Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not an April Fool’s joke

with 47 comments

The color of the phlox (Phlox spp.) we saw on March 27th in various places southeast of San Antonio really was as vibrant as shown here. (Contrast that with the normal colors of the foliage.) You’re looking slightly uphill at one part of the large wildflower meadow in the V between FM 775 and FM 321 not far outside the town of La Vernia. By getting low to the ground I took advantage of the slope to conceal two buildings and leave nothing but wildflowers, trees, sky, and clouds showing.

When I faced in the opposite direction, toward the sun, I photographed the phlox colony sloping gently down into at least as dense a colony of Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) that looked more orange than usual. The blue flowers interspersed in both colonies were sandyland bluebonnets (Lupinus subcarnosus).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 1, 2019 at 4:33 AM

47 Responses

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  1. What beautiful vistas of floral abundance both uphill and down.


    April 1, 2019 at 6:42 AM

  2. Ha Ha! So you removed some distractions with your body positioning. Another thing we both do when possible. So much color. I know you get to see this annually to some degree or another but I am still stupefied by the thought of it.

    Steve Gingold

    April 1, 2019 at 7:21 AM

    • Sure: who wants to see two buildings marring this view? Fortunately f/20 let me keep everything in focus.

      Even for us down here, as used to spring wildflowers as we are, colonies like these and the others I’ve been showing are unusually good.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2019 at 7:33 AM

      • f/20? I’ve never used f/20 in my life. Hmmmmm……


        April 1, 2019 at 8:39 AM

        • On the three recent jaunts I often used my 24–105mm lens set at f/18, f/20, and f/22 to maximize the depth of field when photographing these vast wildflower colonies. Even then I couldn’t always get the most distant things in sharp focus, like the paintbrushes in the second photo, though the mind of the viewer seems to accept that distant things will lose definition.

          There’ve been times when I’ve set the 100mm macro lens to its smallest aperture of f/32 to maximize depth of field when doing extreme closeups; at such a small aperture I have to supplement with flash.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 1, 2019 at 8:56 AM

    • By the way, in light of your reply to my comment on your blog that “we almost can’t tread upon the earth without disturbing something,” I’ll add that walking in this field was difficult. I did my best not to step on any of the flowers, especially the little ones the covered so much of the ground between the more prominent ones. I wish I could say “No wildflowers were harmed in the making of these photographs” but it may not be totally true.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2019 at 7:45 AM

  3. Oh, that field–a beautiful shot! I used to grow phlox in my front garden, then it was too shaded for phlox action. I lost part of a tree in the rains from Harvey, but my sowing of phlox seeds the next autumn was a no-go. Still, there are a few other things that are happy there.


    April 1, 2019 at 8:11 AM

    • So in your experience you can’t say that phlox flocks back to where it had been. It’s good that at least some other things are happy there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2019 at 8:46 AM

  4. Once again, that blue sky and sunlight really does make the flowers shine. As for the phlox, I was astonished by the variety of colors I found. They ranged from the deepest red, to pink, to fuchsia, salmon, and light pink. When I saw some of the fuchsia phlox combined with Indian paintbrush, I remembered your comments about the willingness of Central Americans to combine colors like orange and pink that don’t usually appear in clothing here. It’s a gorgeous combination.


    April 1, 2019 at 8:44 AM

    • I’m glad you got to see all those colors. On my trips the magenta~fuchsia in particular was sometimes so vibrant it reminded me of Day-Glo fluorescent colors. And yes, the combinations should seem right at home to any Mayan in Guatemala. I wish some some enterprising American clothing designer took a lesson from wildflower fields like these.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2019 at 9:04 AM

  5. I’m always looking for an excuse to combine these colors, and here they all are! It is so pretty, especially the second photo, I can hardly stand it.


    April 1, 2019 at 9:12 AM

    • Combine away! I’m sorry you couldn’t have been here to see this in person. It’s another example of why I was saying to suggest to Paul that he wander a little south of San Antonio if he had the time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2019 at 9:19 AM

      • He didn’t go south, but on his drive to Waco and Austin he saw carpets of wildflowers in the medians. He really loves it down there, especially the Hill Country.


        April 1, 2019 at 9:21 AM

        • Yes, the medians and rights-of-way on many highways here are good at this time of year. It was Lady Bird Johnson who pushed for that and largely succeeded.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 1, 2019 at 9:23 AM

          • Thank goodness for her actions there. She really made a difference.


            April 1, 2019 at 11:01 AM

      • I wish I could be there, too!


        April 1, 2019 at 9:21 AM

  6. Your images are examples of nature’s abundant bounty for the senses.


    April 1, 2019 at 9:42 AM

  7. Beautiful. I hope to see something like this when I head towards Southern California in about 10 days. I will post the best of what I find.

    Michael Scandling

    April 1, 2019 at 10:05 AM

  8. Wow what a sight, I think the colors look great together. And phlox has a nice fragrance, too, at least the kind that grows in gardens in the north.

    Robert Parker

    April 1, 2019 at 3:20 PM

    • What a sight indeed. You can imagine how happy I was to find that field. I’ll have to pay more attention to the local phlox to see if I detect a scent; I don’t remember one, but I might’ve been too busy taking pictures to notice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2019 at 3:26 PM

  9. A beautiful sight!!


    April 2, 2019 at 11:57 AM

  10. The gradation and layering in both photos is striking, Steve.


    April 3, 2019 at 7:51 AM

    • Yes, this field was a great find, and I did what I could to portray it. As you read in the text, the layering in the first photo came about as a byproduct of hiding two buildings.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2019 at 7:59 AM

  11. Does Texas get a superbloom too?


    April 4, 2019 at 12:33 AM

    • I haven’t heard the term per se used here, but of course some years are much better than others for wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2019 at 6:18 AM

      • I sort of think it is a silly term for what happens naturally in the desert. Some years happen to be remarkably impressive. Many years ago, before the exotic forage plants took over so thoroughly, poppies used to bloom on the lower parts of the hillsides south (actually southeast) of San Jose. It was spectacular, but also normal. Nowadays, such profusion is seen only in small drifts in isolates places.


        April 6, 2019 at 9:04 AM

        • Oh, the glories that once were. That’s true in Texas, too, where historical accounts point to wildflower displays vaster than what we see now.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 6, 2019 at 9:17 AM

  12. You appear to be smack dab in wildflower mecca. I’m enjoying your photography this morning! Not too much time anymore to visit my favorite blogs.


    April 4, 2019 at 5:42 AM

    • Not quite smack dab: the best places I’ve found have been in the east-west swath running a little south of San Antonio, on average a couple of hours from home. From what I’ve read in the Facebook group for Texas Wildflowers, other people have also singled out that area, which in fact is how I knew to go there.

      I remember your recent post about being so busy. The good side is that you’re accomplishing a lot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2019 at 6:23 AM

      • Busy is not strong enough of a word. At least I didn’t get called for county jury service; crossing my fingers that I escape serving next week at the city level.

        Come June, I’ll get to catch up on my reading and writing.


        April 4, 2019 at 7:23 AM

        • Unless “June is bustin’ out all over,” in which case you may still stay busy. But at least the school year will have ended by then.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 4, 2019 at 8:00 AM

  13. […] much of the area south of San Antonio that we visited in late March magenta dominated the phlox. On April 2nd, as we came up TX 304 north of Interstate 10, it was red phlox, as fluorescent as […]

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