Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for February 2020

Leaping into spring

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Today is this year’s quadrennial* Leap Day, and sure enough, wildflowers have been leaping up in ever greater numbers. One of the first native species to flower in Austin each year, sometimes as early as January, is the ten-petal anemone, Anemone berlandieri. I photographed this purple one along Balcones Woods Drive on February 22. Of the nearby anemone flowers, most were white.

*Technically speaking, we add a day to the calendar not quite once every four years. To do so every four years would be an overcorrection of the discrepancy between the sun-earth cycle and our calendar. We normally add the extra day to years that are divisible by 4, as we are doing now in 2020. However, when it comes to century years we add a February 29th only if the number represented by the first two digits of the year is divisible by 4. As a result, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years (because 18 and 19 are not divisible by 4); 2000 was a leap year; 2100, 2200, and 2300 will not be leap years (because 21, 22, and 23 are not divisible by 4); the next century leap year will be 2400. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be around to take advantage of that extra day.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 29, 2020 at 4:45 AM

New Zealand: another look at Little Manly Beach

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Five years ago today I spent some morning time—in fact the last morning in New Zealand on that first trip—at what turned out to be one of my favorite places for abstract photographs, Little Manly Beach on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland.

You’re looking at some of the beach details that fascinated me.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 27, 2020 at 4:41 AM

New Zealand: up and down at Tunnel Beach

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Three years ago today we visited Tunnel Beach about five miles southwest of Dunedin.

I took the first picture from the edge of a cliff looking down at some bull kelp in the surf below.
Doesn’t it remind you of the long, flowing hair in a Botticelli painting?

The next two photographs, taken from the beach, show natural designs on the walls of a cul-de-sac.

And here’s the view looking back up at the adjacent sculpted rocks:

Living in Texas, I can’t help but be reminded of a pair of outsized cowboy boots.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2020 at 4:40 AM

We had two December 25ths last year

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Unlike most people, Eve and I lived through two December 25ths last year. The first one began in our hotel across from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the Philippines, where we boarded a flight for Taipei. The second December 25th began over the Pacific Ocean at the International Date Line during our flight from Taipei to San Francisco. That second December 25th ended in Austin after our third and final flight.

The cloud pictures I took through the plane’s window between the Philippines and Taiwan turned out to be the last photographs of any kind I took on our trip, and so this 22-episode Philippine travelogue comes to an end.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 25, 2020 at 5:49 AM

New Zealand: swirling Stirling Point again

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Three years ago today we reached the southern end of New Zealand’s South Island in a town called Bluff.

At Stirling Point, which for my purposes should have been called Swirling Point, I set my shutter speed to 1/640 and photographed the bull kelp (Durvillaea antarctica or D. poha) surging in and out with the waves.

Not till this week did I notice that a gull had flown into the corner of one frame:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 24, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Golden groundsel doing its thing

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How about a dose of yellow from golden groundsel (Packera obovata) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on February 3rd? Now that we’re well into the month, other native wildflowers have begun to make their presence known in Austin.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 23, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Sibonga sunsets

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As you heard a few posts back, on December 23rd last year I wanted to see what the sunset along Sibonga’s waterfront might look like. What put the idea in my head was that on December 15th we’d been at the town square not far from the shore and I’d taken a few sunset pictures on my iPhone, including this one:

Late in the afternoon on the 23rd we walked out to the tip of the pier that juts into the Cebu Strait. Here’s one of the first pictures I took of the developing sunset:

Twelve minutes later, the view east toward Bohol had turned a pleasant rosy blue:

And six minutes after that we saw a more orange view looking west, back toward the town:

Notice how shades of gray distinguish “layers” of hills.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 22, 2020 at 4:40 AM

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