Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Muhly seed heads late in the afternoon

with 8 comments

Muhly Seed Heads 9166

Late in the afternoon on November 19th near the high point on the Skyline Drive in Davis Mountains State Park I photographed these backlit grass seed heads. Muhly is short for Muhlenbergia, which is what I take the genus to be, but several species grow in the area and I can’t be more precise.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2015 at 5:39 AM

8 Responses

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  1. Native grasses are wonderful, and Muhly Grasses are a favorite of mine. I like how these are backlit.


    December 3, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    • Native grasses are wonderful indeed, and therefore a familiar subject for me. I often go for backlighting to delineate grass stalks and seed heads from their background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 3, 2015 at 9:15 AM

  2. Recently I have become very fascinated with the uses of grasses in landscape design,
    your post is vey timely…Love your photo.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    December 3, 2015 at 2:16 PM

  3. Winter grasses are lovely in the barren landscape. We have a large Miscanthus that makes a wonderful whisper in the breeze when all else lies beneath the snow in our yard. It’s not native like your Muhlenbergia and grows as a clump rather than spreading, but it’s lovely when dried as is the Muhly.

    Steve Gingold

    December 4, 2015 at 5:40 PM

    • Ah yes, the sway of grass seed heads as the year winds down. Things rarely lie beneath snow here, and even then only briefly, but dry grasses are a welcome presence through the winter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 4, 2015 at 6:25 PM

  4. Hmmm… Maybe my photos of grasses aren’t as bad as I thought. I have some of little bluestem that I grumped over because they just didn’t seem sharp enough, but the overall impression is much the same as what you show here. One thing I’ve found is that grasses can be really hard to capture, because of the movement. Of course, every time I’ve been out, the wind has been blowing at least 15 mph and often much more, so there’s that.

    The colors here are so pretty: not just the contrast between the ivory and the rust, but also the bits of yellow-green in the foreground.


    December 5, 2015 at 9:19 PM

    • It was breezy up there at the top of Skyline Drive so I used a higher-than-normal shutter speed (I see it was 1/500 of a second) to stop any motion of the grasses. In addition, auto-focus mechanisms in cameras can have a hard time with slender things like grass stalks and may focus past them (possibly also accounting for the lack of sharpness you mentioned); manual focus often works better in those situations. The angle of the sun not that far above the horizon made for the attractive warm colors

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 5, 2015 at 10:05 PM

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