Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Lake Pflugerville

with 53 comments

This morning we walked part of the path around Lake Pflugerville on the Blackland Prairie.
One thing that caught my attention was the reflection of a bare tree.

Another thing was a shaft of light in the clouds.

At the edge of the lake near the main parking lot I noticed seed head remains of bushy bluestem
(Andropogon glomeratus) and cockleburs (Xanthium strumarium) among the cattails (Typha domingensis).

I took these photographs with my iPhone.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2019 at 5:00 PM

53 Responses

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  1. Three nice shots, I like the cattail scene the best. In the northern states, since we spend so much of the year leafless and not-green, I’ve really come to appreciate plants like this bushy bluestem, that look really good in brown (or bronze, or whatever you’d call that color, let’s see if Melissa or another artist comments on that).

    Robert Parker

    February 4, 2019 at 6:30 PM

    • I’m with you in favoring the last picture, which for me has a balanced busyness. Bushy bluestem is one of the plants that best tides us over till the spring wildflowers appear. (Unfortunately, most of the blooms I saw along our walk today were small-flowered Eurasian imports that think it’s May back in the old country.) I’ve thought of the color bushy bluestem takes on as an orange-brown but maybe you’re right that artists have a special name for it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 4, 2019 at 9:18 PM

  2. Nice phone shots, Steve. Lovely reflections in the first image. I especially liked the last one of the walk-in tub in the email notification.

    Steve Gingold

    February 4, 2019 at 7:11 PM

    • If I’d had rubber boots on I’d have waded forward enough to get past the tree branches leaning in from the left in that reflection picture. Considering that I wanted to keep my shoes dry and was using only an iPhone, the result wasn’t bad. The e-mail that I got didn’t show a walk-in tub but promised “An Insane Card Charging 0% APR For Nearly Two Years.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 4, 2019 at 9:24 PM

      • You can get rid of those ads, ya know. They are rather annoying as they almost always have nothing to do with nature.


        February 5, 2019 at 6:52 AM

        • Is there a way to get rid of the ads without paying?

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 5, 2019 at 7:52 AM

          • In a short answer, no.

            As a blog reader, I simply deselect email delivery on those posts that have ads (like yours, sadly). Easier to just check in with the WP reader on my phone or desktop; no ads there ever.

            Many of my readers are not bloggers at all and get posts via email. As a courtesy to them, I have selected to have posts delivered IN FULL (that, is, they rarely have to click away to the blog). To remove ads that started showing up there recently, I paid another $48 to remove them. I’ve only done that twice now for 8 years.

            I do it for my garden teachers, who often forward the emailed posts on to the parents of students. It’s nice that they don’t have ads, so that’s how I justify the expense.


            February 5, 2019 at 11:26 AM

            • I can see where the $48 is worth it to you vis-à-vis your garden teachers. When I forward an e-mail with an ad in it I generally delete the ad to leave just what’s important.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 5, 2019 at 2:33 PM

  3. The tree reflection is beautiful, Steve.


    February 4, 2019 at 8:09 PM

  4. We’ve had so much rain that many of our fields, pastures, and prairies look like your last photo. I like the mix of colors and textures in that photo: not only the shades of brown, but also the faint hint of green beneath the water. Your reflected tree would have been even more dramatic without the intervening branches, but I rather like the tangled effect, especially since it’s echoed by the trees beyond the one that’s the focal point.


    February 4, 2019 at 10:46 PM

    • It’s curious that your area should have had so much more rain than ours when we’re only 200 miles apart and at similar latitudes. I wonder what having the sodden fields you describe bodes for spring wildflowers. There is such a thing as too much water.

      You won’t be surprised that the colors and textures of the last photograph are what drew me to take it. We could say it accords with the tangles you like in the first picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 5, 2019 at 5:49 AM

      • We haven’t had that much more rain — Austin had a wetter year than usual, too — but when we get so much consistent rain, it doesn’t go anywhere. The combination of flat land, different soils, and high tides that keep bayous from draining means that once the land’s saturated, any additional water tends to sit around. The mosquitoes are happy, though.


        February 5, 2019 at 7:58 AM

        • Ah, drainage explains it. Some of the land around Lake Pflugerville was sodden, too.

