Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Broomweed and gayfeather

with 22 comments

Broomweed Flower Heads by Liatris Flower Spike 7110

In Austin and the surrounding area from late summer through early autumn it’s common to see broomweed (Amphiachyris dracunculoides) and gayfeather (Liatris mucronata) growing together. Here’s proof of that convivience* from the Meister Lane cul-de-sac in southeastern Round Rock on the first day in October. Intentionally, almost nothing is in focus beyond the one wee broomweed flower head: how moody, how artsy this botany.


* You probably won’t find convivience in an English dictionary. I think my mind carried the word over from Spanish convivencia or French convivance, a noun that means ‘living together.’ After I wrote the word convivience I searched online to see if anyone else has used that English form, and at a website about Islamic design in Andalucía I found this: “Convivience refers to a peace that existed in medieval Islamic Spain when Christians, Muslims and Jews coexisted in Andalucia without conflict and with an apparent appreciation for and tolerance of unique cultural expressions.” Downright convivial, wouldn’t you say?

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2015 at 4:46 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Your choice of selective focus works a treat here and the color combination is lovely.

    Steve Gingold

    October 13, 2015 at 5:14 AM

    • That little broomweed flower head was pretty far forward of the gayfeather, and it wouldn’t have been easy to get them both in focus, so I accepted with the way things were configured and went for selective focus. In fact I aimed at an angle so that the gayfeather would be less and less in focus from top to bottom.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2015 at 7:18 AM

  2. I think we could do with more convivience these days. Perhaps we could make a start by wearing this amazing purple feather boa?
    Jude 😀


    October 13, 2015 at 6:35 AM

    • Now we’re all waiting for you to transfer this amazing purple feather boa to fabric, put it on, and show us a picture of yourself wearing it. That, too, would be convivial.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2015 at 7:20 AM

  3. “…coexisted … without conflict and with an apparent appreciation for and tolerance of unique cultural expressions.”

    Seems like a good thing to encourage in this world of ours.

    Jim in IA

    October 13, 2015 at 7:28 AM

  4. I love that definition – we could do with a lot more convivience around the globe!


    October 13, 2015 at 12:45 PM

  5. Preciosa imagen de las dos flores desarrollándose juntas. Y original.

    • Entre más fotos tomo, más difícil es tomar fotos originales, pero sigo haciendo el esfuerzo..

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2015 at 4:01 PM

  6. Very nice control!


    October 13, 2015 at 8:31 PM

  7. Great image with the selective focus working beautifully; and the fact that the Spanish word came to you naturally means there are many more words that both lamguages share.

    Maria F.

    October 13, 2015 at 10:37 PM

    • Thanks, Maria. Selective focus can be an effective technique.

      And yes, Spanish and English share thousands of words, something that helps a speaker of one learn the other.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2015 at 10:42 PM

  8. What a wonderful word, convivience, and an even more wonderful concept.


    October 15, 2015 at 5:37 AM

  9. It’s interesting that words I used to hear often — convivial, and conviviality — seem to be disappearing. I always associated them with time spent in pleasant company: perhaps carrying on something called a “conversation.” Lo and behold, there’s a tiny bit of proof of their loss here. Strangely (or not), I found myself thinking about Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind,” and the possibility that a little conviviality could bridge a lot of gaps.

    Now I know another photographic term, too: selective focus. I can manage an in-focus flower with a blurred background, but this is something else. And of course, I’m still determined to find some of that elegant liatris: if not this year, then next.


    October 15, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    • Not till you provided that link did I realize that those words are used less often now. I find it curious that convivial has undergone a significantly greater percent of decline than the longer conviviality has. Maybe you can do your part toward a revival by writing a post on the theme of conviviality.

      When it comes to selective focus, our eyes do it all the time, but our brain usually keeps our conscious mind from being aware of it by creating the illusion that everything is always in focus (unless eye problems give evidence to the contrary). The selective focus in this photograph is different because of the angle of the Liatris, which caused decreasing amounts of sharpness toward the bottom.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2015 at 8:04 AM

  10. I love how plants of contrasting colors pair up in nature. Here in the fall, we get purple loosestrife and goldenrod, though I understand this pairing is a problem when growing where it doesn’t belong. Indeed, does loosestrife “belong” anywhere?

    Susan Scheid

    October 17, 2015 at 12:11 PM

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