Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Looking up to a Maximilian sunflower

with 29 comments

On September 20th I went back to Blunn Creek Preserve, the scene of yesterday’s earlier photograph of snow-on-the-prairie, and found some Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani, doing their thing. Here’s a flower head of one of them.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 3, and 24 in About My Techniques pertain to this image.

Maximilian Sunflower Flower Head and Cumulus Cloud 6345

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 28, 2015 at 5:27 AM

29 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Stunning photo and great advice. Will now try this angle. Skies are so blue here in Andalucia!


    September 28, 2015 at 5:41 AM

  2. Having had a burst of photographing rudbeckias, helenium and helianthus I shall swiftly pop over to your techniques to discover how I SHOULD have been doing it 😀


    September 28, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    • Not so much should have as could have. The possibilities are infinite. My list mentions some techniques that have worked for me some of the time. You seem to be doing fine already, Jude.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2015 at 8:54 AM

  3. Oh and I forgot to mention how much I like this with the dusting of pollen and those petals that stick up, a bit like a bad hair day 🙂


    September 28, 2015 at 6:16 AM

    • Those “unkempt” ray flowers are what initially got my attention, too, and then there was the bonus of the stray bits of pollen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2015 at 10:51 AM

  4. Steve – yet another of your beautiful photographs. I simply love the intense yellow against the blue blue sky.


    September 28, 2015 at 7:04 AM

    • The camera sensor “sees” things differently from the human eye and mind, but I’d say its vision here is appealing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2015 at 12:46 PM

  5. I like looking up to a Maximilian. Looking up makes us feel positive and happy apparently. I think I would probably prefer to have your Maximilians to look up at on our Art Gallery but this will have to do. http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/arts/72461529/everything-is-going-to-be-alright–isnt-it


    September 28, 2015 at 7:05 AM

  6. How beautiful, and the flower speaks through you…

    Maria F.

    September 28, 2015 at 8:41 AM

  7. I’m really quite taken with this variation on your yellow-flower-blue-sky theme. The cloud is obvious, but I like the way the less-obvious fog or dissipating clouds have subdued the sky, and perhaps the yellow of the flower. The two rays on the left remind me of a dancer’s gesture. Perhaps Maximilian is disk-o-dancing.


    September 28, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    • In a region with so many DYCs, it seems natural to combine their yellow with the brightness of the sky, mediated here by the softness of the main cloud and its echoes.

      If any disk-o dancing is taking place, perhaps it’s kept charged up with Ray-o-Vac batteries.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2015 at 1:58 PM

  8. SWEET…..jas L

    James Work Photography

    September 28, 2015 at 9:58 AM

  9. I have these flowering in my garden. They crack me up with their absurd height~usually 7′ or so before they flop over.


    September 28, 2015 at 11:42 AM

    • I like not only how tall they can get but also how erect they often are, as opposed to the more-familiar “common” sunflowers that grow in a more scraggly and bushy way. Just this weekend I began to see some tall Maximilian sunflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 28, 2015 at 2:01 PM

      • It used to bug me that they flop over just when they were really in flower, but then I realized that is how they assure their seeds land some distance from the parent plant. I now have them growing with cup plant. Are you familiar with it? It is a monster, with buttressed stems I think you could build with they are so strong. Their rigid clumps keep “Max” upright 🙂


        September 29, 2015 at 11:02 AM

        • I looked online and at


          found a cup plant that is Silphium perfoliatum. That species doesn’t grow in central Texas, but we have several other Silphium species here. A lot of people take them for sunflowers, which they’re not, although they’re clearly in the same family.

          That’s a good insight about the heads of your Maximilian sunflowers flopping over.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 29, 2015 at 1:34 PM

  10. Thank you! I so enjoyed your ‘how to page’. Wonderful information .. Great pic too btw! 😀


    September 28, 2015 at 6:48 PM

  11. Beautiful!


    September 28, 2015 at 10:59 PM

  12. As much as I have enjoyed your sky backgrounds, I think I like this even more with the cloud/s. Nice perspective.

    Steve Gingold

    October 2, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    • I take advantage of clouds for backgrounds when I can (there’s more variety than with nothing other than shades of blue), but Austin skies aren’t as dramatic as those in some other parts of the country.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2015 at 1:19 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: