Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Texas dandelion backlit

with 37 comments

Texas Dandelion Flower Head Backlit 4172

Forget the European dandelion, at least in America, and instead cast your eyes on the native Texas dandelion, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. I photographed this one on April 21st at the intersection of Blackjack and Rio Vista Cove east of Lockhart, a town about an hour south of Austin. The backlighting let the rays of the flower head show their translucence, but having the sun in front of me also created polygonal artifacts of light.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2015 at 5:07 AM

37 Responses

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  1. There are a lot of different dandelions. The USDA search listed 62.

    Jim in IA

    May 25, 2015 at 7:08 AM

    • Wow, 62: I had no idea there are so many. What happened is that people familiar with the now-ubiquitous Eurasian dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, would see similar-looking flower heads in other places and apply the common name dandelion, even though the new species were in different genera. At least in this case there’s the qualifier Texas in the name to distinguish the species from the common dandelion.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2015 at 9:42 AM

  2. What a beauty! All those perfectly formed curved petals (I am sure you know the correct botanical term ) arranged in size like layers of a petticoat 🙂


    May 25, 2015 at 7:25 AM

  3. Amazingly beautiful!!!!


    May 25, 2015 at 8:06 AM

    • It looks like you’ve moved from Colombia to Texas, so sights like the ones shown in this blog will become familiar in real life and not just on a computer screen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2015 at 9:52 AM

  4. This works so nicely with the back-light effect, Steve. Do you ever try to reflect a bit of light back onto the flower? I am not sure if it would be an asset here, but sometimes it can be.

    Steve Gingold

    May 25, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    • I’m aware of that reflection technique but I’ll confess to rarely having used it. After seeing the posted version of this photograph I wondered whether the center would have looked better a bit brighter. There’s only so much Adobe Camera Raw can do after the fact, although I could have merged parts of two versions of the photograph, one processed to brighten the center. In the end I let the photo remain as you see it here.

      The reflected light certainly worked well in your linked example.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2015 at 10:01 AM

      • I’ve found the Nik tools with their targeted adjustment capability to be helpful in the way you described. And TK’s Actions for selecting and making adjustments are pretty nifty also.

        Steve Gingold

        May 26, 2015 at 9:48 AM

        • There must be something about those names with K in them. I keep hearing about Nik but have yet to try any of their products. One of these days…

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 26, 2015 at 10:36 AM

  5. Exquisite!


    May 25, 2015 at 9:32 AM

  6. It’s wonderful, Steve! Its name is fun to say.


    May 25, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    • For the fun-to-say part, I assume you mean Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus rather than Texas dandelion. If supercalifragilisticexpialidocious can be a hit, maybe Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus can be one too. (This species used to be called Pyrrhopappus multicaulis, but the current name extends the alliteration of the p‘s in Pyrrhopappus.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2015 at 10:41 AM

  7. That is wow! Am just looking up all the different yellow daisy, dandelion types at present.


    May 25, 2015 at 11:06 AM

  8. A work of art. The lighting is perfect ~

    Birder's Journey

    May 25, 2015 at 1:41 PM

    • Thanks, Carol. I’ve photographed this species many times, but never before in quite this way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2015 at 2:17 PM

  9. I like the lighting as is. I think the darker center helps to direct the eye to those dents des lions that are so beautifully crisp in the backlighting. I like the way each circle of rays is differently lit, too. It makes the photo so much more arresting, and interesting. You never could do this with a European dandelion!


    May 25, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    • Arresting sounds good to me, and I’ll add your vote to the total for the status quo, which, as you pointed out, consists of concentric circles of ray flowers that get brighter as they go out from the center. I certainly couldn’t get that effect from a European dandelion, nor, even if I could, would I in this devoted-to-natives blog.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2015 at 7:43 PM

      • Just for the record, I wasn’t making the suggestion as a critique but only as an idea for another presentation.

        Steve Gingold

        May 26, 2015 at 9:34 AM

  10. The polygonal light patterns and the translucence of the petals makes this one of those magical shots that one just wants to keep appreciating. Just beautiful, Steve.


    May 26, 2015 at 6:08 AM

  11. Something very special to get the beginning of this new week started…The backlighting creates such a wonderful effect.

    • I’ll agree with you about the wonderful effect, Charlie, and that’s what drew me to photograph this flower head with the sun beyond it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2015 at 2:17 PM

  12. I just love backlit photos and this is absolutely stunning.

    Raewyn's Photos

    May 26, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    • Thanks, Raewyn. I’m pretty fond of backlit pictures too. That approach doesn’t always pan out, but it does often enough for me to keep trying it when I think there’s at least the possibility for success.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2015 at 4:12 PM

  13. I love all your flower photos.
    But this is brilliant, perfect composition with very fine backlight and dark, neutral background. And the flower has so nice delicate colors.


    May 26, 2015 at 6:11 PM

    • I’m pleased that this resonates with you. The image is different from many of the other backlit photographs I’ve taken because of the gradual darkening from the outside into the center.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2015 at 7:20 PM

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