Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Reliable Virginia creeper

with 24 comments

Virginia Creeper Turning Colors 4264

Austin has hardly any large-scale fall foliage like that of the Northeast where I grew up, but I’ve come to rely on a few native species here for smaller blazes of color toward the end of the year. One of those color-providers is the vine that botanists call Parthenocissus quinquefolia and that most ordinary folks call Virginia creeper or five-leaf creeper. On the afternoon of November 7th I made like a creeper and scampered up a small embankment along Morado Circle in my neighborhood; once there, I aimed my camera mostly vertically and photographed this vine that had crept up a tree and thanks to a vivid change of colors stood out more conspicuously than it had at any time earlier in the year.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that point 12 in About My Techniques is especially relevant to this photograph.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

24 Responses

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  1. This works very nicely, Steve. I have yet to find a Virginia Creeper composition that I liked save some closeups.

    Steve Gingold

    November 15, 2014 at 6:14 AM

    • Let’s hope a pleasing V.c. composition comes creeping your way next year (I’m assuming it’s too late for 2014 where you are). I saw several good (i.e. colorful) Virginia creeper vines climbing high on trees yesterday, but the white of the overcast sky that I would have had to include kept me from taking those pictures. Fortunately that wasn’t the case on November 7th, as you see here, and I took a bunch of pictures with differing amounts of zoom and varying rotations and compositions, several of which I think worked well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2014 at 6:38 AM

      • I’ve been looking at a stand of tall pines that have the creepers creeping up their boles giving nice red displays, but have yet to see just the sort of composition I visualize ahead of time. Each year is a bit different and one of these I’ll see what I am looking for. I did find a nice layout of the plant growing over a large boulder, but have never posted it. Maybe next time.
        I look forward to seeing a few more of yours.

        Steve Gingold

        November 15, 2014 at 6:44 AM

  2. Are you sure your scampering wasn’t squirrel-like? I see you left your own trail on one of the branches.


    November 15, 2014 at 7:09 AM

    • My scampering wasn’t squirrel-like but I did photograph a squirrel on the tree outside my window the other morning. You could say it had my name on it, figuratively speaking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2014 at 7:21 AM

  3. There are several VC plants in the trees behind our house. They put on a colorful show each autumn.

    Jim in IA

    November 15, 2014 at 7:47 AM

  4. I always love seeing the red creeper peeking from the oak tree – I have to be careful cause sometimes those bright red leaves are poison ivy!
    Steve, I have posted a few good pics of frost flowers taken the past few days – thought you might like to see them. K

    The Course of Our Seasons

    November 15, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    • Some years ago I took a picture with colorful Virginia creeper and colorful poison ivy both in it. It’s good to know the difference and respect it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2014 at 4:57 PM

  5. Love the composition and colours. 😀

    Raewyn's Photos

    November 15, 2014 at 1:39 PM

  6. The gorgeous colors of fall are certainly beginning to pass.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    November 15, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    • At the moment they’re still passing through and I’ve been inviting them to stop and have their portraits made.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM

  7. Very nice. I am enjoying the cross-country creep-a-thon you guys are holding 🙂


    November 15, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    • It’s a creep-a-thon that’s not at all creepy. I’d say 1500 miles counts as cross-country, but the colors are enough to keep anyone from getting cross.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      • Haha! yeah, then while we are distracted, winter will descend. Boy~ listen to us all grumble.


        November 15, 2014 at 5:06 PM

        • I’ll wager there’s more grumbling from you folks up north (though we’re having a cold spell in Texas now too).

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 15, 2014 at 5:32 PM

  8. The colors are just fabulous, but what I really like is the sinuous trunk, and the way the tree seems to bisect the sky, with clear blue on one side and clouds on the other. There are a few bits of cloud remaining on the left, but not enough to affect the effect.


    November 16, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    • I’d have preferred to have prominent clouds balanced on both sides of the image, but there was nowhere for me to stand that would line the sinuous tree up that way against the clouds without ruining some other aspect of the picture. That said, I was still happy with the way the translucent leaves lit up and displayed their colors to maximum effect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    • Effectively said, by the way: affect the effect.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 8:58 PM

  9. […] quinquefolia, a vine whose leaflets can also look flame-like. Here, then, to complement the broad and distant view you saw five weeks ago, is a closeup of one such flame. The color in the background is from the lower of the two flameleaf […]

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