Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Ocotillo and mountains at sundown

with 21 comments

Ocotillo and Mountains at Sundown 3901

Later on October 3, 2014, I pulled over at another rest area on Interstate 10. This time it was the one above Las Cruces, New Mexico, and I photographed an ocotillo (Fouquiera splendens) against a backdrop of the Organ Mountains at sundown. You can see that the upper portion of the closer ocotillo stalk still had a trace of sunlight on it, while the lower portion was already in shadow.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2015 at 5:31 AM

21 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I’m assuming you were facing east, not west. Is that right? Because the background is out of focus, I can’t quite get a fix on whether this is a true Belt of Venus, but even if not, it’s a wonderful representation of one of my favorite sky events. The ocotillo should be happy to be seen against such a background.


    January 30, 2015 at 7:00 AM

    • You’re correct that I was facing at least partly or even predominantly east. Now that I know what a belt of Venus is (thanks for the linked explanation), I’ll have to say I don’t think that’s what you’re seeing here, at least not if the belt has to be wholly in the sky with a darker band also in the sky below it. The darker strip across the lower third of the picture is indeed shadow, probably of the earth as a whole rather than any mountains behind me, and the band of pink that’s still on the mountain peaks would soon have risen above them altogether. Likewise for the ocotillo, which I was hurrying to get a few pictures of before there was no direct sunlight on it at all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2015 at 7:16 AM

  2. This strikes me as an ocotillo photo bomb except, I guess, the mountains would need to be more in focus. Love the color of the sky and mountains.

    Steve Gingold

    January 30, 2015 at 3:29 PM

  3. Ooooo (my immediate reaction – really) … I like that. I like that very much.

    Pairodox Farm

    January 30, 2015 at 5:52 PM

    • Great. Thanks for your ooooo. I think this is only the second sunset picture I’ve ever posted here, and the other was from the same Southwest trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2015 at 6:15 PM

  4. I adore ocotillos. I planted one at my last house here in Austin. Because it’s so much wetter here (at times!), it ended up rotting to death. 😦


    January 30, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    • ¡Pobre ocotillo! If our drought of 2011 returns, maybe an ocotillo could survive here, but it’s bound to be happier in the desert.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2015 at 11:06 PM

  5. That plant is a thing of beauty, isn’t it? Wonderful how you isolated it before the evening mountain light.


    January 31, 2015 at 12:01 AM

    • A thing of beauty and therefore a joy forever, as Keats said. I was racing the light and just managed to get a few pictures before it was too late.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2015 at 8:19 AM

      • I’m curious about the stages they live through. I have some pictures here when the stalks are woody and with blooms on top – not sure if you ever saw this post.


        January 31, 2015 at 12:37 PM

        • I hadn’t seen that post but I showed a similar view last fall:


          My understanding is that the leaves appear after enough rain has fallen to warrant them and the photosynthesis they perform; then, once the ground dries up, the ocotillo sheds its leaves and takes on the woody appearance you recorded. In Arizona there had been a lot of rain shortly before our arrival, but by the time we left, things were drying out, and I noticed various ocotillos whose leaves were already yellowing.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 31, 2015 at 2:14 PM

          • Yes, your Monahans picture is the only way I have ever seen it but would love to catch it in leaf mode someday. By the way, as a child I used to ride dune buggies at Monahans but I took my own boys there back in the 80’s and they no longer offered them. Too much risk of law suits. Now my brother Mark has moved to the Bend permanently, after a long career with TI, to work in the park. He knows that place like the back of his hand and I can’t wait to visit and go hunting great photos with him. Best wishes, Steve!


            January 31, 2015 at 2:30 PM

            • So your brother’s made a Mark / for himself in Big Bend Park.

              I can sense your excitement at wanting to join him there. I’ve been only a couple of times, and not for at least a decade, so I’d like to get back.

              When I was at Monahans last fall I saw that visitors could rent a large round dish on which to slide down the dunes.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 31, 2015 at 3:12 PM

              • Humm, a poor man’s dune buggy. Yes, Mark has /ed some of the Bend for himself. 🙂


                January 31, 2015 at 10:01 PM

  6. Really love those colours!

  7. particularly pretty


    February 1, 2015 at 8:45 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: