Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Perdurable too, but in a different way

with 29 comments

Click for greater detail.

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.


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

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 6, 2012 at 5:40 AM

29 Responses

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  1. Lovely, looks familiar

    Bonnie Michelle

    February 6, 2012 at 6:13 AM

  2. people spoke of sea anemones in response to your last post but this plant reminds me more of sea plants with its waving tendrils. Delightful.

    The World Is My Cuttlefish

    February 6, 2012 at 7:56 AM

    • I wouldn’t have thought of that, but now that you say it I can easily see it. Thanks for sharing your vision.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2012 at 8:18 AM

  3. This image has such grace and movement. Reminds me of features of feathers–really ethereal and softly bold, Sally


    February 6, 2012 at 8:03 AM

  4. This is so pretty.. I think I prefer the dried version more.. I think.. This looks like wisps of feathers:)

    Just A Smidgen

    February 6, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    • Yes, this definitely is a softer and more feathery view. The tangled complexity of the other view appeals to me too, though, so I’m happy to have brought both of them to this blog.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2012 at 9:24 AM

  5. For me this picture makes a delightful abstract image. I like the textures, the gentle fluidity of movement, the ‘quiet’ colours and the balance of the composition.


    February 6, 2012 at 10:06 AM

  6. This is very lovely, Steve. I like it quite a bit.



    February 6, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    • Thanks, Sharon. You have some lovely littoral landscapes on your site. We don’t have a seashore to play with in central Texas, so I play with the native plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2012 at 10:32 AM

  7. This plant has such unusual and delicate flowers. I’ve never seen something like this before. Well done Steve!


    February 6, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    • You can see why it’s one of my favorite plants to photograph. (“Oh, I’ll bet he says that about all his native plants.”)

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2012 at 10:48 AM

  8. What a sexy and gorgeous thing of nature – AMAZING!!!


    February 6, 2012 at 10:59 AM

  9. So beautiful… Thank you, with my love, nia


    February 6, 2012 at 2:28 PM

  10. Such a glorious sense of movement you’ve captured in a still photograph.

    Susan Scheid

    February 6, 2012 at 8:27 PM

  11. Ethereal. Clematis have so many fantastic forms!


    February 6, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    • They do have so many fantastic forms, which is why I keep on photographing them year after year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2012 at 10:22 PM

  12. I looked at both versions and like them both and I agree that having some parts go into a rich OOF renders a dreamy ethereal look. The cropped section is a beautiful composition choice too. Excellent work !

    abu zar

    February 8, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    • Thanks on all counts, Abu (I hope that’s your first name). I’m glad that as a photographer you can appreciate the technical aspects of the photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      • I know it sounded all technical but all I wanted to say was it is a beautiful photograph – aesthetically (that it is coincidentally technically perfect doesn’t matter really ) 🙂

        and yes you got the name right.

        abu zar

        February 9, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      • Thanks. The aesthetics are the most important part; the technical is just a tool.

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 9, 2012 at 4:16 PM

  13. […] rather soft photograph with only a small portion in focus. It was a similar approach to the one in the recent photograph of Clematis drummondii, but I applied it to a subject very differently textured from the plumes of the Clematis. The large […]

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