Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

It’s that time of year again

with 39 comments

Bluebell Bud and Tightly Rolled Flower 8526

It recently became the time of year again in central Texas for bluebells, Eustoma exaltatum. I photographed this sinuous configuration of a bud and a still-constricted flower on a piece of the Blackland Prairie adjacent to Interstate 35 north of Howard Lane. I must have spent an hour of that July 6th morning sitting among the bluebells, and I came away with plenty of photographs but also a couple of dozen chigger bites for my trouble.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2013 at 6:17 AM

39 Responses

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  1. Beautiful shot Steve but NOTHING is worth getting chigger bites! Those things are really nasty

    Tina schell

    July 26, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    • It seems you know whereof you speak, Tina, alas. In the part of the country where I live, if I insisted on avoiding chiggers I’d miss out on some great pictures. I’ve found that an oral antihistamine reduces (but by no means eliminates) the itching.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2013 at 7:07 AM

  2. Something about this photo really appeals to me. I think it’s because it’s so clean and simple and yet so elegant :).


    July 26, 2013 at 7:14 AM

  3. Hello steve,
    Je ne sais pas quelle est cette variété, mais j’aime beaucoup ses boutons. Je trouve qu’elle ressemble à de la “mauvaise herbe” chez nous qui donne des fleurs délicates, le liseron.
    Bonne journée à toi et courage avec les insectes 😉


    July 26, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    • Le liseron est de la famille des Convolvulaceae (Convolvulacées), alors que le bluebell est de la famille des Gentianaceae (Gentianacées). Demain je montrerai une photo de la fleur (bien qu’abstraite), et le lendemain d’un groupe de ces fleurs.

      Quant aux insectes, if faut bien du courage au Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2013 at 7:52 AM

  4. congratulations on your winning photo in the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center contest!!! Esther


    July 26, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    • Thanks, Esther. I took on the new category “Native Landscape at the Wildflower Center” as a challenge and also as an opportunity to depart from my usual nature-per-se approach.

      Anyone interested in seeing the result can have a look here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2013 at 7:57 AM

      • I missed this the first time through. Congratulations – and what an interesting photo. I can’t quite make up my mind about the gizmo. It could be a post-modern take on the old four-armed sprinkler, a metal reproduction of the kind of bird houses people make from gourds, or maybe a stylized flower? In any event, it’s an eye-catcher – like your photo.


        July 26, 2013 at 8:01 PM

        • Thanks. The piece is a kinetic sculpture by Jim LaPaso. It and some others like it at the Wildflower Center are more intriguing in person, in three dimensions and with the light reflecting off them, than they appear in a two-dimensional picture. I liked playing the one in question off against the bright yellow of the damianita flowers and the sky with wispy clouds.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 26, 2013 at 11:28 PM

  5. Gorgeous, simple beauty!


    July 26, 2013 at 7:29 AM

  6. nice shot Steve!

  7. Yes to the photo and no to the bites….ouch. I’m going to an engagement party later and it strikes me that this would be the perfect image for the card….unfolding beauty in a pair.

    Marcia Levy

    July 26, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    • Agreed: yes to the photo and no to the bites, but they’re sometimes the price I have to pay. I like your suggested symbolic use of this image.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2013 at 9:19 AM

  8. Sulfur powder keeps the chiggers off. I’m surprised that article didn’t mention it. Our Scout troup used to keep a sock-full handy for hikes and dust our legs, pants, socks, etc.. You don’t smell good, but it sure beats that awful itching. We’ve come back from outings covered — I could own stock in Chiggarid.


    July 26, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    • I’m aware of powdered sulfur as a chigger repellent, and I even tried it once years ago, but it didn’t seem to help me. Maybe I needed to dredge myself in more than I used, but then, as you said, there’d be the smell to contend with, especially around other people. It sure is a quandary. Maybe science will eventually come up with a better approach. Let’s hope so.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2013 at 1:14 PM

  9. I love that this shows two colors from the same stem…


    July 26, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    • The white bud will gradually change color as it develops to the stage you see on the left: you can already make out a bit of violet near the tip of the white bud. That said, a small percentage of bluebells have pale violet or even white flowers, as you’ll see a couple of posts from now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      • Thank you. I know of other flowers that change as they develop. I hadn’t noticed it like this, tho.


        July 26, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        • You’re right that the side-by-side color contrast between the two stages makes a striking impression. It’s good of you to have pointed that out.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 26, 2013 at 1:24 PM

  10. Que dire de la perfection Steve… seulement que j’adore tes photos.
    bon week end


    July 26, 2013 at 4:40 PM

  11. My question’s already been answered – the color does change, as it does with the rain lilies. Exaltatum seems perfect as a part of its name. In every respect this is a show-stopper: structure, color, emotion. Just beautiful.


    July 26, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    • Thanks. This is indeed an exalted wildflower—so attractive, in fact, that people extirpated it from various places in Texas in the 20th century.

      As for the color change, I’ll show a transition in the fourth and last part of this bluebell miniseries.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2013 at 6:21 PM

  12. God makes beautiful things! Thanks for sharing the photos.

    Joe Bowman

    July 27, 2013 at 7:19 AM

  13. They make a lovely couple!


    July 27, 2013 at 1:35 PM

  14. The shot is fantastic! Too bad about the chiggers. The price we photographers will pay for great images! Ouch.


    July 28, 2013 at 7:56 PM

  15. […] it again to describe the edges of the tightly wound petals. Also in that first post you saw that a bud starts out white; now you see how it gradually turns violet as it prepares to […]

  16. Absolutely stunning in the pic’s simplicity. The difference between the two buds joined into the stem makes it really interesting, along with beautiful clarity. Liked visually comparing them to the other “cigar” configuration at https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/back-to-a-bud/. Thanks for suffering for your art. Ouch!


    July 31, 2013 at 5:52 AM

    • Simplicity can be a virtue, no question. You’ve noticed I have a minimalist bent that has sometimes served me well, as I think it did here. Yes, I also sometimes suffer for my art, but I’m no masochist and would gladly avoid the suffering if I could.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2013 at 7:00 AM

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