Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 2018

Now here’s a simple emblem of the sun

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Iambic pentameter for the title; Helianthus annuus for the sunflower; Capital of Texas Highway for the place; June 24th for the date. Now, two months later, sunflower plants can still be seen blooming here and there around Austin.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2018 at 5:59 PM

As with ferns, so with rocks

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Austin doesn’t offer rock formations anywhere near as grand as the ones I recently saw along the Atlantic coast in Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Nevertheless, on a smaller scale, some structures here are worth looking at.

From the same stretch along Capital of Texas Highway that provided the fern pictures in the previous post, you’re now looking at the cliff’s patterns and textures as I photographed them on June 24th.

I took almost all my pictures in a vertical orientation to align with the downward dripping and flowing of water as it seeped out of the rocks.

I figure the forms in the last two portraits might lead us to form, on the model of the portraitist whose models’ forms are said to be Rubenesque, the adjective seepesque.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2018 at 6:38 PM

Far ferns — not

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Just because I enjoyed seeing the lush ferns in New York and Massachusetts and other places on our recent trip doesn’t mean I can’t find some good ones in Austin as well. So it was that on June 24th I spent time photographing along the cliff that looms above the west side of Capital of Texas Highway between Courtyard Dr. and RM 2222.

What allows ferns to thrive in such a sunny, open place is the perpetual seeping of water through portions of the rock. In the first picture you see how the ferns form a column from the base of the cliff right up to the top. Enough water makes it into the ditch at the base to support cattails as well. The second picture shows that little alcoves in the seeping cliff also partly shelter ferns from the full intensity of the Texas sun.

The last photograph gives a closer view of the embankment a couple of hundred feet further north, where two kinds of ferns take lush advantage of the seep. The ones in the back are Adiantum capillus-veneris, called the southern maidenhair fern. The ones overshadowing them may be Thelypteris ovata var. lindheimeri, known as Lindheimer’s marsh fern, which Bill Carr notes is often found growing with maidenhair ferns.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2018 at 6:54 PM

Ferns in the landscape

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You’ve already seen some close views of ferns in eastern Massachusetts. Now here are a couple of pictures showing ferns in the landscape. The scene above, from May 26th, is along the west branch of the Farmington River in the Berkshires. I took the picture below two days later in a different place on my way back to the New York City area.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2018 at 5:48 PM

More from Schoodic

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As we drove south into the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park on June 8th, it was the forest that first called out for attention.

But the forest had a way of creeping out onto the shore.

From then on, the coast made its claim on me.

Near the end of our visit to the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park I slowly made my way close enough to a gull (perhaps Larus argentatus) to get some decent pictures. I’d have taken more, and probably from even closer, if a guy hadn’t come by with his dog, paid no heed to what I was obviously doing, and scared the bird away.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 16, 2018 at 4:52 AM

Peak experience

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Many people have their peak experience in Acadia National Park atop Cadillac Mountain. Not high even by Appalachian standards, the 1529-ft. summit of Cadillac Mountain nevertheless provides a view of the land and sea for miles in all directions, as we confirmed on the afternoon of June 9th. Because dozens of people were wandering about, I had to work quickly at times when a scene momentarily cleared. In contrast, one thing up there I didn’t want to exclude is this prominent boulder:

Smaller boulders adorned the mountain as well:

Look at the natural grooves in the top layer of rock:

And here’s a closer look at one of the many rocky surfaces covered with lichens:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 14, 2018 at 4:49 AM

A red theme

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Wanderers through countryside with lots of prickly pears (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri) know that the cactus often attracts certain bugs. This is one of those, Narnia femorata, on a tuna, or fruit of the prickly pear cactus, in the Zilker Nature Preserve seven years ago today. The bug is a nymph in one of its early instars, which are the developmental stages that the larva of an insect passes through. Click below if you’d like a closer look at the bug as it appeared in a different frame.

Although Texas in the summer of 2011 was suffering one of its worst droughts in decades, when I recently looked back at my archive for August 12th of that year I saw that I went photographing in four locations that day and ended up with hundreds of pictures, like this one along Scenic Drive of ripe snailseed fruit (Cocculus carolinus):

I also found from looking at my archive that I went out taking pictures on 19 of the 31 days in that torrid August of 2011. You could say that I lived up to the motto of the USPS (United States Photographic Service): “Neither heat nor drought nor sun nor sweat stays these intrepid image gatherers from the due documentation of their appointed rounds.”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2018 at 4:49 AM

More than waves

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In addition to waves shooting up from rocks along the Atlantic coast in the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park on June 8th, I paid attention to several shallow pools of water that had collected in depressions on top of the nearby rocks. The picture above, intentionally taken at a somewhat skewed angle, gives you an overview of how little pools form in the rocks. Below, seen more closely in other pools, you get a sense of the intriguing colors and textures sometimes found within them.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2018 at 4:46 AM

What a wave

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Our first contact with Maine’s Acadia National Park came on June 8th. That afternoon, arriving from New Brunswick, we visited the Schoodic section of the park, which is not connected to the main part across the Mt. Desert Narrows. Like other sites we’d already been to on the Atlantic coast, this one had rocky outcrops standing against the sea. In one place I noticed how the rocks caused crashing waves to hurl their water upward.

The difficulty for a photographer was that incoming waves didn’t consistently break in the same spot, so it was hard to know where to aim. I chose a high shutter speed, put the camera in a mode that would take several pictures a second, and then stood waiting, looking through the viewfinder in the direction where some waves had already splashed up, hoping my reflexes would be good enough to press the shutter release button as soon as a wave seemed to be beginning to break. Given the difficulties, most of the resulting pictures didn’t turn out great. Still, I was happy with a few of them. The one I chose to show here pleases me because, while we usually think of waves as horizontal, the water in this one formed a vertical arc. If you look beyond the wave, you might reasonably think you’re seeing portions of a man-made wall; in fact those rocks were all natural.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 8, 2018 at 4:47 AM

Blomidon Provincial Park

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On June 6th, after the Evangeline-related things we did at Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia, we worked our way north-northwest to Blomidon Provincial Park, which had been indistinctly visible across Minas Bay from Evangeline Beach. Occasionally there’d be a break in the clouds and a shaft of light would briefly light up the cliffs.

As much water as came up twice a day from the extreme tides in the Bay of Fundy system, a little extra came down from above.

We visited at a low enough stage of the tides that we could venture out onto the beach.

Notice the rock above in the shape of an elongated heart, and the rock below covered with barnacles.

Do you remember the pōhutukawa-like trees clinging to the cliff at Halls Harbour? At Blomidon I similarly saw a lone tree at the edge of a cliff that looked like it might not be long for this world. At least it was still upright, unlike a tree in Austin two years ago that kept living while upside down.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2018 at 4:57 AM

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