Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Stone Bridge Falls on Bull Creek

with 30 comments

On the 10th of July I followed the Smith Memorial Trail to Stone Bridge Falls on Bull Creek. The picture above shows the creek immediately upstream of the falls. (I could almost imagine I was back on the Bojo River in Cebu.) The yellow flowers are roughstem rosinweed, Silphium radula; you get a closer look at one below.

And how could I not show the waterfall? Here’s a picture in
Steve G.’s accustomed mode, with a shutter speed of 1/3 second.
I think you’ll agree that’s a long time for a hand-held shot.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 20, 2020 at 4:47 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Oh goody, Bull Creek! I’ve never been there but through your photos it has become a favorite spot for me. The first image is hands down my favorite~it looks like somewhere I’d hang out here. I can practically hear the mosquitoes whine in my ear!
    We have a similar rosinweed~ Silphium integrifolium. I really like that one. We used to see quite a lot of it down in Peoria but I only know of a couple places here where you’d find it. And finally, vey nice Steve G-esque shot! 🙂


    July 20, 2020 at 8:49 AM

    • I can report quite happily that mosquitoes in that spot haven’t been a problem. This area is a couple of miles downstream from the one I’ve most often gone to, which you recently saw.

      It’s good to hear you’ve got a local rosinweed, too, and that you approve of the Steve G.-esque shot. You could say it’s so much water over the (stone) bridge.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 8:58 AM

  2. 1/3 of a second, that is amazing! Most people cannot hold their camera steady at 1/30. The effect of this long exposure is spectacular, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    July 20, 2020 at 8:59 AM

    • In some of the pictures I took at Stone Bridge Falls the slow shutter speed led to a bit of unwanted movement in the rocks. I chose to show this frame because the rocks came out pretty sharp. One-third of a second is probably the longest hand-held exposure I’ve ever managed to pull off, not counting even longer ones where I purposely moved the camera to create an unreal effect. Michael Scandling has been showing some excellent results of that technique: https://amagablog.com/2020/07/16/trans-mars-airways-flight-4-seat-8a/

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 9:10 AM

    • I should add that my lenses have image stabilization built in, so I can get away with slowing down by a few stops more than I otherwise would.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 9:12 AM

  3. Ah, that waterfall shot!!!!!!

    marina kanavaki

    July 20, 2020 at 9:13 AM

  4. These are great. I was going to say that the last one might go very slightly in the direction of ICM. Just enough to give it a little bit of a painterly feel. I like it. And thanks for the plug.

    Michael Scandling

    July 20, 2020 at 10:32 AM

    • Thanks. My intention in the last picture was to not move the camera, which at slow shutter speeds handheld is difficult. Maybe next time I’ll emulate you and do some intentional movement to see what happens. As it is, the painterly look seems pleasant enough.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 3:28 PM

  5. I love the perfection of layers in the center of the blossom. Nature amazes always.

    Eliza Waters

    July 20, 2020 at 10:40 AM

    • The center of ronsinweed flower head grabbed me, too; it’s so geometrical. As you say, amazement abounds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 3:29 PM

  6. Really enjoyed this hike and photo series, Steve. Wonderful action shot of the waterfall. Loved seeing the southern-style vines and bramble in the first photo. My favorite is the zen-ness of the roughtstem rosinweed, and its exquisite patterns

    Jet Eliot

    July 20, 2020 at 10:58 AM

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the hike. That first picture does seem to show a tropical jungle, doesn’t it? Maybe someday you’ll visit Austin and see some of these places in person. With the rosinweed picture I wasn’t thinking so much zen as mandala, though of course the two are similar in promoting focused attention.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 3:33 PM

  7. That’s a pretty center on the Silphium radula! Yes, that’s a good job and long time to handhold. I always use a tripod for my silky water shots but they are usually a longer exposure too.


    July 20, 2020 at 11:03 AM

    • Agreed: that flower center just screams geometry. One-third of a second was really pushing it for a handheld shot. The only time I’ve gotten away with any longer exposures than that without a tripod is when I’ve been able to lean against a tree or stabilize the camera on a boulder or something similarly immobile.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 3:38 PM

  8. The waterfall is gorgeous and your steady hand is amazing! I can’t do that which is why I take my tripod 99% of the time. 😀


    July 20, 2020 at 4:50 PM

    • I can’t always do it either, which is why I was happy that this frame came out as well as it did. My camera bag is heavy enough as it is, so I wouldn’t want to hike with a tripod as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 20, 2020 at 5:22 PM

  9. I’ve never seen S. radula in precisely this stage of growth, with the less-developed disk flowers. It really is lovely. I’ve never noticed the little ‘thingies’ at the base of the ray florets, either. I saw them on some Berlandiera pumila on Sunday for the first time. At first I thought they were bits of debris, but I figured out that they’re part of the plant. Now it seems they might be common to the Asteraceae — do you know what they are? Shinners & Mahler’s says the ray flowers of rosinweed are pistillate, while the disk flowers are ‘functionally staminate, so I think that might be the answer: that the ‘thingies’ are pistils.

    I do love the sweet tangle shown in the first photo. It was fun to take a second look and find the rosinweed tucked into all that growth.


    July 21, 2020 at 8:59 AM

    • That less-developed state of the center does a good job or revealing the underlying geometry. I don’t know what to make of the little brown thingy at the base of each ray flower. I’m not sure I even noticed it on previous specimens I’ve photographed over the years. Your observation that they could well be pistils seems right. Always new things to notice and wonder about.

      Not having heard of Berlandiera pumila, I looked it up and was surprised to see Travis County marked for it on the USDA map. I turned to Bill Carr’s plant list and found this: “A species of sandy soils in the southeastern United States, apparently rare in our area.” Now I don’t feel bad about not having seen it here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 21, 2020 at 11:14 AM

      • I’d only seen soft green eyes at Sandyland last year, after they’d shed their seeds. I was luckier this time. I didn’t notice many buds, but there were plenty of flowers. I took time to go up to the Watson Preserve, too, and found Chapman’s fringed orchid blooming — the one that’s on the cover of Rare Plants of Texas.


        July 21, 2020 at 11:24 AM

  10. Thanks for the share, Steve. Yeah, I think 0.3 secs is a long time. Just your pulse will create camera movement. I like your take on the waterfall.

    Steve Gingold

    July 23, 2020 at 2:41 AM

  11. I’m hopeless at hand holding my camera … well done Steve!


    July 25, 2020 at 2:20 PM

    • Thanks. I’ve noticed that hand-held closeups aren’t as easy as they once were but I’m still doing them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2020 at 2:21 PM

  12. Hi. Wonderful falls.


    August 7, 2020 at 11:16 AM

    • We don’t have a lot of waterfalls here, so I value the ones I’m aware of. Of the ones we do have, many dry up in the heat of the summer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2020 at 11:25 AM

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