Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Arc, the here-old grasses swing

with 19 comments

In addition to the bushy bluestem grass that’s a delight here in the fall, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) also has its autumn appeal. On the afternoon of December 1st I stopped at an undeveloped lot on the corner of Heatherwilde Blvd. and Yellow Sage St. in Pflugerville to photograph the backlit clump of little bluestem you see above. The wind kept blowing the normally upright stalks into arcs that I was able to record unblurred before they sprang back up by setting my camera’s shutter speed to 1/1000 of a second.

Five days earlier I’d gotten down in a ditch along Spicewood Springs Rd. so I could aim up into a clear blue sky while also portraying some little bluestem seed heads forming arcs in the breeze. That time 1/500 of a second sufficed. If you’re reminded of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, so am I.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2018 at 4:45 AM

19 Responses

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  1. so pretty and very clever title )


    December 19, 2018 at 4:48 AM

    • Grass seed heads are under-appreciated, so I let people see what a pleasure they are. As for the title, well, it’s that time of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2018 at 11:35 AM

  2. Great shots of graceful grasses
    I’m impressed that you’d scramble into a ditch for the shot, or maybe scrabble would be the word, given the title, best pun this year.

    Robert Parker

    December 19, 2018 at 5:48 AM

    • I can’t even claim that getting down in a ditch is hardscrabble or above and beyond the call of duty; it’s a normal part of being a nature photographer. In fact I was grateful for the ditch because it let me aim up at a steeper angle than would have been possible from ground level.

      As for the best pun of the year, where do I pick up the $10,000 award that comes with it?

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2018 at 12:08 PM

  3. It’s never pun-ishment to o-pun your posts — the language is as supple and playful as these grasses.


    December 19, 2018 at 6:16 AM

  4. Give me native grasses every time. They are so much more beautiful than the non-native grasses people insist on planting in their gardens.


    December 19, 2018 at 9:35 AM

    • Amen. Fortunately little bluestem grows from Mexico to Canada, including almost every American state:


      Now if we could just get more people to appreciate it. I’m doing my part.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2018 at 3:06 PM

      • Indeed you are. A lot of people here do have them in their gardens, along with switch grass which I also really love.


        December 20, 2018 at 10:09 AM

        • I’ve seen and photographed switchgrass several times in November and December, and I remember that you commented on the post about it that I did last month. I also became obsessed with bushy bluestem, which I’ve continued taking pictures of.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 20, 2018 at 2:29 PM

          • Yes, I like that one too although we don’t have it here.


            December 21, 2018 at 10:11 AM

            • I think you’d go wild to paint bushy bluestem if you had it there. You just prompted me to take a look at the distribution map, which reveals that the range of the species forms a broad, shallow U from coast to coast, including even the county where I grew up on Long Island:

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 21, 2018 at 11:37 AM

              • Yes, and including the southern tip of Illinois. It intrigues me that plants can be the same as you go across the country and dramatically different north to south.


                December 24, 2018 at 2:33 PM

                • A big change in latitude doesn’t give most species much latitude to thrive.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  December 24, 2018 at 3:20 PM

  5. […] the low arcs of the little bluestem seed heads that appeared here last time, the arc in today’s photograph is tall and wooden and frames the bright red leaves of a young […]

  6. Reading the queue of WP posts offline, I smiled when the title to this post appeared! I have to wait to be back online to see the images – sort of nice – to first read and imagine – then to later see the images.. lessons in patience!
    Thanks for the smiles!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    December 21, 2018 at 9:44 PM

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