Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for December 8th, 2017

Out of season

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Botanical field guides tell us the time(s) of the year when a species normally flowers. “Normally” is the operative word, based on observations over decades. Often what has proved true keeps on being true: books say that our prickly pear cacti bloom in the spring, and sure enough, I’ve never seen a prickly pear flower here in any other season. Some other species are freer in their stirrings, and that was the case with the firewheels I found on December 3 along the Colorado River at Loop 360. Gaillardia pulchella is described as blooming in the spring and occasionally into the summer, but here I found a small group that had put out some very healthy-looking flowers just three weeks before Christmas.

I’d gone out that morning to try for some pictures of fog, a rare occurrence here. I didn’t get any good fog pictures, but the firewheels made up for that. The low light led me to use an uncharacteristically wide aperture of f/2.8. That accounts for the photograph’s shallow depth of field, with only the nearest ray and the closest part of the central disk coming into good focus. At the same time, the limited depth of field caused distracting background details to graciously dissolve into amorphous areas of muted colors.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 8, 2017 at 4:46 AM

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