          Sorry to hear about the mosquitoes. Earlier this morning I was feeling happy not to have encountered any here so far this year and wondering if the warm weather will soon bring them out.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 5, 2019 at 8:06 AM

  5. Enjoyed the composition of the tree reflection. It was a still day. Pronounced “Floogerville”?


    February 5, 2019 at 5:12 AM

    • There was a bit of breeze but it didn’t cause enough rippling of the water’s surface to show up in the first picture. The rippling was clearer in a couple of pictures from the end of the walk that I didn’t show here.

      Yes, people here pronounce it Floogerville. German Pfluger, with the P pronounced, means ‘plowman.’ It was the name of an early settler.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 5, 2019 at 5:55 AM

      • Glad you enjoyed your walk in Pflugerville, pfriend.

        Judy Baumann

        February 5, 2019 at 7:34 AM

  6. Gorgeous shots. Especially the cloud shot. Pretty much all my landscape photos ( and some of the macro ones) are iPhone pics. As I usually have the big camera strapped on my torso (for birds), a binocular around my neck, it’s easier to juggle the pocket camera than to switch out lenses. Sometimes though, the shot requires more manual tweaking in which case the higher aperture wide lens must get used.


    February 5, 2019 at 6:49 AM

    • I’m glad someone else likes the cloud shot. With all the gear you’ve described, I can understand why it’s often easiest to use your iPhone camera. Our purpose yesterday was to take a walk so I left all my regular camera equipment in the car. If I’d discovered something fabulous on our walk I could’ve gone back for the real camera. The iPhone was adequate for what I did find to photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 5, 2019 at 8:02 AM

      • Yeah, and at least your subject (worthy of going back for the proper camera) probably won’t fly away! But I guess you have to worry about mowers ..

        I gotta shoot ‘em as I see ‘em. No second chance. But to be sure, the walk in nature away from suburbia is the ENTIRE purpose when I’m out and about.


        February 5, 2019 at 11:31 AM

        • A walker around Lake Pflugerville is never out of sight of subdivisions. We hadn’t been out that way in a couple of years and were taken aback by the development we saw in many places as we drove around the prairie. When I moved to Austin in 1976 the population of Pflugerville was around 700. The current estimate is around 63,000 and the population continues climbing. You know what that’s like from the Houston area.

          You’re correct that most of my subjects can’t fly or run away, but some can. If I’d encountered one of those yesterday I’d have been unable to do anything without my good equipment.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 5, 2019 at 3:18 PM

  7. GAH!! I spotted that cocklebur plant first thing! I guess I have a trained eye for those. Fortunately, they are becoming less and less on our property, thanks to our hand-eradicating them each summer. I bet there is some good fishing in those areas of cattails!


    February 5, 2019 at 1:53 PM

    • One of the first people we encountered as we started walking was a guy who was fishing, though I don’t know if he caught anything.

      As for the cockleburs, I discovered after we got home that I’d brought one back on my shoelaces. I understand why you wouldn’t want them on your property. For me as a native plant photographer, however, cockleburs are interesting things to take pictures of, even if I didn’t do so yesterday because of the water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 5, 2019 at 3:07 PM

    • By the way, your “GAH!!” speaks volumes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 5, 2019 at 3:27 PM

      • I end up with burs on all of my clothing. Those plants can get wide and tall and carry loads of burs on one branch! I like to pull the plants up when they’re green and soft – much easier to deal with.


        February 5, 2019 at 3:56 PM

        • I sympathize. My biggest problem of that sort is with so-called beggar’s ticks, Torilis arvensis, an invasive nuisance from Eurasia that’s unfortunately very common in the Austin area. Plenty of times I’ve ended up with dozens of the clinging seed capsules on my shoelaces, socks, and pants. The proliferation of this invasive has increasingly often kept me from getting good pictures of native plants.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 5, 2019 at 4:22 PM

          • Beggar’s ticks are common here too, and probably the second most common stick-tight plant that I run into. The worst of the stick-tights that we deal with is Hedge-parsley (Torilis arvensis). I keep waiting for the year when both of them give me a break. I’ve noticed that every weed has years to flourish, and times where they’re almost non-existent.


            February 6, 2019 at 12:58 PM

            • You know the confusion that sometimes arises with common names. What you’re calling hedge parsley I called beggar’s ticks. By whatever name, Torilis arvensis is a big nuisance. I’m sorry you’ve got it up there too. Down here we never seem to get a spring that doesn’t still produce plenty of it, even though, as you say, the amount fluctuates from year to year.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 6, 2019 at 2:02 PM

  8. Nice reflection in the first, Steve. And I love these winter seed heads and cockleburs. WP offers a no-ad option for $30 a year. Well worth it.

