Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 2020

More views of Texas bindweed

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You recently saw a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) with a basket-flower serving as a complementary concentric halo. On June 2nd I was working near a different entrance to Great Hills Park and found that another purple flower, the horsemint (Monarda citriodora), provided an out-of-focus backdrop for a softly questing Texas bindweed tendril. (Google turns up no hits for the phrase softly questing tendril, so today is my latest turn as a neologist.)

Jumping ahead to June 15th, I noticed that a Texas bindweed vine had twined itself around a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). Riding the flower head was a bug that entomologists call Calocoris barberi, which I’ve learned is most often found on Mexican hats. As far as I can tell, this bug has no common name, so maybe the Entomological Society of America should hold a contest to come up with one.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Ferns and mosses at Bull Creek Park

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Five years ago today I visited Bull Creek District Park, where I found these mosses and southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) thriving on a cliff along Bull Creek after heavy rains in May.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Two takes on bumps

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Some Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera) have a bump on the tip of their column. Here are two quite different takes on that theme: the first pastel, on a mostly straight stalk, and with the column still developing; the second darker, on a stalk that took a right-angle turn, and with its column already going to seed. The background color in the picture above came from another Mexican hat, and below from a horsemint (Monarda citriodora). I made these contrasting portraits in Great Hills Park on June 2nd.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2020 at 4:23 AM

The Junior League of Austin shows its true colors

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I was sorry a couple of years ago when a property on Bluffstone Drive where I’d been taking nature pictures for a few years became a construction site. Once the building went up, I learned it was the new home of the Junior League of Austin’s Community Impact Center. When we drove by there on May 29th it was apparent that the people in charge of landscaping the site value local native plants and had sown a nice mix of them. The photograph above shows the eye-catching wildflowers fronting Bluffstone Drive. The stacked purple tiers are Monarda citriodora, known as horsemint or beebalm. The red-centered ones with yellow fringes are Gaillardia pulchella, called firewheel or Indian blanket. Here’s a portrait of one of them:

A little later I walked over to one side of the building and found a somewhat spiderwebbed brown-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta, among other wildflowers.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Almost camouflaged

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On June 16th we walked a portion of the main trail in Great Hills Park. If this Texas spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus) had kept its head down and in line with the rest of its scaly body it would have blended into the rough bark of the tree it was on and we might have walked right past it. Instead, its sunlit head extended beyond the tree’s profile and contrasted with the darker background, allowing me to notice it and take a picture with my iPhone. As soon as I moved a little closer, the lizard scampered away.

© 2020

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2020 at 4:46 AM

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Wet sunflower with dark clouds

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Six years ago today I took some pictures of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus) against dark clouds after a rain. Until recently I assumed I’d shown one of those photographs here in 2014, but a search proved that somehow I never did. Today’s post makes up for my negligence. What I unfortunately can’t make up for is the loss of the property where I photographed this sunflower and many other native plants for a couple of years before a Wendy’s and a Holiday Inn Express finally occupied that land.

Given this picture’s small size, you may have trouble recognizing a crab spider at about the 9 o’clock position on the sunflower. If you’re interested in the craft of photography, points 3 and 8 in About My Techniques apply to today’s image.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2020 at 4:37 AM

A glorious bluebell colony

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Yesterday I drove up to San Gabriel Parkway in Leander to photograph what may have been the largest colony of Texas bluebells (Eustoma sp.) I’ve ever seen. The property had a barbed wire fence around it, so I had to take my pictures from the outside. For the second view, I bent over and shot between the strands of wire.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Texas thistle decomposing

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As much as I like Texas thistles (Cirsium texanum) when they’re colorfully fresh and fragrant, I also enjoy the chaos into which each flower head falls as it goes to seed. You’re looking at one such as it appeared along Rain Creek Parkway on June 6th. The flowers in the background were Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera).

If you’re interested in the art and craft of photography, points 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s portrait.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Pushing into colorful abstraction

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Click to enlarge.

For the past few months I’ve often found myself pushing into abstractions that are more about color and shape than about their ostensible subjects. From Great Hills Park on June 15th, here’s that kind of take on a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) and a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Green milkweed pod releasing its seeds

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After I took pictures of a large sunflower colony along Gregg-Manor Rd. east of TX 130 on June 10th, I noticed on the other side of the road a green milkweed plant (Asclepias viridis) with a split-open pod whose seeds and silk the breeze was freeing. As is my common practice, I got close to the ground so I could aim upward to position the seeds and silk against the morning’s blue sky. And as has occurred from time to time over the years that I’ve been doing nature photography, a good Samaritan stopped—right in the road, with a few cars behind her—to see whether I was ailing and needed help. After I stood up and turned around she saw my camera and realized what I’d been doing. And now that we’re back on Gregg-Manor Rd., I might as well add another view of the yellowlicious sunflower colony that caused me to pull over there in the first place, and without which I probably wouldn’t have caught sight of the opened milkweed pod.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 21, 2020 at 4:37 AM

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