Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Shadows and light at Riccarton Bush

with 38 comments

Three years ago today in Christchurch we visited Riccarton Bush,
where dense foliage created interplays of shadows and light.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2020 at 4:28 AM

38 Responses

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  1. I have always enjoyed the play of light and shade, and these are beautiful, Steve.

    Peter Hillman

    March 1, 2020 at 6:03 AM

    • I’ve long enjoyed that interplay, too, and such a shadowed part of the bush called out with scenes like these.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2020 at 6:14 AM

  2. You surely have mastered working with light and shadow, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    March 1, 2020 at 7:48 AM

    • I don’t know about the “mastered” part, but I’m certainly attracted to shadows and light like those shown here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2020 at 8:07 AM

  3. Both of these are nice, but the first one is tops with me. Very elegant.


    March 1, 2020 at 7:49 AM

  4. Oh that’s great, what an amazing silhouette shot.

    Robert Parker

    March 1, 2020 at 8:08 AM

    • oops, sorry, I know it’s not a silhouette! amazing shadow

      Robert Parker

      March 1, 2020 at 8:10 AM

    • That first one especially pleased me. Silhouette is eponymous:


      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2020 at 8:28 AM

      • The first shot is amazing, that such a tall shadow would fit so neatly on the tree trunk.
        I’ve seen a lot of silhouette portraits in pre-Civil War houses, apparently it was very popular, right up until daguerreotypes came in. I watched somebody do one once, freehand, and it only took them a few minutes, it was like a magic trick.

        Robert Parker

        March 1, 2020 at 9:03 AM

        • I assume the popularity of silhouettes came from the fact that almost anyone can trace a non-moving shadow on a piece of paper mounted on a wall. Doing a silhouette freehand is much harder.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 1, 2020 at 9:30 AM

          • I spent an afternoon recently in the Milwaukee art museum — they’ve got a camera obscura set up, pretty neat, that would work, too, but the images are a little bit fuzzy.

            Robert Parker

            March 1, 2020 at 10:25 AM

            • Too bad the images in the camera obscura were a bit obscure. We spent hours in that museum in 2016.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 1, 2020 at 10:27 AM

      • Enjoyed learning the origin of ‘silhouette’ and your comment forced me to look up ‘eponymous’ again – perhaps I’ll now remember what it means!

        Ms. Liz

        March 1, 2020 at 4:04 PM

        • I predict that this time the word will stay with you. The nym in the middle of the word means ‘name.’

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 1, 2020 at 4:09 PM

          • nym = name, righto.. thanks!

            Ms. Liz

            March 1, 2020 at 4:10 PM

            • The similarity comes from the fact that it’s a version of the Greek relative of our native English name.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 1, 2020 at 4:14 PM

              • Which made me think of the saying “it’s all Greek to me” and what a strange saying that is. To my surprise I found in Wikipedia that “Technically, the phrase is classified as a dead metaphor,” I was quite startled – for one thing I’m not very literary and I’ve never heard of a “dead metaphor” so it made me laugh. The other thing is that I’m very familiar with the phrase and was taken aback to read that it’s “a dead metaphor”! My dose of humour for the morning 🙂

                Ms. Liz

                March 1, 2020 at 4:23 PM

                • Then it seems we’re both zombies, because I know that expression, too. On the other hand, as I’ve aged, I’ve found that many young people are no longer familiar with things that I took to be common knowledge. Most likely very few young people today know “it’s Greek to me,” just as fewer and fewer of them now know arithmetic, history, geography, etc. I suspect not many American school children know where New Zealand is—if they’ve ever even heard of it.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 1, 2020 at 4:44 PM

                • At a workplace function once, someone about my age in a group made reference to “sticking to your knitting” and everyone around looked at him blankly, haha – they didn’t have a clue 🙂

                  Ms. Liz

                  March 1, 2020 at 4:48 PM

                • I imagine that caused you to knit your brows.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 1, 2020 at 4:51 PM

  5. Beautifully captured.


    March 1, 2020 at 9:58 AM

  6. Absolutely stunning. A melding of photography and design.

    Michael Scandling

    March 1, 2020 at 11:07 AM

    • Ooh, I like that melding. If anyone asks me, as people used to, “What’s your sign?” I’ll say “Design.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2020 at 11:40 AM

  7. Be still my beating heart–those are fabulous shots! I’m reminded (oddly) of the wayang shadow puppets. Obviously the shadows are in play, but I think also because of the leaf shapes of the first photo. The puppets’ shadows reflect complex shapes, as do the shapes of the complex foliage.


    March 1, 2020 at 5:58 PM

    • Thanks for “Be still my beating heart,” which I don’t recall anyone ever saying here before. I agree that the shape and structure of the leaf shadows added a lot to the overall effect. Also contributing was the fact that the leaf axis curved, as did the contours of the tree limb.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2020 at 9:45 PM

  8. Actually, I meant, the complex leaf structure. Either way, these are lovely photos.


    March 1, 2020 at 5:59 PM

  9. The shadow in the first photo seems fern-like, and it’s wonderful the way it seems to wrap around the limb. The texture of the limb itself and the color of what I take to be moss adds to the image; with them, it seems more alive than it might if it only were light and shadow. What I can’t get over is that you saw it. A few steps in either direction, or a few minutes sooner or later, and it wouldn’t have been there. Lucky you!


    March 2, 2020 at 10:40 PM

    • I also imagined the shadow of ferns, and of course there were plenty of ferns in the area. As far as I remember, one curve (the shadow) on another curve (the limb) is unique in my work. In this case, as you noted, the rough bark and the moss added three-dimensionality and color.

      However attuned to patterns I may be, you’ve heard me say several times over the years that I assume I’ve walked right past many other equally worthy things and never knew they were there. No one notices everything, nor ever could.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2020 at 7:31 AM

  10. Very nice, Steve. And on the curve! 🙂


    March 9, 2020 at 1:36 PM

    • That’s the way some teachers grade. When students occasionally used to ask me if I grade on a curve, my answer was always yes, followed by the explanation that a straight line is a kind of curve.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2020 at 2:13 PM

  11. Very beautiful. Yes, light and shade. Am trying that out in an artist friend’s drawing class.


    March 21, 2020 at 12:30 PM

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