Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

First bluebonnets for 2019

with 36 comments

Earlier this week I heard on a local television news channel that some bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) had already flowered along the Capital of Texas Highway near the Arboretum. Yesterday I followed up that lead and, sure enough, there were the bluebonnets. Despite the overcast sky and the wind I took lots of pictures, picking varied stages of development and of course varying my compositions. I chose to show this picture because of the orange-brown rock in the background, which added a novel touch, at least in my experience. As I see it, color carries much of the weight of the picture, and only the flower parts in the upper center of the photograph are in focus. Below is another use of selective focus, this time on a developing inflorescence.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 8, 2019 at 4:33 AM

36 Responses

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  1. oh, how lucky and beautiful. i am ready for the return of spring –


    February 8, 2019 at 4:48 AM

    • I’m not surprised, given how far north you live. In contrast, down here we’ve had another of our rather mild winters, even if the overnight temperature dipped to 38°.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2019 at 5:17 AM

      • Now it’s dropped to 35° with overcast skies and a brisk breeze. This morning is a reminder that winter isn’t done with central Texs yet.

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 8, 2019 at 8:23 AM

  2. Hooray for the return of the bluebonnets. Lovely to see them via your photos.


    February 8, 2019 at 5:10 AM

    • And of course I’m pleased to be able to show them to you. This may be the earliest in the year I’ve ever photographed any bluebonnets.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2019 at 5:22 AM

  3. The rock for a background was a nice touch.


    February 8, 2019 at 7:04 AM

    • When I touched it literally with my left hand, orange clay from its surface clung to my fingertips. I had to rub them clean on the grass before I dared hold the camera again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2019 at 7:25 AM

      • Wow, so the rock infused your efforts that day in more ways than one.


        February 9, 2019 at 9:35 AM

        • Yes, it infused my efforts. I refused to be confused by the clay on my fingertips. By rubbing I diffused the concentration and defused the situation.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 9, 2019 at 10:10 AM

  4. My gaillardia send regards to your bluebonnets. That second photo is one of the most unusual and creative presentations of a bluebonnet I’ve seen. I really like it. In a world given to fields-of-bluebonnets photographs, the poor rosettes get short shrift, and this presents them as equally beautiful.


    February 8, 2019 at 7:23 AM

    • Bluebonnets back to gaillardia: message received. As you appreciate, the more we photograph a species, the harder it becomes to find new ways to do it. On the other hand, says the math teacher, the possibilities are literally infinite, so persistence brings rewards. Given the way bluebonnets have been “done to death” in Texas, new ways to present them are especially gratifying.

      The second picture was one of a bunch I took showing a developing inflorescence with leaves around it. Speaking of which, I don’t remember noticing till yesterday that some of the leaves, like the one behind the developing bluebonnet, have unusually dark centers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2019 at 7:38 AM

  5. As delighted as I am with the year-round blooms of flowers, bushes, and trees in my part of New Zealand, there’s nothing that warms my heart and makes me smile like seeing bluebonnets. Nothing. Thanks for these, Steve.


    February 8, 2019 at 7:25 AM

    • From half-way around the world, you’re welcome. I didn’t detect much aroma yet, but we’re only a week into February.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2019 at 7:41 AM

  6. It does seem really early.

    automatic gardener

    February 8, 2019 at 7:37 AM

    • You’re right that it’s still really early. Yesterday’s patch included many more bluebonnet plants that hadn’t yet blossomed than those that had. I had to walk gingerly to try not to tread on them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2019 at 7:44 AM

  7. I think our society has moved up a notch in priorities when the first bluebonnets make the news.


    February 8, 2019 at 9:31 AM

    • Bluebonnets are a big thing in Texas (in some ways too big), so it’s not unusual at this time of year to see reports of the first ones that people find flowering. I’m with you in wishing that newscasts consisted mostly of wholesome, inspiring stories, rather than disasters and endless political bickering.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2019 at 9:40 AM

  8. Wow, those are pretty! You can’t imagine how nice it is to see spring flowers! We are headed towards zero tonight with several inches more snow coming.


    February 8, 2019 at 8:38 PM

    • We had a Texas version of a Montana day here: temperatures in the mid-30s and even some little pellets of crystallized drizzle. I don’t think it hurt the developing plants but I haven’t been out to look.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2019 at 10:08 PM

  9. This was the first and only exotic lupine I ever wanted to grow. The Texas A&M red bluebonnet started to become available at about the same time all the weirdly colored California poppies became trendy. How lame; red bluebonnets. There are some things that should not be tampered with.


    February 9, 2019 at 11:34 AM

    • I agree. Let bluebonnets be blue(actually usually purple)bonnets. This species has a natural white variant that’s not uncommon in central Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2019 at 12:05 PM

  10. Such beautiful flowers. The colors are so rich.

    Jane Lurie

    February 9, 2019 at 2:31 PM

    • As the state flower of Texas, the bluebonnet has been done to death, pictorially, so I’m always trying for new takes on a hyper-familiar subject. In the first image I gave primacy to color.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2019 at 2:37 PM

  11. Lovely, Steve. Spring is just around the corner.


    February 12, 2019 at 11:40 PM

    • You can say that again. In spite of 36° here this morning, the sky is clear, with the high temperature predicted to be 67° this afternoon and 73° tomorrow afternoon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2019 at 7:21 AM

  12. Nice. I had never noticed, not having seen many, that Bluebonnets resemble lupines both in flowers and foliage.

    Steve Gingold

    February 14, 2019 at 5:42 AM

    • Technically speaking, bluebonnets are lupines, so that accounts for resemblance in flowers and foliage. We went back to this spot yesterday and I was surprised that the colony looked about the same as on February 7th. I’d hope more flowers would’ve come out by now, but the cold spell we had might account for that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2019 at 7:18 AM

  13. […] and the others are bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), the state’s official wildflower. You saw a closeup of one way back in early […]

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