Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Praise be to embankments

with 18 comments

Prairie Bishop's Weed Colony with Other Wildflowers on Embankment 3353

An embankment covered with wildflowers is a gift to a nature photographer, who can get low enough for the embankment to block unseemly things in the background. In this case you don’t see the traffic on the Capital of Texas Highway that runs across the top of the slope, nor do you see anything else distracting beyond that.

The date was May 5. The white flowers forming the prominent colony were prairie bishop’s weed, Bifora americana, which has had an excellent season and which you’ll see again more closely in an upcoming post. The yellow flowers along the ridge were Engelmann daisies, Engelmannia peristenia. Some greenthread, gaura, and Indian blanket also put in an appearance, as did the fleecy clouds.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2016 at 4:59 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Good nature photographer’s trick. It’s all in the angles. A field like that could keep one busy for more than a few minutes.

    Steve Gingold

    May 19, 2016 at 5:31 AM

    • Another advantage is that the farthest part of the slope is a little closer to the camera than it would be if the land were flat, so a photographer gets some extra depth of field. As you surmised, I spent more than a few minutes at the location shown in today’s picture. Even better, I’ve encountered several fields recently that were dense with wildflowers, thanks to the rain we’ve been having this spring (and are having even as I type this). Those additional places have been flat, so I didn’t get extra depth of field in those fields.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 19, 2016 at 7:25 AM

  2. So pretty with contrast of colors. I’d hate to be down so close, however, as I know how chiggers are.


    May 19, 2016 at 5:46 AM

    • I’m afraid that’s an occupational hazard here: a nature photographer has to go where nature goes. One countermeasure I’ve taken a few times recently is to wear hip-high boots when I wade through plants. That helps against fire ants as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 19, 2016 at 7:28 AM

  3. These embankments can really be gorgeous in spring, can’t they? As can (some of) the medians on the highways.


    May 19, 2016 at 6:40 AM

    • You said it. Now if we could just get the mowers to stop cutting down all the flowers on the embankments and medians before they go to seed….

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 19, 2016 at 7:31 AM

      • That would be great, indeed. But I don’t think I’ve seen mowers so far between here and SA on I 10.


        May 19, 2016 at 7:34 AM

        • The ample rain we’ve had and the muddy ground and lush growth of plants that followed have put the mowers behind schedule this spring. Hooray for hindrances!

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 19, 2016 at 7:56 AM

  4. how beautiful the contrast between blue and green with white- and of course the perspective because of the embankment!


    May 19, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    • The first part of the spring was mostly disappointing for dense floral displays, but the intermittent rains that have continued since then (including right now) have made for some good fields and embankments covered with wildflowers. Two days ago I stopped at four flower-filled fields over several hours (though no embankments that day).

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 19, 2016 at 8:01 AM

  5. The combination of your title and the image itself reminded me of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem about dappled things. Granted, the light isn’t precisely dappled, but the way the colors of the various flowers are intertwined is just as delightful. It’s such a delight to see these great masses of flowers — and so surprising to realize that we’re already moving into summer.


    May 19, 2016 at 8:04 AM

    • I know that poem. I can’t say it influenced this post’s title, at least not consciously.

      I want to say “Dappled is as dappled does.” The only problem is that I don’t know what that would mean.

      The prairie bishop’s weed has been good this spring and it’s kept on going longer than I expected it to. I see the species is marked for Harris County and Brazoria County, so I hope you get to see some, given that you’ve mentioned white flowers as your favorites.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 19, 2016 at 8:21 AM

  6. Very painterly embankment, you have caught the colours really well.


    May 19, 2016 at 8:18 AM

    • Thanks. Just yesterday another photograph of a densely flowered field struck me as painterly. I’ll have to post it in the next few weeks (I’ve gotten backed up with all the floral profusion recently).

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 19, 2016 at 8:23 AM

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