Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 2019

Smartweed and blue sky

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On August 29th I found plenty of smartweed plants (Polygonum sp.)
flowering on the wet ground at the edge of the Riata Trace Pond in northwest Austin.
I was careless enough to get part of one shoe wet while hunching down to make my portraits.
Still, you needn’t worry about your monitor: I made sure today’s photo was thoroughly dry before posting it.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2019 at 4:25 AM

Two pointy things of different size

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A mound in the forest at John Bryan State Park near Yellow Springs, Ohio, on July 21 made me think I was looking once again at the ruins of a Mayan pyramid that the Central American jungle had reclaimed.

The green on this drying leaf I found when we were about to leave the park seemed unaccountably vivid.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 30, 2019 at 4:37 AM

Cavern Cascade

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One of the waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region is Cavern Cascade. Below is a chiaroscuro portrait of it from July 30th that plays the falling water off against the rock strata in the gorge.

What makes Cavern Cascade so popular is that the trail leading to it passes behind the cascade. Naturally that’s where I wanted to stand to take a less-conventional photograph, but so many tourists kept coming along the path in both directions and stopping to have someone take their picture or to do a selfie that I despaired of ever getting half a minute completely free from people. Eventually there was a brief letup in the human caravans and I rushed in to make my abstract portrait looking out at 1/800 of a second through the waterfall toward the light beyond it.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2019 at 6:24 AM

Not just Lucifer Falls

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At Robert H. Treman State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region on August 1st I didn’t only photograph Lucifer Falls and other waterfalls. Here are some non-watery scenes from the western (upper) end of the park.

I can’t not see a bell.

A hornet nest.

Living, dead, and inanimate together.

Oh, the lichens….

This reminded me of those old ruined homesteads out in the country where the only thing that’s left standing is a chimney.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2019 at 4:39 AM

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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Okay, so I don’t live on a ranch but I do live in Texas, and now that we’ve been back for two weeks I should begin interpolating an occasional current picture into the continuing travelogue. Today’s photograph from August 24th on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin shows an opening flower of Clematis drummondii, the vine colloquially known as old man’s beard.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 27, 2019 at 4:51 AM

Lucifer Falls

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I can’t remember if I’d ever heard of Robert H. Treman State Park in the southern part of New York State’s Finger Lakes region before I did research for our summer trip. When we visited on the morning of August 1st I concentrated on the upper (western) end of the park and skipped the lower part, given that we were expected down near New York City later in the day. At Treman we encountered other hikers, but nothing like the crowds we’d run into at Letchworth State Park and Watkins Glen State Park.

The main attraction in the upper section of Treman State Park is the 115-feet-tall Lucifer Falls, shown above as I photographed it at 1/2500 of a second and a focal length of 85mm. Then I switched to my telephoto and zoomed to the maximum 400mm to record details in the falling and splashing water, again at 1/2500 of a second. Notice how sunlight refracting through the spray created pleasing pastel colors. You can use the slightly curved light-colored “bar” in the lower right corner of the second picture to match up to the same feature about a fifth of the way up from the center of the bottom in the first picture.

I also used the maximum 400mm reach of my telephoto to portray a closed lily (perhaps a Canada lily, Lilium canadense) that I noticed leaning out into the gorge. I chose a position that let me line up the lily with the waterfall; apparently the flower reflected a lot more light than the farther-away falls, given the way that the water turned into what looks like a faint cloud floating in darkness.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2019 at 4:41 AM

More from Huffman Prairie

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At Dayton’s Huffman Prairie on July 21st I found colonies of wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa.
The USDA map shows it growing in all of the lower 48 states except California and Florida.
(When Steve Gingold mentioned this species in June I’d never knowingly seen any. A month later I had.)

I also saw two kinds of yellow composites that I wasn’t familiar with. Daniel Boone at the
Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society identified them for me as wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia,

and prairie dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum. Notice the echinacea in the background.

The kind of dark beetle that I saw on another prairie dock might have been the nibbler of the ray flowers.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2019 at 4:47 AM

The Middle Falls at Letchworth

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The Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in western New York State proved as abundant* as the other two main waterfalls in supplying me with pictures during our July 27th visit. Let’s begin with a scene-setter from a faraway overlook. Notice that in the distance beyond the Middle Falls you can make out the Upper Falls, which are indeed upstream and therefore higher up in altitude as well.

Now for a better look at the Middle Falls in its own right:

And here’s an even closer look at the cascade:

Given all that turbulence, the downstream view from the top seems placid:

A slight, slender, tall waterfall graced one side of the gorge:

When I looked down and to the right I was pleased to see this:

* Appropriately, the word abundant comes from Latin unda, which meant ‘wave’ (think undulate) and which evolved from the same Indo-European root that gave rise to native English water. That root also appears in Irish whisky and Russian vodka, which are, euphemistically speaking, forms of ‘water.’

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2019 at 4:41 PM

Bayside Park

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The bay that Bayside Park sits on the western shore of is Mobile Bay.
In that Alabama park on August 10th I photographed a vine covered-pine tree.
The vine could have been trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans, which also grows in Austin.

After turning the other way, toward Mobile Bay,
I found a dark plant beneath a dark cloud.

I photographed a few other things, and then, as I was about finished, some birds flew into view. My telephoto lens was in the camera bag. The 24–105mm lens that was on the camera was set to only 56mm and the shutter speed to only 1/320 of a second (as I learned afterwards from the metadata). Those are poor settings for photographs of birds in motion but there was no time to change anything: all I could do was pan to follow the birds while I got off four shots in as many seconds. To my surprise, there was no blurring of my subjects. Shannon Westveer later identified them for me as American white pelicans, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2019 at 7:00 AM

The Upper Falls at Letchworth

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On July 27th we visited the three main waterfalls at Letchworth State Park.
These are the Upper Falls photographed at 1/5000 of a second:

To let you sense the water’s movement I made an animation
from two consecutive frames taken less than half a second apart.

Come closer to the churning water at 1/2000 of a second:

The plants on the far side of the gorge enjoyed what amounted to constant sideways rain:

Here’s a view showing part of the top of the falls at 1/2000 of a second:

In contrast, at a slow 1/13 of a second I recorded this view of a nearby side waterfall
that some visitors ambled down to for pictures of themselves at a more-human scale:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2019 at 4:03 PM

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