Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The effect of wind on wildflowers

with 32 comments

Firewheels, Gaura, Nightshade Blowing 2895

Click for larger size.

The red-centered flowers: firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella.

The purple flowers: silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium.

The pink flowers: a species of Gaura.

The metaphor: a river of flowers flowing from upper left to lower right.

The time: 9:38 AM on May 2.

The place: a field on the east side of Bull Creek Rd. at the equivalent of 43rd St.

The sky: overcast.

The temperature: 53°F , 12°C.

The wind: blowing, gusting.

The photographer: glad to take advantage of those gusts.

The shutter speed: 1/15 sec.

The copyright: © 2013 Steven Schwartzman

The end.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2013 at 6:24 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Fantastic shot, Steve, very much like a painting. I’m not sure I would have thought of using a slow shutter speed to capture this; my first impulse would be to use a fast one to “freeze’ the motion. A lesson for me, thanks!


    May 5, 2013 at 6:30 AM

    • It does look painterly, doesn’t it? I’ll add that if you try this, you’ll probably want to hold the camera very steady or use a tripod to avoid having every detail come out blurred (although you might get a differently pleasing picture that way). A larger version of this photograph shows that there are a few plants here and there that hardly moved at all, and that relative stability provides anchors in the midst of the chaos.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2013 at 6:53 AM

      • I realized after I commented that when I see wind blowing the plants, I try to shoot video rather than still shots (always with a tripod) as I am always looking for movement in my videos. Now that I am inspired by your approach (I always look at the larger version, as your detail is wonderful) I intend to shoot some slow speed stills while I’m filming 🙂


        May 5, 2013 at 8:40 AM

        • Good luck with slow-speed stills. In the opposite direction, I’ve thought of doing what you’ve done: video of native plants blowing. My camera has that capability, but I’d have to plan for video and use tripod, which normally stays in the trunk of my car.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 5, 2013 at 11:34 AM

  2. Once again, it’s time to play nature’s analogies! The effect of the wind on the flowers – some bent over and blowing, some perfectly still, is so like the appearance of wind on the water. Sailors use the effects of the wind on water to estimate both its direction and velocity. Especially in summertime, when wind can be hard to find, watching for ripples is a good way to keep a boat moving. (Well. A sailboat, anyway.)

    I’ve used the Beaufort scale for years, but I never noticed until about three minutes ago that the visual effects on both land and sea are included in this NOAA chart . It looks to me as though you could have titled this one, “Wildflowers, Force Five”.


    May 5, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    • Being almost wholly a landsman, I’ve never seen that chart, with or without a comparison to effects I’ve experienced on terra firma. I’d say Force 5 is about right for much of what I felt while taking pictures the other morning, with a 6 for the few strongest gusts, one of which I remember pushing against me hard enough to move me.

      Your mention of “flowers – some bent over and blowing, some perfectly still” reminds me of a fun fact from topology:


      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2013 at 7:58 AM

  3. I agree with citg. It looks like an impressionist painting. Great shot.


    May 5, 2013 at 10:31 AM

  4. I’m absolutely loving the waves in the grasses and wildflowers these days. Great expression of that here!


    May 5, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    • The wind provided a great opportunity for me to record a sense of motion. I’m glad to hear the wind in the grasses and wildflowers has been delighting you these days too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2013 at 3:13 PM

  5. I like how the post was presented. Nice indeed. The photo is so aptly titled and a very good photo, too.


    May 5, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    • Once in a while I vary the style in the verbal part of my posts. I thought of titling the post simply “The,” but in the end I stayed with the more descriptive title you see here. I also could have written “The wind wins.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2013 at 5:33 PM

  6. It’s been consistently (violently) windy for too long here in Illinois; we need to do more to protect the environment.
    Superb photo!

    • Thanks, Thomas. The wind had its way with the wildflowers, but I had my way with the wind having its way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2013 at 8:36 PM

  7. Lovely!

  8. The effect of the wind works really well. It turns out like an oil painting. Stunning!


    May 5, 2013 at 10:18 PM

  9. Another spread of beauty captured by the wind and your lens.

    Mary Mageau

    May 6, 2013 at 7:12 PM

  10. The result: Stunning!


    May 7, 2013 at 6:07 AM

  11. Hi. I agree with other comments …loved the presentation of this one …. the photo too. Jane

    jane tims

    May 8, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    • I vary the style of the text once in a while as the mood strikes me. I’m glad you like it and the photo.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2013 at 10:01 PM

  12. This is awesome! Another lesson for me. 🙂


    May 14, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    • Thanks. I hope you’ll try it out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 14, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      • I will do definitely! It’s been windy here in UK lately. 🙂

        Shall I use a tripod for this one? And shall I use Manual Focus and set it to infinity?

        Thanks in advance. 🙂


        May 14, 2013 at 7:15 PM

        • I’d recommend a tripod. I did my picture without one, but the strongest gusts of wind blew my body and made holding the camera steady difficult.

          Measured from the point of focus, about one-third of the depth of field extends back toward you, and about two-thirds extends into the distance. With that in mind, I’d try focusing about one-third of the way into your colony of flowers or grasses (or whatever else you’re photographing). Because of the experimental nature of pictures like these, you might try various shutter speeds and focal distances and see which pictures come out best. Good luck.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 14, 2013 at 7:41 PM

          • Thank you very much for your tips and short tutorial. Greatly appreciated, Steve. 🙂

            I will let you know later if I had done it. 🙂

            Thank you very much once again. 🙂


            May 14, 2013 at 8:51 PM

  13. Truly wonderful, Steve!


    July 24, 2014 at 10:05 AM

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