Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

I wasn’t expecting another chance this season…

with 28 comments


I wasn’t expecting another chance this season to photograph frostweed ice. My outlook changed two nights ago when the weather forecast for the morning of January 7th predicted a low temperature of around 23°F (–5°C). Out I went into that cold morning, once more to Great Hills Park, and sure enough some of the frostweed plants were doing their thing again. Because of previous performances, this time practically all the ice displays were way down low on the stalks, often touching the ground. In my 90 minutes of taking pictures I went mostly for close and abstract views of the ice, one of which you see here.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 8, 2017 at 5:03 AM

28 Responses

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  1. Great capture – great find!


    January 8, 2017 at 5:55 AM

  2. Thanks for your lovely photos, especially these magical icy ones. I follow your work enthusiastically.

    Lynn Somerstein

    January 8, 2017 at 7:20 AM

    • Then I’ll say an enthusiastic “You’re welcome.” I don’t enjoy the cold but I relish the chance to record the patterns made by frostweed ice, or for that matter any natural ice I’m fortunate enough to encounter in this normally warm climate.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2017 at 7:30 AM

  3. Just an amazing plant phenomenon.


    January 8, 2017 at 7:39 AM

    • Is it ever! I feel fortunate this season to have had three shots at it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2017 at 7:40 AM

      • goodness, it looks like a delicate flower! brilliant photo, one which rewards the artist for his efforts!

        Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        January 8, 2017 at 8:24 AM

        • I really pushed abstractions this time, both without flash (like this picture) and with for extra depth of field. You’re right that I did feel rewarded.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 8, 2017 at 8:55 AM

    • Thanks for that interesting article. I’m psychologically inclined to believe things are more ancient than people believe them to be, so I’m always happy to find another instance of a date pushed back farther into antiquity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2017 at 10:54 AM

  4. When I got up yesterday and saw solid ice in the birdbath, I checked the temperature and saw it was 28F. I knew it was time to go prowling. I didn’t find anything like this, but at least I found some thready ice. It didn’t make for much of a photograph, but this is marvelous. Next year, I’ll have some better patches identified, and try for some ice ribbons of my own.


    January 8, 2017 at 8:52 AM

    • Having plants and places identified is important, so good luck for next winter. I went straight for my usual spot half a mile from home and that was that. As a backup I was going to look farther afield for marsh fleabane, which is also susceptible to producing ice. I’d especially like to find some because I’ve never seen the phenomenon in that species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2017 at 9:01 AM

      • Oh, gosh. I didn’t know that about the marsh fleabane, and I there are some great colonies of that at the nature center close to me. They’re in areas that never are mowed or cleared in any way for walking paths, so I’m glad for the tip.


        January 8, 2017 at 9:03 AM

        • Sorry I didn’t mention it sooner. You can see some pictures of marsh fleabane ice on Bob Harms’s website:


          It looks just like frostweed ice.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 8, 2017 at 9:52 AM

          • That’s all right. There are plenty of things to photograph. I noticed what looked like a smoke plume on radar yesterday, and sure enough: it was a controlled burn down at Brazoria wildlife refuge. I’m heading down there this morning, since the description of the plot makes it sound as though it’s accessible. I’ve been hoping to get some photos of a prairie immediately after a burn, and this may do it. At the Tallgrass Prairie, I couldn’t get to the fresh burn site, and had to make do with some that already had a week’s growth showing: interesting enough, of course.


            January 8, 2017 at 9:57 AM

  5. Such a fascinating plant…


    January 8, 2017 at 9:18 AM

  6. Steve, Your photography of these winter surprise flowers are just spectacular….and your photos and comments on the same in recent email posting from The Wildflower Center were very informative.


    January 8, 2017 at 9:40 AM

    • That’s an original and enjoyable term for it: winter surprise flowers.

      The editor of the Wildflower Center article was particularly taken with my closeups of frostweed ice because they’re more detailed and abstract than the mostly documentary photographs in the Wildflower Center’s database. I’m glad you liked that article.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2017 at 9:58 AM

  7. Wow! Love your abstract composition, Steve. This is gorgeous.

    Jane Lurie

    January 8, 2017 at 12:39 PM

  8. How I’ve missed your photography! Happy 2017!


    January 8, 2017 at 1:19 PM

  9. This is so unique and beautiful!! Great photo! 🙂

    Maysa Rose

    January 8, 2017 at 3:58 PM

    • Thanks. The phenomenon is indeed strange and beautiful. I encourage you to spread the word so more people know about it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2017 at 6:02 PM

  10. Ooh! Cool

    Sherry Felix

    January 9, 2017 at 3:18 AM

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