Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Four-nerve daisy portrait 1

with 40 comments

At the West Pickle Campus on March 18th I made portraits of several four-nerve daisies, Tetraneuris linearifolia. Because those wildflowers are among the most common in the Austin area and I’ve portrayed them many times over the past two decades, I’m always looking for different ways to photograph them. In today’s post and two more you’ll see what I came up with. All the images have limited focus because I was working beneath trees on an overcast morning. Not wanting to include junk on the ground, I least often aim straight down at my subjects; in this case the lighter patches corresponding to other things below were far enough out of focus and amorphous enough to make a pleasant background.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2020 at 4:42 AM

40 Responses

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  1. I enjoy reading your technical tips, Steve. An important family (of plants) that provides enormous benefits.


    March 29, 2020 at 6:19 AM

    • The wide aperture (f/4) forced by the low light created a shallow enough depth of field to blur the details of things on the ground.

      The “About My Techniques” link in the upper part of the sidebar at the right leads to a compendium of photography tips.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2020 at 6:29 AM

  2. It is almost a stained glass effect. Very pretty.


    March 29, 2020 at 7:45 AM

  3. This is a great shot under less favourable light conditions, Steve. The background you were trying to avoid appears to me through its blurring especially beautiful.

    Peter Klopp

    March 29, 2020 at 8:43 AM

    • Ah, the uses of adversity, in this case low light. Sometimes what we don’t see is as good as what we do see.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2020 at 8:54 AM

  4. The subjects look great, as usual, and the backgrounds in your recent shots have been really enjoyable, too.

    Robert Parker

    March 29, 2020 at 9:13 AM

  5. Reduction to the essence, bathed in subtle complementary colors. Very nice.

    Michael Scandling

    March 29, 2020 at 10:38 AM

  6. The background works really well with this one, with that nice touch of mixed color.

    Todd Henson

    March 29, 2020 at 11:49 AM

    • Yes, it’s un unusual effect, not one that I was trying to achieve and therefore a pleasant surprise.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2020 at 1:18 PM

  7. What I love about this is those uneven petals – that makes all the difference. Wonderful, Steve.


    March 29, 2020 at 4:16 PM

    • I’m not sure how you meant the “uneven.” Two possibilities are the indentations at the tips of the rays, and the uneven spacing of the rays. Or maybe you were referring to both—or to something else.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2020 at 5:42 PM

  8. Oh, the nerve of you, to present us with a lovely daisy but offer no explanation as to the origin of its odd name! Can you clarify it a bit?


    March 29, 2020 at 8:52 PM

  9. Great background for this! There are so many yellow wildflowers similar to this it is hard to for me to distinguish them.


    March 30, 2020 at 12:31 PM

    • Indeed there are. Botanists and native plant folks refer to those wildflowers as DYCs, or darned yellow composites, because their species can be hard to distinguish. In any case, I’m glad you like the background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 30, 2020 at 4:13 PM

  10. The background works quite well to set the daisy apart allowing us to enjoy the details. It’s amazing that it can complete its full functions as a plant with only four nerves.

    Steve Gingold

    March 30, 2020 at 2:22 PM

    • I was pleasantly surprised that the background turned out as well as it did.

      In addition to four prominent “nerves”—of course plants don’t have actual nerves—there must be many other smaller channels that distribute substances within the flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 30, 2020 at 4:24 PM

  11. Now, that’s a lotta nerve!


    March 30, 2020 at 5:30 PM

  12. The colors and even the patterning in the background are typical of Liberian tie-dye, especially cloth produced near the Guinea border. I never would have thought of combining those colors with yellow, but it works well here, especially since the yellow has picked up a bit of blue shading.


    March 30, 2020 at 9:34 PM

    • I wonder if any of those African tie-die backgrounds might have been inspired by patterning in nature of the sort that served as a background here. The color mix in this picture is uncommon, as you pointed out, which is one reason I like it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 30, 2020 at 9:41 PM

  13. A very pleasant background Steve … the flower pops against it 🙂


    April 6, 2020 at 8:58 PM

  14. […] From the West Pickle Campus of the University of Texas on March 18, here are two flower stalks of gray vervain, Verbena canescens, one of several kinds of verbena that grow in Austin. The yellow flowers were four-nerve daisies. […]

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