Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Four years

with 74 comments

Four years ago on this date I launched into what has turned out to be an unbroken sequence of daily posts covering the rest of 2011, all of 2012 through 2014, and all of 2015 so far. To commemorate that, today I’ll begin a miniseries of one previously unshown picture a day from each of those five calendar years. Following that, you’ll have a fourth round of photographs from the great February trip to New Zealand, then some more Texas pictures, then a fifth and final round from New Zealand. After all that, it may finally be time to slow the pace a bit and post less obsessively, as you sane people do. That’s still likely to mean pictures frequently, even if not every day. (I know, I said the same thing a year ago, so let’s see what happens.)

The wildflower that appeared in these pages most often in 2011 was the sunflower, so here from June 7, 2011, on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin is an abstract take on the opening of a sunflower bud.

Sunflower Bud Opening 7287

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2015 at 4:25 AM

74 Responses

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  1. Dear Steve,
    Please do not stop with your daily postings of the flowers that intrigue you. They are beautiful and often make me miraculously aware of the wonderful outside. What you write is always informative and lucid. It’s most certainly not a matter of sanity to post less often. Lindy x

    Lindylou

    June 6, 2015 at 4:56 AM

    • Thanks for your appreciation of these pictures and accompanying text, Lindylou. There’s a saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we might alter that by saying that sanity is in the mind of the beholder—and in this case of the poster as well. I’ll see what I can do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 5:09 AM

  2. You mean there’s still stuff from four years ago we haven’t seen? Looking forward to it.

    oneowner

    June 6, 2015 at 5:00 AM

    • I like your tongue-in-cheek question, Ken. Like the iceberg that people use as a metaphor, this blog reveals only a small portion of all the photographs I take. Of course plenty of those pictures didn’t succeed or were mediocre and should stay buried, but yes, even some good images go unshown for lack of time to select them, process them, and say something coherent about them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 5:17 AM

      • Quote: “…but yes, even some good images go unshown for lack of time to select them,…” Unquote. I’m so glad! We now know you’ll be with us a little longer so that you can show them to us…and hopefully keep taking new pix too! I look forward to seeing them, whenever you decide to post them (I appreciate not wishing to do this ‘daily posting’ thing).

        Congrats. Steve. You have some very wonderful work. I’ll be showing a link to one of your FAA pix shortly in my blog’s sidebar, but not just yet…currently Laura Macky is featuring. Cheers, :O)

        jmnowak

        June 6, 2015 at 5:31 AM

        • PS: Almost forgot…this pic makes me think of some futuristic monster, getting ready to eat me! LOL.

          jmnowak

          June 6, 2015 at 5:32 AM

        • When I was a teenager I used to look at some old collections of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. One item said that if the Chinese were to march four abreast past a line on the ground they’d never stop (because their numbers and birthrate were such that they’d never run out of people). I don’t claim to have so many good pictures hidden away that even at a pace of one a day I’d never run out, but occasionally I look back and see things worth showing, sometimes that I’d forgotten all about.

          In any case, thanks for your support, and I’ll see what I can keep coming up with.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 6, 2015 at 5:56 AM

          • I wasn’t suggesting you continue to post one a day…once/twice a week is plenty, in my view! However, does everything local have to be taken in Austin? You are now showing us a different view of the wider world, from your travels. Without my going back over all your old posts (gee, how long would that take…), perhaps wildflowers from surrounding areas may be the way to go, if you’re looking for inspiration to keep you motivated, photographically-speaking. But, I doubt you need that.

            jmnowak

            June 6, 2015 at 6:52 AM

            • No, I didn’t take your comment to mean I should keep posting every day, which I may or may not end up doing.

              As for the locale, as you pointed out, I’ve been including photographs from recent trips, most notably the one to New Zealand. Closer to home, I do make an effort to include surrounding areas. For example, yesterday and the day before I drove about 50 miles southeast of where I live, over near Bastrop, which is far enough away that the land is different and therefore so are some of the plants that grow there. A number of pictures from those two outings will eventually make their way here. In fact a field trip to Bastrop State Park last year produced enough pictures for a month of posts:

              https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/?s=bastrop

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 6, 2015 at 7:07 AM

              • Names always interest me — Texas toadflax, in particular; in fact, it does have a ‘toady’ look about it, probably why it got named that way! Bastrop certainly looks to have a good variety.

                jmnowak

                June 6, 2015 at 7:26 AM

                • People here lament the loss of most of the pine forest in Bastrop during a huge blaze in 2011 that raged for days. I miss the pine forest too, but when I visited the opened-up land two days ago I was thrilled to see colonies of wildflowers, particularly black-eyed susans and coreopsis.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 6, 2015 at 7:39 AM

  3. Congratulations Steve! That is some achievement. I only managed to post daily for one year. Always appreciate your wonderful photos – thanks!

