Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Some colorful geology on a small scale

with 22 comments

Nothing in Austin is going to compare to the Badlands of South Dakota. Sorry, Austin, that’s just how it is. Still, we have some much smaller geological formations here that warrant a look. One is a long limestone slab that arches up and then out over a creek in my Great Hills neighborhood. Historically, of course, aeons of water flowing through the creek eroded the limestone to create the overhang. The back wall, which I don’t think ever gets direct sunlight, stays rather dark even during the brightest part of the day. When I went there on June 29th, I stood facing the wall and used flash to reveal the colors and patterns of the always damp and sometimes wet stone.

No more than a hundred feet to the right of the formations shown here are the mud dauber wasp tubes some of you may remember from five years ago. Two years after that, I showed something that wasn’t a tuft of hair on the underside of the overhang.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 9, 2017 at 4:54 AM

22 Responses

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  1. As impressive as the Badlands’ varied and vibrant colors can be, there’s still something about this teal, gray, and pink-tinged brown that I find more appealing. To paraphrase the old saw, the Badlands colors are a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live with them.

    I certainly do remember those mud dauber tubes. What caught my attention in this photo is an equally interesting detail: the very thin “threads” hanging down. They look to be rock, rather than something built on top of it. In any case, the effect of a fringe is pleasing.


    August 9, 2017 at 8:19 AM

    • It’s comforting to have this overhang so close at hand in my neighborhood. While I’ve visited it plenty of times over the years, not till recently, thanks to flash, did I truly appreciate the intricacy and colors of the formations on that back wall. The vertical “threads” you noticed have been built up over long periods as water dripping down the wall has deposited minerals. I imagine that after one of these flowstone formations gets started, it keeps future drops of water moving along the same path, thereby leading to further deposition of minerals. Parts of the back wall are also often covered with spiderwebs. None seem to be visible in this picture, but they’re quite noticeable in some of the other photographs I took.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2017 at 8:42 AM

  2. Beautiful colours. When will you present geology in miniature scale?


    August 10, 2017 at 3:40 AM

    • That’s a good suggestion. I could go back with a macro lens and a ring flash to take close images of the patterns in these formations. I wonder if they might come out looking like hills and valleys.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2017 at 4:20 AM

  3. Very cool image! I think a macro series of this would be cool! Look forward to seeing it! It also looks like a NASA image from space.

    Reed Andariese

    August 11, 2017 at 6:48 PM

    • I did take other pictures of that wall, though not with a macro lens. The place is in my neighborhood, so I can go back and try it one of these days. While this blog probably isn’t the right outlet for such abstract images, I appreciate your suggesting the idea and your enthusiasm about it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 11, 2017 at 9:08 PM

  4. Stunning patterns!


    August 15, 2017 at 12:42 AM

    • I agree. I’m so happy this is in my neighborhood. I go to the area several times a year and never get tired of taking more pictures of the formations.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2017 at 2:37 PM

  5. This is lovely. It would make a fabulous abstract painting.


    October 9, 2017 at 2:11 PM

    • Yes, I’ve thought the same thing. You’re welcome to let it inspire you in that direction.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2017 at 2:44 PM

      • When I looked more closely at it I thought it would look best if done in encaustic. Are you familiar with the medium? It has become rather popular in my area the past few years. I like how textural it is but probably won’t experiment with it because it can be dangerous to work with.


        October 10, 2017 at 8:43 AM

        • We’re familiar with an artist in Austin who uses that medium. I believe she wears a respirator when she does her work.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 10, 2017 at 1:35 PM

          • Good for her~the ones I know don’t and really should.


            October 12, 2017 at 12:27 PM

            • Here are some of her encaustics:


              By the way, I’ll bet you didn’t know (who would?) that the first syllable of encaustic has given us our word ink. (Actually the source is the slightly different Late Latin encaustum, which designated a kind of purple ink.)

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 12, 2017 at 4:01 PM

              • Her work is powerful. it would be neat to talk with her I think. I’ve only ever seen encaustic used abstractly. I didn’t know that about encaustum and purple ink. I’m all in favor of purple ink but wonder what the connection is to pigments and melted beeswax. Fascinating.


                October 13, 2017 at 10:35 AM

                • The big East Austin Studio Tour is coming up in a month and she’s scheduled to be in it, so I’ll probably see her again then. If so, I’ll tell her you liked what you saw of her work.

                  I don’t know the historical connection between ink and encaustic. I suspect it’s all documented.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 13, 2017 at 1:55 PM

      • Thank you for granting me permission to play with it. I think I will give it a try with my acrylics. 🙂


        October 10, 2017 at 8:44 AM

  6. […] photographs show you icicles that had freeze-dripped down from the roof of the picturesque limestone overhang in the southern part of Great Hills […]

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