Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

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

34 Responses

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  1. Fetching!


    September 30, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    • Thanks. You fetched a good adjective, one I don’t remember anyone ever using here till now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2012 at 8:55 AM

      • Good adjectives need more exposure to the light of day. Sometimes, you just have to get them out, dust them off, and use them when appropriate. ‘-)


        October 1, 2012 at 6:07 AM

  2. Utter perfection. I enjoy simple, structural images, and this is one of my favorites. Now, here’s my question – am I right that the background is the pond, and the honey-colored band across the top the blurred reflection of the other side of the pond?

    This did send me back to my childhood for a moment. Remember the little girl who had the little curl, right in the middle of her forehead? Apparently I had some of her tendencies. I could be very, very good, but if I decided to be bad, I could be horrid!


    September 30, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    • Yes, here I am in full minimalist mode, and I don’t find you horrid at all for finding it perfect. You’re right that the blue background is the pond, whose color comes from the reflected sky, and that the honey-colored band across the top is a fringe of the opposite side of the pond. I took other pictures that didn’t show the band across the top, and I find some of those effective as well, but I ended up posting this image because for its suggestion of something beyond the water, and also because the color of the fringe matches that of the tip of the spiraling leaf.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2012 at 11:23 AM

  3. The simplicity is the image’s beauty and strength.


    September 30, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    • Thanks, Sally. When I was young I coined an adage: brevity is a virtue. This is the visual equivalent.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM

  4. Beautiful, Steven! A great example of less is more.


    September 30, 2012 at 3:05 PM

  5. Une pure merveille !


    September 30, 2012 at 3:05 PM

  6. Ooooh! Very striking in its simplicity. Thank you!

    Cathy G

    September 30, 2012 at 5:25 PM

  7. Similar to the tattoo on my arm lol!

    Bonnie Michelle

    October 1, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    • Really? What does your tattoo represent?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      • The Triple Goddess-There are three spirals created with an unbroken line. It predates the Trinity! A representation was found in New Grange north of Dublin in 2001, I already had the tattoo!

        Bonnie Michelle

        October 1, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        • I looked it up: its symmetry reminds me somewhat of yin/yang.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 1, 2012 at 4:25 PM

          • In my tattoo the design on either side of the spiral is the Celtic symbol for the yin/yang! I felt I needed both a connection to the cycle of life as well as balance!

            Bonnie Michelle

            October 1, 2012 at 4:37 PM

  8. I really love this shot! Beautifully clear background with no distractions and the perfect curl at the top. Awesome!

    Brian Comeau

    October 1, 2012 at 8:31 PM

  9. I think this shot deserves a “superb”…


    October 2, 2012 at 1:29 PM

  10. So very elegant, Steve!


    October 3, 2012 at 11:55 AM

  11. […] remains of the Sesbania in white. The yellow in the upper left is from some changing leaves of a black willow tree, Salix […]

  12. […] never thought of it, but this willow leaf could become a good […]

  13. I’ve always wanted a tattoo; I think this one would fill the requirement nicely! 😀


    January 1, 2013 at 7:24 AM

  14. […] As I did last year on this date, I’m following up this morning’s pictureless post about search strings with a post that does have a picture in it. In my archives I found this view from New Year’s Day in 2007, when the sky was clear blue (as opposed to the gray one in Austin that has been parsimoniously letting a few drops of rain fall on us since yesterday). The scene shown here is a pond in a little creek on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin. The trees at the water’s edge are most likely Salix nigra, known as black willow, which appeared not long ago in these pages in the guise of a spiraling leaf. […]

  15. […] may remember last fall’s abstract view of the spiraling leaf of a black willow tree, Salix nigra. Trees of that species are bare now, as you can see in this January 31st view showing […]

  16. […] that 1 for 2 for the search engine: I showed a picture of a willow leaf spiral but I assure you nothing was freezing outdoors in Texas in […]

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