Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A floral, arboreal, campestral, and celestial view

with 17 comments

Engelmann Daisy Colony by Dead Tree with Wispy Clouds 3559

Click for better quality.

On the May 6th visit to McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin that produced yesterday’s photograph of a fasciated verbena, I found that the fields bordering the main park road were unusually flowerful. Here you see a colony of Engelmann daisies, Engelmannia peristenia, in front of one dead tree, several live ones, and some happily wispy clouds.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 16, 2013 at 6:20 AM

17 Responses

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  1. It occurs to me that the composition of this photo, with part of the dead tree leaning to the right and the other half headed left, would make a terrific centerfold for some magazine, especially if the division could be right down the middle of the tree.

    Campestral stopped me cold. I don’t remember ever meeting the word, although “campesino” came to mind. I still had to look up the actual definition. It gave some grounding to the camp I went to as a kid, and to my great-great-grandmother and her friend camping on the blackland prairie east of Melissa, Texas. They talked about the spring flowers in their letters to one another after my grandparents moved back to Iowa. They no doubt saw vistas like this one, and they were equally impressed.


    May 16, 2013 at 6:56 AM

    • If you can talk a magazine editor into using the photograph in the way you described, I’ll be glad to give you a commission.

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Melissa but I looked it up and found it’s a bit northeast of Dallas. If you’re talking about your great-great-grandmother, that was probably at least a century ago, and I have to imagine how much more flowerful things still were in Texas back then. The 1910 census showed under 4 million people here, and the 2010 count was about 25 million. That said, I’m glad that even now I can still find displays as large and colorful as some of the ones you’ve seen in these pages.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2013 at 7:28 AM

      • Actually, I was one “great” short, and the letters were written in the 1880s. I’ve been to a prairie preserve in the area, but I wish I could have seen it then.


        May 16, 2013 at 7:34 AM

        • In 1880 the population of Texas was not quite 1.6 million, so there would have been even more land in or closer to a natural state. Much has been lost.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 16, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    • I realized I didn’t say anything about campestral. You’re right that it comes from the same root as camp and campesino. It’s also related to the second word in the French phrase fête champêtre, or ‘campestral festival,’ which you can read about here or here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2013 at 12:50 PM

  2. The clouds cloak your dead tree in a ghostly canopy to create an ethereal view.
    So lovely.


    May 16, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    • It’s good of you to add ethereal to the list, Lynda, and that’s a nice alliteration in clouds cloak. I wish the leftmost branch of the dead tree could have seemed to rise higher over the trees in the background, but I was already on the ground when I took the picture and couldn’t make the camera go any lower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2013 at 7:34 AM

      • I never noticed it till you mentioned it. I took in the view as a whole, and it is beautiful.


        May 16, 2013 at 7:38 AM

        • Thanks, Lynda. Perfectionist me always wishes for more, but I was still excited to see the view.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 16, 2013 at 7:52 AM

  3. Love this, with that sky!

    Valerie Fowler

    May 16, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    • Ever since I came to Texas in 1976 I’ve been fascinated with the wispy clouds we get here from time to time, and I remember using them as a backdrop for photographic portraits as early as 1977. I hope you’ll be inspired to put more of our wispy Texas clouds into some of your lovely paintings.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2013 at 7:45 AM

  4. That’s a lovely word, “flowerful”.


    May 16, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    • WordPress keeps underlining flowerful, as if the word weren’t real, but it is, and I’m fond of using it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2013 at 11:11 AM

  5. Great photo of the Englemann’s daisy colony. Love those dead trees which I think add a lot to any photo. I like the word flowerful. I’ve never used flowerful for it never came to mind. I need to copy you sometime and use it now that you have jarred my memory. 🙂


    May 16, 2013 at 3:21 PM

  6. I’m particularly struck by the way that the clouds follow the outburst of lines the branches create, almost as though the tree, fueled by that floriferous (the version of your excellent word flowerful that I’ve been accustomed to using) sea at its roots, converts and sends it upward in a branching fountain that sprays out in clouds. Outstanding! It doesn’t hurt, of course, to have the bold and intense coloring of the whole scene to further dramatize it.


    May 17, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    • I appreciate your appreciating the layout in this floriferous photograph, not least because I lay down to take it. The clouds were too good to pass up, and I did my best to line the tree up with them. The one thing I would have liked was for the leftmost branch to clear the line of green trees beyond it, but I was already flat on the ground and couldn’t get the camera any lower (well, I suppose I could have dug a hole, but I don’t think the state park folks would have liked that).

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2013 at 3:37 PM

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