Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White prickly poppy basal rosette

with 18 comments

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

18 Responses

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  1. Great shot – I think you’re right, the black and white lets the patterns and details shine.

    Journey Photographic

    March 27, 2013 at 7:41 AM

  2. It looks like very patterned ice in b&w. Very nice.


    March 27, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    • The comparison to ice is also nice. I’ve been intrigued by photographs I’ve seen that highlight patterns in ice and frost, which are things I rarely have access to in Austin. This is my substitute.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 27, 2013 at 10:21 AM

  3. This image, enlarged, is absolutely gorgeous. Good choice to go with black and white.

    Alex Autin

    March 27, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    • I wish you could see the whole image on a large and clear monitor like the one in front of me now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 27, 2013 at 2:13 PM

  4. Simply stunning. Especially loving the B&W for bringing out the detail.


    March 27, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    • The black and white was good for a change, and particularly for bringing out details in a patterned subject like this one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

  5. I love seeing one of my favorite flowers in this unusual way. The nascent leaves do seem frost-like in their structure. I’ve never thought of frost as an example of fractals, but a little exploration turned up some interesting and beautiful examples, like this one.

    Sorry about that irritating souvenir, but I’m awfully happy you brought us this. It’s remarkable.


    March 27, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    • Mostly it’s the delicate flowers of this species that I’ve photographed many times over the last dozen years, but every now and then I’ve concentrated on the leaves. If I were less scrupulous, the frost-like look of this picture might tempt me to pass it off as holly on a Christmas card.

      The frosty fractals at your link are great. I remember frost on windows from childhood, but now I wouldn’t want to give up the warmth of Texas winters—except maybe for brief visits to the north to take pictures.

      I think the irritating souvenir is still with me, but I’m used to paying prices like that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

  6. […] 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 […]

  7. […] The patterns in the prickly poppy’s petals are special, aren’t they? If you’d like a closer and somewhat different view of a petal, you can look back at a post from last June. And if you’d also like a reminder of what the new basal leaves of a white prickly poppy look like, you can return to a post from this March. […]

  8. fascinating photograph


    April 28, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    • Just made for a long-time photographer, one with decades of experience in black and white photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 28, 2013 at 7:38 AM

  9. […] post. If you’re not familiar with white prickly poppies, you may also want to take a look at the intricate and fractal-like patterns in these plants’ leaves. And if you haven’t gotten link-happy by now, you can see one of these pristine white flowers […]

  10. I really like this. The B&W treatment really suits it and enhances the beautiful basal rosette.


    February 12, 2018 at 8:05 AM

    • Thanks, Maria. While I rarely convert a colored image to black and white, I felt it was warranted here to keep from having any colors distract from the intricate leaf patterns that I wanted to emphasize.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 12, 2018 at 8:16 AM

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