    Jane Lurie

    February 5, 2019 at 3:14 PM

    • As well known as Texas is for its wildflowers, its lingering seed heads and other plant remains offer plenty for a nature photographer to do, as I’ve been confirming in recent posts. Speaking of reflections, they’ve featured in this post and the previous one, and the next post will include one as well. I can’t recall ever doing that in three consecutive posts, but you could say it reflects one of my photographic interests.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 5, 2019 at 3:26 PM

  9. These are three very nice shots, Steve. I especially love the color and composition in the last one.

    We finally got a little snow here yesterday and today. Most of it has melted.

    Lavinia Ross

    February 5, 2019 at 6:22 PM

    • I agree that the last picture is the most successful esthetically.

      Happy snow to you. I hope you got to play with it at least a little, either actually or photographically, before it melted.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 5, 2019 at 7:26 PM

  10. This looks like a nice spot. It resembles the area I just had Pete this week, at the very north end of Illinois Beach State Park. We went out there to see mist rise from the frozen lake but evidently that didn’t happen until much later in the evening. Still, we did see mini glaciers floating around which were pretty cool. We walked the trail where Pete was ankle deep in melting snow. Brrrr. It didn’t seem to faze him though. Stout little fellow.
    I like your photo of the tree reflected in the water. Very nice.


    February 6, 2019 at 9:38 AM

    • It’s hard for me to imagine mini-glaciers at Illinois Beach State Park, but I shouldn’t be surprised, given how far north you are. Sorry you didn’t get to see the mist rising, which I imagine would’ve been a great sight. Given that winter is far from over, perhaps you’ll have another chance. And you won’t be surprised that I greatly prefer Lake Michigan to Lake Pflugerville. Down here we make do with the little lakes we have (all of them artificial, by the way).

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 6, 2019 at 11:40 AM

      • Oh, are they? That is sad. The lakes in California are artificial as well. I do love the lakes here. Right now we are having freezing rain, which is producing some lovely effects. Also making driving interesting.


        February 7, 2019 at 9:22 AM

        • Let’s hope that bodes well for a painting of ice.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 7, 2019 at 11:02 AM

          • Probably not. I’ve been turning my thoughts to the color “green”…although I do have one more autumnal painting on the easel right now.


            February 9, 2019 at 9:40 AM

            • While ice would have been nice, fall will still answer the call.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 9, 2019 at 10:16 AM

              • And summer won’t be a bummer.


                February 10, 2019 at 10:06 AM

                • I hope with all my heart that what you say is true;
                  The Texas summer heat is oft a thing to rue.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 10, 2019 at 1:59 PM

                • It is a tradeoff, that’s for sure. I think of the native Americans who simply packed up their teepees and shifted with the seasons. Or simply live where it is mild… of course, at the moment Seattle’s weather is matching ours here, and even Hawaii is experiencing some winter!


                  February 14, 2019 at 8:54 AM

                • People forget that if you go to a high enough altitude in Hawaii, it gets cold.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 14, 2019 at 9:39 AM

                • Yes, but this was much farther downslope than ever before.


                  February 14, 2019 at 11:29 AM

                • If my family does decide to move to North Carolina at some point, I’m encouraged to see that at higher elevations there the ecosystem looks a lot like the west coast. I’ve always loved how that works.


                  February 14, 2019 at 11:31 AM

                • And my impression is that prices in western North Carolina are still a good deal lower than in western Oregon.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 14, 2019 at 2:21 PM

                • So far, although I’m hearing about a lot of people starting to go there. I’m reading a book on “Wild North Carolina” and it looks like an amazingly diverse state. I can’t wait to explore it. I know historically the Carolinas were a treasure trove for the plant hunters.


                  February 16, 2019 at 7:16 AM

                • I visited the mountainous area a few times when I lived for two years in Charlotte. It was in those mountains maybe 25 years ago that Eve saw her first eastern fall foliage. If you’re concerned about prices increasing there, it seems that the sooner your family takes root there, the better.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 16, 2019 at 10:45 AM

                • True, of course. Paul isn’t ready.


                  February 17, 2019 at 8:41 AM

  11. Ah isn’t nature beautiful .. great shots with that iPhone 🙂


    February 11, 2019 at 12:06 PM

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