Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for October 2017

Ochre

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(Here’s a pumpkin-colored post for Halloween.)

Wikipedia says of ochre (or ocher) that it “is a natural clay earth pigment which is a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand. It ranges in colour from yellow to deep orange or brown. It is also the name of the colours produced by this pigment, especially a light brownish-yellow. A variant of ochre containing a large amount of hematite, or dehydrated iron oxide, has a reddish tint known as “red ochre” (or, in some dialects, ruddle).”

On September 8th in British Columbia’s Kootenay National Park we got our biggest dose ever of ochre when we visited the area known as the Paint Pots. We followed in the steps of native peoples and Anglo settlers, as you can read on the national park’s website. While world travelers may see merely mediocre ochre occur occasionally elsewhere, I rate this deposit more than just an okay ochre.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2017 at 4:42 AM

Time for prairie agalinis

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What would autumn in Austin be if I didn’t show you at least one picture of prairie agalinis (Agalinis heterophylla)? This October 21st portrait is from the same property in my hilly northwestern part of Austin where I found a ladies’ tresses orchid.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2017 at 4:42 AM

Strange clouds

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My introduction to Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park on September 3rd was the clouds you see here, which were strange in the way they apparently cast shadows on the sky. Have you ever heard of or seen anything casting a shadow on the sky? I guess the air held enough water vapor or other particles to create a faint medium on which shadows could register, but my reaction was still that I was seeing shadows where I’m not supposed to be able to see any.

Because the area near the sun was so bright in comparison to everything else, I underexposed by three f/stops to keep from blowing out the highlights. As a result, the badlands hills across the bottom of the photograph appear in silhouette and make the overall image more abstract. That’s fine by me.

UPDATE: Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics explained the scene this way: “The well defined clouds are casting their shadows onto a lower layer of haze or thin cloud. the lower cloud acts as a translucent screen and you view the shadows — and the upper cloud — through it.”

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 29, 2017 at 4:46 AM

Jackrabbit

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Several times in the Copperfield subdivision of Calgary where we stayed with our gracious hosts on and off during the trip, I spotted a jackrabbit hanging around the neighborhood, as in this photograph from August 27th. My guess is that it was a white-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii). Of course the sightings might have been of different white-tailed jackrabbits, given that I couldn’t tell one individual from another.

UPDATE: I’ve learned that members of the genus Lepus are actually hares rather than rabbits. Here’s what H.L. Mencken wrote in The American Language: Zoologically speaking, there are no native rabbits in the United States; they are all hares. But the early colonists, for some unknown reason, dropped the word hare out of their vocabulary, and it is rarely heard in American speech to this day. When it appears it is almost always applied to the so-called Belgian hare, which, curiously enough, is not a hare at all, but a true rabbit.”

You’re welcome to read much more about hares.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 28, 2017 at 4:47 AM

Mount Edith Cavell

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On the morning of September 5th we went to the visitor center in Jasper and got a permit for that afternoon to drive up to Mount Edith Cavell. (Renovation of the parking lot there prompted the rationing of parking spaces throughout 2017.) After reaching the lot, we hiked to the overlook for the mountain. The photograph above, taken at a mildly wide-angle focal length of 40mm, shows the meltwater lake at the base of one face of the mountain. If you click the thumbnail below you’ll suddenly find yourself looking much more closely at a prettily patterned portion of pale blue ice on the lake’s far shore, thanks to the magic of my telephoto lens zoomed to its maximum 400mm.

Two weeks after our visit, the road to Mount Edith Cavell closed for the season.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2017 at 4:48 AM

Prairie flameleaf sumac fruit

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In my neighborhood on September 26th, the first time out taking pictures since returning from Alberta twelve days earlier, I found luscious fruits on some prairie flameleaf sumac trees (Rhus lanceolata). A few of the leaflets on this one were also turning red rather early in the season.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2017 at 4:46 AM

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The last time from Hinton to Jasper

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On the morning of September 6th we checked out of our hotel in Hinton and, after stopping at the town’s Beaver Boardwalk, headed west to Jasper for the second and last time. As on the previous morning, I planned to stop and take pictures of the ponds along the highway in eastern Jasper National Park. My timing was good: these ducks (female mergansers, according to several commenters) were the first thing I saw after I got out of the car and walked across the road toward the pond.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 6 and 19 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s picture.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 25, 2017 at 4:54 AM

From Hinton back to Jasper

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On the morning of September 5th, reversing the course we’d so recently taken, we set out westward from Hinton, Alberta, back toward Jasper. The previous evening I’d managed to use the day’s last light to eke out a few photographs of trees reflected in one of the ponds along Highway 16. Now, wondering how the ponds would look by morning light, I figured the sun would probably be on the wrong side of things for good pictures. I was partly right, because I did have to push the ISO up to 3200, but other than that the morning light worked well, waking up colors in the water that had already retired for the night when we’d stopped there 13 hours earlier.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 24, 2017 at 4:45 AM

East to Hinton

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We planned to use the town of Hinton, Alberta, about an hour east of Jasper, as a base for exploring parts of Jasper National Park. As we headed toward Hinton on Canada Highway 16 early in the evening of September 4th, we passed several ponds on the south side of the highway that caught my attention and made me pull over to see whether I could take some photographs. I say “whether” because it was almost 8 o’clock, the sun had settled below the hills, and there wasn’t much light left. I found that by raising my camera’s ISO to 1600 and using my telephoto lens’s widest aperture of f/4.5, I could indeed get a few pictures.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 23, 2017 at 4:50 AM

Details, details

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In a comment an hour ago on this morning’s post about a Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchid (Spiranthes magnicamporum), Dianne requested a closeup. Okay, I’m easy. Here’s a zoomed-in look at a picture I took yesterday of one of these orchids alone. Actually not alone, as I discovered when I looked at the enlargement: in the upper left corner of the picture you’ll find a crab spider whose body probably wasn’t more than one-eighth of an inch (3mm) long.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 22, 2017 at 11:40 AM

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