Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

What I found yesterday

with 28 comments


Went walking yesterday morning along the North Walnut Creek Trail to see if any bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) had come up where I’d found them last year. Sure enough, a few had, and they were adjacent to some Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani). If you know those sunflowers, you may be surprised at how early they’re blooming. Prepare to be more surprised when I tell you I found some already flowering along this trail on June 21st, a good two months before even the earliest part of their traditional bloom period.

© Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 25, 2017 at 4:55 AM

28 Responses

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  1. So artistic! I love the composition, and the colors are stunning.


    July 25, 2017 at 7:13 AM

    • You know how fond I am of playing one color off against another. The Maximilian sunflowers, which were far enough back to keep their details from registering, proved an excellent foil for the bluebell flower and bud.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2017 at 7:22 AM

  2. A week ago, I found some Indian paintbrush in full, vibrant bloom. Late or early, who can say? They did look nice surrounded by pink evening primrose; it was like a second spring.

    This pairing’s just as nice. I’m glad you found some, and could create an image using that wonderful purple and yellow combination. Were the bluebells this intensely purple, or is the lighting saturating them somehow? The purple ones I’ve found have all been a lighter lilac, with deep purple centers. The variety among them is much greater than I’ve realized. I hope there still are some left when I get my camera back.

    I like the bud nestled next to the blossom, too. I can imagine it whispering, “When I grow up, I want to bloom just like you.”


    July 25, 2017 at 7:19 AM

    • The processing saturated the purple a little more than I think it had been. In fact after I prepared this post and looked at it, I went back and reprocessed the photograph to lighten the purple a little. Beyond that, WordPress imposes its own changes that I have no way of controlling. In any case, as you’ve pointed out, there’s quite a natural variety in the shades of purple that occur in this species—even to that shade of purple we normally call white.

      In the Austin area I’ve found bluebells flowering into August. I don’t know their typical season over by the coast, but I bet you’ll still find a few after you get your camera back, which should be any time now. Some of the bluebells here had been too chomped for me to photograph; let’s hope at least some of the ones you find are intact.

      I’d say the Indian paintbrush you found is late rather than early.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2017 at 7:33 AM

  3. What a fantastic composition, Steve. This picture would be worth enlarging and then printing.
    Have a wonderful day,
    P.S.: It was interesting to read your responses, detailing some of the technique. Btw, I had not known that WP changes the pictures one uploads.


    July 25, 2017 at 7:52 AM

    • I just did a little experiment to confirm what I’d anecdotally concluded about WordPress changing the photographs that we upload to our blogs. Before I uploaded the picture in today’s post, it took up 106 K on my hard drive. After I downloaded the file that WordPress created from my jpeg, the image ended up occupying only 57 K on my hard drive. In other words, about half the information got thrown away. That’s why images on WordPress often don’t look as good as the files we upload. At least the composition of today’s photograph remains the same after WordPress gets finished with it!

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2017 at 2:46 PM

      • Thaks for the info, Steve. I’ll check that with my pictures sometime soon.


        July 25, 2017 at 2:48 PM

        • I’m interested in hearing what you find out.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 25, 2017 at 4:14 PM

          • Will let you know.


            July 25, 2017 at 4:34 PM

          • Hi Steve,
            I’ve just tried it with this
            picture, and both my original and the one on my blog have the same size [1.5 MB, 2256x1500x24b]. Maybe it’s different with different themes?


            July 25, 2017 at 4:42 PM

            • That’s a good hypothesis: different themes may treat images differently. Even before my experiment today I’d sometimes noticed that the quality of the WordPress version of an image on my blog was inferior to the original, but until today I’d never attempted to corroborate that quantitatively. Thanks for checking your blog.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 25, 2017 at 5:48 PM

              • I just realized that I need to check my “Fritztown News” blog and see what that does with the pictures. What I know about them is that – if I put them in a gallery – they’ll of course be enlarged when you click on them, but then there’s the additional option of seeing the picture in the full original resolution.


                July 26, 2017 at 9:19 AM

                • I’ve never offered the option of full resolution.
                  I just checked the picture of lichen that appeared in my blog last week. That time the WordPress reduction was much less: from 319K down only to 303K. Presumably that’s because there was much less in that complex image that could be compressed the way there was in the picture of the bluebell, where large areas were of a similar color.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  July 26, 2017 at 2:00 PM

                • I don’t know if in my “Fritztown News” blog I am offered a choice if I want to add the full resolution or not. But I have started to reduce the size of the pictures anyway.


                  July 26, 2017 at 7:07 PM

  4. I am exulting in the beauty of the bluebell.


    July 25, 2017 at 8:11 AM

  5. I really like this image, Steve. I’m floored by how early your Max sunflowers are blooming. Holy cow. We really aren’t seeing that here but then the rain may be altering things.


    July 25, 2017 at 9:21 AM

    • Given the warmer climate in Texas, you’d expect Maximilians to flower earlier down here than up there. In my experience over the last two decades, that has meant that the first Maximilian flowers typically appear toward the end of August and reach a peak a couple of months later. This year’s sighting on June 21 (and I don’t know how much earlier there could have been some) was therefore a couple of months early. Even more extreme was what I observed last year:


      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2017 at 2:55 PM

  6. Lovely capture and composition.


    July 25, 2017 at 11:04 AM

  7. Such a lovely colour.


    July 25, 2017 at 4:23 PM

  8. […] Creek Trail on July 24th. A couple of nearby Maximilian sunflower flower heads played the role of the golden glow behind the bluebell in yesterday’s portrait. I’ll repeat what I mentioned in a comment: I’d already […]

  9. Stunning shot – purple and yellow go so well together


    July 26, 2017 at 7:57 PM

  10. Amazing colours and composition!


    July 27, 2017 at 12:33 PM

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