Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pushing into colorful abstraction

with 40 comments

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

40 Responses

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  1. I can see the fun. What great color.


    June 22, 2020 at 7:12 AM

  2. You’re right: getting in close and looking for colorful abstractions has been fun, even if it sometimes means straining to line things up in a good way.

    Steve Schwartzman

    June 22, 2020 at 7:20 AM

  3. When one is searching for patterns in nature, one is inevitably knocking at the gates of abstraction. Great photo, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    June 22, 2020 at 8:24 AM

  4. Especially beautiful. Thank you!

    Rana Sanders

    June 22, 2020 at 8:55 AM

  5. I’m enjoying your forays into abstraction. I like how the stem is a bit off-center. It would be interesting to see you push this even further.


    June 22, 2020 at 9:02 AM

    • I got as close as I could get with my macro lens alone. It’s been a while since I added an extension tube to get in even closer; that would be one way to increase the abstraction.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 22, 2020 at 10:32 AM

      • I was thinking more with composition than closeness.


        June 23, 2020 at 8:49 AM

        • I’ve fooled around with other compositions, too. For a general audience here, I’m leery of showing too many Mexican hat abstractions.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 23, 2020 at 9:41 AM

          • I think we’ll surprise you. I was leery of showing work that was out there and was amazed at the enthusiastic response.


            June 24, 2020 at 9:04 AM

            • Let’s hope you’re right. I have a few more Mexican hat closeups scheduled for the weeks ahead, so we’ll find out.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 24, 2020 at 9:34 AM

              • I can’t wait to see them.


                June 24, 2020 at 9:36 AM

                • I’m spreading them out to try to keep people from getting tired of Mexican hats. Working in my favor is the variability of the species, particularly in the color range of the ray flowers.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 24, 2020 at 9:39 AM

                • That is probably wise. The image yesterday of the purple flowers is one to remember, that’s for sure.


                  June 25, 2020 at 8:43 AM

                • And I took more pictures of Mexican hats in my neighborhood this morning.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 25, 2020 at 5:38 PM

                • Would a hat trick be in the offing?


                  June 26, 2020 at 9:00 AM

                • I have a few more Mexican hat tricks coming.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  June 26, 2020 at 10:57 AM

                • Oh good.


                  June 26, 2020 at 11:16 PM

  6. Simple but beautiful photo!!
    I love the tones and composition! 🙂

    Nuno França

    June 22, 2020 at 9:57 AM

  7. I like the horizontal crop. The slant of the ray flowers, combined with the slant of the stem, give the image a nice, dynamic feel.


    June 22, 2020 at 6:16 PM

    • The sweep of the ray flowers down and to the right contributed to that dynamism you mentioned. The original lower half of the picture didn’t add anything—I’d even say it detracted from the upper half—so I cut it off and turned what’s left into a panorama.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 22, 2020 at 8:33 PM

  8. One wonders if you took any photos with the Basketflower as the focal subject, and the foreground colors of the Upright Prairie Coneflower as an abstract blur, and if so, would you share?


    June 23, 2020 at 7:44 AM

    • You raise a good question. Yes, I did do some role reversal with the two kinds of wildflowers. The ones going the other way ended up much less satisfying (as I just reconfirmed by looking through them), so there was no reason to show any of those. If in the future I find a case where I like the views in both directions, I’ll show a pair of pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 23, 2020 at 8:23 AM

  9. Oh Prince of petaled portraits, you’ve brought us a particularly pretty purple haze!


    June 24, 2020 at 4:52 AM

    • Now that’s a nifty title to be given: Prince of petaled portraits. Thanks. Did you know that the Latin original of prince meant ‘first to take’? After more than two millennia you can still see the similarity to prime.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2020 at 7:01 AM

  10. I really love this color abstraction approach!

    Birder's Journey

    June 25, 2020 at 4:00 PM

    • Me too. I’ve been pursuing it this season and am happy with quite a few of the results, this picture included.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2020 at 8:42 PM

  11. Definitely a different view and a good one at that. Sumptuous color.

    Steve Gingold

    June 26, 2020 at 1:51 AM

  12. Love the colours 🙂


    June 27, 2020 at 3:07 AM

  13. Yes! I like it!


    July 1, 2020 at 4:51 PM

  14. I think it’s wonderful, Steve. and I hope I’ll see lots more. When you know plants as well as you do, you can find more and more that’s interesting about them. It’s endless.


    July 2, 2020 at 7:56 PM

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