Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Softer colors at Stillhouse Hollow

with 34 comments

After leaves have fallen, trees reveal summer-hidden branches and sometimes things within them, like the nest now disclosed here. This bare tree, while neither massive nor colorful like the still-clad oak you saw yesterday, nevertheless appeals in the intricacy of its many slender branches and twigs. Visible beyond it you can make out upper parts of a sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) tall enough to catch light from the late-afternoon sun. Though the tree with the nest in it had no leaves left to help with identification, it might have been a cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia). I have no idea what kind of animal made the nest. Below is an unobstructed view of the sycamore’s browning crown in its own right.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 11, 2018 at 4:38 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

34 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. ‘Everything is beautiful in its’ own way’ as the song says and as your photos prove.


    December 11, 2018 at 6:50 AM

    • How apt a song for these photographs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2018 at 6:57 AM

      • It’s another one of those song lines which have stayed with me, over the years. It popped out to say hello when I was reading your post.


        December 11, 2018 at 7:00 AM

        • I think we all have many memory-embedded song lines, sometimes not thought of for decades, till suddenly something brings one out.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 11, 2018 at 7:04 AM

          • Indeed. My mother, at 96, still comes out with some which are new to us but which she obviously knew very well at one time.


            December 11, 2018 at 7:10 AM

            • What your comment brought out in me was the thought that if you do a 180° rotation of 96 you still end up with 96. Call the turn a tune from arithmetic.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 11, 2018 at 7:50 AM

  2. I was curious about the location – do you think the branches also hide a whiskey still at one time?

    Robert Parker

    December 11, 2018 at 8:31 AM

  3. Your description of the ‘browning crown’ brought a different song to mind, and this little revision: “The brown, in crowns, can decorate a town.” The soft grays of the first photo are especially appealing, but the combination of brown and blue in the second reminded me of many photos you took in the southwest, where the combination appeared in images featuring rocks, plants, and sand.


    December 11, 2018 at 8:45 AM

  4. Great light and texture in your first image. What looks like a nest adds interest!


    December 11, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    • The scene might have attracted me to photograph it anyhow, but the nest made it impossible not to take a picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2018 at 1:11 PM

  5. Terrific shot of the nest, Steve, with your use of aperture. Did you use a flash?

    Jane Lurie

    December 11, 2018 at 4:22 PM

    • You guessed it, Jane. The nest was quite a bit darker, compared to the background, than it appears here, so I had to use flash to even out the brightnesses. I generally avoid flash because of its harshness, but it worked well in this case.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2018 at 4:26 PM

  6. All of those branches and twigs would make it a perfect sanctuary for small birds!


    December 11, 2018 at 7:20 PM

    • And this could well have been a bird’s nest; I just don’t know. Whatever stayed in there was well protected indeed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2018 at 10:02 PM

  7. I really like the lacy pattern in the first image~really lovely.


    December 12, 2018 at 9:46 AM

  8. Platanus occidentalis was the standard native sycamore in Oklahoma. There are a few around here, but only because they were planted. I don’t know why they were planted; perhaps because the native California sycamore gets too big. There are so many sycamores at work that we need the bulldozer to scoop all the leaves up and put them into a dump truck! The trees are young, but abundant. I happened to need to prune some lower stems from a grove of redwoods for clearance from a street lamp, and got into a mess of two squirrel nests! ICK!


    December 12, 2018 at 9:32 PM

    • I see online that the California sycamore can grow to 100 ft., but also that “the largest deciduous tree in the Eastern United States, sycamore trees [Platanus occidentalis] can grow 75 to 100 feet tall with a similar spread, and even taller under ideal conditions.” Anyone in California trying to avoid size by planting the eastern species was barking up the wrong tree, so to speak, based on that quote and on your comment about scooped-up leaves requiring a dumptruck.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2018 at 9:52 PM

      • Conditions are not ideal for them here. They always look rather runty, although they can eventually get quite tall. The trunks are straighter and not so bulky. Those at work are the native California sycamores. They are not big yet, but very abundant. I can not imagine the mess when they get big!


        December 13, 2018 at 9:32 PM

        • I hope someday to see a California sycamore—or maybe I already have, without realizing it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 13, 2018 at 9:35 PM

          • They are best in the wild. As much as I like them, I think that they can be problematic in landscape situations. London plane has less of some problems, but more of others.


            December 13, 2018 at 9:54 PM

            • I’ve seen what I think are London plane trees planted in my area and I’ve wondered why people don’t just plant sycamores, which are native and abundant in the wild here.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 14, 2018 at 7:57 AM

              • We have a few at work among the native sycamores. I have seen the same elsewhere; London planes mixed with sycamores. It often happens when a so-called ‘gardener’ or ‘landscaper’ wants to replace or add more sycamores, so gets whatever sycamore the providing nursery happens to want to sell at the time. I believe that ours were just tossed into the mix because the providing nursery did not have enough of the native sycamores. It happened at Felton Covered Bridge Park recently, with a different cultivar of redwood added in with a formerly homogeneous group. Nurseries will sell what they have. Also, so-called ‘gardeners’ and ‘landscapers’ will just plant whatever they can get. They regularly plant Jacquemontii birches in with European white birches, just because they think they are prettier. Each happens to have its attributes, but they also have distinct personalities that should not be mixed.


                December 15, 2018 at 2:24 PM

                • One of your sentences seems to summarize the situation well: “Nurseries will sell what they have.” At least some nurseries have been persuaded to carry more native species.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  December 15, 2018 at 5:58 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: