Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 2013


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Mayfly on Dry Stalk 5192

Click for greater clarity, especially in the wing venation.

It wasn’t May when I photographed this mayfly on August 28th at Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Bell County, about an hour north of Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2013 at 6:21 AM

Chalk Ridge Falls in Bell County

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Chalk Ridge Falls 5163

You may remember a picture posted here on September 1st showing seed heads of inland sea oats that I photographed hanging into the void above Chalk Ridge Falls in Bell County on August 28. Truth to tell, that picture was intended for now, but somehow I clicked the wrong button and the post went merrily on its way into the world a month early. Oh well, those things happen. Anyhow, in that image I limited the falls to an indistinct background so as not to distract from the inland sea oats. Now you get to see the waterfall in its own right. In spite of the summer drought, this creek had continued flowing, even if at a reduced volume.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Snapdragon vine

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Snapdragon Vine Flower 4521

Click for greater sharpness.

Here’s a closeup of a snapdragon vine, Maurandella antirrhiniflora, that I photographed on the grounds of the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin on August 20. These mouths always remind me of flowers, or is it the other way around?

The snapdragon vine grows primarily in the Southwest but has also been found in Maryland and Florida. For more details on location, you can consult the state-clickable map at the website of the USDA.

Other members of the Scrophulariaceae, or figwort family, that you’ve seen here include Texas toadflax, prairie agalinis, cenizo, and—perhaps best known of all—Indian paintbrush.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 28, 2013 at 6:02 AM

All right, three animals in a row

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Vulture on Power Lines 5094

Click for greater sharpness and size.

No cactus or broomweed or palafoxia this time, nor any animal as small as in insect, but a vulture on a metal bar that’s part of the large power lines running across a swath of my Great Hills neighborhood in northwest Austin. The vulture had been sunning itself with outstretched wings when I noticed it, but by the time I switched from the macro lens of the previous photographs to a telephoto lens, the vulture had folded its wings. Why, then, are they open here? Because as I walked closer, the vulture, even though it was up so high, grew wary of lowly me and made movements as if to fly away, which it soon did.

The date was August 22nd, and this ended my morning photo session beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2013 at 6:04 AM

Small palafoxia flowers and different goers thereon

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Ceraunus Blue Butterfly on Small Palafoxia 4990

Click for greater clarity.

Here’s another view of small palafoxia, Palafoxia callosa, and once again it’s a visitor to the flowers that takes pride of place (and focus). I believe it’s a ceraunus blue butterfly, Hemiargus ceraunus. If you click to enlarge you may be able to tell that on the uppermost flower there’s a much tinier insect that’s only about as long as the butterfly’s eye and a lot narrower than that eye. And speaking of the butterfly, don’t you like the aquamarine lines radiating out to the end of its forewing?

This August 22nd photograph, like the last four, is from the right-of-way beneath the power lines to the west of Morado Circle in my Great Hills neighborhood of Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 26, 2013 at 6:17 AM

Small palafoxia flowers and a goer thereon

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Tiny Dark Bee on Small Palafoxia by Tuna 4878

Click for better clarity, especially in the tiny bee’s minuscule hairs.

Also adjacent to a prickly pear tuna were some Palafoxia callosa plants, which are known as small palafoxia because their flower heads are small (no more than 5/8 in. or 16 mm across) in comparison to those of showier species in the genus. When I went to photograph a flower head on one of the small palafoxia plants, I found a more compelling subject, this tiny bee, and so I focused on it rather than the flowers, but you might say I was covered because the bee was definitely focused on the palafoxia flowers. The rosy color in the background came from the nearby tuna I mentioned, and the orange color came from the shallow round depression at the top of that inclined tuna.

This pastel photograph, like the last three pictures you’ve seen here, is from an August 22nd session on the right-of-way beneath the power lines to the west of Morado Circle in my Great Hills neighborhood of Austin. During these first four episodes of this right-of-way miniseries, the tuna has gone from focused subject to featureless but still richly colorful background. Two episodes remain, and though they’ll be tunaless they won’t be animalless.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 25, 2013 at 6:08 AM

Bright yellow against a rich magenta

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Broomweed Flower Head by Prickly Pear Tuna 4838

In the foreground is a flower head of broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides, whose yellow stands out so nicely against the rich magenta of a nearby tuna, which as you know is the fruit of a prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii. Each broomweed flower head is small, typically 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch (6.4 to 9.6 mm) across. I’ve isolated this one so you can see its details, but colonies of broomweed can bear hundreds or even thousands of these little flower heads.

I found this scene on August 22 to the west of Morado Circle in my Great Hills neighborhood.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 24, 2013 at 6:16 AM

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