Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mostly monochrome

with 21 comments

Marsh fleabane colony gone to seed; click for greater detail.

Although I’ve still been finding a few wildflowers in Austin in the second week of December, it’s true that on the whole the landscape dulls down toward the end of the year, as you in cooler climes get to observe sooner than we do down here in central Texas. One example of that desaturation is this colony of Pluchea odorata, marsh fleabane. (If you’d like a reminder of how different these water-loving wildflowers look in the springtime of their lives, if not of the year, the post of September 10 will do the trick.) I took this picture on November 23 at a pond that’s hidden away in a hollow of my hilly neighborhood in northwest Austin. During the drought these plants sprang up on damp ground that had once been below the water of the pond, and then the little bit of rain that we finally had in the fall brought the water level back up to the point you see here. Because this picture has such a limited color range, it reminds me of an old sepia-toned black and white photograph.

For more about Pluchea odorata, including a state-clickable map showing the many places in North America where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 14, 2011 at 5:15 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Once a feast for the eye, now a feast for the birds this winter.


    December 14, 2011 at 7:14 AM

  2. Lovely, with the help of the reflections they seem to dance across the image, Sally


    December 14, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    • Thanks, Sally. I was drawn to the reflections too. (I’m glad you perceive dancing, because when I took pictures at the edge of the pond I was operating at a much more practical level and making sure my feet didn’t get too close and sink into the mud. Ah, the occupational hazards of a nature photographer.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 14, 2011 at 9:12 AM

  3. Looks like our fields of goldenrod now; I love the umber tones of autumn.


    December 14, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    • I’ve been fond of photographing goldenrod, too, when it’s in its fluffy stage. The two species are even related.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

  4. Magical. Love the reflections.

    Susan Scheid

    December 14, 2011 at 6:16 PM

  5. Beautiful abstract 🙂


    December 15, 2011 at 5:01 AM

  6. They hold so much promise.


    December 15, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    • That’s a good way to think about it. (And as I’m typing this, some much-needed rain is falling on our still-drought-desiccated Austin.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 15, 2011 at 6:59 AM

  7. This photo is deeply appealing to me. There was a time when I would have called it boring. Now, I realize the lack was not in the subject, but in the observer. I was too young and too impatient to spend time taking in the small detail, the slight variations in color, the reflections.

    Just lovely. (Like your rain!)


    December 15, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    • I’m pleased that you’ve moved over from “boring” to “deeply appealing.” I know I saw the scene the second way as soon as I glimpsed it a few weeks ago, and I knew right away that I had to get a picture of it. A part of the appeal was the limited palette of the scene, and that close-to-monochrome tonality reminded me of my days in the darkroom printing black and white photographs, some of which I then toned in sepia. Those days have faded away like the marsh fleabanes shown here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 15, 2011 at 10:45 PM

  8. What a beautiful photograph this… Amazing flowers and their reflections… and between colour and monochrome… Almost fascinated me. Thank you dear Steve, with my love, nia


    December 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

  9. Love this!


    December 20, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    • Thanks, Karen. This time it’s far from the square format that you (and I ) sometimes favor.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2011 at 9:40 AM

  10. that looks a lot like our pond side right now. 🙂


    January 27, 2013 at 3:38 PM

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