Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Like a beast with his horn

with 8 comments

Click for greater clarity.

In spite of the way things look in this picture from March of 2011, the drought hadn’t reached anything close to its later severity. The plant depicted (in small part) is an agave, Agave americana, and most of its leaves were still green; it’s normal for an agave’s older, lower leaves to gradually die and dry up, and that’s what you see here. I found the rippling texture of this dry leaf more interesting than the features of its still-living fellows, so I took close photographs of several parts of it. When I saw the results later I couldn’t help thinking of a phrase from one of Leonard Cohen’s best-known songs: “like a beast with his horn.” And crossing that line from the plant to the animal kingdom, I seem to see an eye on the left side of this would-be reptilian scene: another case of a vivid imagination.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM

8 Responses

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  1. Great picture, great caption, great song


    February 18, 2012 at 1:49 PM

  2. Other worldly, Sally

    Sally W. Donatello

    February 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM

  3. I saw the eye right away, and tilting my head to the left afforded my imagination a view of an otherworldly leathery bird. ~ Lynda


    February 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    • You agree with Sally on the otherworldly, and you’ve added leathery and a bird: my imagination was bound to the land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 19, 2012 at 10:27 AM

  4. I was tracking down your more recent, full-length agave portrait when I bumped into this. For a minute, I thought I was looking out from a cave into a sunlit desert landscape with drifting dunes.

    Now, if I look at the “horn,” I can see the green in the black, and the illusion fades. But if I look farther down, the green-black turns black, and I’m back in the cave. The effect is remarkably similar to Rubin’s vase.


    December 23, 2015 at 3:26 PM

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