Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 2019

Dawn

with 43 comments

Channeling my inner Steve Gingold, on the morning of September 4th I left home while it was still dark outside and drove to Mills Pond in Wells Branch to see what dawn might bring. The sunrise was pleasant, even if not as dramatic as what we’re used to seeing from Massachusetts. In part that’s intrinsic: Austin isn’t known for great sunrises and sunsets the way some parts of the country are. The fact that the pond is on the prairie and surrounded by a neighborhood means a photographer has no chance to get up high for a broad view that includes only natural scenery. Confronting those drawbacks, I went for a silhouetted sunrise.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2019 at 4:42 AM

Looking more familiar

with 47 comments

By the time we reached the Alabama Gulf Coast on our way back to Austin we were increasingly seeing wildflowers that we recognized because they also grow in Texas. One of those (which actually grows as far away as New York and Massachusetts) was Chamaecrista fasciculata, commonly called partidge pea. Here you see a bud of that species in front of a flower that I believe to be a saltmarsh morning glory, Ipomoea sagittata, based on its leaves (sagittata means ‘shaped like an arrowhead’). I took this colorful picture on August 10 outside the Estuarium on Dauphin Island in the Gulf of Mexico.

If you’re wondering what kind of flower will emerge from the bud, you can check out a post from 2014. And if you’re interested in the craft of photography, today’s portrait illustrates point 5 in About My Techniques.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2019 at 4:47 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

Green triangularity times two

with 40 comments

At least twice in the past month I’ve photographed plants that I noticed growing in the approximate shape of a triangle (at least as a two-dimensional photograph renders them). The first came on August 24th, when a mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis, that had covered the broken remains of a dead tree caught my fancy at Parmer Lane and Blue Bluff Rd. south of Manor. A greenbrier vine, Smilax bona-nox, had also climbed onto the mound; that accounts for the yellow-orange leaves near the photograph’s bottom edge.

I photographed the other green triangle on September 7th at the base of a cliff along Bull Creek near Spicewood Springs Rd. Even during a drought the rocks still seeped enough water to support some southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris. I don’t know what the mixed-in plant species are.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2019 at 4:43 AM

Rainbow Falls

with 40 comments

You’ve already seen that at Watkins Glen State Park in New York State’s Finger Lakes region a visitor can walk behind Cavern Cascade. Upstream at Rainbow Falls comes another (and somewhat wetter) chance to do that:

From behind the curtain of water I experimented with a slow shutter speed, namely 1/15 of a second.

And below, sans animation or slow motion, is a more ample view showing the round pools the falling water sustained. In the previous waterfall picture from Watkins Glen I felt fortunate to have one disembodied tree trunk or limb that had ended up in the gorge; here I got three.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2019 at 4:50 AM

Velvet gaura backlit

with 15 comments

Velvet gaura (Oenothera curtiflora) is indeed velvety, and never is that more noticeable than when the plant is backlit by a sun not far above the horizon. So stood the sun and even lower stood I at 7:16 in the morning on September 3rd. The location was the Blackland Prairie just east of Lake Pflugerville.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2019 at 4:45 AM

Going for sunset over a third Great Lake

with 29 comments

On July 27 we found ourselves seated for supper at a sidewalk table belonging to the Red Fern vegan restaurant in Rochester, New York. Near the end of the meal I told our waitress about the dramatic sunset we’d seen over Lake Erie the night before and asked her if she knew a place where we might catch a good sunset over Lake Ontario. She said that she did indeed, and that Google Maps shows it as Ontario Lake View in Webster, New York. Sure enough, my phone’s Google Maps pulled it up, and thither we repaired after our meal to wait out the sunset—in the company, as it turned out, of quite a few other people who also knew about the spot. The first thing that grabbed my photographic attention was the way the near-sunset light lit up the trees at the edge of Mill Creek where it becomes a long a pond as it reaches Lake Ontario.

After I finished taking pictures of those warmly illuminated trees I walked a short distance to focus on Lake Ontario. I couldn’t help noticing a small, mostly bare tree that the water had inundated, and I photographed it some three dozen times in various compositions while the sun sank lower and lower. At one point a duck that swam by added a welcome touch:

As for the sunset, well, it never got super dramatic the way it had the previous evening at Lake Erie.
That was still all right, and I came away content with the pictures I did manage to get.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 15, 2019 at 4:35 AM

Snow-on-the-mountain above a cumulus cloud

with 27 comments

From the aptly named Innovation Way in Cedar Park on August 29th, here’s a portrait of snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata, that’s unlike any I recall making of this species. You’re welcome to compare the similar yet different snow-on-the-prairie that you saw nine days ago. To complete the triumvirate, you can also check out the fire-on-the-mountain that made its one and only appearance in these pages in 2011.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2019 at 4:33 AM

Dead tree trunks and limbs at Watkins Glen

with 10 comments

Here’s a view taken at 1/15 of a second showing a waterfall in Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region on July 30th. The photographer in me was happy that the dead tree trunk had lodged where you see it in spite of the force of the falling water.

Smaller and whiter dead tree limbs also attracted me.

They played off the rock strata in the gorge and contrasted with the living plants around them.

Even before I’d seen any water at Watkins Glen, falling or otherwise, the shadows on a broken but still standing tree trunk along the trail from the parking lot to the gorge caught my attention:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2019 at 4:39 AM

Horseweed

with 40 comments

Even though horseweed is one of the most widely distributed native plants in North America, it seldom if ever gets its praises sung. With that in mind, let me at least do some humming in favor of Conyza canadensis. Below you get a closer look at the seemingly energetic way the leaves on the main stalk dry out.

For temporal balance, have a look at those leaves on a fresh plant:

And here’s a closer look at a maturing inflorescence:

All these pictures come from the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin on August 24th.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 12, 2019 at 4:08 AM

Estuarium

with 31 comments

Before stopping at Bayside Park on August 10 we’d visited the Estuarium on Dauphin Island. The cleverly named Estuarium, on the model of aquarium, highlights the ecosystems in the Mobile Bay estuary. Most prominent among its exhibits are those dealing with animals, many of which are living. Take, for example, this diamondback terrapin turtle, Malaclemys terrapin pileata.

Photo talk: even at ISO 1600 the low light forced my macro lens to open up to its maximum aperture of f/2.8, so I focused on the turtle’s eye in order to get the most important feature sharp, knowing that only a small nearby area would likewise come into focus. For this picture I also composed at an unusual angle. In fact the turtle was positioned horizontally, but as I’ve asked before: what’s reality, anyway?

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 11, 2019 at 4:51 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

%d bloggers like this: