Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two stages

with 6 comments

Going backwards in the development of a prickly pear cactus, we know that a flower must have preceded the fruit. Prickly pear cacti do all their flowering in central Texas in the spring, so there are no cactus blossoms now. But here’s a photograph from April of this year showing two stages of prickly pear flowers, one in focus in the foreground, the other out of focus behind it. Click the image to see more detail.

For more information about this species, Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri, you can visit the websites of The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Department of Agriculture.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2011 at 5:54 AM

6 Responses

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  1. I have noticed one of the first flower colors of Spring is yellow. Is that so where you live?

    I grew up in the Washington DC area – and Lady Bird Johnson left a beautiful legacy to the city. She had daffodils and tulips planted everywhere. Come Spring the sides of the parkways are awash in yellow beauty.


    August 21, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    • Good question. I hadn’t thought about it, but now that I’m quickly running through a mental inventory of the early spring in Austin, I can’t say that yellow flowers stand out. Of course there are some yellow ones, like the prickly pear shown here that triggered your question, but there are more non-yellow ones in the early spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2011 at 10:36 AM

  2. I like this a lot. The two stages pictured this way, the old superimposed over the new. Nice.


    August 21, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    • Why, thank you. For some time now I’ve taken advantage of situations—when I’m lucky enough to find them—where I can include more than one stage of development in a photograph: one of the things is what the other will become. I don’t think I’ve posted many pictures of that type yet, but one that comes to mind is the image of the mountain pink bud and fully open flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2011 at 12:43 PM

  3. The concept is wonderful here. Not everyone thinks to perceive the plants they see as constantly changing and few would think to compose various stages in the same image. Very unique and very beautiful. I have just spent a little time catching up on your posts and I quite enjoyed it. Your photography is lovely and narrative always informative. Thank you.


    August 21, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    • You’re welcome. Your comment about my seeing plants as constantly changing just made me wonder if my years of teaching calculus, the branch of mathematics founded on the concept of things in constant change, subconsciously influenced my approach to portraying plants. Maybe not, but it’s fun to conjecture. The narrative component of my posts almost certainly comes out of, or at least is strongly reinforced by, my years as an explainer, i.e. teacher. (WordPress’s spell checker doesn’t like my use of the word explainer. Too bad, WordPress spell checker.) In any case, I’m glad that you find my pictures lovely. I aim to please.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 21, 2011 at 7:41 PM

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