Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Truncated and therefore asymmetric abstraction of a prickly pear cactus bud and flower

with 20 comments

Here’s an abstract portrait of a bud and flower of a Texas prickly pear, Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri, along floral Park Dr. in my neighborhood on April 7th.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2017 at 4:38 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Nice lighting in this one, Steve. I wish we had cacti growing along our street. I am about to remove all of mine from my greenhouse window and into the great outdoors for another summer.

    Steve Gingold

    April 29, 2017 at 5:14 AM

    • I like the way the bright yellow of the flower echoed onto one side of the bud. I’m still not sure I like having cut off the right side of the flower, but I’ve done plenty of convention portraits of a prickly pear flower and felt like trying something different.

      A happy summer release to your greenhouse cacti.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2017 at 7:15 AM

  2. The black surrounding the flower gives the image a foreboding feeling, to me. As if to suggest the thorns that accompany the bloom. I like the crop. Is this early for them to be in bloom?


    April 29, 2017 at 7:55 AM

    • Instead of adding my usual 2-pixel black border I added a much thicker black border. I felt I needed to do that on the right especially, to balance the blackness to the left of the flower. I can see how all the black, original and added, would give you a sense of foreboding.

      April is the normal time for the prickly pears here to flower. In the few days that we’ve been back from our mini-trip I haven’t seen any more of these flowers, so the bloom period may already be over. On the other hand, I haven’t gone out looking, so there could still be some prickly pear flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2017 at 8:31 AM

      • Spring was advancing almost too quickly here with blooms coming weeks early and lasting only days, but cool weather and rain have arrived to put on the brakes.


        April 30, 2017 at 9:08 AM

  3. It’s interesting that in Kerrville and the surrounding area last week, there were plenty of prickly pear buds, but few blooms. I found orange buds, too, but no open flowers. Austin may be ahead of that area, of course, but it surprised me that the prickly pear seemed to be later this year.

    The greenish-yellow is a nice change, and I think it helps to make the bud the central focus. In turn, that makes the bloom feel not at all truncated. It’s simply there as a lovely complement to the bud. I suppose because of the color, the bud reminds me of an artichoke.


    April 29, 2017 at 9:09 AM

    • Convergent evolution strikes again. Although cacti are in a different botanical family from artichokes (which are in the sunflower family), both exhibit Fibonacci growth patterns.

      My impression is that Kerrville, though at about the same latitude as Austin, is in a region that’s colder (and of course colder than the coast as well), so bloom periods there often start and end later than here. In addition, I’ve seen how much things can vary in a given place from one year to the next. Have the prickly pears finished flowering near the coast?

      It’s interesting that you don’t feel that the flower is truncated. That makes me think the picture succeeds in spite of the unusual framing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2017 at 10:19 AM

      • Actually, I haven’t seen a big prickly pear bloom yet this year. There are occasional flowers here or there, but I went down to our local large stand after reading your comment this morning, and there are only buds. I’m hoping to get out and about tomorrow for a bit. Now I’m curious to see how others are coming along.


        April 29, 2017 at 6:51 PM

        • It’s strange that Austin had prickly pear flowers weeks ago while you haven’t yet seen many a few hours to the west or east of here.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 29, 2017 at 8:55 PM

          • Well, with the legislature in session, all that hot air could have raised the ambient air temperature in your neighborhood.


            April 29, 2017 at 8:59 PM

  4. Beautiful close up


    April 30, 2017 at 8:28 PM

  5. Lovely light and warmth. ( Yes, it’s a cold evening and I am looking for warmth and light!)


    May 1, 2017 at 5:41 AM

    • The week before last we headed north, expecting to get as far as South Dakota. Unfortunately the weather forecasts for up there, which we kept checking along the way, continued mentioning cold weather, overcast skies, wind, rain, and even a little snow. In the end we played it safe and turned back after Kansas City. You’re not alone in looking for warmth and light.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2017 at 7:49 AM

      • Hope you have found some by now.


        May 3, 2017 at 4:19 AM

        • We have. Austin is plenty warm. While this morning is overcast (it’s 7 AM here now), the past three days were beautifully sunny, so I went out photographing on the first two of them. I’m sorry that you’re heading toward winter.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 3, 2017 at 7:03 AM

  6. Great lighting Steve .. super image. Love the yellow .. 😃


    May 2, 2017 at 3:22 AM

    • You know me, Julie, always fooling around with the light. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fond of yellow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2017 at 8:48 AM

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