Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The last shall be first

with 27 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

Click for greater size and clarity.

Among the last wildflowers to appear in central Texas each year are asters, of which there are various species in the genus Symphyotrichum. Because these small flowers keep appearing through the end of the calendar year, I sometimes still find a few of them scattered about in January. That’s what you see in this first photograph of a wildflower from 2013 to appear in these pages. I took the picture yesterday near a tributary of Bull Creek in my northwest Austin neighborhood. The moody feel and subdued tonality are typical of the land here at this time of year.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 8, 2013 at 6:24 AM

27 Responses

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  1. That’s unlike any aster I’ve seen before. Nature is stunning in her variety!

    Joan Leacott

    January 8, 2013 at 6:32 AM

    • Yes, variety indeed, and luckily for me this area has plenty of it. I’m happy to show it to all of you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2013 at 7:43 AM

  2. Beautiful. I love white flowers and this one really stands out but I find white flowers extremely difficult to photograph.


    January 8, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    • Because white reflects so much light, it can cause overexposed areas in photographs; perversely, it can also cause cameras to underexpose. If your camera lets you alter its exposure settings, you can try taking several versions of a picture: one at the light level the camera reads, one over that by a certain amount, and one under by a similar amount. That increases your chances that one of the three will be well exposed. Some cameras can automatically take three differently exposed pictures in quick succession and combine them to extend the tonal range of the resulting image (that’s called HDR, for high dynamic range).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2013 at 7:53 AM

      • Thanks, I can set my camera to take three exposures at different stops. I’ll try this.


        January 8, 2013 at 11:19 AM

  3. This photo I like really much. It has such feeling to it.


    January 8, 2013 at 7:40 AM

  4. I like the background colors in this photo and of all the twigs that make up the picture.The twigs look as good as the flower. Is that a four-nerve daisy?


    January 8, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    • Yes, I was also fascinated by the arrangement of the slender branches, but no, this isn’t a four-nerve daisy, which has yellow rays. This is something in the genus Symphyotrichum, perhaps a pale and dwindling specimen of the Symphyotrichum subulatum that I showed not too long ago. It can be hard to tell some of our asters apart, especially without leaves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2013 at 8:02 AM

  5. Great shot, Steve. The flower looks almost luminous in this lighting. It’s an excellent capture.


    January 8, 2013 at 8:58 AM

  6. ¡Que belleza!, magníficamente captada!!, abrazos


    January 8, 2013 at 11:12 AM

  7. Hi Steve, we don’t have any more asters at this time of the year. Thanks for this lovely small flower, beautiful picture.


    January 8, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    • You’re welcome. This is one advantage of a southern latitude. That said, the fact remains that even here very few wildflowers are left.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2013 at 12:30 PM

  8. I’m really taken by the way the petals are (mostly) curling under, rather than up. And they’ve held rather well – they have a satiny look to them that’s beautiful. This is a particularly rich background, too. It’s just lovely.


    January 8, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    • Thanks. Everything worked well here, and I was excited by what I saw through the viewfinder.

      Some members of the sunflower family are more prone than others to having their rays curl under like this. One good example is the Engelmann daisy) but as the years have gone by I’ve gradually seen that behavior in more and more daisy-type flowers, at least occasionally if not habitually. I remember a few years ago noticing it in a “common” sunflower for the first time. As I see it, the curling adds to the appeal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2013 at 4:14 PM

  9. Hi,
    What a beautiful flower, small and delicate, very nice photo.


    January 8, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    • Thank you. I’m glad I went out and took a look to see if I could still find any wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM

  10. The muted colours and clean composition are beautiful.

    Journey Photographic

    January 8, 2013 at 8:35 PM

  11. It’s fitting for that pretty blossom to be the first!


    January 8, 2013 at 9:52 PM

  12. […] If little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, played a supporting role behind some nightshade fruits in December of 2012, here’s a mature stand of the grass in its own right and in this new year. I found it two days ago in the Bull Creek watershed, not far from the the little aster that appeared in the last post. […]

  13. Beautiful – that little bit of light behind the petals and the way the stems in the background draw the eye back – it’s a very balanced, restful composition.


    January 9, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    • Thanks for your thoughtful analysis. I was especially taken with the stems in the background myself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM

  14. […] 7, that brought you yesterday’s photograph of little bluestem and the day before’s of a lingering aster. After three images in a row with subdued tonality, I promise you some vibrant color next […]

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