Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A subspecies

with 40 comments


Behold Homo turisticus ssp. congestissimus, a subspecies* that was impossible not to notice and hard to avoid when we visited the Grand Canyon on October 19th. That was a Wednesday, so imagine the horror of a weekend visitor running a gauntlet of ten thousand phones and selfie-sticks.

But this is a nature photography blog, so let me show a personless picture from that visit.


* Last year I found that the same subspecies has spread to New Zealand.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 30, 2016 at 4:59 AM

40 Responses

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  1. Ah.. the second photo presents a much-better pictorial for the word ‘calm.’

    My ‘honor’ of working in the Bahia de Caraquez Museum (Ecuador) after closing hours came about from a statement I made to someone who restores artifacts for the museum system. I stated that it was my wish to be locked into the museum after hours when everyone had gone home – so that I could study the artifacts without distraction. “I can probably help make that happen for you..”

    When a landmark becomes trendy, I usually avoid going there – probably it’s my loss, but there are also other amazing places that aren’t as popular. Glad you found some unspoiled areas!

    I am here via the ‘previous post’ arrow and not by email notification…. now back to ‘glitch.’

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    November 30, 2016 at 8:05 AM

    • The calm you experienced in that museum is rarely available to the general public. You must come across as a trustworthy person.

      Eve wasn’t eager to go back to the Grand Canyon, even though it had been 28 years since we last visited. She prefers going to new places, and that’s what we succeeded in doing for most of this long trip. Even in areas that we’d been to on previous trips, we mostly went to new locations.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2016 at 8:27 AM

      • Sí, I had stayed there as a guest for an art exposition and was there daily for three weeks… Getting permission to study their artifacts was a lovely experience, and staying and working there was a joy. And along came a 7.8 earthquake one month before the show!

        Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        November 30, 2016 at 8:54 AM

        • To have been there daily for three weeks means you got to know the place much better than anyone except the staff, and maybe even better than some of those folks. I know you could’ve done without the earthquake.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 30, 2016 at 6:48 PM

          • The staff – including the guards at night – are great! the guards shared some ‘ghost stories’ of unexplained things that happened in the night. they said i was brave to sleep there! (the museum has/had a great area of rooms that overlooked the river to the east… artists/musicians/archaeologists stayed there when working with the museum. ecuador gives artists great support!)

            am about to publish a dragon-fruit post that i think you’ll enjoy!

            Playamart - Zeebra Designs

            December 1, 2016 at 2:53 AM

            • Have you thought about doing an illustrated story or book inspired by your time in the museum?

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 1, 2016 at 7:30 AM

              • Ha! No, but your suggestion put a creative smile on my face! It would also give those ‘pending’ studies a chance to breathe, as they are in limbo until a future date is set for the show – or a variation of that show.

                Playamart - Zeebra Designs

                December 1, 2016 at 8:35 AM

  2. I laughed out loud at the top photo, and was pleased that you included the fanciful scientific name. It’s certainly spot on. I’m glad so many people want to see places like the Grand Canyon, but I’m a little sad that so few people give themselves the chance to actually see it.

    The second photo’s a real treat. It’s as though you’ve managed to capture contemporary reality against a faded, vintage postcard version of the same scene. Just marvelous.


    November 30, 2016 at 8:38 AM

    • I planned to also visit the much less crowded north rim of the Grand Canyon a few days later, but we got to that general area too late in the day. Then I discovered that the time of day was irrelevant because the north rim had closed for the season on October 15th.

      I see what you mean about the feel of an old-time postcard. I remember them from when they weren’t so old-time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2016 at 9:06 AM

      • They were beautiful: not only printing, but the paper. The linen ones were my favorite. They were nice and heavy, with that lovely texture. And of course there were the ones embossed with flowers. As I recall, pansies, violets, and roses were favored.


        November 30, 2016 at 9:09 AM

        • Now that you mention them, I remember those floral cards.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 30, 2016 at 7:46 PM

        • If you are ever in this area there is a world-class collection of old postcards housed in our local museum. It really is fascinating.


          December 1, 2016 at 9:10 AM

          • I remember we talked about visiting that local museum but ended up not making it there.

