Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 2017


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From my big Southwest tour I learned the geological term tafoni, a plural noun that refers to “small, rounded, smooth-edged openings in a rock surface, most often found in arid or semi-arid deserts. They can occur in clusters looking much like a sponge and are nearly always on a vertical or inclined face protected from surface runoff.” Such formations have also been called “honeycomb weathering” and “swiss-cheese rock.” The example above is from Arizona’s Wupatki National Monument on October 21st of last year.

The formation shown below from Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park on October 24th represents a different sort of tafoni that you can imagine inspiring the practitioners of Art Nouveau.

To learn more about tafoni and see many more instances, check out Kuriositas or Wikipedia.


© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 31, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Above and below at Morro Bay

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The wispy clouds above Morro Rock in California on the morning of November 4th, 2016, appealed to me.

At the same time, down below, I saw what I take to be a western gull, Larus occidentalis.


© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2017 at 5:04 AM

First native wildflowers from Austin in 2017

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On a couple of recent walks I’d been hoping to spot some four-nerve daisies because Tetraneuris linearifolia can be found flowering here in any month of the year. Yesterday along Tom Miller Street near an edge of the Mueller Prairie Restoration I finally came across a few. This is a species I’ve photographed many times and shown here often enough, so the challenge was to take a different approach. For this portrait I lay on the ground so I could get some oblique blades of grass as a background. That also allowed the shadows of some blades to fall on the flowers and reinforce the grid-like pattern of the picture as a whole.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 29, 2017 at 5:00 AM

White veins

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At California’s Muir Beach on November 1st of last year the white veins in some of the rocks intrigued me.


© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Cactus wren nest in cholla cactus

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On November 8th of 2016 in the eastern section of Tucson’s Saguaro National Park I saw what I take to be the nest of a cactus wren, Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus. The cactus is either a staghorn cholla, Cylindropuntia versicolor, or a buckhorn cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 27, 2017 at 4:56 AM

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Duncan’s Cove

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After visiting a wet Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve on October 27th last year, we drove over to get a look at the Pacific Ocean. The hazy view shown here greeted us in the Duncan’s Cove section of Sonoma Coast State Park. Looking lower and much less far away, I noticed some grass that had dried out but now had raindrops on it. Getting down at its level, I made this impressionistic picture of the wet grass:


“Impressionistic” doubles as a self-serving way of saying there was so little light I couldn’t get much in focus at such a close distance.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2017 at 4:16 AM

Wupatki National Monument

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Continuing north in Arizona from Sunset Crater on October 21, 2016, we soon came to Wupatki National Monument, which we, like most people, visited for its Indian ruins. As a photographer, I appreciated the place for its desert landscapes as well.

On a horizontal rock surface at the site I found a feature that could pass as the inspiration for Rorschach inkblots. What does it say of me if I see this as the fossil of a spiny fish? Chime in if you’d like to say how you see it.


© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2017 at 4:57 AM

Deer drinking

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I’ve seen many deer, even in my yard in Austin, but not till October 22nd of last year in Zion National Park did I see a deer drinking. The water was the North Fork of the Virgin River.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2017 at 4:48 AM

Like a long mound of orange spaghetti

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Driving south along California’s scenic Highway 1 on November 3rd last year, we stopped at Carmel River State Beach, where I found this drying mound of seaweed that made me think of orange spaghetti. You’d have seen it that way too, wouldn’t you?

I take this to be a kelp, possibly Macrocystis pyrifera. Click the icon below to zoom in for some yummy details.


Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Eight minutes later

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During my 2014 trip to Arizona I encountered two fasciated saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea). The 2016 trip led me to just one. I found it at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th, eight minutes after I’d photographed the copper ore you saw last time. Rising at the left are the branches of an ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens).

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 22, 2017 at 4:49 AM

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