Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Why I’d gone back to the prairie

with 15 comments


On September 28th I went back to the new street in Manor called Wildhorse Ranch Trail to see how the snow-on-the-prairie was coming along on the Blackland Prairie since my last visit exactly three weeks earlier. I found that most of the Euphorbia bicolor plants had produced their fuzzy little tripartite green seed capsules, as you see here. In the background is part of the flowering mound of broomweed, Amphiachyris dracunculoides, that dazzled you last time (I hope you won’t mind if I put words in your mouth).

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 28, 2016 at 5:02 AM

15 Responses

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  1. I love your photos, Steve. ‘Portraits’ indeed! I think you captured Euphorbia’s best side. 😀


    October 28, 2016 at 5:47 AM

    • Thanks, Shannon. I think it was about eight years ago that I began to think of my representations of native plants, especially the closeups, as portraits. Portraits of Wildflowers was the title I chose for a would-be book that I never could convince any publisher to publish. I carried the title over to this blog that deals with nature more generally.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2016 at 8:14 AM

  2. The Euphorbia is beautiful (and look at those clear blue skies!) but what gave me a grin is your mention of the “flowering mound of broomweed.” I found great, non-flowering mounds covering areas of open range near the Tallgrass prairie, and even more in the high plains. In both cases, locals identified those ball-like mounds for me: broomweed. It must have been spectacular when they were in flower.


    October 28, 2016 at 6:23 AM

    • Now I’m following you in lamenting the absence of blue skies. Yesterday we went to the Armstrong Grove of giant redwoods a couple of hours north of where we’re staying in San Ramon. Unfortunately the rain never stopped during our visit (though there were some merely drizzly times), and the pictures I took from under an umbrella that Eve held over me probably didn’t succeed in capturing the scenes I could otherwise have recorded. The forecast shows overcast skies and high chances of rain for the rest of our visit here, alas.

      I’m sorry that the broomweed was already spent by the time you encountered it on the prairie and high plains. You’ll have another shot at it next fall in Texas. Nature lovers are of two minds about a dense expanse of flowering broomweed: it’s beautiful, of course, but it often means that the land was overgrazed or otherwise not properly cared for.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2016 at 8:32 AM

      • I hope you’ve received a consolation prize for your drizzle and rain. On my way home, I considered the broad expanses of Clematis drummondi draping the fences and trees and shrubs between Abilene and Junction to be quite a prize. And, from about Seguin to Columbus on I-10, the Maximilian sunflowers were glorious.

        Somewhere, I saw you mention that you’d spent time at Muir Woods, too — one of my favorite Bay Area haunts when I lived there. I hope you’re going far enough north to experience the Lost Coast. It’s as dramatic as they come.


        October 31, 2016 at 8:01 PM

        • I’m afraid the Lost Coast is too far north of us to include in this trip. We may, as consolation, come down the coast heading south later this week as we begin the long drive home.

          Muir Woods was good but we ended up having to go on a weekend, when the place was packed with people. Every parking lot was full and some people even parked along the road half a mile away from the entrance. We took that route northbound but it was close to 30 years ago and well worth doing again.

          In contrast, we spent hours at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which is more remote and wasn’t crowded (plus we went yesterday, Monday).

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 1, 2016 at 9:41 AM

  3. But thank God it is raining there! After all, it is supposed to rain and drizzle all the time in the redwoods. 🙂


    October 29, 2016 at 8:57 AM

    • California certainly needs the rain, no question, but this photographer is frustrated. From all the moss and other growth we saw at the Armstrong grove, you’re right that the redwoods there get plenty of rain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 29, 2016 at 9:39 AM

  4. Good posts, beautiful blog.
    Welcome to see my creations:


    October 29, 2016 at 9:30 AM

  5. I am definitely dazzled with this one, Steve.

    Jane Lurie

    October 30, 2016 at 1:24 AM

  6. Again with the broomweed. No complaint as yellow and blue…works for you. Landscape photographers complain about clear blue skies. You’ve remedied that with a sky full of snow-on-the-prairie.

    Steve Gingold

    October 31, 2016 at 2:57 PM

    • Again indeed, but this time with the broomweed out of focus as a lower fringe to provide color contrast.

      I know some landscape photographers complain about clear blue skies but I wish at least one of my three outings to see redwoods had had blue skies for me to shoot up into so I could’ve included the tops of the trees. I hate aiming up at grey/white skies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 1, 2016 at 9:47 AM

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