Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Seven years

with 38 comments

Scientists tell us that over a period of seven years every cell in our body gets replaced. Not so with the “cells,” i.e. posts, in Portraits of Wildflowers, all of which are still here for your delectation. While a few of you have seen the post that started everything off on June 4, 2011, many of you have not, so here’s a copy of that first entry, which I entitled “Another Beginning.”

A basket-flower, Centaurea americana

In my “About This Column” page I noted that everything we create must have a beginning. The photograph shown here marked the beginning of what I think of as a new approach to nature photography for me. The date was May 3, 2000, and the place was Round Rock, a rapidly growing city north of Austin. I was in a field on one side of a cul-de-sac, a bit of prairie that members of the Native Plant Society of Texas had taught me was a good place to see lots of native species. That day I’d gone there alone so I could take my time photographing (other people understandably get impatient if I spend fifteen minutes or half an hour in the same spot, as I often do when I take pictures).

I was pleased to find a colony of basket-flowers, Centaurea americana, growing in the field, but they weren’t far from the road that had brought me there (which has since been expanded to a superhighway). In order to keep the road and the apartments across the way from ruining my picture, I leaned down so that my eyes would be closer to the level of the flowers. Not good enough: I could still see distracting things in the background. I ended up lying flat on the ground—a skin-threatening thing to do in Texas—and looking up at a single basket-flower so I could isolate it against the sky. The result was the picture you see here, which has become my best-known photograph. A view from this angle makes it clear why Anglo settlers called this a basket-flower.

(Here is information about Centaurea americana, including a map showing where the species grows.)

© 2011, 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2018 at 4:40 AM

38 Responses

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  1. yes, and it’s easy to see why this shot is so popular –


    June 4, 2018 at 4:57 AM

  2. And an awesome beginning it was.


    June 4, 2018 at 6:02 AM

    • I like your choice of a word: awesome. Much better that than awful.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 6:04 AM

      • Although Google tells me that many centuries ago ‘awful’ was not necessarily the awful word it is today. I am also in awe of your 7 years of dedicated blogging.


        June 4, 2018 at 6:18 AM

        • You picked up my vibe. I considered saying that awful once meant ‘full of awe, awe-inspiring.’ Words sometimes fall on hard times. In fact the nature of language is attrition.

          Thanks for your awesome comment about 7 years of dedication.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 4, 2018 at 6:21 AM

  3. Congrats on your milestone Steve!!


    June 4, 2018 at 6:42 AM

  4. Even though I wasn’t here at the beginning, my appreciation for your work has only grown over the years: not to mention my appreciation for the basketflower, and so many other species you’ve introduced me to.

    Of course, I’ve learned a good bit here about photography as well, including the fact that “from above” isn’t the only way to see the world. Beyond that, I’ve come to understand that the time needed to elevate an image from snapshot to art can be considerable; knowing something of what lies behind your artful images makes them even more impressive. Here’s to the future!


    June 4, 2018 at 6:53 AM

    • Thanks so much, Linda. You’ve been WordPressing for three year longer than I, and while I wasn’t aware of you at the beginning, I soon enough came to look forward to reading your latest ways of describing the world. First it was primarily in words, and then increasingly in images and words.

      Here’s to the future for both of us!

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 5:27 PM

  5. Fascinating flower.

    Sherry Felix

    June 4, 2018 at 7:18 AM

    • It’s one of my favorites. I’m having to skip taking new pictures of basket-flowers this year, thanks to travels.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 5:29 PM

  6. Congratulations, keep going, Steve!!
    Very pretty basket flower….your icon picture 🙂


    June 4, 2018 at 7:20 AM

  7. You started right off with your iconic blue sky. An excellent beginning to an awe-ful journey.


    June 4, 2018 at 7:39 AM

    • When I started this blog, the first picture I posted was already 11 years old—plenty of time to accumulate blue-sky pictures of wildflowers. I’ll go your “awe-ful” one better by eliminating even a shadow of a doubt and writing “awe-full.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 5:36 PM

  8. Congratulations, Steve. It’s a terrific blog and the photographs are astonishing. Long may you keep delighting and educating us with your words and images.

    • Thanks so much, Michael. I wish I had your talent for “a certain line” and what flows from it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 5:38 PM

  9. Actually many of your photos are iconic with me and stand out. They serve as models for me to try to emulate in my photographing of blossoms to share in emails to friends of what is blooming in my pots or in my hummingbird/butterfly garden. I’m just not as diligent as you are in trying to make the very best capture of a subject that I can. I grab the iPad and snap away. Then I go on a trip, and I try to become “a photographer” and capture lovelies that I don’t see in urban Virginia. I LOVE getting beautiful flower shots and interesting geological features in my incoming mail. Keep up the great work. We can imagine the time you spend uploading, culling, and commenting on your work. Thank you so much for sharing some results with us. Let’s go for seven more at least!!

    Dianne Lethcoe

    June 4, 2018 at 7:52 AM

    • Thanks, Dianne. It’s good to know you’ve appreciated my contributions to your inbox. I try to post only good pictures and to avoid showing any that are too similar unless plenty of time has elapsed.

      I don’t know about another seven years—at least not at the pace of the first seven. A more-leisurely approach may be in order, although that didn’t stop me from taking hundreds of photographs yesterday and today when I found myself in some unusually scenic places. (In fact I’m typing this as the latest batch is downloading.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 5:54 PM

  10. Congratulations Steve! That photo really is stunning. I do enjoy seeing your portraits every day, and I have learnt so much from your posts over the six of those seven years that I have been following your blog. Many thanks!


    June 4, 2018 at 7:54 AM

    • You’re most welcome, Cathy. I appreciate your having been so attentive for so long. After the first five years I slacked off and stopped posting every day. Lately it’s been more like one every two days as a concession to sanity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 6:13 PM

  11. Congrats! (there’s some of that language attrition, eroding down to a shorter word 🙂 )
    You’re certainly entitled to feel very proud of an outstanding blog, and thank you for sharing. (That’s justifiable pride in your craft, not the hubris of the seven deadly sins! 🙂 )

    Robert Parker

    June 4, 2018 at 8:16 AM

    • What? No deadly sins for me? Darn. That’s all right, I still appreciate your comment. Thanks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 6:15 PM

  12. Congrats, and I appreciate this post of wisdom, “that everything we create must have a beginning.” Thanks for sharing these joys that create a platform for learning.


    June 4, 2018 at 8:45 AM

    • Thanks, Maria. I remember a proverb from when I took a year of German a long time ago: Aller Anfang ist schwer, Every beginning is difficult. In this case, starting a blog didn’t seem difficult, given all the nature pictures I’d accumulated and kept accumulating.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 4, 2018 at 7:31 PM

  13. And isn’t that a bobby dazzler! As for renewing cells, then why don’t I feel much younger than I do?


    June 4, 2018 at 11:14 AM

  14. Congratulations on all these years of blogging, Steve! The basket flower as seen from below makes a beautiful portrait of this flower.

    Lavinia Ross

    June 4, 2018 at 8:10 PM

  15. Outstanding photo!


    June 4, 2018 at 10:08 PM

  16. A wonderful angle – kind of liberating I’m reaching for the sky. So enjoy your flower world, both in description and angles.

    Nature on the Edge

    June 6, 2018 at 2:14 AM

  17. Steve it is an absolute stunner.. so pleased to have found you in the blogging world. Lucky me 😀


    June 6, 2018 at 9:59 PM

  18. Beautiful!


    July 20, 2018 at 10:26 AM

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