Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Inside a devil’s claw flower

with 36 comments

While I was doing my best to overcome depth-of-field problems in photographing the inside of a devil’s claw flower, Proboscidea louisianica, I roused a couple of bug nymphs that had apparently been way down inside the floral tube but that came out and consented, willy-nilly, to be photographed. If I were their size, I’d probably want to get down into the recesses of that colorful tube too. Notice the grains of sand adhering to the flower thanks to the goo produced by glands in this plant.

The date was August 30th, the place the North Fork of the San Gabriel River near Tejas Camp in Williamson County.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2012 at 6:09 AM

36 Responses

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  1. You amaze me with this incredible detail. Well done.


    September 16, 2012 at 6:22 AM

  2. Phenomenal!! I think this is your best macro shot yet :).


    September 16, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    • Thanks. Now I’ll be wondering if I can outdo myself. Luckily there’s plenty of nature out there to play with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 16, 2012 at 8:32 AM

  3. Really breathtakingly captivating–the push-and-pull between the beauty of the inner soul of the flower against the monochromatic insects really makes the image more than another pretty photograph. Strangely, these additions add.


    September 16, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    • This photographer like your analysis, Sally, while the math and language person inside this photographer appreciates your comment that “these additions add.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 16, 2012 at 8:38 AM

  4. If I saw this photo without any context, I think I’d say “orchid”, because of those lovely spots. Beyond that – phooey to all the fashion mavens who say stripes and polka dots don’t “go together”.


    September 16, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    • I’ll gladly repeat your “phooey.” After I visited Guatemala in 1968 and saw how the native groups there mix all sorts of colors and patterns in their clothing, I could never understand why the American/European world of fashion imposes such arbitrary and often limited dictates. I prefer nature’s promiscuity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 16, 2012 at 9:14 AM

  5. wow!

    Colleen Shannon

    September 16, 2012 at 10:01 AM

  6. There are so many things to love about this photograph. It’s as if the flower has its own secret world inside, and only the bugs know the road to take. (Follow the yellow-stripe road?)

    • Yes, those yellow lines draw our gaze in, and I have to wonder if they serve a similar purpose for insects, drawing them in to become agents of pollination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 16, 2012 at 10:42 AM

  7. Exquisite. The yellow pathway into the inner sanctum of the flower creates a mystery. What’s at the end of the path? Only the bugs know?

    Martha Goudey

    September 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    • A good phrase, inner sanctum. I could have peered further in just to see, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to get an acceptable picture from closer in

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 16, 2012 at 11:10 AM

  8. Wow – just stunning!


    September 16, 2012 at 3:15 PM

  9. I made some time to look around today. Let’s see how many ‘wows’ I can add! I could fill the atmosphere with them. Someone on a different page said your photos were a feast…and that is what I was thinking too. I just love the detail and color on the insects as well as the tangible succulence, detail and texture on the flowers and leaves. The colors are so pure and true too. I just do really love your work. Not just anyone can make insects beautiful you know!!


    September 16, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    • Thank you so much. Your thoughtful comment means a lot, coming as it does from someone with many beautiful images of her own. As you noted, I’m fascinated by details, forms, and colors in nature. There’s plenty out there to photograph—even insects. Thanks again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 16, 2012 at 11:01 PM

  10. What a fascinating, gorgeous image… Made me do a double-take! Just lovely.


    September 17, 2012 at 6:29 AM

  11. Awesome!!!

    Agnes Plutino

    September 17, 2012 at 6:35 AM

  12. Your shot of the outside of the flower gave us a hint of the pattern within, but only that. What a surprise to look inside and see such stunning color and pattern. Lovely, including the nymphs inside! BTW, I like the new dark background for viewing your photographs up close. It really helps to set them off and punch up the color!
    ~ Lynda


    September 17, 2012 at 7:36 AM

    • It’s quite a flower, isn’t it? Too bad I don’t encounter it more often.

      As for the black background that surrounds an enlarged picture, I first noticed that some months ago. Initially I thought it was a change in WordPress, but when I looked at my site using an older computer I saw that the background of an enlarged photograph was still white. I’d recently upgraded to a new version of Firefox (the browser I most often use), and I concluded that the change in background was due to the browser upgrade rather than to something WordPress had done.

      In any case, the dark background does set off a photograph nicely. That might make you wonder why I don’t use a WordPress theme that has a black background everywhere, as many photographers do. It’s because my eyes and brain don’t take kindly to white text on a black background. I find it hard to read for more than a very short while, and it makes me feel as if I’m going to get a headache. So give me black text on white, and then, separately, an enlarged photograph on black.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2012 at 7:52 AM

      • Oh, too funny, I just recently upgraded my Firefox application and I think you are on to something. I agree about the white text on a darker background. It really is hard on the eyes. So, those not using the newest version of Firefox are missing out on a better view of your world. ~ L


        September 17, 2012 at 8:07 AM

  13. Gorgeous photo, Steve!


    September 17, 2012 at 10:33 PM

  14. Wow. Awesome.

    Ryan McDaniel

    September 18, 2012 at 10:47 AM

  15. I would say you got excellent depth of field Steve! Beautiful!

    Michael Glover

    October 1, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    • I shot at f/18 and maybe I should have stopped down even more, but it was a balance among the amount of light, the depth of field, and the lack of sharpness caused by diffraction at tiny apertures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2012 at 9:58 PM

  16. […] in Williamson County on August 30th, 2012—two years ago today—close to where I photographed some devil’s claw flowers, I found this puddle that was beginning to dry out. I’ve been fascinated by algae bubbles […]

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