Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rain-lilies in autumn

with 15 comments

On October 19th I drove to Pease Park for an ecologically oriented walking tour. As soon as I parked I noticed some rain-lilies, Cooperia drummondii, by the edge of the road, and because I was a bit early for the walk I had the chance to get down and make some portraits. Here’s one that shows a colorful flower:

While wandering west of Morado Circle three days later I found fresh rain-lilies still coming up.
The one shown below lacked the magenta that increases as the flower ages.
Click each photograph for greater detail.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2019 at 4:42 AM

15 Responses

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  1. Lovely as the contrasting colors are, the similarity in shape between the flowers is pleasing, too. They make a nice pair. I especially like the way the play of light and shadow in the second brings out subtle hints of yellow and blue: colors I’ve rarely seen in rain lilies.


    November 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM

    • Having made a bunch of portraits on the first foray and even more on the second, I could also have included other images that were different enough not to seem repetitive. That’s a pleasant position for a photographer to be in. Even so, I prefer to limit a post to one or at most two pictures of a similar type so that each gets to shine.

      You often pick up on subtle colors that I don’t notice. My guess is that the hint of blue you detected in the second image comes from the way my camera or software rendered what was in fact gray rather than blue in the rain-lily itself. I went back to the original file in Adobe Camera Raw just now and zeroed out all the adjustments I’d made; the faint blue remained, so it wasn’t an artifact of the way I processed the image. It could still be an artifact of the software’s default reading of the file, or you could be right that a trace of blue really was there. And of course there’s always the question of the monitor we’re looking at a picture on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2019 at 7:09 AM

  2. I see blue, too. But then, I would.


    November 21, 2019 at 8:48 AM

  3. Great portraits of the rain-lilies, Steve. Flowers change colours as they develop from the early bud stage to full maturity. Your second lily looks like an arrow, so straight and pointy.

    Peter Klopp

    November 21, 2019 at 8:54 AM

    • Rain-lily flowers are especially prone to turn from white to magenta over the few short days of their existence. I see what you mean about the resemblance of the second one to an arrowhead.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2019 at 8:58 AM

  4. What a surprising find! They’re beautiful, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen rain lilies. I love reading comments here. People see from such different perspectives. I never noticed the blue hue in the second photo. My first thought was “open mouth and tiny lips” on the first image. The second was “closed foot” like that of a bird with captured prey.


    November 22, 2019 at 12:06 PM

    • Down here in Austin rain-lilies are common, so my find wasn’t really surprising. We have two species, one that predominates in the spring and the other in the fall. The one shown in this post also grows in Oklahoma; you can check the map to see if any of the marked counties are near you:

      I’ve been photographing rain-lilies for two decades and it’s hard to find new ways to see them, but some of the old ways still work well and keep producing images I’m happy with, like these two.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 22, 2019 at 2:05 PM

  5. As lovely and gentle is the coloring of the first, I prefer the subtlety of the second with a more earth-tone feel. Preferences aside, both are fine portraits.

    Steve Gingold

    November 24, 2019 at 10:51 AM

    • I’m with you on the second one. Taken at a pretty wide aperture, it’s a limited-focus portrait, and that may well account for the sense of subtlety you get from it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2019 at 3:02 PM

  6. Very elegant!

    Regards Thom

    Thom Hickey

    November 30, 2019 at 11:51 AM

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