Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Only in a floral fantasy

with 35 comments

Only in a floral fantasy could one of us, as large as we are, ride on something as small as the flower head of a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). Not so for two tiny snails I found on Mexican hats at the intersection of Capital of Texas Highway and RM 2222 on May 21st. Below you see one of them.

The yellow-to-red glow in the background emanates from a firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella).
Horsemints (Monarda citriodora) account for the hints of purple.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2019 at 4:38 AM

35 Responses

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  1. I’m always astonished by the clarity of your images, and this one’s framing is equally delightful. The purple cast of the shell helps to link the snail with the blurred flower in the background, and the way it’s tucked between those two petals is perfect.

    Like spiders, these show up on boats from time to time. I don’t know how they get there, but I found one on the underside of a hand rail a couple of weeks ago. When I plucked it off, it seemed lifeless, but when I dropped some water on it a little snail head emerged and started looking around. I took it up to a garden area and put it on a leaf. I don’t know what snails prefer, but I’m pretty sure a leaf beats fiberglass and varnished wood.


    May 29, 2019 at 6:57 AM

    • You’ve probably heard me joke about the clarity of my images coming from years of experience finding clear ways to explain math to students. And no doubt you’ve heard me thank my macro lens, too, without which I couldn’t have recorded such fine details. This picture is yet another that comes from my technique of steadying a subject with my left hand while wielding the camera with my right.

      On the prairie a few days ago I drove past a field where even from the road I could see that many a plant stalk had a snail near the top of it. I don’t know what they climb up there for. You’re almost certainly right that they’re not going to find it on a boat’s hand rail, and your transfer of that snail to a leaf was bound to be an improvement.

      The other snail I found on a Mexican hat was in an implausible place: from the middle to the tip of a concave ray flower. To get there, I assume it must have climbed a little higher than the one shown in this post’s picture, then over a bit before backing down onto the ray flower where I found it. Documenting a snail’s movements strikes me as a good project for a zoology student.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2019 at 7:29 AM

  2. Gorgeous composition!


    May 29, 2019 at 7:27 AM

    • Thanks for appreciating it, Donna. I worked at lining up the Mexican hat with the firewheel to create that aura in the background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2019 at 7:33 AM

  3. Terrific fashion shoot! A geometric hat accessorized with petal earrings.
    Ditto to the previous comments, the background is also great

    Robert Parker

    May 29, 2019 at 8:03 AM

  4. Gorgeous! What lovely colours and structure.


    May 29, 2019 at 8:18 AM

    • Mexican hats have a structure that lends itself to photographers. Year after year I enjoy portraying that structure, and the colors add their own appeal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2019 at 10:36 AM

  5. What a fantastic capture! 🙂


    May 29, 2019 at 9:23 AM

    • Thanks. It was a counterbalance to the floral profligacy I’ve been showing in other pictures from the site.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2019 at 10:37 AM

  6. Super find and shot, Steve. Good thing it wasn’t dancing or it wouldn’t have been so wonderfully sharp.

    Steve Gingold

    May 29, 2019 at 3:02 PM

    • There was less of a breeze than is typical, but I still had to be careful. Even a slight movement could have led to a key feature coming out unsharp, so I took a bunch of pictures of each of the two snails. I figured at least a few of the pictures would end up okay, and they were.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 29, 2019 at 5:24 PM

  7. Two?


    May 29, 2019 at 11:35 PM

  8. Magnífica fotografía… ¡Enhorabuena!, Steve.

  9. Love your very interesting subject and how you have placed it with the bokeh background!


    May 30, 2019 at 5:27 PM

    • Playing a subject off against a happily out-of-focus background is a technique I’ve often resorted to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2019 at 5:32 PM

  10. Very cool, Steve, wow! That was a good find.


    May 30, 2019 at 7:34 PM

    • I was doubly lucky. The other little snail was nestled into one of the concave rays rather than between two of them, as shown here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 30, 2019 at 7:56 PM

  11. Great shot Steve … delightful colours


    June 1, 2019 at 9:04 PM

  12. Gorgeous photo!


    June 1, 2019 at 9:17 PM

  13. […] amplexicaulis) superficially resembles those of a black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). In fact all three are in the sunflower family’s Heliantheae tribe. […]

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