            Steve Schwartzman

            December 1, 2016 at 9:19 AM

            • Oh, that’s right. And now it is moving. I’m very sad about it, as it was in a wonderful building set into a large park. You’d drive past little lakes and clusters of trees to get to it. Now it will be in a former pharmaceutical headquarters building in an industrial park. Soulless.


              December 2, 2016 at 8:39 AM

              • Will the new building at least have more exhibition space?

                Steve Schwartzman

                December 2, 2016 at 8:43 AM

                • We are told it will, and also that, being a newer building, it will have better moisture controls to protect historical materials. However it was found not to have enough structural strength to support the museum and will require work to shore that up. My thought is that that money could just as easily have been spent updating the old building. Which the forest preserve district still owns~will they just let that building decay? Probably.


                  December 2, 2016 at 8:46 AM

                • Good (but sad) point about the old building. I wonder what sort of entity would want to use it. How about an artists’ co-op?

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  December 2, 2016 at 8:52 AM

                • That was actually suggested. At the time I was isolated here but all of a sudden there is a bloom of artists in the area so maybe we could pull it off. It would be glorious.


                  December 3, 2016 at 9:45 AM

  3. I’m right with you on this, Steve; I, too, shudder to think what it would be like on a really busy day. And you’re also right about so many visitors to a wonder like this not taking the time to see what they’re looking at.


    November 30, 2016 at 9:07 AM

    • I watched the PBS series about the national parks and saw that there’s a pretty long history of people loving some of the parks to death. I’ve noticed, as you said, that many people seem more interested in recording their presence at these sites than in enjoying the sites for their own sake.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2016 at 6:53 PM

  4. My least favourite ssp. is selfsticus obscurus. The subspecies that blocks all access to vantage points as they swarm along railings and entrance ways snapping selfies, with or without their accursed stick, till they are recalled to their conveyance and move to their next photo frenzy. My only saving grace is that I am tall and can shoot over most of them 🙂

    Ed Lehming Photography

    November 30, 2016 at 10:23 AM

    • I like the way you put it: “their next photo frenzy.” On this trip I dreaded the arrival of tour buses at scenic places. Unfortunately I don’t have your height advantage. Walking a good distance away from the parking area sometimes helps.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2016 at 7:54 PM

  5. The OH and I were bemused at Echo Point in the Blue Mountains as we watched coachloads of visitors pose themselves at the railings with the view of the Three Sisters beyond, take a selfie and then depart without actually bothering to look at the view! Another box checked.


    November 30, 2016 at 6:45 PM

    • You’ve described it well, Jude. I even know the place you’re talking about from our visit in 2005.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 30, 2016 at 7:57 PM

  6. […] (The title of today’s post was meant as a follow-up to the post that should have gotten e-mailed to subscribers early yesterday morning. A WordPress glitch prevented that, so if you didn’t see the post, you can check it out now.) […]

  7. Hahaha! I love Jim’s suggestion of a selfie stick to raise the camera above the crowds. That would be a good one for me as well, shortie that I am. The crowds you show are the nightmare of my imagination. Just think how John Muir would feel about it.


    December 1, 2016 at 9:12 AM

  8. And they are all taking the same darned picture! The second shot is the ‘personal vision’ one to take away with you as your own memory of that place.


    December 2, 2016 at 2:49 AM

    • One reason so many people are taking the same picture is that this overlook is close to the main parking area. As we walked west along the rim trail from there, we slowly encountered fewer people on average, but we never reached a place where we could no longer see people near us.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 2, 2016 at 6:02 AM

  9. Beautiful .. majestic! I see they have moved to NZ. They appear to be relishing the gannets as I do often 😉


    December 9, 2016 at 12:52 PM

    • If I lived as close as you do to the gannets, I’d be a seasonal visitor too. Likewise for the Grand Canyon. As it is, we’re talking 1500 miles in one case and half way around the world in the other.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 9, 2016 at 1:47 PM

  10. Very good morning..
    very good article..!!
    very informative in fact…thanks for sharing..
    let me share some my recent work..hope you would like it..
    Nature Wallpaper
    Cute Funny Bird Images
    Beautiful Animals Pictures

    • Thanks for your appreciation. I’ve never been to India but perhaps I’ll make it there someday.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2017 at 1:03 PM

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