Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Art critics, math teachers, nature photographers

with 21 comments

Phlox Bud Begining to Unroll 9697A

The art critic might talk about the negative space in this image.

The math teacher, hearing of negative space, might be tempted to talk about negative numbers. Oh, the arcane reality of a negative plus a negative making a negative but a negative times a negative making a positive. Not for nothing do math teachers think along those lines (or along the ellipse of the photo-frame).

The nature photographer will just present this portrait of a phlox bud beginning to unroll and tell you that the picture is from March 25th on Clovis St., which has a high FQ (floral quotient) for a street that’s just one short block long.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 15, 2016 at 5:02 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Nothing for physics teachers?

    Jim Ruebush

    April 15, 2016 at 7:28 AM

    • From the tilt of the flower and bud I can imagine leaning into a discussion of fulcrums, leverage, momentum, and the like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 15, 2016 at 7:34 AM

  2. I prefer the nature photographer’s view.
    Have a great weekend,


    April 15, 2016 at 8:08 AM

    • Then you’re in luck, because that’s mostly what you’ll find here (as you know). Still, just as some plants spread via runners and rhizomes, I sometimes “spread” into disciplines other than nature and nature photography. In any case, as the French say, Chacun à son goût, Each to his own taste.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 15, 2016 at 8:20 AM

  3. And the gardener will just say “beautiful”


    April 15, 2016 at 5:57 PM

  4. I’m a nature lover too, and I love this photo! 😀


    April 15, 2016 at 10:02 PM

  5. And the historically-minded might recall that the elliptical frame, with its curved glass, was a favored way of presenting human portraits a century and more ago. How appropriate, then, to frame a floral portrait in the same way.


    April 16, 2016 at 7:17 AM

    • I’ve never understood why the elliptical frame didn’t stay popular. It’s a good way of eliminating distracting things and unnecessary space that would appear in the corners of a rectangularly framed image (WP doesn’t like “rectangularly”).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 16, 2016 at 8:26 AM

  6. How does nature create such wonderful geometry as that spiral of soon-to-be bloom? At our ‘new’ home we have a Clematis on the house’s wall – I’ve always wanted one of those. Each day recently I’ve been watching the process of tiny silver balls slowly growing into pink grape sized buds and now bursting into bloom – a miracle to observe. And that reminds me I must get out with the camera and capture it.


    April 17, 2016 at 12:32 PM

    • Yes, do go out with your camera and see what you can find in the flowering of spring. I’ve long been intrigued by curves in growing things like vines and, as here, opening buds.

      Happy Clematis to you. Nine days ago I photographed one of our three native Clematis species, scarlet leatherflower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 17, 2016 at 2:11 PM

  7. High floral quotient … Great concept!

    jane tims

    April 18, 2016 at 7:01 AM

  8. Quite a lovely Phlox in a Box. I once found a beautifully crotch mahogany veneered picture frame at an auction, which I won at a not too considerable expense. It held a portrait (pastel I think) of a family pet (dog) in an oval mat much as you’ve shown here..I think the oval has its place in art although not very often lately.

    Steve Gingold

    April 18, 2016 at 6:02 PM

    • I like the way you put that: phlox in a box. It accords with the “rocks and phlox” that I showed last month.

      I still don’t understand why oval mats have largely disappeared. They’re sometimes good at hiding distracting junk in the corners. That’s why I used an ellipse on this picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2016 at 7:21 PM

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