Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Born to curl

with 27 comments

Click for greater sharpness.

The last post showed the long and winding path of a venerable mustang grape vine. But the child is father of the man, and the promise of old age is already present in the young tendrils of the species, which twist and turn—and don’t yet have a woody reason not to be red—much more tightly than the tree-like trunk-to-be ever could. I photographed these mustang grape tendrils on the prairie in northeast Austin on June 3, 2011.

For those of you interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 2, 5, 9, 14, 16, 18 and 19 (whew!) in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph. For more information about Vitis mustangensis, and to see a state-clickable map of the places where it grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2012 at 5:09 AM

27 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pourquoi pousser droit quand on peut arriver au même endroit en faisant des courbes?


    January 21, 2012 at 6:37 AM

    • An excellent thought: “Why grow straight when you can get to the same place by making curves?” A lot of our plants in central Texas feel the same way as you, and so do butterflies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2012 at 8:39 AM

  2. Hi. This tendril has gone on a long path to find its next ‘hold’. This and your last post tell quite a story… Jane

    jane tims

    January 21, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    • Your thought is similar to Blue Columbine’s [l’ancolie bleue] above, which I hadn’t yet translated in my answer when you commented. I’m glad you find this a good follow-up to yesterday’s very different view of this species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2012 at 8:47 AM

  3. I really enjoyed this follow-up. And of course the image is amazing. Do you ever tire of the positive affirmation!

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 21, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    • In this column I do affirm the positive; there’s enough else in the world to make me cynical, but usually I don’t even hint at those things here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2012 at 8:53 AM

  4. I thought it was some weird insect at first. Turned out to be a vine. Interesting.

    The Background Story

    January 21, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    • To use your words, this is one of those little things that I live for. How curious that you first saw it as a weird insect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2012 at 8:55 AM

      • I saw this as a thumbnail from the global pages for the photography tag. It looked like an intricate and cool tentacle/antennae from that tiny photo! 🙂 And when I saw the full size, I couldn’t tell what it was (although I could tell it wasn’t an insect). I tried guessing until I decided to read your description. It’s amazing how when we see things up close, we can’t tell what they are sometimes. 😀

        The Background Story

        January 21, 2012 at 9:11 AM

      • Thanks for telling us the story of how you first conceived the image. One reason that I like to photograph things very close is that they do often change realities—which is to say that our perceptions of them change, sometimes drastically. It’s fun to wonder: “What is that?

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 21, 2012 at 9:27 AM

  5. Beautiful capture of this tendril, excellent details and amazing colors.

    Pablo Buitrago

    January 21, 2012 at 9:20 AM

  6. The color is so beautiful. The contortions remind me of my quilt thread yesterday. (!!!) ~ Lynda


    January 21, 2012 at 10:40 AM

  7. That potent carmine hue is so spectacular in itself, and then to have the wild curlicues and that baby-fine hair in the mix: splendid stuff. And beautifully shot, once again!


    January 21, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    • Thank you. I’m always pleased to hear your descriptions. Carmine is a word that has come to us (indirectly) from Arabic. Nothing to do with Carmina burana, but your word reminded me of that great piece.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      • To which I must add, in turn, that the texts of the Carmina Burana have equally nothing to do with all of the things the piece is used to accompany in films and commercials and all of that sort of thing!

        Interesting that Carmine descends from Arabic. And *that* makes *my* wandering brain segue off toward the cochineal beetle, source of the best carmine dyes, and therefore of great interest both etymologically and entomologically, no?


        January 21, 2012 at 9:32 PM

      • Because the words of Carmina burana are in Latin, I guess the makers of commercials have no idea what they mean and use the music indiscriminately when they want something to sound dramatic.

        You anticipate me with cochineal. In the weeks ahead I expect to show some more pictures of prickly pear cacti, including one that’s covered with that white stuff that the cochineal insects cover themselves with as a form of protection. It won’t be the first time I’ll have blended etymology with entomology while playing with the similarity of the words.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 21, 2012 at 11:14 PM

  8. Almost has an abstract look to it.

    Lloyd Das

    January 21, 2012 at 1:47 PM

  9. […] morning’s post featured the tightly twisted young tendrils of a mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis; a follow-up post in the afternoon showed tendrils that in their dried-out and […]

  10. Very cool Steve, I love the simplicity and I really like your “techniques” page!


    January 23, 2012 at 8:32 AM

  11. Beautiful curls…! 🙂


    January 23, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    • As a baby I had curly hair, though it wasn’t red. (I know, this doesn’t really have much to do with the comment, but it’s what popped into my curly brain.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2012 at 9:22 AM

  12. This is a neat shot, Steve. The curves are quite interesting, and stand out quite nicely in their red colour. Cheers!


    January 23, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: