Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another take on Clematis drummondii swirls

with 22 comments

Offering you one view per season wouldn’t do justice to the silky and feathery fibers of Clematis drummondii, so here’s another. In today’s take I used flash so I could stop down (in this case to f/16) to keep more of the luxuriant strands in focus than in the softer approach you saw last month. These intricate swirls are a good way to fill a frame, don’t you think? I made this “more is more” portrait along Rain Creek Parkway on July 11th.

A thought for today: ” Destiny is seldom recognized until it has changed its name to history.”
— Donald Culross Peattie in Green Laurels.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

22 Responses

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  1. As your photo shows the clematis is as beautiful as a seedhead as when it is in full bloom.

    Peter Klopp

    August 3, 2020 at 8:07 AM

    • These seed heads certainly fascinate me, and have done so for two decades. When the strands age beyond what’s shown here they get to looking duller and dingier, and that’s why this species goes by the colloquial name “old man’s beard.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2020 at 8:16 AM

  2. Yes, a lovely way to fill the frame! The few pops of red and yellow really are eyecatching too.


    August 3, 2020 at 8:46 AM

    • “Frame filling for fun,” I aways say (except I never said it till now). I agree that the reddish color at the nexus of each bundle of strands does draw the eye.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2020 at 8:55 AM

  3. Ooh, I love this shot–movement and structure! Beautiful!


    August 3, 2020 at 10:16 AM

    • Movement and structure: that says a lot. Thanks. I took dozens and dozens of pictures of these plants, with and without flash, experimenting with many compositions both horizontal and vertical.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2020 at 12:03 PM

  4. Soft, thy name is this image.

    Michael Scandling

    August 3, 2020 at 11:10 AM

  5. An appealing composition and subject, Steve. 🙂

    Jane Lurie

    August 3, 2020 at 1:50 PM

    • This Clematis did appeal to me, and I felt it would be ungracious of me to turn down its appeal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2020 at 3:44 PM

  6. I’m imagining how much fun it could be to negotiate and explore that swarm of delicate fibers as a tiny insect or spider (preferably a jumper).


    August 3, 2020 at 8:08 PM

    • Getting in close with a macro lens is the nearest I’ve been able to come to your insect/spider fantasy. I imagine optical scientists have super tiny video cameras that they could put inside one of these seed heads so we could see what things look like from there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2020 at 8:37 PM

  7. I enjoy the feeling of movement and the shine.


    August 4, 2020 at 5:36 AM

  8. It’s interesting to see that same hint-o-pink that showed up in your edge-on view of the flower recently. I especially like being able to see through the seed heads to what lies behind. I suspect that might be partly due to the use of flash, and partly to the fact that the strands are just beginning to develop their fuzziness.


    August 6, 2020 at 7:52 AM

    • Speaking of seeing through the seed heads, I also took 18 pictures in which I knelt or lay low enough that I could get blue sky to appear through the spaces between some of the Clematis strands. The shades of blue made for portraits with quite a different feel from the one shown here. Now I’m thinking I should’ve included one of those for contrast (as I showed two ripples pictures from my Bull Creek foray the previous day). Oh well, I’m not done with Clematis drummondii yet this year, so there’s still time to include a blue-sky image.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2020 at 8:16 AM

  9. As beautiful as Clematis flowers are, I like these seedheads as abstracts even better. I’ve looked at ours a few times but have yet to make my move.

    Steve Gingold

    August 7, 2020 at 5:48 AM

    • From what I see online, cultivated Clematis flowers are generally colorful and fancy, which is not the case with the small and uncolorful flowers of Clematis drummondii. Therefore, when it comes to this species, my ratio of seed head pictures to flower pictures is very high. That’s understandable, given the photographic possibilities the shiny and feathery and voluminous strands offer. I’ve managed to get some novel takes on those strands this year and plan at least two more posts to show them off.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2020 at 7:43 AM

  10. Yes, we need lots of Clematis seedheads to celebrate the season – beautifully done!


    August 17, 2020 at 12:18 PM

    • Thanks again. I’ve taken scores and scores of Clematis drummondii seed head pictures in 2020. It seems like I can never get enough of them. The trick is to pick sufficiently different views to show here in any one year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 2:08 PM

  11. Green Laurels is such a good book! I love his way with words.

    This photo made me think of little bluestem at the end of the season. It is indeed a good way to fill a frame.


    August 18, 2020 at 9:50 AM

    • I love his way with words, too. There’s a naturalist who really knew how to write.

      As for the Clematis drummondii, I’m still taking more pictures of it, including this morning. We’re beginning to get past a lot of the shiny fibers now, and some stands are progressing to the dingier stage that corresponds to the popular name old man’s beard. I find ways to fill the frame with all the stages of that plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2020 at 3:48 PM

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