


    December 16, 2011 at 11:41 AM

  6. […] photograph I posted on this date last year is relevant to what you’re viewing today: a mountain pink bud with a single opening flower seeming to dance behind it (if looked at with the proper dose of imagination, but not a greater […]

  7. WOW!


    December 17, 2012 at 11:29 PM

  8. […] If you’d like a reminder of what this species is like when it’s fresh—and not just as a background the way it appeared in yesterday morning’s photograph—you can have a look upward from afar at some plants on a cliff or closely downward at a flowering dome. And for the large majority of you who weren’t visiting this blog in the second week of its existence in June of 2011, I invite you to see what a mountain pink bud looks like. […]

  9. Oh good heavens, I came to this post after your ‘about my techniques’ page (another I’m going to have to bookmark!) Astonishing photograph, thank you!


    June 23, 2017 at 6:06 AM

    • You’re welcome, Val. Thanks for your enthusiasm. This picture was from the second week of the blog. By coincidence (based on which flowers bloom in which months) four days ago I went back to the spot where I took this photograph but the mountain pinks there this year weren’t as numerous or as fresh as when I visited in 2011.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2017 at 8:22 AM

  10. Hey Steve … this is something else! 🙂


    April 12, 2019 at 5:52 PM

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