Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 26 comments

On April 21st, in the broad V between Scotland Well Dr. and Spicewood Springs Rd., I walked beside and through parts of a tributary of Bull Creek. People who don’t live in Austin, along with some who do, are surprised to learn that we have landscapes like this, which many associate with forests much further north. In the first image, the tree that had fallen completely across the creek became my main object of interest.

As a photographer I often present a scene from different viewpoints. In this case I walked forward from where I took the first picture, stepped over the downed tree, and became fascinated by the algae that the creek’s current swept into long strands that warranted the vertical orientation of the second photograph. I took both pictures with my lens zoomed all the way out to 24mm to encompass as much of each scene as possible.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, the newly added point 31 in About My Techniques pertains to these two pictures.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2019 at 4:45 AM

26 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I would not have guessed you had a wonderful little wooded stream like this. It is lovely!


    April 24, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    • Ah, you confirm my point about people not expecting Austin to have places like this. In 2004 we moved to the hilly west side of town, which lays claim to quite a few forested ravines with creeks flowing through them. Over the years I’ve showed plenty of other views from Bull Creek and its tributaries.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2019 at 8:40 AM

      • I remember those posts. It is still a surprise to come across them, though. Shatters my limited view of what Texas is. 🙂


        April 25, 2019 at 8:35 AM

        • Just remember how large Texas is, the next biggest state after Alaska, so it includes many geological and climatic regions. If you drive along Interstate 10 from Orange at the eastern border to El Paso in the west, you cover 850 miles—the same distance as from Chicago to Montreal.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 25, 2019 at 4:51 PM

          • One day perhaps I’ll have the chance to explore the width of Texas.


            April 26, 2019 at 11:23 AM

            • And there’s almost as much distance and diversity going from north to south.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 26, 2019 at 6:01 PM

              • That would make sense of course, but I didn’t see all that much on the corridor I traveled. We went as far as San Antonio. Of course, we stuck mostly to the big highways.


                April 27, 2019 at 7:35 AM

                • Right. The southern tip of Texas, which is farther south than one-third of all Mexico, is semitropical, while the Texas Panhandle gets at least some snow every winter.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 27, 2019 at 8:16 AM

  2. I’m always amused–and to be honest, a litte annoyed–when folks outside of Texas think that the only landscape features are flat, hot, desert-type land. As your photo beautifully demonstrates, that perception is not accurate. I know this area, we walk it semi-regularly. Gorgeous!


    April 24, 2019 at 8:57 AM

    • Well, at least the “hot” part of people’s perceptions of Texas is accurate for much of the year. I used to live on Austin’s east side, over by the old airport, which does conform to the “flat” that you mentioned because it’s the Blackland Prairie. As for “desert,” I wish we had some of that closer to us than the western part of the state that takes hours and hours of driving to get to.

      Your “semi-regularly” for the area shown here is more frequent than my “once in a while.” In fact I hadn’t walked along this tributary for several years. Something new since the last time is evidence of people living in several places in the woods.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2019 at 9:10 AM

  3. A “Bridge over Untroubled Water”. 🙂


    April 24, 2019 at 9:07 AM

    • Untroubled on the day I visited, but I saw plenty of evidence of floodwaters having rushed through there in the recent past, of which your “bridge” was probably a consequence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2019 at 9:15 AM

      • That may very well be right, that the tree was tumbled over in a (recent) flood. But now it looks like a really serene spot.


        April 24, 2019 at 9:25 AM

        • It certainly was serene when I was there three days ago. If we end up with several inches of rain by the end of the day today, the creek will get more active.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 24, 2019 at 10:26 AM

          • Here, it looks like “all” the rain is already gone. I still have to check the rain gauge, but I dont think it was more than just one or two tenths of an inch. 😦


            April 24, 2019 at 10:48 AM

            • I’m sorry to hear it. I imagine you could’ve used a bunch more.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 24, 2019 at 11:29 AM

              • Well, at least we had a good downpour yesterday and got 1.5 inches. 🙂


                April 25, 2019 at 1:10 PM

                • Excellent, better than you expected. Austin got only a little more than that.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 25, 2019 at 4:54 PM

                • Yes, we were lucky! 🙂


                  April 26, 2019 at 9:44 AM

  4. The debris hanging down from that log suggests a ‘dry waterfall’ — both the falls-like appearance of the debris, and the suggestion of the water that felled the tree and left the debris. The contrasting greens in the second photo are pleasing, and interesting. That clear water you have certainly allows for the details of the streambed to emerge, and I like the sense of movement.

    Your new tip certainly caught my interest. When I was at Sandylands last weekend, I had a terrible time dealing with the combination of bright sunlight and deep shade in the woods. The fact that the light was changing constantly because of strong winds moving the trees didn’t help, and in open areas it was like being at the beach. The sand was so fine and white it made the light even harsher. It was an interesting experience, to say the least, and I can see how more diffused light would make a difference.


    April 25, 2019 at 9:11 PM

    • As an article in the latest issue of a monthly community newspaper notes: “Central Texas is already one of the most flash-flood-prone regions in North America…. [A] new federal study shows more intense rainfall has exacerbated that threat in the capital city, nearly doubling the amount of structures in danger of flooding from 4,000 to 7,200.” While probably no structures are endangered along this creek, the debris stuck to the fallen tree is proof that the water had risen higher than its level in the photograph. It’s not unusual along some of our most flood-prone creeks to see debris caught in trees at a level higher than a person is tall. I showed an example of that five years ago:


      What you say about the harshness of the light you struggled to deal with last weekend is one reason many nature photographers prefer to take pictures in the first hour after sunrise or the last before sunset. I’m rarely a crack-of-dawn photographer. I took these creek pictures in the 10 o’clock hour, which on a clear day would probably have been too late to avoid bright spots and harsh shadows. The overcast worked in my favor at the beginning, and even later some intermittent clouds helped me out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2019 at 10:53 PM

  5. I saw the same as Linda…a dried up waterfall. The tree has almost a rocky appearance. The second reminds me of a scene at a New England lighthouse on the rocky shoreline of Maine.

    Steve Gingold

    April 26, 2019 at 3:33 AM

  6. […] plenty of others on April 21st during the same hike along a tributary of Bull Creek that produced the realistic creekscapes you saw last month. If you’d like a more-conventional, still somewhat abstract, and rather busy view of the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: