Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Okay, make that three whites in a row

with 38 comments

Rain-Lily with Dew on It 4543

The first two had white in their names: white prickly poppy and white avens. The rain-lily, Cooperia pedunculata, isn’t named that way, but it’s white all the same. This one was growing near the intersection of Brite Rd. and FM 713 in Caldwell County on April 23rd, a few days after the rains had begun making themselves at home in central Texas. That said, I think the droplets on this flower were from dew rather than rain.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 3, 2015 at 5:11 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

38 Responses

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  1. It looks so much like a canna.

    Maria F.

    June 3, 2015 at 6:27 AM

    • I don’t know a lot about plants other than natives of central Texas, so I just did some searching and learned from the article at


      that botanists put the 19 species of canna, also called canna lily, into a plant family all their own, Cannaceae, in the order Zingiberales.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2015 at 6:46 AM

      • “Cooperia is distinguishable from the more famous rain lily genus, Zephyranthes, by its fragrance similar to primroses, its white or yellow pollen, and its tolerance for droughty and desert conditions” Wikipedia says, so I suppose that’s the difference. Apparently, we don’t have those here.

        Maria F.

        June 3, 2015 at 8:22 AM

        • I’m sorry their range doesn’t include Puerto Rico, but I’m certainly glad these flowers are common in central Texas.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 3, 2015 at 9:06 AM

          • Well we have the regular Zephyranthes all over, when it rains. Or did all of them change to Cooperia? I know the one here is not Cooperia, by the books

            Maria F.

            June 3, 2015 at 9:14 AM

  2. Still, they are always so inspiring! One day I will write a poem inspired by one or two….

    Wendell A. Brown

    June 3, 2015 at 7:02 AM

  3. Lovely against the blue sky


    June 3, 2015 at 7:04 AM

  4. There’s an art to photographing a white flower, and it’s true art when the contrasting sky is such a deep and gorgeous blue. Beautiful!

    • As you indicate, Lisa, white can be a challenge to photograph. The camera sensor doesn’t respond to things the way human vision does, and when I exposed for the bright white of the rain-lily the sky came out darker than it appeared to my eyes. I like that bright/dark contrast here, and the way it isolates and draws attention to the flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2015 at 7:53 AM

  5. I see, it’s from the Liliaceae family, and it’s called a “Prairie Lily”, from the Zephyranthes genus.

    Maria F.

    June 3, 2015 at 7:53 AM

    • It seems Zephyranthes was an older genus name for the rain-lily, which is now classified as Cooperia. Like you, I noticed online that one of the vernacular names for this species is prairie lily. Common names can vary considerably from region to region and even from person to person in the same region; in Austin I think I’ve always heard rain-lily as the common name, given the way the flowers come up several days after a good rain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2015 at 8:00 AM

  6. Muy bonita foto, me gusta el contraste del cielo azul y el blanco de los pétalos. Por cierto, me ha parecido que tienen gotitas de agua. ¡Muy bonito!

    • Gracias, Isabel. En esta flor los pétalos y sépalos son muy parecidos, así que se le dicen tépalos.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2015 at 8:09 AM

  7. This is a different slant on the rain-lily, and a good one. Since these flowers tend to be such good little soldiers, upright and straight, the diagonal’s a good way to compel attention and let us see the flower in a new way. It’s a beautiful image. I especially like that you included the hint of pink.


    June 3, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    • Given your explanation, no one will accuse you have having a slanted view of this. You’re right that I went for this composition as a way of presenting the rain-lily in a less-conventional way; there’s always that quest for novelty. As for the tinge of pink, I’ve found there’s often at least some little bit of it even in fresh rain-lilies. As far as I’ve observed, it starts at the tips of the tepals and soon spreads inwards.

      I think I could do a whole book of rain-lily pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2015 at 8:19 AM

  8. I’ve heard of these, but think I haven’t seen them before. I think a whole book of rain-lilies would be wonderful!


    June 3, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    • I’ve been photographing rain-lilies for years, over which time I’ve kept looking for new ways to portray them, and I’ve found a fair number. Given the economics of book publishing and the probably limited audience for such a narrow subject, an e-book might make sense.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2015 at 4:45 PM

      • I’m wrestling with this, too. I want to write a book or two, but question its relevance to anyone. I’d buy your book. But I wouldn’t buy an e-book.


        June 4, 2015 at 11:23 AM

        • I understand your attachment to printed books, of which I have hundreds and hundreds. At the same time, I recognize the way things are moving and how fast they’re moving, especially among younger people. It’s a quandary, all right.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 4, 2015 at 4:28 PM

  9. My first reaction was dew and not rain, Steve. It’s nice to see such a pristine white bloom with nary a blemish and that nice contrasting blue sky.

    Steve Gingold

    June 3, 2015 at 2:14 PM

    • We’re on the same page (or tepal) when it comes to the dew here. “Pristine” is the right word for the rain-lily and so is “ephemeral,” because one of these flowers lasts just a few days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 3, 2015 at 4:48 PM

  10. Oh this is a beauty!


    June 3, 2015 at 3:56 PM

  11. Very nice.

    Raewyn's Photos

    June 3, 2015 at 4:43 PM

  12. Dazzling, Steve! I’ve found it difficult to photograph white flowers. They usually look quite flat and without texture, but of course you’ve worked your magic touch on this one as usual. 🙂


    June 4, 2015 at 2:36 AM

    • In this case the magic may amount to photographing in raw mode. As opposed to jpeg, raw mode preserves all the information the camera records and is less likely to blow out the highlights in very bright parts of the image. Using raw mode, however, means you have to process each photograph after the fact in an image editor like Photoshop. Many cameras let you take both a raw and a jpeg image each time you press the button; if the jpeg comes out well enough for your purposes, you’re done, but if the image needs improving, you’ve got the raw version to fall back on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2015 at 6:32 AM

      • I think I may have to investigate this raw mode business, although I have enough trouble navigating my simple camera and editing those pics at the moment. I am sure your skill has a lot to do with it as well. One day I will get a new camera though and you may be bombarded with silly questions. 😉


        June 4, 2015 at 6:37 AM

        • I’ll do my best to withstand the onslaught of queries. Nowadays even many cameras that are simple to operate allow you to use raw mode. I encourage you to switch to one as soon as you can so you start accumulating raw versions of your photos. You needn’t do anything with them immediately other than store them safely, but when your editing skills improve you can go back to the raw files of any images that you’d like to improve.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 4, 2015 at 7:12 AM

  13. Exquisite


    June 4, 2015 at 2:57 AM

  14. Stunning! I appreciate your feedback to others and your comments on the benefits of shooting in raw. Though I think your talented eye for the aesthetic is the key!

    Birder's Journey

    June 6, 2015 at 3:33 PM

  15. Wow! Just beautiful!


    June 6, 2015 at 10:09 PM

    • It is, and yet these flowers are common here, springing up a few days after a good rain once the spring is far enough along. There’s a similar species that comes up mostly in the fall, so we have two good rounds each year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 10:36 PM

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