Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 2019

A good time for cardinal flowers

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Above is a rather trippy picture—thanks to all those orbs in the background—of a happy cardinal flower plant (Lobelia cardinalis) along Bull Creek on September 7th. Below you get a closer look at a budding plant there.

Now it’s three weeks later and the cardinal flowers along Bull Creek continue to have a good time, with new plants still flowering. If any of you folks are dying to see more pictures of cardinal flowers, let me know and I’ll yield to unremitting reader pressure.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Inanimate and animate on the brink of the abyss

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So it’s our first close approach to Niagara’s American Falls on July 25th, and I’m noticing a tree limb on the brink of the waterfall. Eppur non si muove, and yet it doesn’t move, despite the rushing water.

And these Canada geese are calmly sure of themselves so close to the abyss:

Thanks to Shannon Westveer for identifying the birds.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2019 at 4:37 AM

Devil’s claw bud and flower

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Here’s Proboscidea louisianica, called devil’s claw, not long for this world
at a construction site along Duval Rd. in northwest Austin on September 8.

The glandular hairs confirm that this flower is a gooey one,
and that accounts for the many clinging bits of grit you see.
Backlighting accounts for the translucence in the second picture.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 28, 2019 at 4:45 AM

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Falling into abstraction

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On July 25th in Niagara Falls, Ontario, I took many pictures—hardly surprising for one of the world’s natural wonders. Back in Texas a few weeks later I sorted through the photographs, seeing for the first time in detail what I’d managed to capture. In the images for which I’d used a telephoto lens zoomed to its maximum length of 400mm, clouds of spray had often masked details, pushing some of the photographs toward and into abstraction. Pictures like the one below reminded me of seascapes by the English painter J.M.W. Turner.

Notice that unlike the pictures in the introductory Niagara Falls post a few days ago, these are strictly nature photographs and show no people or human elements at all.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2019 at 3:55 AM

Hibiscus laevis

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From today’s date in 2018 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center comes this opening bud of Hibiscus laevis, known as smooth rose mallow or halberd-leaved rose mallow. If you’re curious about the flower this kind of bud will open up into, you can check out a post from 2013.

The species name laevis is the Latin word for ‘light in weight.” It reminds me now of the first line in the opening stanza of poet Augusto Gil‘s “Balada da neve,” Ballad of the Snow,” which our teacher introduced us to in my first Portuguese class way back in 1965:

“Batem leve, levemente,
como quem chama por mim.
Será chuva? Será gente?
Gente não é, certamente
e a chuva não bate assim.”

“There’s a light, light tapping,
As if someone were calling for me.
Could it be the rain? Could it be people?
People it certainly isn’t,
And the rain doesn’t sound like that.”

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 26, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Flowers and stems

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What you see in the informational picture above from August 29th on the shore of Brushy Creek Lake in Cedar Park may be an annual aster known locally as hierba del marrano, Symphyotrichum subulatum. Then I wasn’t sure and wondered if the plant might be Mexican devilweed, Chloracantha spinosa. After vacillating, I’m leaning toward my first assumption again.

Whatever the plant is, I experimented with abstract compositions in which one of the small flower heads stood out against the vague network of lines that the long and slender stems created in the background.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 25, 2019 at 4:41 AM

The first shall be last

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The first and mightiest of the waterfalls we visited during our trip to the Northeast is now the last to put in an appearance here. On the morning of July 25th we left the Toronto area, came around the west end of Lake Ontario, and in under an hour and a half found ourselves at Niagara Falls. People generally consider the Ontario side more impressive than the New York side because they get to stand right at the edge of the place where the Niagara River pours over a long curving cliff to form Horseshoe Falls.

Skylon Tower

Because Niagara Falls is such a tourist magnet, I decided to do something unaccustomed today by showing pictures that prominently include human elements along with natural ones. Intermittent posts over the next couple of weeks will feature views of nature in its own right at Niagara Falls.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 24, 2019 at 4:39 AM

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