Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Nothing gold can stay, after Frost and after frost

with 20 comments

Click for better clarity.

Click for better clarity and tonality.

When Robert Frost wrote that “Nothing gold can stay,” he was talking about the colors of new vegetation in the spring. But here I am in wan winter, and here you see the geometry entered into by a seed head of goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, whose golden eye your eye may want to gaze back on. This picture came from the same place in northwest Austin’s Bull Creek watershed, and the same mostly overcast morning of January 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 time.

(An aside: I wonder if photographic closeups of things contributed to the creation of Cubism or its lesser-known but more colorful offshoot, Synchromy.)

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 10, 2013 at 6:21 AM

20 Responses

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  1. It’s really fun to be able to so easily compare the spiffy new flowers with their inevitable end.

    Everyone else may have noticed this, but it just occurred to me how different the death of floral bouquets is from the death of flowers in their natural environment. There’s nothing attractive about an old bouquet of grocery-store flowers, but of course in that case the natural cycle has been interrupted. When nature’s allowed to take her course, even the end is attractive.


    January 10, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    • You raise a good point about the fate of flowers in a bouquet being an unnatural one, with the normal development artificially truncated. At the same time, I often enough encounter plants in the wild that died prematurely for lack of water (in Texas we call that a drought) or for some other reason, and sometimes even on a healthy plant I find an individual flower that for some reason failed to develop like its fellow flowers.

      In terms of time, the stage shown in today photograph lasts a lot longer than the preceding flowers did, and so in a year of nature walks we see this view a lot more than the conventionally pretty one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      • I’m sitting here being amused at a further thought. Functionally, there’s no difference for the flower between the white-gloved, late-afternoon blossom clipper with her basket and those danged mowing crews. Drought and such are part of the natural processes affecting the plant. Those with a taste for a bouquet of golden-eye? Not so much. 😉


        January 10, 2013 at 8:32 AM

        • Now that you mention it, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a bouquet of goldeneye. I have, unfortunately, seen way too many mowers or their aftermath (which means ‘after mowth’, i.e. ‘after mowing’).

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 10, 2013 at 10:58 AM

  2. Your goldeneye looks like a piece of jewelry. I read somewhere once that the emergence of Cubism and the modern art movement coincided with the invention of the airplane and the emergence of air travel. I have remembered this idea ever since, especially when flying over landscapes of interlocked fields.


    January 10, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    • Thanks for making the connection to aerial views of the earth, which certainly could’ve influenced the way artists saw things and then represented them. The Cubists were influenced by the paintings of Cézanne, whose work came before the age of the airplane but not before the age of hot-air balloons.

      As for the connection to jewelry, many Art Nouveau craftsmen created precious objects (jewelry, lamps, furniture, stained-glass windows, etc.) based on forms from nature. If you or someone you’re acquainted with ever creates a piece of jewelry based on one of these photographs, please let us know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM

  3. Beautiful golden eyes..


    January 10, 2013 at 11:17 AM

  4. What ever you post is a treat to my eyes. I like the blooms as well as the muted color of the dead stem and flower head. I think you could probabluy make just about anything look good.


    January 10, 2013 at 11:23 AM

  5. As with the bluestem, there is something quite beautiful to be found in this more subdued palette, too, and you know how to find and display it to wonderful effect.

    Susan Scheid

    January 10, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    • Thanks for appreciating it, Susan. You who dwell in the north live with that toned-down palette a lot longer than we do in central Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2013 at 9:01 PM

  6. The colourful flower is very pretty. However, I prefer this more subdued yet graphically and floralistically improved scene as it touches the core of my heart when photographing dead plants. Often, I think dead plants make for much more interesting imagery. (PS: Steve, did you like my attempt to sound so less botanically-challenged, yet still being pretentious, language-wise?! 😉 ) A lovely photo. More please….


    January 10, 2013 at 11:22 PM

  7. Love the subtle colors, Steve, as well as the graphic quality.


    January 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM

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