Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 9th, 2011


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Buttonbush flowers; click for greater detail.

The talented and influential American photographer Alfred Stieglitz created a series of cloud photographs that he named Equivalents. I’ll borrow his term but put it to a different use in the service of linking yesterday’s photograph to today’s. If yesterday’s rounded flower head was old and belonged to a sunflower, the spherical one shown today was fresh and belonged to a buttonbush; the sunflower remains were scentless, while this flower globe was fragrant. Where the surrounding blue in yesterday’s picture came from the sky reflected in the water in a pond, the rich blue that you see here came from the sky itself with no intermediary. As I said: different, and yet for me equivalent, even when it comes to the shading on the right side. I’ve usually photographed buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) with the light coming from behind me, but when I was at Bull Creek Park a month ago* I could position myself only in such a way that sunlight on one of the prominent flower globes came strongly from the left side. If this were the moon, it would be slightly past its half-moon phase, with earthshine illuminating some of the details on the darker side.


* That was the same productive visit that led to pictures of a camouflaged insect, a roughstem rosinweed in full flower, and the exuviae of a cicada.

(Visit the USDA website for more information about Cephalanthus occidentalis, including a clickable map showing the locations where the species grows; that turns out to be more than the whole eastern half of the U.S.)

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 9, 2011 at 6:00 AM

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