    Cathy

    June 6, 2015 at 5:14 AM

    • Thanks, Cathy. From having posted daily for a year yourself, you can appreciate the work involved. I’ll bet you had fun, too, in spite of the pressure of the daily pace.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 5:22 AM

  4. Congratulations. Great work!

    bentehaarstad

    June 6, 2015 at 5:25 AM

    • Thanks, Bente. I still hope you’ll be able to visit Texas someday, just as I’d like to see Norway.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 6:04 AM

  5. Happy Blogiversary Steve :). Your photos always brighten up my day!

    photosfromtheloonybin

    June 6, 2015 at 5:56 AM

    • Thanks, Cindy. Anyone who lives through the Canadian winter needs brightening occasionally, that’s for sure, and Texas is ready to provide that service.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 6:07 AM

  6. Remarkable dedication. I’d love a retrospective, too. Your archives must be huge, and I’d enjoy some shots taken years before. The quality is always so good. I always appreciate a beautiful bloomer in my mailbox just like today. Beautiful capture. Thanks so much.

    Dianne

    June 6, 2015 at 6:02 AM

    • Very true, and thank you so much for that wonderful service :).

      photosfromtheloonybin

      June 6, 2015 at 6:09 AM

      • Speaking of that service, maybe you can call up Gov. Greg Abbott and tell him that Texas should pay me for all the work I do to promote the state, or at the very least send me around the world to put on a slide show and entice people in other countries to visit here.

        Steve Schwartzman

        June 6, 2015 at 6:21 AM

        • Your postings have done more than anything to promote my view of your state. It has been a good run for you. I think you will like the less rigorous schedule. It will let you plan some ‘specials’ for bursts of posts. Or, maybe not. You get to decide what to do. We get to follow and be entertained. It is a good deal for all.

          Jim in IA

          June 6, 2015 at 6:31 AM

          • Thanks, Jim. Many people don’t realize what a diversity of plants and animals Texas has, so one purpose of this blog has been to create a greater awareness of it. I’ll have to forward your testimonial to the governor; if he calls you for confirmation, put in a good word for me.

            Steve Schwartzman

            June 6, 2015 at 6:38 AM

        • I totally agree. I’ll get in touch with him right away! 🙂

          photosfromtheloonybin

          June 6, 2015 at 6:48 AM

        • If you were in a system like ours we would give you a medal at New Year or at Queen’s Birthday weekend.

          Gallivanta

          June 6, 2015 at 7:18 AM

          • Maybe New Zealand can make me an honorary citizen so I’d be eligible for those medals. Unlike people who get political appointments as ambassadors to countries they’ve never even visited, at least I spent four weeks in New Zealand and have promoted its natural delights.

            Steve Schwartzman

            June 6, 2015 at 7:44 AM

    • You’re welcome, Dianne.

      Of all the pictures I’ve taken and shown here, the two oldest are from 1976, and both happen to be in black and white infrared, which was the primary medium I worked in back then. The first wasn’t a nature photograph (a rare departure in this blog), but the second was:

      https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/july-iv-mdcclxxvi/

      https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/cedar

      Happy viewing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 6:14 AM

  7. congrats, Steve – well done. it’s always a pleasure to see your work!

    Sheila Creighton

    June 6, 2015 at 7:15 AM

  8. Gorgeous!

    Doru

    June 6, 2015 at 7:16 AM

    • I don’t think the buds are as appreciated as the flowers, so they deserve to be shown more often.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 7:31 AM

  9. This sunflower seems to have the potential to eat me. As for posting every day, it is a big effort when done as well as you do. We appreciate it.

    Gallivanta

    June 6, 2015 at 7:24 AM

    • If this sunflower really has carnivorous designs on you, I hope you’re well seasoned.

      Thanks for your appreciation and your many comments.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 7:35 AM

  10. we so love your flowers and all the educational write-ups concerning them–congratulations

    weisserwatercolours

    June 6, 2015 at 7:36 AM

  11. Congratulations! You can’t stop posting now; I just found you 😀. No worries; I’ve got your whole library to explore. I love this newborn sunflower.

    Sammy D.

    June 6, 2015 at 9:52 AM

    • No fear there: I’m not planning to stop, just maybe stop feeling obligated to post every day.
      Sunflowers are great in all stages.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 10:04 AM

  12. Wow, four years already? I think I’ve been along for the ride from the start. Keep ’em coming!

    Toasty Strings

    June 6, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    • Yes, you’ve been along since the early months, and I appreciate it. I’ll see what I can keep coming your way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 12:29 PM

  13. Congratulations! And bring them on….

    photoleaper

    June 6, 2015 at 10:41 AM

  14. stunning !

    gwenniesgarden

    June 6, 2015 at 3:53 PM

  15. Great shot to open the 4th anniversary celebration!

    Susan Scheid

    June 6, 2015 at 5:00 PM

    • I feel like Walt Whitman should have written about this great maw of an opening sunflower mouthbud.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 5:08 PM

