Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for March 2013

Snail Day, part 3

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Snail Clinging to Slender Stalk 2052

Okay, one last time: I’m calling March 13th of this year Snail Day at McKinney Falls State Park because I found plenty of snails there that had left the ground and climbed onto various plants. This inch-long snail was clinging to a slender, dry, broken-off stalk. Such a close view provides the best look of the three in this miniseries at the kind of spiral that characterizes these shells. The red patches in the background are from the fruits of a tasajillo cactus.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 31, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Snail Day, part 2

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Snail Clinging to Dry Grass 2124

As I said, I’m calling March 13th of this year Snail Day at McKinney Falls State Park because I found a bunch of snails there that had left the ground and climbed onto various things, including the dry grass you see here. From the angle at which I took this picture the grass seemed to form a loop, and that irregular loop partly contrasted with the more-regular spiral of the snail’s shell. If the previous post was an example of a composition that could be described as “more is more,” this one is an example of “less is more.”

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 31, 2013 at 6:11 AM

Snail Day

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Click for greater clarity and better tonality.

Click for greater clarity, better tonality, and larger size.

I’m calling March 13th of this year Snail Day at McKinney Falls State Park because I saw a fair number of snails there that had left the ground and climbed up on various plants. I found this inch-long snail adhering to a mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis. Don’t you like the way the twisting tendril casts its shadow on the shell?

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 30, 2013 at 6:21 AM

A catkin fallen onto a paloverde thorn

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Catkin Fallen onto Paloverde Thorn 2626

As I walked along a tributary of Bull Creek on March 15th I noticed a tall tree with catkins on many of its upper branches. (Sorry, I don’t know what kind of tree it was.) Then I noticed that a few of the catkins had fallen onto the ground near where I was standing, and on the way down one had even gotten snagged on the thorn of a paloverde tree, Parkinsonia aculeata, where it was hanging incongruously. A lot of things in nature wind up, at least temporarily, in places that do them no good. I’ve been in such places myself.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2013 at 6:22 AM

What the drizzle revealed

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Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity.

The morning of March 8th was drizzly, and the idea popped into my head that I might be able to go back to the site in Great Hills Park where I worked the previous day and get some pictures of white prickly poppy leaves, this time with raindrops on them. I did take a few photographs along those lines, but I quickly became more intrigued by the dozens of spiderwebs that the drizzle had temporarily made visible. Predominantly horizontal and close to the ground, those webs had presumably been laid out by funnel web spiders; I made that inference because sometimes I could clearly see the funnel near an edge of the web, though none is visible in this case.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 28, 2013 at 6:17 AM

White prickly poppy basal rosette

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Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity.

In the first week of March I’d already seen several white prickly poppy flowers along Mopac, so on March 7th I went to check the place in Great Hills Park where I’d photographed a few Argemone albiflora plants in recent years. I found them lagging behind their highway counterparts, with little more than basal rosettes of leaves. I say “little more,” but no more is needed to explain, if not the white poppy in the plant’s name, then certainly the prickly. Every leaf lobe that you see here, no matter how small, bears a needle-sharp spine at its tip, and there are many more little needles on both surfaces of the leaves. One even came home in my right index finger and stayed there for weeks. I think this picture is a better souvenir.

If you’d like an enlargement of the smallest leaves in the picture, the ones that were just emerging, you can click the icon below.

White Prickly Poppy Rosette 1339A

And if you’re wondering whether this is a black and white photograph, it is. I thought an image without any distracting color would be better for revealing the fractal-like patterns of white prickly poppy leaves. This is only the second black and white picture I’ve shown here; the other was an ancient one from 1976, and infrared to boot.

Those of you who are interested in photography as a craft will find that points 7, 9, 15, 18, and 25 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 27, 2013 at 6:12 AM

Red buckeye

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Red Buckeye Leaves Emerging 1304

Anyone not familiar with red buckeye, Aesculus pavia var. pavia, who saw one of these red capsules while it was still closed would probably assume it’s a bud, but you can see here that it isn’t: the casing opens to release not flowers but new compound leaves that are initially much crinkled. I took today’s photograph, the first of this species to appear here, in Great Hills Park on March 7.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2013 at 6:23 AM

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