Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cowpen daisy buds and flowers

with 34 comments

For whatever reason, I rarely come across cowpen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) except in a few places, all of which conveniently happen to be near each other in my own neighborhood. On June 6th (D-for-Daisy Day) I was coming home “the back way” on Rain Creek Parkway when I spotted some wildflowers by the side of the road bordering the Great Hills Country Club and stopped to investigate.

The Wikipedia article on this species gives the additional common names golden crownbeard, gold weed, wild sunflower, butter daisy, American dogweed, and South African daisy. That last is strange because this species is native in North America, not South Africa.

In contrast to the yellowscuro portrait above, look at how different the second picture is. I’d made it two minutes earlier by getting low and aiming upward toward a patch of bright blue sky rather than downward toward a partly shaded area the way I did in the top portrait.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2020 at 4:43 AM

34 Responses

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  1. I like that first shot. Nice to see both although the second is a nice soft background.

    Steve Gingold

    July 2, 2020 at 5:31 AM

  2. These really thrive around Kerrville. Area gardeners I know would ask why you wanted to take photos of “those weeds.” Despite a lack of rain, they’re certainly thriving. I especially like that sweet tangle in the second photo; it’s so typical of the way they grow along the top of the hills, as though jostling for space.


    July 2, 2020 at 6:16 AM

    • I didn’t know that these abound near Kerrville. Given that fact, perhaps you’ll debut pictures of some, jostling or individual, on one of your two blogs this season. Your phrase “sweet tangle” sent me searching and I was surprised to find this in Merriam-Webster: “a large seaweed (Laminaria saccharina) common along coasts and having fronds that contain a large quantity of sugar and are used in preparing a syrup”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2020 at 10:21 AM

  3. You know I love these particular wildlflowers! They are everywhere here, but mostly I see them all along the west fences near the Washita river area on our leased property. I also let them grow along our fences on the property. They are a bright, wild beauty that thrive in our poor soil, and are very drought tolerant.

    In the first image, you have captured what most people will never see, the bud. The plants themselves are not very pretty, and go unnoticed. But who can resist the flowering stage? So bright and often dancing in the summer wind. Nicely done!!


    July 2, 2020 at 6:40 AM

    • I remember your telling me about all the cowpen daisies up there, a lot more than I’ve ever seen down here. “A bright, wild beauty” and “so bright and often dancing in the summer wind” sound enchanting enough that you should do a post about them one of these days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2020 at 3:22 PM

  4. Both are beautiful although I absolutely love your low key profile. Your wordplay pays off, I just googled yellowscuro and all your arty chiaroscuro appeared! 👍🏻


    July 2, 2020 at 7:36 AM

    • Thanks. I saw your comment over there before the one here. I was quite happy with both yellowscuro portraits, which differ from most of what I see other nature photographers doing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2020 at 3:26 PM

  5. What a difference of impression the angle makes in which you took the pictures, Steve! The first dark and mysterious, the second bright and cheerful.

    Peter Klopp

    July 2, 2020 at 8:14 AM

    • I’ve often emphasized background, background, background—which a change in the angle of the camera can change completely. I often try several angles and shoot a subject from opposite sides. Then I decide what came out best.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2020 at 3:28 PM

  6. I like both approaches…very arty of you. Is this a tall plant?


    July 2, 2020 at 9:22 AM

  7. I like both ways, as both single out the flower itself.


    July 2, 2020 at 9:47 AM

  8. I really like the first shot. You can be as arty as you choose.

    Michael Scandling

    July 2, 2020 at 10:47 AM

  9. What a funny name! I like it, it’s very down-home and better than dogweed! It’s amazing that these two photos were made at the same time, but I believe it – I’ve seen huge differences in light and color myself when photographing something from different angles. I love the first one! Quick question: I swear I read a comment from you on my most recent post (about Lace lichen) but it’s not there. Was I hallucinating?


    July 2, 2020 at 7:41 PM

    • You’re right: this morning I did leave a comment with observations about several of the pictures in your current post, as is my wont. When I checked the post just now I did still see the comment, along with a note saying it’s awaiting moderation. That’s because I had two links in it, and WordPress flags comments containing multiple links, because that’s often a sign of spam. If you go to the Comments section in your WP dashboard you should be able to find my comment and approve it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2020 at 8:39 PM

    • Cowpen daisy originally struck me as a strange name, too. The plant has a somewhat unpleasant smell, and that seems to account for the name. And yes, one’s point of view makes all the difference. The same is true in human affairs, too, for better and for worse.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2020 at 8:44 PM

  10. Two portraits of the same species from two different perspectives. And the difference in perception is like the difference between night and day. There’s a lesson to be learned there…


    July 3, 2020 at 10:28 AM

    • The French have a proverb: La nuit, tous les chats sont gris, which means that at night all cats look gray. In contrast (figuratively but also literally), I made both of these portraits by the light of day, and yet the first is dark and the second bright.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 3, 2020 at 10:35 AM

  11. The first took my breath away, the second gave me a smile. Both appreciated although I could become a bit greedy for some more artsy☺


    July 4, 2020 at 6:00 AM

    • Thanks for letting me know. I’m favoring the artsy approach these days, too, and have a few more pictures of the sort scheduled in the weeks ahead. I’ve kept making more of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 4, 2020 at 6:47 AM

  12. The last shot brightens my day! Easy to pick the asteraceae family 🙂


    July 6, 2020 at 2:23 PM

    • Happy brightness to you in winter. Over here the Asteraceae is the family with the greatest number of species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2020 at 6:09 PM

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