Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for October 2018

Ways of flowing

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On October 22nd, right by where Bull Creek crosses under Old Spicewood Springs Rd. at flood gauge #6, I experimented with pictures of the patterns the current was making as it flowed over rocks. Below are two adjacent frames of the same place showing you what a difference 61/375 of a second makes.

That unfamiliar fraction—yes, I’ve taken the liberty of assuming you’ve never seen it before—is the difference between the 1/6 of a second at which I made the first version and the 1/250 of a second at which I made the other one. If you have a preference, here’s your chance to speak up and say why you favor the version you do.

Speaking of ways of flowing, not far south of that creek crossing some rain-emboldened water made its way down an embankment on the east side of Spicewood Springs Rd. I recorded it at 1/400 of a second:

And here for comparison is a horizontal take from a little farther left at 1/5 of a second:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2018 at 4:44 AM

A triangular array of gorgeous Maximilian sunflowers

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October 27th was the first completely sunny day here for the past two months, so out I went that morning to photograph my first Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) of the season. As I drove around on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin and adjacent Pflugerville and Round Rock, I ended up taking pictures at seven sites in what stretched to over five hours. In the southeast quadrant of A.W. Grimes Blvd. and Louis Henna Blvd. in Round Rock I photographed this triangular floral display:

As dazzling a display of yellow as it was, I’m sorry to tell you that these flowers were growing all by themselves at a construction site, so this was most likely the last time any Maximilian sunflowers would be there. To see the scene as it actually was and to imagine yourself in my place as I scrunched close to the ground and worked hard to isolate the flowers from all the distracting human elements around them, go ahead and click the tiny thumbnail below.

As the two photographs taken together demonstrate, there are times when even in the unlikeliest of places “pure” nature photography is still possible.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2018 at 4:48 AM

Earthquake

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Not many people know that on this date in 1727 New England experienced an earthquake. You can learn about it in “The Earthquake of 1727” and “The Great 1727 Earthquake and the Wrath of God.” Not having any wrathful photos of New England, I’ve illustrated today’s post with a colorful scene I documented along U.S. 1 near Whiting, Maine, on June 8th. Margaret Scheid of the National Park Service says she’s 95% confident the red plants are blueberries.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 29, 2018 at 4:50 AM

Rock squirrel

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The squirrels that I normally and often see in Austin are fox squirrels. When I noticed one of a different type sitting on the rail of our deck one day recently, I quickly got my camera and attached my lens with the longest reach, 400mm. The animal, which appears to be a rock squirrel, Spermophilus variegatus, was facing partly away but I took one picture anyhow. When I tried opening the back door to get a better angle, the squirrel ran off. On October 21st I saw it on the rail again, this time in a little better position, and I managed to get the photograph shown here.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 28, 2018 at 4:42 AM

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

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Two years ago on this date we spent several hours in the temperate rainforest
of the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve near Guerneville, California.

Intermittent rain accompanied us there. During rainless periods the lace lichen,
Ramalina menziesii, still suggested its own sort of precipitation from the trees.

Even when fresh, bits of lace lichen end up on the forest floor, there to perish.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2018 at 4:44 AM

Signs of autumn

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On October 22nd I went to a favorite area along the upper stretch of Bull Creek to see what changes several weeks of rain and our recent record cool weather had worked on the land. In the first picture below, notice how the young bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) at the creek’s edge was turning brown, as that species regularly does toward the end of the year. Also notice—as if you could miss it—the way the upper part of the dead tree trunk had almost completely changed direction but still hadn’t fallen.

When I walked around and got close to the bald cypress tree, I found a native vine growing on it that I don’t remember ever having seen before: Smilax tamnoides (formerly S. hispida) known as bristly greenbrier and, imaginatively, hellfetter. Close to it I also noticed a “regular” greenbrier vine, Smilax bona-nox, which is very common in central Texas, so common that I almost never go walking in the woods without seeing one (and even having its thorns grab onto my clothing). Happy new species for me, and probably now also for thee.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2018 at 4:48 AM

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

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Two years ago today we spent a couple of morning hours at Red Rock Canyon
National Conservation Area on the west side of Las Vegas.

You’re seeing a few pictures from there.
You’re not seeing the busloads of tourists that also swarmed there.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 25, 2018 at 4:50 AM

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