Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

It’s easy being orange

with 27 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Yes, it’s an easy life when you’re an orange beetle and the Texas thistles are in bloom. That was the case on April 27 when I took this photograph in my northwest Austin neighborhood. Isn’t it curious that the surfaces of the beetle’s head and thorax look like the surface of a real orange?

If it’s easy being an orange beetle, it’s less easy being a flesh-colored and -covered photographer at this time of year, because along with many things to take pictures of come the microscopic mites called chiggers that leave itchy bites on people’s skins. That’s another price I pay for some of these photographs, but I won’t pass any of the extra cost along to you. But I will ask a second question, and one with as much metaphysical importance as the one in the first paragraph: why doesn’t our culture more often use the two colors in this photograph together?

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2012 at 5:27 AM

27 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I’ll leave that to your countrywomen, Steven:) It’s marvellous, isn’t it?

    The Wanderlust Gene

    May 9, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    • Interestingly enough, this summer’s fashions have the two colors together (just took the grandkids to the mall, so I know 🙂 ) They’re more striking here, however.

      Marcia Levy

      May 9, 2012 at 5:53 AM

    • And it took only 10 minutes for a countrywoman to speak up, and to point out that this summer’s fashions do put those colors together. You can tell where I do and don’t spend my time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2012 at 7:35 AM

  2. Wow, now that’s an awesome shot! You did it again Steve!! As for the colours, I find a lot of times with colours like this I like how they look together but I would never think of putting them together myself. It’s strange!!

    • I could say we should start a new fashion trend based on these two colors, but from Marcia’s comment it looks like the apparel industry has gotten there first.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2012 at 7:40 AM

  3. What a fantastic closeup! I concur about the bug’s head and thorax looking like two oranges. The colors of the bug and the thistle bloom reminded me of a blogger’s article that discusses pink and orange fashion combination (“Now it’s all Orange and Pink?”) at http://thee-middlesister.blogspot.com/2012/04/something-else-i-dont-get.html. I had commented on her article a few weeks ago, but regarding a different aspect of fashion.


    May 9, 2012 at 6:13 AM

    • Thanks for the link. Maybe I’m psychic and picked up on this color combination in forthcoming clothing without realizing it. (I’ll add that the beetle walking across this thistle looks better fed than the model who’s walking through picture number 2 of the 4 in your link.) In any case, since you live in Austin, and since these orange beetles are common on thistles now, chances are good you’ll get to see one if you stop and look at some groups of Texas thistles.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2012 at 7:54 AM

  4. Delightful photo, perfect title! In just four words, you made that “ugly bug” handsome.:)


    May 9, 2012 at 7:05 AM

  5. I forgot about chiggers! That would be a problem in nature photography, wouldn’t it? Love the photo!


    May 9, 2012 at 7:10 AM

  6. What goes around comes around, of course. I remember years ago – certainly 30 years ago – this combination was the “in” thing. I had a pair of shorts the color of the thistle, and a shirt that combined the magenta and orange.

    Then, for a time, it was limited to beachwear, paper drink umbrellas and plastic party favors. I think I prefer the beetle and the flower.


    May 9, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    • I’m with you on that last statement, but I’ll have to add that I like traditional clothing in countries like Guatemala, where the native peoples have no qualms about putting all sorts of bright colors together.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2012 at 9:24 AM

  7. Well, for some of us the colors are too bright in large doses! 🙂 Especially for us light-sensitive and migraine-prone individuals!

    Barbara Rodgers

    May 9, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    • I hadn’t thought about that. I used to get migraines when I was younger, but I’ve mostly outgrown them, so I can afford to look at mixtures of bright colors. On the other hand, websites that have white text on a black background quickly get to me and make me feel as if I’m about to get a migraine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2012 at 9:45 AM

  8. Great shot, Steven! And what a coincidence—a friend of mine asked me for these two colors in a beaded necklace last fall. We were at her lakehouse and I was in the mood to make jewelry. She had a floral shirt that had pink, orange and black and wanted something to go with it. When she requested these two colors, I thought, “ug…ewww,” but when I finished it, it didn’t look half bad!


    May 9, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    • Thanks for another testimonial about that color combination, and this time one that makes the leap from clothing to jewelry. Maybe you’ll also be inspired to make a beetle brooch.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2012 at 9:54 AM

  9. I wouldn’t necessarily use these colors together myself, but I went to my quilter’s color wheel and sure enough, they are on the triangle’s points that indicate their compatibility. It is suggested that they should be within the same value, but I think that Mother Nature doesn’t give a fig for rules of the color wheel. After all, doesn’t she have more experience at mixing a color scheme than we do? ~ Lynda


    May 9, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    • Well said, Lynda: “Mother Nature doesn’t give a fig for rules of the color wheel.” You’ve reminded me of the botanist’s classic response when someone is surprised to find a species blooming ‘out of season’: “Plants don’t read field guides.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2012 at 11:03 AM

  10. Now that’s a fine technicolor shot 🙂

    Watching Seasons

    May 9, 2012 at 11:44 AM

  11. Ici les chiggers s’appellent des aoûtats, mais la différence de climat entre nos deux régions, font que nous les avons en août , d’où leur nom.
    Je souris car en ce moment une partie de la vitrine de mon magasin est en orange comme ton coléoptère.
    Je suis contente de suivre ton blog, car c’est bien la première fois de ma vie que les fleurs me manquent tant. L’hiver fut long et blanc; La note colorée de la nature se fait désirer et je patiente avec tes fleurs 🙂


    May 10, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    • Val writes that in France chiggers are called aoûtats, but the difference in climate between her region and Texas means that over there they don’t get their aoûtats until August, hence the French name, which is based on the août that means August. Val notes that she’s smiling because a portion of the showcase window in her shop happens to be decked out in orange at the moment, just like my beetle. She’s also happy to be able to follow this blog because for the first time in her life flowers are in short supply over there, the winter having been a long and white one. She’s longing for some colorful notes from nature, but she’s biding her time with the flowers she sees here.

      Merci de m’avoir appris le mot aoûtat. Les chiggers texans pourraient s’appeler des avrilats, maiats, juinats… jusqu’à novembrats ou même décembrats, hélas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2012 at 4:08 AM

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: