Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 34 comments

5 is a pleasant number. It’s a prime in its own right and is also the sum of the first two primes, 2 and 3. In addition (can you anticipate the pun?), 5 is the sum of the squares of two consecutive integers, 1 and 2. Those lesser integers 1, 2, and 3 are Fibonacci numbers, as is 5 itself. The most common stylized star that people draw has 5 points. Some plants have compound leaves with 5 leaflets. Other plants produce flowers with 5 petals or rays or stamens or sepals or bracts.

If I’m dwelling on the number 5, it’s because today marks the fifth anniversary of daily posts in Portraits of Wildflowers. Who’d have expected such day-after-day fidelity? Not I, going into it, yet WordPress tells me today’s post is number 1986 (on some days I did more than one). Breathe and drink and eat we must, but five years is a long time for a voluntary daily activity to last. Now I think it’s time to ease the pace a bit and not feel honor-bound, or maybe more realistically obsession-bound, to post every single day. There’ll still be plenty to see and show, especially as this has been a good wildflower spring. Here are two examples of that.

The first photograph portrays a colony of Gaillardia pulchella (firewheels, blanket flowers, Indian blankets) with some Engelmannia peristenia (Engelmann daisies) in the background along TX 20 east of Lockhart on May 3. Note in the lower left the seed pods of some Lupinus texensis (bluebonnets). The dark, dry vertical plants scattered among the firewheels seem to have been the remains of Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa).

Firewheel Colony with Engelmann Daisies and Bluebonnet Pods 2682

The second example of this spring’s great wildflowers comes from a still-undeveloped property along Louis Henna Blvd. in southern Round Rock on May 17. You’re looking at basket-flowers (Centaurea americana), Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella), greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium), and prairie bishop’s weed (Bifora americana).

Basket-Flower Colony with Other Wildflowers 4744

Now you’ve seen them. If you want to know the moral:
Landscapes are good when they’re abundantly floral.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman



Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 6, 2016 at 5:01 AM

34 Responses

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  1. Congratulations Steve! Your daily posts have given me so much pleasure over the past few years, but however frequently or infrequently you post in the future, the pleasure will remain!


    June 6, 2016 at 5:26 AM

    • Guten Morgen (hier), Cathy. Thanks for letting me know you’ve enjoyed these daily posts. You’re my unique English~German connection.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2016 at 8:14 AM

  2. Your daily postings have provided so much pleasure over the years, it gave me a bit of a pang to think of your routine changing. On the other hand, I’ve kept telling myself, “I need to dig into the archives, too” — even though I rarely have done so. Your five years’ worth of entries comprise such a rich, varied, and informative archive, a less-than-daily posting will be the perfect reason to explore the posts that I’ve missed in the past, or revisit favorites along the way.

    Now that I think about it, today’s photos are a perfect representation of your work here, taken as a whole: 1986 portraits, all blooming together.


    June 6, 2016 at 5:54 AM

    • Good morning from the shore Lake Michigan. Thanks for being such a loyal reader and thorough commenter, Linda. I like your metaphor of posts all blooming together. The next post will be number 1987; that was the year I went to the Philippines for the first time, and it was a dozen years before an interest in native plants. Oh, numbers. I remember when I raised the idea a year ago on this date of maybe not posting every day that you were sympathetic to the idea of a lesser frequency.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2016 at 8:31 AM

      • Indeed. Today, with a year’s worth of new experiences behind me, I’m even more sympathetic to the idea. Time in the field, identification, post-processing, writing descriptions — even deciding what should be posted, and what not — is a drain on both time and energy. Daily posts have been great for us. Less frequent posts surely will offer you an opportunity to exercise your creativity in other ways: perhaps those books you mention from time to time.

        And this gave me a smile when it occurred to me. Over the past years, I’ve learned here about negative space. In a way, days without posts could be understood in just that way: negative spaces that complement your posted offerings, and highlight their value.


        June 7, 2016 at 5:48 AM

        • I’m gratified to hear your year of experiences reinforces my decision to post less frequently. Now I’ll work to get into a routine that lets me repurpose some of my time.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 7, 2016 at 10:28 PM

  3. Congratulations on reaching your fifth anniversary! Here is another mathematician’s take on numbers/years;
    When I was one,
    I had just begun.
    When I was two,
    I was nearly new.
    When I was three,
    I was hardly me.
    When I was four,
    I was not much more.
    When I was five,
    I was just alive.
    But now I am six,
    I’m as clever as clever.
    So I think I’ll be six
    now and forever.


    If you are entering your sixth year it would seem, according to Milne, you do not need to go any further. However, I would become an Eeyore if you didn’t post at all.


    June 6, 2016 at 5:56 AM

    • Have no fear, friend, of my not posting at all. There’s so much out there in nature that I’m eager to photograph. Thanks for citing Milne’s arithmetical take on life.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2016 at 8:57 PM

  4. Congratulations, Steve, on your anniversary. I’ve been following you for close to four years and have enjoyed your wonderful photos, your often quirky sense of humor, and the tips you share on improving our photography. Best wishes as you ease into another year–my own experience is that there is something liberating about not feeling compelled to post every single day, though I do post most days.

    Mike Powell

    June 6, 2016 at 6:07 AM

  5. congratulations! such a beautiful landscape


    June 6, 2016 at 6:14 AM

  6. Beautiful photos AND fun math – what could be better? Congrats on your blog anniversary, Steve – it is always a pleasure to stop by. The Gaillardia shot is spectacular!


    June 6, 2016 at 6:27 AM

    • Thanks so much, Lynn, for your enthusiasm. You’ve said it well: nature and math, what could be better?

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 6, 2016 at 9:08 PM

  7. Congrats on your 5 year daily post anniversary, Steve! And the moral of flowery landscapes is spot on.

    Mind Margins

    June 6, 2016 at 6:44 AM

  8. Steve, that’s an amazing feat. Keep it up, the wild things need you.


    June 6, 2016 at 7:24 AM

  9. Nice set, Steve. More beautiful colors.


    June 6, 2016 at 7:39 AM

  10. Wow!! Five years of daily posts. That is an endeavor. Congrats and do keep it up, even if some of us don’t make it by every day. Love your sense of humor and links to new information. Always learning something, Steve.


    June 6, 2016 at 8:51 AM

  11. Celebrating with these fabulous images is very fitting 😀 The flowers are too numerous to ever want counted individually, far better to be appreciated as a whole! It’s always a whole lot of fun visiting your blog and chatting with you Steve, many congratulations 🙂

  12. Congratulations. I have tried to post daily, but some days it doesn’t work out, so I am impressed that you have kept it up for so long. I, along with many of your followers, will be happy with whatever frequency you are posting. Looking forward to the images from your current adventure.
    These are two great examples of just how profuse your various fields and meadows can be.

    Steve Gingold

    June 7, 2016 at 2:30 AM

    • Thanks, Steve. I skipped posting today but will be back tomorrow. I took plenty of pictures in northeast Illinois today.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2016 at 10:07 PM

  13. Landscapes are great when floral .. And these images are divine! Congratulations on post 1986 .. I


    June 7, 2016 at 6:05 AM

  14. Congratulations and thanks for all that you have shared with us. I used to say that I was channeling my inner Schwartzman whenever I got an exceptional shot. Now I just consider it an integral function to be considered in photographing flora. High fives for your consistently high quality!


    June 7, 2016 at 8:54 AM

    • Thanks, Robert. I like your “high fives” for this post that’s entitled “5.” I think I took 5 hundred nature pictures in northeast Illinois today.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2016 at 10:14 PM

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