Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

And another sort of visitor

with 22 comments

Click for greater clarity.

When I photographed some of the Texas mountain laurels, Sophora secundiflora, at the Mueller Greenway on February 19, I noticed that the most common insects visiting the flowers were honeybees. We’re used to thinking of them as major pollinators, which they are, but they—along with most of our commercial crops—were brought over to the Americas by Spanish, French, British, and other European settlers in colonial times. In contrast, the butterfly that’s prominent in this photograph is a native, Vanessa cardui, known as the painted lady. I assume the upside down position made it easier for this butterfly to get its tongue into the flower it was on.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM

22 Responses

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  1. This is a stunning photo–click for clarity? The clarity is spectacular even at the smaller size. Well-done!


    February 25, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    • Thank you. The reason I often put the note about clicking for more clarity is that WordPress plays around with the scaling of a photograph as it appears embedded in the text of a post. Clicking on a photograph opens an unscaled version of it in a separate window, so the fine details look as sharp as they should. Even in cases where the clicked version comes out a little smaller than the version that first appears in the post, it’s sharper. I say all this based on my monitor and my computer, but perhaps other ones render these blog photographs differently.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 25, 2012 at 2:58 PM

  2. The clarity of your photograph brings out every gorgeous detail in a way I don’t recall ever having seen before. Thanks for the ability to enlarge as well, to savor the photo all the better.

    Susan Scheid

    February 25, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    • You’re welcome, Susan. I taught math for decades, and I strove to explain things clearly. You might say that’s a different kind of clarity, but to me there seems to be a crossover between the two. Of course it could just be one of my idiosyncrasies. In any case, I’m pleased that the details of this picture came through for you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 25, 2012 at 4:11 PM

  3. Beautiful:)


    February 25, 2012 at 6:04 PM

  4. Gorgeous. Thank you for this post.

    Andrée Reno Sanborn

    February 25, 2012 at 8:57 PM

  5. I continue to be amazed and enjoy the variety of flowers you’re finding in bloom. I’ve also been enjoying when you take time to tell us which of your techniques were used in your photos.



    February 25, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    • It’s been a blooming good spring in Austin, that’s for sure, Nancy.

      Not everyone who views these posts is interested in photography per se, so I mention the technical side from time to time but try not to overdo it. The same is true for links to the USDA maps: sometimes I include them and sometimes I don’t. Capricious me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 26, 2012 at 6:38 AM

  6. Hi Steve – beautiful photo .. I love Painted Lady butterflies .. and the blue of the Texas Mountain Laurel – is so pretty .. nature has so much to offer .. I love seeing it via your lens .. cheers Hilary


    February 26, 2012 at 2:59 AM

    • In Spanish they say Mi casa es su casa: My house is your house. I was tempted to say My lens is your lens, but that didn’t sound right, so maybe I can say From the lens of my camera to the lens of your eye.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 26, 2012 at 6:44 AM

      • Hi Steve – well your home would be safe for a while .. taking into account travelling time .. – and I think the 3rd selection is the best! because my camera wouldn’t be much good – but my eye is ok!! cheers – Hilary


        February 26, 2012 at 6:54 AM

  7. I’m learning so much here!


    February 26, 2012 at 6:56 AM

  8. What a lovely lady! Nicely done photo of the butterfly and mountain laurel; the colors contrast very nicely. The butterfly itself is also in such nice condition and your depth of field really highlights that.


    February 26, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    • Thanks, Shelly. I could say that I like to hang out with painted ladies, but that might get misconstrued. Most of the butterflies I’ve seen recently have been in good condition, as we’re still so early in the season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 26, 2012 at 10:56 AM

  9. Love this. Can’t wait for the butterflies to come back… It will be a while.


    February 26, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    • Sorry for your long wait. I understand that butterflies don’t do well in freezing temperatures. Neither do I.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 26, 2012 at 5:41 PM

  10. I was also very impressed by the clarity of your photograph. The markings on the wings are beautiful. And I thought it was just a European butterfly ! Actually that’s not true, I know it lives here because I’ve seen them, but hadn’t thought much more than that about it!

    Sonya Chasey

    March 5, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    • I, too, was surprised when I learned that the Americas share some butterfly species with Europe. Apparently some butterflies have been carried across the Atlantic by strong winds, or else their eggs may have crossed on plants that were being transported. As for the clarity, a large part of that is due to my good Canon 100mm macro lens, which I use the most often of my lenses.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2012 at 2:16 PM

  11. […] painted lady: Vanessa virginiensis. (This butterfly debuts here today, but Vanessa cardui appeared last […]

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