Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for May 2016

1/8000 of a second

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Turbulent Water in Creek 1815

After the rain finally stopped on April 21st, I spent a while in the main tributary of Bull Creek that flows through Great Hills Park, as you saw last time. To photograph some of the whitewater there I set a shutter speed of 1/8000 of a second. For several years I’ve had cameras capable of that fast a shutter speed but hadn’t ever gone down to such a narrow sliver of time. The point was to stop the action of the water that was moving much too fast for the human eye and brain to distinguish details. One consequence of so very brief an exposure was my need to use flash to get enough light for a decent picture.

If you want to play the pareidolia game again, I’ll suggest a side view of a rightward-facing elephant getting a shampoo. If that’s too fanciful and you’d like to stay in the real world, click the excerpt below for a better look at some of the turbulent water at 1/8000 of a second.

Turbulent Water in Creek 1815A


© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 31, 2016 at 5:04 AM

My tribute to a tributary of Bull Creek

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Bull Creek Tributary in Great Hills Park South 1776

Here’s a downstream view from April 21st of Great Hills Park’s main creek, a tributary of Bull Creek. At the far left is the rocky outcrop that you saw from the other side on April Fool’s Day in a view that lent itself to pareidolia.

If you can imagine turning around and walking upstream a hundred feet or so (30m) from where I stood, and then looking over at the cliff there, you’d see this panel of stony wall adorned with pale green lichen. I don’t know what caused the darker vertical streaks but I like the effect they created.

Pale Green Lichen on Cliff 1775A

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 30, 2016 at 5:03 AM

In case you didn’t get enough yellow

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Paloverde Tree Flowering 3421

In case you didn’t get enough yellow from that lone Maximilian sunflower last time, here’s a paloverde tree (Parkinsonia aculeata) that was flowering away along Loop 360 within sight of the sunflower bud on May 5.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2016 at 5:01 AM

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Maximilian in May!

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A Maximilian sunflower in May? Yes indeed, on May 5th in the fringe between Loop 360 and Arboretum Blvd., I found a bunch of Helianthus maximiliani plants, one of which had produced a bud that was beginning to open. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this kind of sunflower, let me explain that it normally doesn’t bloom here any earlier than late August, and primarily in September and October, so this specimen was quite a prodigy.

Maximilian Sunflower Bud Opening in May 3450

By the time of my return on May 11th, I found one flower head that had fully opened.

Maximilian Sunflower Flowering in May 4310

© Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 28, 2016 at 5:04 AM

Another little creature on a flower

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Acmaeodera Beetle on Skeleton Plant Flower 2395

Not far in space or time from where I photographed the crab spider on a Texas thistle at the Purgatory Creek Natural Area in San Marcos on April 27th, I saw Acmaeodera beetles on flowers of the skeleton-plants (Lygodesmia texana) that were out in goodly numbers (both the beetles and the skeleton-plants).

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 27, 2016 at 5:03 AM

Prairie promiscuity

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Prairie Wildflowers 1892

The adjective promiscuous was originally applied (and still is) to different things that appear or are brought together in no particular order. That’s a good description of plants, or as Dolly Parton put it: “Wildflowers don’t care where they grow.” Here from April 22 on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin you see a mix of Engelmann daisies (Engelmannia peristenia), bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), prairie bishop’s weed (Bifora americana), and a few pink evening primroses (Oenothera speciosa).

While prairie bishop’s weed flowers are tiny, at most a quarter of an inch across (6mm), I found plenty of insects attending to them, including a shiny blow fly (family Calliphoridae)

Shiny Fly on Prairie Bishop's Weed Flowers 1940

Click to enlarge.

and a paper wasp.

Paper Wasp on Prairie Bishop's Weed 1926

Click to enlarge.

UPDATE on December 5, 2017. John S. Ascher at bugguide.net has identified the blow fly as being in the genus Lucilia.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 26, 2016 at 5:07 AM

One last thing

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Purple Prairie Larkspur Flowers 2454

One last thing worth showing from the Copperfield Nature Trail on April 30 is this prairie larkspur, Delphinium carolinianum ssp. vimineum. I found its purple to be particularly rich, probably the most vivid I’d ever seen in a larkspur, and it stood out all the more against the chartreuse of the foliage beyond it.

Last month you saw a mostly white version of this wildflower.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2016 at 5:01 AM

Another mixed-species find

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Firewheel with Western Horsenettle Flowers 2532

One other thing that Eve found and called my attention to on April 30 along the Copperfield Nature Trail in northeast Austin was this firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) growing among the flowers of a western horsenettle (Solanum dimidiatum). Notice how the tips of the firewheel’s rays harmonize in color and shape with the horsenettle’s banana-like stamens.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2016 at 4:44 AM

What I’d stopped to photograph

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White Pink Evening Primrose Flower 2476

What I’d stopped to photograph on April 30 along the Copperfield Nature Trail when Eve walked ahead and found the prickly pear flower in the dewberry patch was a white variant of a pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa. Near the flower’s upper margins you can make out a faint tinge of the usual color.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2016 at 5:08 AM

On the Copperfield Nature Trail

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Prickly Pear Flowering in Dewberry Patch 2487

On April 30, Eve and I made only our second visit to the Copperfield Nature Trail on the prairie in northeast Austin. From time to time along the way we ate some southern dewberries, Rubus trivialis. At one point Eve walked ahead while I took pictures, and when I caught up afterwards she called my attention to a prickly pear cactus flowering in a dewberry patch. The sawtooth-margined compound leaves you see here are all from dewberry vines. Note the prickly pear pad to the left of the reddest dewberry fruit and another beneath the flower. The cactus pads have straight spines and the dewberry canes are covered with curved prickles, so all in all this was one forbidding patch.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2016 at 5:12 AM

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