Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A view from below

with 39 comments

Most of the time we see flowers from above. A look from below is often more interesting artistically, even if (or perhaps in part because) it’s harder to get. The view from down under also lends itself to abstraction, as in this photograph that emphasizes the curving lines and surfaces in a pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa). I made this ant-enhanced portrait at the Riata Trace Pond on April 5th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2020 at 4:23 PM

39 Responses

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  1. Beautiful. I really like the soft details.


    April 17, 2020 at 4:27 PM

    • While I usually try for more in focus, the softness worked well here and didn’t detract from the curves and surfaces.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 17, 2020 at 4:40 PM

  2. It is a different, and beautiful perspective. I like the ant.

    Lavinia Ross

    April 17, 2020 at 5:36 PM

  3. I adore this photo! May I include it in a post some time soon?

    Ms. Liz

    April 17, 2020 at 5:37 PM

    • Sure thing: have at it. The more people who learn about Texas wildflowers, the better.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 17, 2020 at 6:28 PM

      • Have shared on Twitter from your page here. Will post on WP very soon. Cheers.

        Ms. Liz

        April 18, 2020 at 3:48 AM

  4. I’m impressed with your camera for being able to take a photo of a flower in Texas all the way from Australia, Steve! 🙂


    April 17, 2020 at 6:13 PM

    • My local “down under” isn’t “THE Down Under,” although I’d be happy for the chance to take pictures in Australia, just as I was in New Zealand (twice).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 17, 2020 at 6:31 PM

  5. […] All the fun of the fair! This stunner by Steve Schwartzman (Texas, USA). Pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa). “I made this ant-enhanced portrait at the Riata Trace Pond on April 5th.” Click on photo to enlarge. Original posted at ‘Portraits of Wildflowers’: A view from below […]

  6. I agree shots of flowers from below are indeed more interesting from an artistic point of view. Of course, it often takes a greater effort to take pictures that way but it is well worth it.

    Peter Klopp

    April 18, 2020 at 8:51 AM

    • Definitely more effort, especially in Texas, where the ground in so many places is inhospitable to human comfort and well-being.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2020 at 9:51 AM

  7. The interrelationships among the parts of the flower are something I’ve never noticed, and your photo makes them clear. The yellow-green in the center of the flower reflects the colors of the stem and sepals, just as the pink edge along the sepals coordinates with the pink of the bloom. It’s a wonderful photo — just perfect. Even the curves of the sepals mimic the flow of the petals. So nice.

    I laughed at the ant. The boat I’ve been working on was tied up in a private canal behind a house with marvelous landscaping. All those flowers and shrubs created a perfect environment for lizards to multiply, and it seemed as though there were hundreds around. Some of them were given to using the dock lines as highways to get onto the boat, where they’d amuse themselves catching the various other insects that were there. I thought of their ‘highways’ as soon as I saw your ant.


    April 18, 2020 at 10:36 AM

    • I’ve been observing pink evening primroses ever since I got into native plants two decades ago. The buds have a lot of appeal in their own right (I’ll have a picture of one in a week or two). As they open, their outer covering splits open and separates at the top, curving back into what I think of as ribbons. I’ve often included them in my photographs, and they do a good job here of prominently flanking the ant. And then there are all those wavy surfaces with pink curves on them. A highly recommended native species to photograph up close—and their dense colonies aren’t bad, either, when you can find them.

      I hope you take a few breaks from work to photograph those lizards you’ve described. Here, far from the sea, over the past 10 days or so I’ve looked out to find an anole lizard climbing the Ashe juniper trunk outside my window.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2020 at 11:57 AM

  8. I immediately thought of a dancer with a swirling skirt, but then there was the ant.

    Michael Scandling

    April 18, 2020 at 10:41 AM

  9. I really like your perspective here, Steve. You have captured the light shining through the flower beautifully.

    Peter Hillman

    April 18, 2020 at 3:41 PM

  10. Your little explorer does provide a very nice enhAntsment to an already sweet shot!


    April 18, 2020 at 5:00 PM

    • Sometimes those little explorers move about at a frANTic pace. I was luck to get a picture that stopped the motion while preserving enough details in the flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2020 at 7:06 PM

  11. I was enchanted by the tiny ant on your photograph of the lovely pink evening primrose as seen on Ms. Liz’s post. The ant caused me to become quite verbose when it stirred a long ago memory tucked somewhere in a convolution of my brain and out it popped. I returned to read other comments beyond my own and left yet another comment. Ms. Liz sent me over here to read your comments and indeed they are enlightening and entertaining! Thank-you!


    April 18, 2020 at 11:39 PM

    • You’re welcome, as enchantment is welcome. Your use of the word verbose reminds me that word, verb, and verve all trace back etymologically to the same ancient source.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2020 at 6:05 AM

  12. Beautiful photo, Steve. I just love this perspective and framing. And our little friend crawling down the stem is such a great addition.

    Todd Henson

    April 19, 2020 at 9:24 AM

    • I’m pleased you appreciate the perspective and framing. I often find insects and spiders on the plants I photograph. This ant was a challenge, given that it kept moving around pretty quickly. I managed to press the shutter release during a very brief pause in its movement.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2020 at 9:43 AM

  13. And an insect! I love the petals and how they twist back like drapes opening to show us the ant. Beautifully photographed!


    April 21, 2020 at 8:50 AM

    • Thanks. The yellow “ribbons” twisting back to flank the ant are the remnants of what covered the bud before it opened.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2020 at 10:27 AM

  14. It’s always nice to catch another perspective and this is a nice one. I hope you thought to get a model release signed by the ant.

    Steve Gingold

    April 21, 2020 at 3:44 PM

    • At least the ant was modeling good behavior by pausing a second or so so I could take its picture.

      The view from below is often the way to go.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2020 at 5:06 PM

    • At least the ant was modeling good behavior by pausing a second or so so I could take its picture.

      The view from below is often the way to go.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 21, 2020 at 5:07 PM

  15. Worth the hardship Steve .. super colours and detail. What lens were you using?


    April 23, 2020 at 2:52 PM

    • The lens I use more often than any other: the Canon 100mm L-series macro lens.

      I do a lot of bending, kneeling, squatting, leaning, and straining to get some of these pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2020 at 6:55 PM

  16. I love this, Steve. Oenothera are gorgeous flowers and getting underneath one is a treat. The little ant is a bonus.


    April 26, 2020 at 6:06 PM

    • For years now I’ve preferred the view of these from below. Aside from the fact that I like that angle per se, it also obviates the difficulty when shooting from above of getting all the parts of the stamens and pistil in focus at the same time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2020 at 9:04 PM

  17. I really like this photo. It is beautifully composed, with curving, sweeping lines. We seldom get a close look at the …??? sepals, is that what they are, curled up underneath? I should know this but have forgotten. And just a strip of green at the bottom for grounding.


    May 21, 2020 at 9:27 AM

    • Thanks. I’m also happy with the abstract sweeping surfaces here. The curving ribbon-like structures are the original outer coverings of the bud that have folded back in order to let the flower come out. From what I’ve been able to glean online, bud coverings are modified leaves. Whether there’s a special botanical name for those modified leaves, I’m not sure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 21, 2020 at 12:41 PM

      • Yes, I knew what they were, just couldn’t remember their name. Botanists being what they are, you can be sure they have at least one name.


        May 22, 2020 at 8:04 AM

        • Yup, botanists love fancy terminology. They seem inordinately fond of words with unnecessarily many vowels in a row.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 22, 2020 at 8:36 AM

          • They do indeed.


            May 23, 2020 at 9:58 AM

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