Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Less than a full puff of silverpuff

with 37 comments

Above is a chiaroscuro portrait showing less than a full puff of silverpuff (Chaptalia texana) in the heavy shade beneath some Ashe juniper trees (Juniperus ashei) on Floral Park Dr. in my neighborhood on March 30. It’s been a good while since this species has appeared here, so below from the same photo session I’ve added a reminder that silverpuff’s flower heads are cylindrical, tend to nod, and stay mostly closed.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2019 at 4:45 AM

37 Responses

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  1. Beautiful – before those monochrome backgrounds! 🙂


    April 7, 2019 at 8:58 AM

    • I’m pleased that you appreciate the monochrome backgrounds. They’re a good consequence of taking pictures beneath trees on an overcast day, though I struggled with the resulting shallow depth of field.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2019 at 9:30 AM

      • Depth of field can be a real challenge sometimes, can’t it? There’s much I have to learn about or experiment with in that area, especially when I use my macro lens.


        April 7, 2019 at 10:01 AM

        • It sure can be a challenge. I took both of these pictures with a 100mm macro lens, the first at f/3.2 and the other with the lens’s maximum aperture of f/2.8. I ended up throwing away a bunch of the other photographs I took there because I hadn’t managed to keep enough in focus.

          Happy experimenting. You have lots of wildflowers to practice on.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 7, 2019 at 10:18 AM

  2. I like the name, “silver puff”. The first image in particular is so eloquent.


    April 7, 2019 at 10:31 AM

    • The first image is the only one that artsy me planned to show in this post. I’m glad you find it eloquent. As an afterthought, teachery me added the picture of the flower head.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2019 at 11:56 AM

      • Yes, I figured that’s what happened. That is a decision I always wrestle with when I’m doing my pen and ink drawings.


        April 7, 2019 at 12:41 PM

        • Ah yes, artistic versus didactic. Sometimes the two work together.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 7, 2019 at 1:02 PM

          • I do my best. Looking back through the collection, there are some that satisfied both criteria, but there are many I’ll have to redraw.


            April 8, 2019 at 8:37 AM

            • It’s a good thing the First Amendment guarantees you the right to petition for a redraw of grievances.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 8, 2019 at 10:54 AM

  3. This flower always reminds me of certain Venetian trade beads that still were circulating in West Africa when I was there.

    Your top photo’s intriguing. If the flower were to star in a movie, it no doubt would be film noir.


    April 7, 2019 at 10:58 AM

    • I see the similarities that prompted you to remember those beads, eve with the different color schemes.

      Film noir is appropriate for a schwarz man.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2019 at 11:53 AM

  4. That first image could be used in a pictorial dictionary to describe ‘exhausted.’ It looks resigned to the effects of gravity! Some days I feel that way!

  5. That’s a swoon-worthy photo. You live just a bit west of me. Floral Park is on my husband’s sometimes bike commute ride home.


    April 7, 2019 at 4:44 PM

    • I’ll take swoon-worthy, thanks. I’ve seen many a cyclist on Floral Park Dr., so perhaps I’ve seen your husband without knowing it. And if he’s ever noticed anyone taking nature photographs along there it was probably me, because I’ve never seen anyone else do that in the 15 years I’ve lived here. If Floral Park is a bit west of you, that seems to put you in the neighborhood surrounding Balcones Woods Dr. I’ve taken plenty of pictures there, too, in a thankfully “vacant” lot near the eastern end of Balcones Woods.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2019 at 6:04 PM

  6. Well, your less-than-a-full puff may be short of wind, but it’s long on tranquility and beauty.

    Robert Parker

    April 7, 2019 at 9:43 PM

  7. Your first image has an element of fantasy to it. Well done!


    April 8, 2019 at 11:43 AM

    • I’m glad to hear it. Thanks. I wonder if the fantasy you feel has anything to do with Walt Disney’s “Fantasia,” perhaps in particular the marching brooms of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 8, 2019 at 12:00 PM

  8. You didn’t get a picture of the juniper?! The common Eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana, was one of the species that I saw too much of in Oklahoma. Those who know it dislike it. I thought it was rad because it was like a small tree . . . and it was quite variable. I probably saw Ashe juniper on my way there and back, but did not know what it was.


    April 9, 2019 at 12:37 PM

    • Oh, there have been lots of pictures of Ashe junipers in my posts, including one that was upside down:


      Steve Schwartzman

      April 9, 2019 at 3:24 PM

      • Oh, I missed that one so long ago, although I do remember you mentioning them more recently. As excellent as my trip to and from Oklahoma was, I really wish I had been able to stop along the way. I know there were Ashe junipers along the way, and all sorts of other unfamiliar flora. I saw pinion pines and some sort of juniper in Arizona. The pines were in a landscape, but were really fascinating anyway.


        April 10, 2019 at 8:44 PM

        • That’s one of the good things about traveling: we see new things. Sometimes it’s enough to get 20 miles outside of Austin to see certain native species that don’t grow in town.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 10, 2019 at 9:57 PM

          • That is more apparent in California than in Texas. In the twenty miles between San Jose and Santa Cruz, I would drive through more climate zones than most states have altogether. That is why so many movies and television shows are filmed here, and why the entertainment industry is based here.


            April 10, 2019 at 10:06 PM

  9. Your silver puff at the top does have a bit of magic to it, even if not a dragon.

    Steve Gingold

    April 11, 2019 at 2:49 AM

  10. Super images Steve .. the detail pops against the background! 🙂


    April 12, 2019 at 4:37 PM

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