Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Chiaroscuro comes to Philadelphia

with 21 comments

Philadelphia Fleabane Bud by Flower Head 7976

Or at least to a Philadelphia fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus. On March 15th I made this side view of an opening bud in front of and just touching an already mostly open flower head near the creek that crosses Old Lampasas Trail in northwest Austin.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 4, 2016 at 5:11 AM

21 Responses

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  1. This flower has a lovely gesture. Love it.

    Sherry Lynn Felix

    April 4, 2016 at 5:42 AM

    • Do you interpret the gesture in a certain way?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2016 at 7:36 AM

      • Don’t laugh. Italians bunch their fingers, like the petals are bunched, and put them to thier lips to say this is great. On the serious side, the flower shows movement emphasized by the petal shapes and focus – that’s gesture.

        Sherry Lynn Felix

        April 4, 2016 at 8:56 AM

        • The French say Chacun à son goût, Each to his or her own taste, and the same goes for the imagination. Actually I have seen the Italian gesture you described, so I can understand how this whimsically reminded you of that. I like your more-serious explanation of gesture implied by varied shapes and changes in focus. That’s one reason abstractions fascinate me.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 4, 2016 at 9:13 AM

  2. Neat composition, Steven.


    April 4, 2016 at 8:11 AM

  3. This is splendid. Overwhelming masses of these flowers are suddenly everywhere down here, especially farther south, but as impressive as they are, they still tend to remain just that: an undifferentiated mass. What I like best about your photo is the way the yellow disks have been eliminated in favor of the white rays. Of course, as a lover of white flowers, that would appeal to me, but it’s a wonderfully unique take.

    Speaking of white flowers, I came across a good-sized patch of white prickly poppy yesterday, on Texas 35 between Bay City and Blessing. Bless the highway department for putting so many crossovers along that stretch of road, and providing a nice, wide shoulder to park on. The poppies would have been the highlight of the day, had I not found a single, beautiful yellow paintbrush in the meadow next to the Deutschburg Community cemetery.


    April 4, 2016 at 8:33 AM

    • Thanks, Linda. Erigeron modestus is much more common here than E. philadelphicus, so it’s good to hear of masses of that species near you. Over here I’ve been relying each spring on a little group of the philadelphicus, namely the one that produced today’s photograph. I was surprised in searching just now to discover that I’ve shown this species only once before, in 2014. The longer I work with a species, the harder it is to find new ways to picture it, so, as much as I like the yellow of the disks, I was happy with this all-white view.

      And speaking of white, it sounds like you had fun with those white prickly poppies. As for the yellow paintbrush, do you think it was a variant of the predominant Indian paintbrush, Castilleja indivisa, or might it have been the yellow version of prairie paintbrush, Castilleja purpurea var. citrina?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2016 at 9:05 AM

      • You know me. I’m the Queen of Impulsive Misidentification, but I’m pretty sure about this one. The leaves are right for Castilleja indivisa, as is the arrangment of flowers and bracts. What do you think?

        I nearly missed it. I was getting back into the car when I decided to walk over and take a look at the ground I hadn’t explored, and there it was.


        April 4, 2016 at 9:33 AM

        • I think you’ve got this one right. I’ve usually thought of this variant as cream-colored, but yellow works just as well and maybe better. I’ve found it to be a pretty reliable variant, and I believe I’ve seen at least a few of them every year (including 2016), though I’ve never shown a picture of one here.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 4, 2016 at 9:55 AM

  4. Wow, fleabane never looked so grand! I love this.


    April 4, 2016 at 9:15 AM

    • I pushed the abstraction on this one by playing up limitations: narrow focus on the bud in the foreground; almost all black, white, and grey, with a trace of green. I was happy with the result.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2016 at 9:24 AM

  5. An embellished flower enjoys the audience of the lens. Very nice. ~Y. Alvarado


    April 4, 2016 at 7:48 PM

    • Thanks. I can vouch for the fact that I’ve supplied an audience to tens of thousands of flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2016 at 8:40 PM

  6. Hey Steve .. I just love this image. Beautiful


    April 5, 2016 at 1:23 AM

  7. Excellent selective focus for this enjoyable abstract, Steve. We won’t see fleabanes here for a while yet, snow or no snow.

    Steve Gingold

    April 5, 2016 at 4:02 AM

    • You hear people in the worlds of art and fashion talk about edgy work. Literalist that I can be, I like my occasional edgy view of a subject in nature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2016 at 5:26 AM

  8. […] sharp contrast to the soft and benign chiaroscuro of the Philadelphia fleabane you saw last time comes this one of a bull nettle, Cnidoscolus texanus. The alternate common name treadsoftly warns […]

  9. A beautifully soft image considering the contrast of flower against the dark background.


    April 9, 2016 at 12:57 PM

    • Good analysis. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re right. There’s an inherent high-contrast difference between the flowers and the background, yet at the same time there’s a softness brought about by the shallow depth of field that doesn’t extend to the ray flowers in back.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 9, 2016 at 1:04 PM

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