Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Light and dark in Galveston County

with 12 comments

As you saw a couple of posts ago, on October 4th we went on a field trip to a property in Galveston County managed by the Marathon Oil Company. The visit produced these two moody portraits showing the opening bud on a green milkweed, Asclepias viridis, that we found growing there. I can’t help thinking of side and front views on a prison rap sheet, only here it’s native plants that are wanted.

The contrast between white and black stood out in this growth on a fallen and decaying pine trunk:

Dark and light characterized the seed head remains of a brown-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta:

On a much larger scale, a venerable tree (perhaps an ash) at another property on the field trip also intrigued me with its interplay of light and shadow as well as the hollowed-out part of its trunk:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 18, 2019 at 4:48 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Nice concept. The middle shot, white stuff, looks a bit like a slime mold.

    Steve Gingold

    October 18, 2019 at 5:47 AM

    • This post started out being just about the milkweed (the original title was Moody Milkweed). When I gradually looked at the rest of the things I’d photographed on the field trip, I noticed other light~dark images and decided to go thematic. I wish I’d touched the growth in the middle image; I don’t get the impression that it was slimy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2019 at 7:19 AM

  2. Another great lesson on the interplay of light and dark in photography, Steve! Your photos remind me of the paintings of Rembrandt, who did with oil paint what you are doing with your camera. Have a great weekend!

    Peter Klopp

    October 18, 2019 at 8:57 AM

  3. Nice. I find myself wanting mire circles he commentary to go along with the striking photographs.

    Kim of Glover Gardens

    October 18, 2019 at 9:46 PM

    • Something doesn’t seem to have come through correctly in your commentary. I’d appreciate a clarification.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2019 at 9:51 PM

      • You’re right – it is totally garbled. I believe I dictated it… gotta love technology, and double-check it every time. I meant: “I find myself wanting more commentary to go along with the striking photographs.” The lovely photos are almost poetic in themselves, and each of them almost begs for a story to go along with it. For instance, I can almost hear the seed-head of the black-eyed susan saying, with a sigh, “I had a very good life. No regrets.”

        Thanks for pointing out my error so that I could clarify and compliment you properly. 🙂

        Kim of Glover Gardens

        October 19, 2019 at 5:33 PM

        • Ah, the perils of dictation.

          As a photographer rather than a biologist, in general I’ve let the photographs speak for themselves, except insofar as I identify the species and give some background information. If a story is connected to a photograph, I’ve occasionally told it, like when a driver who saw me lying down to take a picture on a highway embankment thought I had collapsed and called EMS. At times commenters read emotions into my my photographs’ subjects, as you’ve suggested. I haven’t done that, but sometimes I’ve pointed out pareidolia in a scene.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 19, 2019 at 6:02 PM

  4. The pair of milkweed bud photos is marvelous. It’s hard to find new ways to portray such common plants, but you’ve done it here. The seedhead image is appealing, too; it looks as though autumnal frost had arrived to decorate it.

    At first glance, it seemed as though something had separated the large left branch of the tree from its trunk: perhaps a clumsy giant walking through the woods.


    October 19, 2019 at 6:36 AM

    • You may recall that the milkweed grew along the path close to where the cars were parked. I haven’t often photographed green milkweed, which does grow in Austin, because antelope-horns milkweed is so much more common at home. I’m pleased that you appreciate the front and side closeups of the opening green milkweed bud; a glance just now at the Wildflower Center page for the species shows no similar portrait among the 46 photos there.

      The large tree was at the last property we stopped at. I thought of it as a giant, rather than of a giant walking through the dense brush.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 19, 2019 at 7:08 AM

  5. Nice Set of Images Steve! Enjoyed seeing them!

    Reed Andariese

    October 21, 2019 at 6:44 AM

  6. […] in the wild was on October 6th in the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Here’s the rap sheet approach again, with front and side […]

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