Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Ponga

with 10 comments

Silver Fern 4367

The ponga, or silver fern (Cyathea dealbata), has become an emblem of Aotearoa and even, in stylized form, a candidate for a new flag for the country. The upper surface of each ponga frond is a green that you’d expect from a fern, but the lower surface is a very pale green that some see as a silvery off-white. You can decide for yourself how to describe the color based on this abstract view of a ponga from my visit to Kawau Island on February 12th.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 4, 9 and 14 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

NOTE: Yesterday’s post has just gotten an update that gives a likely identification of the vividly red-orange plants you saw there.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 15, 2015 at 5:56 AM

10 Responses

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  1. Your less is more technique certainly shines here. Beautiful.


    April 15, 2015 at 7:03 AM

    • I was surprised when I noticed how similar in feeling this minimalist view of a ponga is to the one I found on the right side of the linked Wikipedia article.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 15, 2015 at 7:50 AM

  2. The stark contrast really imparts a silvery feel to the ponga.

    Steve Gingold

    April 16, 2015 at 3:34 AM

  3. Lovely fern and lovely spot to see it.
    Interesting update on the other post , too – thanks!

    Birder's Journey

    April 17, 2015 at 7:05 PM

    • You’re welcome. I saw and photographed ponga ferns in various other places, too, but I like the abstract nature of this view.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 17, 2015 at 9:41 PM

  4. When I went to camp, I remember using some sort of photographic technique to create images that resembled this: ferns and leaves were favored subjects. We might have used glass, or sunlight. We might have coated the paper and then put the leaf on top, to leave a shadow. We might have brushed surfaces with “something.” I don’t know. But I remember the magic of seeing images emerge.

    I tried to find a clue online, but didn’t get very far. I did find this article, which both surprised me and made me very happy.


    April 19, 2015 at 5:27 PM

  5. When I saw this article in Foreign Policy, I remembered your post about the fern, and your mention of the proposed flag. Now, the field’s been narrowed, and the vote scheduled. I suspect NZ will have a new flag, and a nice one.


    December 11, 2015 at 6:33 PM

    • I hadn’t been following the NZ flag situation, so I appreciate the update. The leading contender is fine with me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2015 at 7:14 PM

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