Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

My tribute to a tributary of Bull Creek

with 30 comments


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

30 Responses

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  1. nature made its own painting. lovely view of the stream


    May 30, 2016 at 5:30 AM

  2. Quite a nice place to spend an afternoon, I imagine. I hope it was cool and without annoying things that fly and buzz.

    Pairodox Farm

    May 30, 2016 at 6:28 AM

    • There can be mosquitoes, but this was still early in the season and I didn’t notice many. Also, probably thanks to El Niño, we’ve had a cool (by Texas standards) and comfortable (by Texas standards) spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2016 at 6:50 AM

  3. I like the green color. That stream must run quite wild and full after heavy rains.

    Jim Ruebush

    May 30, 2016 at 6:33 AM

    • There’s been close thunder this morning and rain began just as I started this reply. Over the years I’ve seen this creek completely dry and I’ve seen it flowing prodigiously. The creek in the stage you see in the first image had a couple of not very large swimming holes. I’ve never gone in, but I know people who have.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2016 at 6:56 AM

  4. Such abstractions in nature do grab our attention. Nicely captured.


    May 30, 2016 at 6:49 AM

    • Thanks, Sally. Over the years of this blog, you’ve seen my fondness for abstraction. 2016 has proved a good year for it, beginning with of algae in various places.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2016 at 7:01 AM

  5. Painterly lichen.


    May 30, 2016 at 7:30 AM

  6. Good morning Steve,
    I simply love those creeks. Wonderful atmosphere.
    Have great Memorial Day, hopefully with not too much of a thunderstorm,


    May 30, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    • Just minutes after I got up this morning there was loud thunder, and we’ve had rain on and off for the last couple of hours.

      Our Hill Country creeks are wonderful indeed. The section of the one shown here is little frequented because there are no established trails there. The trees that you see on the right in the first photograph mostly shield this stretch of the creek from the view of anyone walking or driving along the road into my neighborhood. Only once or twice have I ever encountered anyone there, so I tend to think of it as a bit of nature all my own.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2016 at 9:20 AM

      • It looks like a wonderfully secluded place to be. 🙂
        Here, the thunderstorm [it had started in the very early morning hours] seems to have gone. Since it was/is moving east, you may have it now in Austin. Hopefully not too bad.


        May 30, 2016 at 9:24 AM

        • The rain we had this morning was never heavy, and now the sky is brightening a bit. The forecast for the next few days here, however, says that rain is more likely than not.

          This section of the park is surprisingly secluded, given that houses aren’t all that far away.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 30, 2016 at 10:35 AM

          • For here there’s more rain in the forecast, too. Let’s hope it’ll be beneficial.


            May 31, 2016 at 8:53 AM

            • It’s already been beneficial for wildflowers in the Austin area. Yesterday, after the rain stopped and the sky cleared up by late in the morning, I went out and took pictures in a large wildflower-covered field in Williamson County.

              Steve Schwartzman

              May 31, 2016 at 9:38 AM

              • Just now we’re having a good shower. I’ll have to see during the next few days what it looks like along the roads around here.


                May 31, 2016 at 3:31 PM

                • It’s thundering and raining here too, though not heavily. Here’s to more wildflowers.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 31, 2016 at 3:43 PM

  7. What an inviting spot. Between the rock and gravel on the left and the limbs laid out symmetrically on the right, it’s easy to imagine a flow of water crossing the creek at this point during a flood event.

    The first thing I saw in your lichen abstraction was a replication of the scene above it: the top third similar to the hanging shrubs and bushes above the creek, the bottom third the rocky creek bed, and the green swath through the middle a representation of the clear, greenish light of the glade. It’s as though a plein air painter with a fondness for abstraction set up shop and went to work there.


    May 30, 2016 at 8:16 AM

    • I’ve accepted the invitation many times, and I dress for the occasion. Except for the driest times of the year, that means hip-high waterproof boots because the only way to get to even remoter sections of the park is to walk in the creek.

      That’s an original tripartite comparison you’ve made between the two photographs. I imagine you getting an A in an art appreciation class. Speaking of which: while we often hear about plein air painters, I don’t recall anyone ever referring to a plein air photographer. Maybe that’s because for a long time the art world looked down on photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2016 at 10:20 AM

  8. Steven,
    I enjoy your photos and especially this lichen wall. A photo such as this makes a good background for PowerPoint slides. You can lighten or darken the photo to get the best effect. I darkened a rock ledge photo and saved it as a custom background. The texture of the lines gives a one-of-a-kind look that is different from all other PowerPoints.

    Ricky Linex

    May 30, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    • That’s an enlightening use you’ve come up with for your abstract photograph. I’ve occasionally used Keynote (Apple’s presentation program) to offer slide shows of my photographs to meetings of groups like the Native Plant Society. My main complaint about projectors is that they filter out so much of the subtlety in the original photographs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2016 at 10:30 AM

  9. One could spend hours there creating various compositions with the wall, the roots, reflections and nice landscape possibilities. It does look like a very cool spot to escape the heat for a while.

    Steve Gingold

    May 30, 2016 at 10:43 AM

    • I’ve worked there plenty of times in recent years, even occasionally in winter when I’ve been able to pretend I’m in your neck of the woods:


      This is also the section of the park I’ve relied on each year for pictures of frostweed doing its extrusive ice trick. In summer, though, even with the shade, this is still Texas and the place gets hot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2016 at 3:54 PM

      • Ice in Texas! Who’d a thunk it. Where was I in 2014? I hadn’t seen or commented on either. It’s great to have a place one can visit at any time of the year and come away with something interesting.

        I know it gets hot in the shade, but still must be a little relief from being in the full sun. We wilt when it gets in the nineties. Over a hundred keeps us hidden away in the A/C.

        Steve Gingold

        May 30, 2016 at 5:37 PM

        • As much as I left the Northeast to get away from half a year of cold weather, on the rare occasions when we do get ice or snow in Austin I rush out to take advantage of it.

          As for the shade, I’m grateful to it for softer light for photographs and also because I easily get burned when I’m out in the sun.

          As for heat, we got up to about 90° today and the humidity was high because of the rain we’d had in the morning. Once the sky cleared late in the morning, out I went. Along the lines of what you said the other day, I do get fatigued after a few hours in the heat and humidity. I saw something good on my way home but I felt it was prudent to leave it for another day.

          As for where you were in 2014, you’ll have a better answer than I.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 30, 2016 at 7:28 PM

  10. […] 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 […]

  11. Would you wade in this stream? It looks very inviting.


    May 31, 2016 at 6:22 AM

    • As you soon found out from the following post, I would indeed wade in the creek, although wearing thigh-high rubber boots. It’s always about protecting the camera.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 31, 2016 at 7:30 AM

  12. […] of field and therefore stopping down as much as the light allows. There wasn’t much light in the forested, canyony part of Great Hills Park where I found myself on the morning of May 9th, so f/2.8 it was for this limited-focus portrait of […]

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