  16. That’s an excellent photo of a beautiful blossom — well done.

    Mr. Gentleduck

    June 6, 2015 at 6:06 PM

  17. Stunning photo. Can’t wait to see some more of your Kiwi photos.

    Raewyn's Photos

    June 6, 2015 at 6:55 PM

    • I think there’ll be about two more sets of 10 from New Zealand, and then the trip will finally be over. Naturally you have a vested interest in those, as they show how this foreigner saw your country.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 8:05 PM

  18. Congrats on your milestone Steve

    norasphotos4u

    June 6, 2015 at 8:11 PM

  19. Congratulations on four years of daily posts! I have enough trouble getting something done weekly and am thinking of having a one month “holiday.” I’m so glad you posted this picture as I love it! Interesting, beautiful and striking. I marvel over open sunflowers but you’ve shown me a completely different appreciation of them with this shot. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy your blog – the different angles you give us. I also enjoy the abstracts, the useful information about techniques, the language terms, and also the botanical knowledge. I have a different image of Texas now. The only problem with you posting daily is that I run out of new compliments.

    Jane

    June 6, 2015 at 8:41 PM

    • You may publish only once a week, but each of your posts is much longer than mine and includes a bunch of photographs or other graphics. That takes time: for the research, the images, the writing. I can see why you crave a holiday.

      As for the different angles you mentioned, you can chalk that up to the eternal math teacher in me, only now I’m applying those points of view primarily to subjects in nature. Of course there’s no well-defined line between art and science or art and math or reality and language, and I’m happy to bend boundaries.

      I’m glad I’ve given you some insights into the world of nature in Texas. I didn’t know a lot about nature in my first couple of decades here, but I’ve been learning about it over the last 15 years. Some of what I learn I pass along to others—there’s that teachery thing again, which is fun.

      Thanks for your continuing enthusiasm.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2015 at 9:51 PM

  20. I noticed just this week that the sunflowers which seemed to have been eradicated from a vacant lot down the street haven’t been eradicated at all. They’re back, and starting to bloom. To be frank, I’ve never taken a good look at sunflower buds, but I believe I’ll stop and see if any of them are as attractive as this one. The color’s especially gorgeous: yellow-green on the outside, greenish-yellow on the inside. Beyond all that, this tight little bundle reminded me of a turban.

    As for your posting schedule: I’ve mentioned before that one of the things teacher-you has taught me is how to pay more attention to the world. One of the benefits of paying attention is the great delight that comes when we find something unexpected, like an early white poppy, or an out-of-season coreopsis. As it is, we have the joys of finding your “expected” post each day. But it’s always possible that a somewhat less intense or more erratic posting schedule could add the element of surprise and delight to our appreciation of your photos, as in, “Oh, look! Steve’s found another beauty for us to appreciate!”

    shoreacres

    June 7, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    • Your account of the sunflowers coming back on that lot reminds me of the ground next to the Costco in my neighborhood. I photographed sunflowers there when the land was still “deserted” and then when it was under construction. After the first round of construction produced a hotel, part of the rest of the property lay idle for a year and the sunflowers came back up. Then there was a second round of construction, and still some sunflowers came up afterwards at the margins. Now the third round of construction is going on and unfortunately there’s no unpaved ground left for any more sunflowers. Enjoy your “vacant” lot while you can.

      You make a good point about the potential pleasure in unexpected posts. At the same time, some people have said they like starting each morning with a picture from nature. In short, I don’t yet know whether I’ll break out of my routine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2015 at 8:19 AM

  21. Very cool glimpse of a sunflower today. I have to say that I look for you every day now, and will miss finding you in my inbox but I do understand if it has gotten to be a bit much.

    melissabluefineart

    June 7, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    • I never met a sunflower I didn’t like, and I suspect you haven’t, either. When I can show one in an unfamiliar way, so much the better.

      Whether I’ll keep posting daily or whether I can de-obsess a bit remains to be seen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2015 at 9:32 AM

  22. Great picture. Somehow I”m reminded of Little Shop of Horrors.

    Judy

    June 7, 2015 at 10:36 AM

  23. Once again your photograph is much more than a photograph of a flower. The layers and patterns here are divine. You have certainly opened my eyes to nature.

    Heyjude

    June 7, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    • Thanks for your appreciation, Jude. I’m always looking for new ways to see things, and when I find one I’m happy to present it here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2015 at 2:28 PM

  24. You are so talented, and I completely understand needing to slow down (I myself post at around a snail pace) but I certainly hope we’ll get to see you around here and there.

  25. I like Judy’s comment. It does look a bit like Audrey’s gaping maw…in an attractive sense.

    Posting every day gets to be a habit. There was a time when I would go weeks without posting, but it’s been daily for quite a while now. Not four years, though. That’s impressive.

    Steve Gingold

    June 7, 2015 at 4:58 PM

    • Habits can be good, and habits can be, well, habitual. Even I am impressed with four years, for all the work it has been. I probably won’t know if I’ll skip a day until I do—or don’t.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2015 at 9:16 PM

  26. […] I was looking through my archive to select pictures for the retrospective miniseries you saw early last month, I came across some images from March 27, 2012, at McKinney Falls State […]


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