Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A focused look at sundrops

with 22 comments

Square-Bud Primrose Flower 4124

The bright but formless yellow of the last post was sundrops, Calylophus berlandieri. Now it’s its turn to appear in its own right and its own focus, again from the unusually early date of February 7th along Interstate 35 in far north Austin.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 11, 2016 at 5:07 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Great capture…you really nailed the texture.


    February 11, 2016 at 6:15 AM

    • These have a crinkly texture, so getting all of the flower in focus can be hard. Fortunately it was a bright day (though disconcertingly windy) and I was able to get the aperture down to f/13 for good depth of field.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2016 at 7:17 AM

  2. I laughed at “disconcertingly windy.” Monday and Tuesday were so windy here that a good bit of water was driven out of Clear Lake and its marinas. Boats tied up to fixed piers were inaccessible: even if you dropped on board, there was no way to get off until the water came back.

    The crinkly petals reminded me of the white prickly poppy. I discovered that there’s also a yellow prickly poppy, Argemone mexicana. I expected to see it in far south Texas, but the USDA map has it in two other counties: Travis and Brazoria. I’d love to find both the sundrop and the yellow poppy — or either, for that matter.


    February 11, 2016 at 7:38 AM

    • Yeah, we had windy day after windy day, not helpful for photography. Yesterday was finally calmer here, and probably by you too, so maybe people managed to get off their boats.

      The only place I’ve ever seen the yellow prickly poppies was out by Big Bend more than a decade ago. Maybe someone planted a few in some remote place in Travis County and they got established locally.

      Speaking of yellow crinkles, the wildflower par excellence for that combo in Austin is fringed puccoon:


      I notice the USDA has sundrops in Harris County, so I bet you’ll see some this year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2016 at 8:10 AM

  3. A sundrop in New Zealand is a type of apricot. http://koruapple.co.nz/photos-koru/fruit-trees/apricot/apricot-sundrop-700×467-224 I much prefer your version of a sundrop.


    February 11, 2016 at 9:33 PM

  4. It is such a great capture .. Gosh I didn’t know a sundrop was an apricot! 😊


    February 11, 2016 at 11:30 PM

  5. That old blue/yellow combo works every time.

    Steve Gingold

    February 13, 2016 at 6:59 PM

  6. You mentioned being able to reduce the aperture because it was bright. Is this something that can be done intuitively, if I had a good camera and lens combination, or is it strictly a matter of learning? I ask because back when I had a Minolta (film) I had a couple of little lenses I could screw onto the standard issue one. With it, I could turn the thingy until the subject popped into clear definition, and the resulting photos were just what I was after. Since that camera died I haven’t been able to achieve that.


    March 1, 2016 at 8:29 AM

    • If you set your camera to shutter priority, then when the light is bright the camera will automatically choose a smaller aperture (higher f/number).

      With the Minolta, I assume you’re talking about screw-in filters. Is that what you’re remembering? In particular, you seem to be talking about a polarizing filter. It consists of two pieces of glass, the outer one of which rotates. People generally use a polarizer to reduce glare. That may be what you meant by “the subject popped into clear definition,” although it’s not really a question of definition.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2016 at 9:57 AM

      • No, these weren’t filters, but lenses. They screwed onto the lens that came with the camera. It wasn’t point and shoot but probably wasn’t quite SLR, either. Is there something in between? Anyway it was great because I could control the focus just by turning the lens. I’d love to reproduce that somehow.


        March 3, 2016 at 1:38 PM

        • Well, I’m baffled. I used to use a close-up lens that screwed in front of a regular lens, but it didn’t rotate to bring things into focus. If you figure out what it was, let us know.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 3, 2016 at 3:12 PM

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