Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 2012

Black willow leaf spiral

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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

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2012 at 6:07 AM

Damsels, but seemingly not in distress

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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