Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Looking down

with 33 comments

The portrait you recently saw of a bluebonnet looked up at its subject. On the same February 29th outing along the Capital of Texas Highway by the Arboretum I looked almost straight down at an Indian paintrush, Castilleja indivisa. The red elements are all bracts, not petals; the actual flowers are small and inconspicuous.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 5, 2020 at 4:57 PM

33 Responses

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  1. A very beautiful specimen!

    Lavinia Ross

    March 5, 2020 at 5:03 PM

  2. Ah, of course. The one I have been wanting to meet. I will be watching for it now that I know there are species of it in California, and at least one that lives on the coast right near here.


    March 5, 2020 at 5:08 PM

    • Given that you have a species nearby on the coast, and given how aware you are of paintbrushes now, I’ll bet this will be your year for a close encounter of the floral kind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2020 at 7:19 PM

      • I sort of suspect so. I had not been looking for it before, and I know that there are many species out there that I do not notice for the same reason. I still do not expect it to be like what grows in Texas and Oklahoma though.


        March 5, 2020 at 8:17 PM

  3. The Indian paintbrush, which is a ubiquitous flower in the alpine region of our province in the fall, must be a different species from the one you showed today. Yours is more spectacular with its intense red colour. Have a great day, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    March 5, 2020 at 7:46 PM

  4. Showing it at its best.

    Michael Scandling

    March 5, 2020 at 9:18 PM

  5. What luscious color. Even within our most common species, the color variation can be substantial. This one’s especially nice because of the play of light (or initial fading?) of the bracts, and the color contrast between the bracts and the flowers is perfect.


    March 6, 2020 at 6:52 AM

    • You raise a good question about whether the lighter red on the bracts was really there or was an artifact of the light. I took only four downward pictures, all from approximately the same position, and with the first and last separated by just six seconds, so it’s hard for me to be sure. Still, my intuition is with an intrinsic lighter red.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2020 at 7:56 AM

  6. I really love this photo. Do you know, I’ve never actually stopped and looked at an Indian Paintbrush from this perspective? I’ll have to, soon as they are in bloom here. If they are not under water, that is.


    March 6, 2020 at 8:29 AM

  7. Great angle, now I’m understanding it even better. Love it!


    March 6, 2020 at 9:45 PM

    • I don’t often aim down because of all the junk that’s usually on the ground. A wide aperture made the stuff on the ground indistinct.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2020 at 10:14 PM

  8. Gorgeous photos!

    Brett Ann Stanciu

    March 7, 2020 at 11:53 AM

  9. I was just looking up the species name for this plant an hour ago. I noticed a couple of groupings in a hay field. They’ll be gone in a few weeks, I’m sure. Houstonians love their mowers!


    March 7, 2020 at 4:34 PM

    • Alas, so much good stuff gets mowed down, and not just in Houston. Austin is bad, too, and I suspect every city is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 7, 2020 at 7:45 PM

  10. Very pretty, and far prettier, in my estimation, than our local Harsh Indian paintbrush, Castilleja hispida.


    March 9, 2020 at 1:31 PM

    • Our species is one of the best known wildflowers in Texas. I looked up your species just now in my Plants of Coastal British Columbia that I bought in Vancouver in 2000. It notes that this genus “is complex and highly variable.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2020 at 1:56 PM

  11. OMG Yay! (has been months since i visited wordpress, it’s not letting me comment or like properly, so i had a fit lol


    March 16, 2020 at 8:08 AM

    • I’m sorry you’ve had that trouble. I’ve heard of at least two other people who had similar problems. I’m glad you’ve joined them in getting reaching the end of your trouble.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 16, 2020 at 11:02 AM

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