Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 2012

Black willow leaf spiral

with 34 comments

On September 10, when I was slowly following a white heron around a pond in Cedar Park, I noticed a very young black willow tree, Salix nigra, that was only a few feet tall. What caught my attention about it was the way one of its upper leaves had curled into a spiral, so for a while I left the bird to its own devices on the other side of the pond and focused on what was at hand.

For those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 2, 5, 9 and 14 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2012 at 6:07 AM

Damsels, but seemingly not in distress

with 43 comments

After all the attention to dragonflies in this column a few weeks ago, let’s give a day to the slenderer members of the Odonata, the damselflies. On September 6th, at the edge of a small waterfall on Bull Creek, I found this pair engaged in the acrobatics that you see here. The sparkling of the water behind them accounts for the conspicuous orbs of light in the background.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2012 at 6:19 AM

Fluff amounting to something

with 10 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

On September 10, as I was driving east on Brushy Creek Rd. in Cedar Park, I saw something that caused me to turn around, go back to Brushy Creek Lake Park, and take a short hike: it was Clematis drummondii in all its fluffy glory. At the eastern end of the park there’s a popular biking/jogging/walking trail that goes across the earthen dam that created the lake, and on one side of that trail a barbed wire fence separates the public land from the private. It was along that divide for a distance of a couple of hundred feet that I saw mounds of Clematis drummondii festooning the fence in various shades of gray and tan and in various densities, at times obscuring it entirely. You can’t make out any details of the fence in this picture, but you can clearly infer it behind the dense and upright Clematis. Such is the power of one “old man’s beard” to conceal, and of a camera held close to another to reveal.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 28, 2012 at 6:06 AM

Tuna

with 15 comments

This past April you got a look at the attractive flower of the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii, and since August I’ve been seeing this species’ ripening fruits, known in Spanish as tunas. Here’s a closeup of a tuna that had turned a rich red by the time I photographed it on September 3 during the same session in the Bull Creek Preserve that brought you yesterday’s picture of prairie flameleaf sumac’s tiny fruits.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2012 at 6:13 AM

Prairie flameleaf sumac fruit

with 4 comments

Those of you who visited this site last autumn saw a few pictures of the seasonally colorful leaves of prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata. Here’s a closeup from September 3 of this year in the Bull Creek Preserve showing a similarly colorful view of a ripening cluster of this delicate tree’s fruits, each typically about 3/16 of an inch long. If they look gooey to you, it’s because they were; that’s a normal part of the ripening in this species.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 26, 2012 at 6:13 AM

Prairie flameleaf sumac buds

with 2 comments

In the last post you saw a photograph from 2007 showing primarily the flowers of prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata. The reason I’d gone through my archives for a picture of those flowers is that I wanted to give you a three-part look at the species that would show stages earlier than the best-known one in which its leaves turn bright colors. Here, from August 9 of this year on the western edge of my Great Hills neighborhood, is a slightly earlier stage than that of the flowers from last time; in this view the buds were fresh and none of them had opened yet.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 25, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Prairie flameleaf sumac flowers

with 2 comments

Click for greater clarity.

As you heard last time, I recently ended up in my photo archive from 2007, but I didn’t say what had taken me there: it was a search for a picture showing the flowers of prairie flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata, whose colorful autumn leaves featured prominently in several posts last year, particularly one on December 11. As is characteristic of the sumacs, the plants’ flowers are tiny; in this species they’re only about an eighth of an inch across, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 25, 2012 at 6:12 AM

Here’s looking at you

with 29 comments

Click for greater clarity.

I happened to be going through my archives recently and ended up in the year 2007, where I found this picture of a turtle looking at me apprehensively because it wasn’t used to having the front end of a macro lens put so close to its face. My friends Bill Brooks and Tim Cole, who are wise in the ways of things reptilian, told me independently that this is probably a red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans. The turtle kept its head retracted the entire time that I photographed it at Hornsby Bend in southeast Austin on July 26, 2007, so I never got a photo showing extra features that might have clinched the identification.

The turtle was dressed in its usual garb of upper and lower shell plates but it was also fashionably accessorized in duckweed, which is a type of tiny aquatic plant that can sometimes be seen floating in large numbers and forming a covering on the surface of ponds.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 24, 2012 at 6:16 AM

Full circle

with 10 comments

While the change from pristine white to reddish magenta shown in the last photograph signals the approaching doom of a rain-lily flower, it’s surprising to find out that a similarly warm color also marks the rain-lily’s slender bud in a way that gives no hint of the dazzling white that will soon emerge from what’s encased within. The elongated shape of a bud foreshadows that of the aging, collapsing flower, except that the bud is still full of an energy that keeps its form streamlined and under tight and tapering control.

On September 20, two days after I took the morning pictures that appeared in the last three posts, I returned to the site late in the afternoon so I could photograph the colony in a different and warmer light. Somehow I’d never showed a picture of a rain-lily bud last year or earlier this year, so it was high time to make up for the omission. This bud and others were still emerging from the colony, even if most of the flowers had already added varying amounts of magenta.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2012 at 6:14 AM

A change in color

with 18 comments

As you heard yesterday and the day before, on the morning of September 18th I stopped where Perry Lane meets Mopac at 45th St. and took many pictures of the descendants of the rain-lily colony that I portrayed on that site in 2011. A rain-lily lasts only a few days, and as it ages its white turns more and more to magenta. Here I was intrigued not only by the changing color but also by the lines and folds in the tepals that formed a roughly flat surface on this side of the flower.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 22, 2012 at 6:07 AM

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: