Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for February 6th, 2012

Perdurable too, but in a different way

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Another thing that can and usually does last through the Austin winter, even a normally cooler one, is the fluff of Clematis drummondii, a native vine known colloquially as old man’s beard.* When the fibers produced by the fertilized female flowers are still fresh, they can form a wonderful swirling tangle, as an early post in these pages revealed. Today’s picture shows a later stage than that, when the dried-out fibers take on a more feathery look. The lingering tuft shown here was one of several I found in the same place as the mistflowers and goldeneye along the west side of Mopac on the productive morning of February 1.

In the photograph last July and a follow-up in August, I used flash so that I could stop my macro lens way down to f/25 and f/20, respectively, and extend the focus to as many details as possible in the tiny tangled world that this Clematis species so often draws me into. In this new picture from five days ago I took a different approach. I used natural light and a relatively broad aperture of f/6.3; that combination has kept some parts of the plumes sharp but has let the rest drift off into a soft dreaminess appropriate to the feel of the fibers on fingers.

For those of you interested in other photographic aspects of this image, points 1, 2, 6 and especially 18 in About My Techniques are relevant.

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* That the description could be seen as applying to features of the photographer is purely coincidental.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 6, 2012 at 5:40 AM

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