Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A pond as a pleasant background, twice

with 18 comments

Pink evening primroses reach their peak here in the spring, when large colonies of Oenothera speciosa sometimes form. Even so, individual plants are often found flowering through the summer and fall, like this one that I photographed on July 24th at the edge of a pond off Naruna Way on the Blackland Prairie. I also coaxed the pond to pose behind a spiderwebbed Texas thistle seed head, Cirsium texanum.

And here’s an unrelated but relevant quotation for today: “So we must beware of a tyranny of opinion which tries to make only one side of a question the one which may be heard. Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.” — Winston Churchill in the U.K. Parliament on October 13, 1943.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 8, 2020 at 4:38 AM

18 Responses

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  1. I like the concept of “coaxing the pond to pose” very much and it’s nearly always time very well spent. Sweet shots, Steve.


    August 8, 2020 at 4:48 AM

    • The concept of coaxing the pond to pose came to me at the last minute. That minute, along with the hour at the pond, was time well spent.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2020 at 5:36 AM

  2. I like the quote very much.


    August 8, 2020 at 5:27 AM

  3. You have chosen the pond as the background to highlight the beauty of the flower and the seedhead. If you had not told us that it is a pond, I would have guessed the background to be the sky, especially in the first photo.

    Peter Klopp

    August 8, 2020 at 8:27 AM

    • I agree with you that in the first photograph the water could pass for sky, and the lighter area for clouds. I had to check all the pictures I took of the pink evening primrose to make sure the background really was the pond; in some of the other photographs you can see the far shore, as in the second picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2020 at 1:57 PM

  4. Background can be such an important part of an image, as these demonstrate. Regarding the quote, it strangely feels partially comforting to know it’s not just us and now, but mostly just sad, that it’s no different today than it was back then. Sometimes it seems we just never learn, or if we do it happens so slowly as to be almost unnoticeable. But I’m still hopeful.

    Todd Henson

    August 8, 2020 at 9:01 AM

  5. I would have thought the sky as well given your propensity for lining up a nice blue one.

    Steve Gingold

    August 8, 2020 at 12:38 PM

    • It was that day of great clouds (including the one I passed off as a comet), and I think some of them appeared as reflections in the water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 8, 2020 at 4:29 PM

  6. The pond makes a lovely background for these two plants.


    August 9, 2020 at 8:07 AM

  7. What caught my eye is the way you used banding in each photo: subtly in the first, more dramatically in the second. The bolder colors in the second suit the intricacy of the thistle seed head; they’re perfectly balanced, with neither overwhelming the other.


    August 9, 2020 at 6:44 PM

    • The light-colored band across the middle of the first picture is probably the same one that appears, though more boldly, in the second one. I can’t say that the second image is quite “realistic”; in my quest for abstraction, I don’t mind stretching beyond reality. Actually, when I look through the viewfinder I already begin to imagine how the picture might transcend what a neutral observer standing there would see.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2020 at 7:01 PM

      • I’d say abstraction and realism were nicely balanced in that second photo, as well. I didn’t say, but thought, “That looks like someone held up a thistle in front of a Mark Rothko canvas.”


        August 9, 2020 at 7:12 PM

        • Now that’s an interesting concept: a thistle in front of a Rothko painting. I see what you mean. Some photographers have been known to put a large nature photograph behind a plant to serve as an artificial backdrop. Other photographers put a black cloth behind a subject. I’ve never done either thing.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 9, 2020 at 7:50 PM

  8. Gorgeous! I like that long rectangular format, too. 🙂


    August 17, 2020 at 12:15 PM

    • I could’ve cropped the first picture but I like the sweep of that elongated crop, which emphasizes the lighter band that runs across the water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 1:59 PM

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