Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A drooping rain-lily

with 32 comments

Because Austin had gotten some recent rain and I’d seen a few stray rain-lilies around town, on the morning of July 11th I went to an undeveloped lot on Balcones Woods Dr. where I’ve come to rely on finding rain-lilies and copper-lilies. While I found not a single one of the latter, I did find a scattering of the former.

In particular, I noticed one rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) that was bent over and configured in a way I don’t recall ever seeing before. That was good news, because after two decades of photographing rain-lilies I’m always wondering if I can find a new way to portray them.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 17, 2018 at 4:53 AM

32 Responses

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  1. It’s bowing to you. Nice pose.


    July 17, 2018 at 7:26 AM

    • And in return I bowed to it—actually more than bowed, lay on my mat on the ground in order to make dozens of portraits.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 17, 2018 at 7:41 AM

      • What kind of mat do you use, padded? Like a yoga mat?


        July 17, 2018 at 7:45 AM

        • Yes, I bought a foam mat intended for yoga or exercise and cut it into several pieces. I measured one of the pieces just now and found it’s about 19 x 23 inches.

          By the way, this was the most recent time when someone driving by in a car stopped and called out to ask if I was okay. When I said was, she asked if I was bird-watching. For whatever reason, people who have asked me almost always assume I’m looking at birds. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a birder lie on the ground.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 17, 2018 at 7:58 AM

          • I don’t know why botanical photography is often either taken for granted or misunderstood.


            July 17, 2018 at 8:20 AM

            • Yes, it has puzzled me, too. The sample size of these incidents is small, but it has led me to conjecture there’s a hierarchy in which people prefer animals to plants.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 17, 2018 at 8:40 AM

              • I agree. I guess the supposition could be that plants are considered ‘inanimate’ subjects since they are motionless.


                July 17, 2018 at 9:04 AM

  2. Hi Steve, It is clear that you take great care in your flower photography. This composition is delicate and graceful. Excellent work.

    Jane Lurie

    July 17, 2018 at 11:21 AM

  3. Very nice Steve! It is always fun to see your subjects in different & challenging ways and always trying to get the most out of your subjects to show us!

    Reed Andariese

    July 17, 2018 at 8:56 PM

  4. This does seem unusual. I just browsed my little collection of rain lily photos, and didn’t see anything even close to this. My limited experience is that even as they fade and set seed, they tend to stay erect.

    The bell-like appearance, emphasized by the clapper-like stamen, is graceful, and the delicate pink that suffuses the entire flower — even the stamen — is lovely. I can’t help but paraphrase Donne: “Never send to know for whom the lily tolls…”


    July 18, 2018 at 7:29 PM

    • My assumption is that something, perhaps an animal, bent this rain-lily’s stalk. Whatever the cause, the flower ended up in a unique position. I took pictures at the angle shown here and also from the side, where the nearest tepals can be seen draping themselves in other unique ways.

      It may be that the lily tolls; it’s also the case that the photographer toils.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 18, 2018 at 7:47 PM

  5. That genus names refers to another completely different genus of nematode. I just looked it up. Proper nomenclature is supposed to make these sorts of things less confusing.


    July 18, 2018 at 11:11 PM

    • A couple of times I’ve run into that, too: the same genus name used in two biological kingdoms. My guess is that what happens is a botanist proposes a genus name, and only botanists get to hear about it. Likewise, when a zoologist proposes a genus name, only zoologists learn about it. Later, after the same genus name gets accepted in to two kingdoms, I guess we’re expected to keep them apart by their different contexts. I agree with you that it would be better to require a different genus name when crossing from one kingdom to another.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 19, 2018 at 6:30 AM

      • That is what I was thinking, that the two disciplines do not interact often enough to catch the problem until the names have been established. But then, for the same reason, it probably works just fine.


        July 19, 2018 at 9:20 PM

        • Given the way everything is computerized now, I wonder if people who want to establish a new genus name are required to check databases to make sure the name isn’t already in use in any domain of biology.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 19, 2018 at 9:56 PM

          • You would think so, but it seems that names are being changed so randomly and plants are being hybridized so freely that names are less important.


            July 19, 2018 at 11:42 PM

  6. If only we all could droop with such elegance!


    July 20, 2018 at 5:19 AM

  7. Perfect, these soft structures and pastel colours. 🙂


    July 20, 2018 at 10:44 AM

  8. What a lovely image. Graceful was the word that came to mind for me…

    I have never thought of a yoga mat. Usually, I only have the buggy when I’m traveling the orchard, so I use feed sacks that I carry to collect garbage in. A yoga mat sounds much more comfortable!

    I got a bit of a chuckle about the bird-watching comment. I actually have been on the ground to photograph hummingbirds, and some field birds that burrow in the taller grasses. I’ve had people look at me goofy. I used to try to explain… but now I just let them wonder what on earth I’m doing.


    July 21, 2018 at 8:45 AM

    • I’ll take “graceful” any time. Thanks.

      A full yoga mat would be too bulky and heavy to walk around with. I find that one-fourth of one is sufficiently portable. Of course parts of my body, usually my legs, sprawl off it, but the mat bears most of my body’s weight.

      You made (maybe subconsciously, maybe intentionally) a good play on words: “I just let them wonder what on earth I’m doing.” You also provided an example of a bird watcher who does get on the ground, changing my notion that bird watchers don’t do that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 21, 2018 at 10:14 AM

  9. Gorgeous even when drooping. Lovely shot Steve ..


    July 22, 2018 at 4:16 AM

  10. Good news indeed. Beautifully, sensitively portrayed.


    July 24, 2018 at 11:26 AM

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