Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for July 2015

A different take on smartweed

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Curved Smartweed Inflorescence by Pickerelweed 4202

The raceme on which smartweed (Polygonum spp.) flowers grow is normally straight, as you saw yesterday, but on June 2nd I found this strongly curved one at a pond behind a truck depot along E. Howard Ln. on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin.


Update: Three people have given solutions to the math problem posed in the recent post about the Aztec dancer: you can check out the comments there by Aggie, kabeiser, and shoreacres (in that order).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 31, 2015 at 5:38 AM

A closer look at smartweed

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Two Smartweed Flower Spikes 4704

Here’s a closer, subdued-color look at some flowers and buds of smartweed (Polygonum spp.), this time in isolation against the grey of a pond so you can see the details better. Each flower has sepals but no petals.

This photograph comes from August 22, 2014, in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. In spite of the land’s location adjacent to two freeways, it’s fortunately low and often too sodden to allow for development, so I look forward to being able to keep photographing there.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 30, 2015 at 5:26 AM

A smartweed colony looking smart

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Smartweed Colony Flowering by Sesbania 9666

From last October 21st at Southeast Metropolitan Park, here’s perhaps the most densely flowering colony of smartweed, Polygonum spp., I’ve ever seen. The plant is common enough on the shores of ponds and creeks in central Texas and I encounter it fairly often, yet after more than four years of posts today marks the first appearance of smartweed in these pages. The taller stalks farther back in the photograph are slenderpod sesbania, Sesbania herbacea, and beyond them at the left you can make out a bit of the pond whose water supports both types of plants.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 29, 2015 at 5:27 AM

Crossing flower stalks of Verbena xutha

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Verbena xutha Flower Stalks Crossing 9791

Click for larger size and better quality.

Here’s a photograph from a year ago today in Pflugerville’s Northeast Metro Park showing two crossing flower stalks of Verbena xutha, known as gulf vervain.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, 4, 6 and 18 in About My Techniques apply to this photograph.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 28, 2015 at 4:59 AM

Aztec dancer and ant

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Aztec Dancer Damselfly with Ant 9632

I took this photograph close to a waterfall off Harrogate Dr. in northwest Austin last year on 7/24. Whether the ant ran any risk of getting eaten by the Aztec dancer damselfly, Argia nahuana, I don’t know, but the date reminds me of something I do know, namely that 7 and 24 are the perpendicular sides of a 7-24-25 right triangle because 7 squared plus 24 squared equals 25 squared. Other right triangles with the shortest side an odd number are  5-12-13,  9-40-41,  11-60-61,  13-84-85,  and the familiar 3-4-5. Can you figure out how to get the two longer sides of each right triangle of this type if you know only the shortest side?

(Speaking of math, did anyone notice that the number 63 that played a role in yesterday’s post can be written in base 2 as 111111?)

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 27, 2015 at 5:32 AM

I left 63 comments on other people’s blogs in one day!

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One Sunday a couple of months ago I set myself a challenge: I wondered if I could leave a hundred comments on other people’s blogs that day. The comments couldn’t be just a quick word or phrase like “Wonderful” or “Great picture,” but had to be at least a good-size sentence and preferably several sentences, so that I was truly interacting with the other people. From the title of today’s post you can see that I got only five-eighths of the way to meeting my self-imposed goal, but that still wasn’t a bad showing. (If you’re wondering how I knew I’d left 63 comments, I made a tally mark on a piece of paper after I posted each comment.)

So now to you, dear reader: have you ever tried to leave a lot of comments in one day? If so, tell us how it went. If not, and if you’d like to try the experiment, come back here after you’ve given it a shot and report the results.

In the meantime, so as not to leave you with a pictureless post, here’s a cluster of marsh fleabane flowers, Pluchea odorata, that I photographed at Brushy Creek Lake Park in the town of Cedar Park four years ago today. Texas was in a historic drought that summer, but some species still managed to thrive.

Marsh Fleabane Flowers 0275

Click for greater size and detail.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2015 at 5:34 AM

Turning back to Texas pictures

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After the geological abstractions that you’ve recently seen from New Zealand, here’s a shadowed and moody floral abstraction from a month ago today in Austin:

Firewheel Ray Flower 8706

Click for larger size and better texture.

The photograph shows one ray flower on a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, which people also call blanketflower and Indian blanket. I was tempted to tell you to look at the way the distal part of the flower is cleft into four sunny yet claw-like parts, but you hardly needed me to point that out to you, even if I now have.

The featureless yellow in the background came not from another firewheel but from a couple of four-nerve daisies, Tetraneuris linearifolia.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 25, 2015 at 5:39 AM

The day with two dawns

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Airplane Wing and Sunrise 0487

As Phileas Fogg found to his great relief (in the form of a gain rather than a loss of £20,000), and I merely as a curiosity, travelers crossing the International Date Line from west to east gain a calendar day. For me the most recent eastward crossing of the Line took place on February 27th, which I remember as the day with two dawns. You’ve already seen pictures taken during the first one, which I lived through at Little Manly Beach on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland. The second dawn, shown through the safety of an airplane window and the convenience of an iPhone camera, came to me over the Pacific Ocean as we approached the California coast.

Here then, after five installments, you’ve finally reached the last of the photographs you’ll see from the great and fondly remembered New Zealand venture of 2015. Any of you who’d like to take a stroll (or more properly scroll) back through all 70 (!) of the posts about New Zealand may click here.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 24, 2015 at 4:56 AM

New Zealand: One more picture of pōhutukawa trees

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Pohutukawa Tree on Seaside Bluff 8432

From Little Manly Beach early on the morning of February 27, my last day in New Zealand, here are a few pōhutukawa trees, Metrosideros excelsa, sprawling off a layered bluff and out over the flat-rocked shore.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 23, 2015 at 4:55 AM

New Zealand: Barnacles

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Here are three consecutively closer views showing the barnacles I found so plentiful on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula’s Little Manly Beach on the morning of February 27th. The way they’d colonized the seaside rocks in that part of New Zealand reminds me now of the way stonecrop colonizes little areas of flat limestone in central Texas.

UPDATE: Thanks to Linda Leinen for pointing out that what I thought were mollusks are barnacles, which in spite of their shells turn out to be crustaceans. Who’d have expected that? Steve Gingold had mentioned barnacles in his comment but I’d mistakenly thought he was referring to the dark objects.

Little Mollusks and Colorful Rocks 8514

Mollusks on Rocks 8456

Little Mollusks 8447

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 22, 2015 at 5:24 AM

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