Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Limited-focus abstract views of Clematis drummondii strands

with 18 comments

On August 22nd I went to Great Hills Park and spent quite a while among a group of Clematis drummondii plants that had produced their characteristic strands. Because of rain the day before, some of the strands had stuck together, especially at their tips. In both of today’s pictures limited focus led to abstract portraits that are pretty different from the many other pictures of this species that have appeared here over the years.

Instead of a quotation or a fact, how about a question? Okay, that was already a question, but not the one I had in mind. Here it is: which independent country has the lowest population density? (I included the word independent because Greenland, which is the least densely populated geographic entity, is a territory of Denmark.) You’ll find the answer at the end of the next post.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2020 at 3:50 AM

18 Responses

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  1. I particularly like that first image. You never know what you will get out there in nature. Elements and conditions can change everything in the blink of an eye. If I didn’t have the usual busy day planned, I’d give your question some thought. Now that daylight is breaking, I need to get my chores going!


    September 20, 2020 at 7:08 AM

    • Sometimes I go out looking for a certain thing that I know is in season, but most often I go out to see what comes my way as I walk around. Sitting down in one place for a while and looking more carefully also reveals things that I probably wouldn’t notice if I just walked by. I’m sorry you have so many chores.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2020 at 8:39 AM

      • My photographs create a timeline that will allow me to reflect and do some writing down the road when I’m no longer able to do so much. Even now, I don’t have time to organize my photos well. It’s frustrating trying to decide where I glean more joy. I love my work, but I yearn to write. You are getting in touch with your inner “wild” instinct when you look more carefully and take time to see what is revealed to you. Mother Earth has much to offer if we only take time to watch and listen.


        September 20, 2020 at 8:55 AM

        • It helps a lot that I’m no longer working at a job, so I can devote as much time as I want to the creative things that interest me. For you, taking photographs of things now that you can write about later is a good plan. I encourage you to at least put the pictures in folders on a hard drive (and a backup!) shortly after you take them, and to label each folder with the date, place, and subject.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 20, 2020 at 9:50 AM

  2. Mongolia??

    Eliza Waters

    September 20, 2020 at 7:36 AM

  3. To the master of photographic abstraction, my wild guess for the answer to your question is Mongolia.

    Peter Klopp

    September 20, 2020 at 9:24 AM

  4. Clematis filaments are a great subject, the first is a fine abstract with a neat swirling background.


    September 20, 2020 at 12:53 PM

    • Those filaments are the feature I’ve most often dealt with in this species. Usually I’ve had the swirls in focus, so this was a departure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2020 at 1:47 PM

  5. That first image is a winner.

    Steve Gingold

    September 21, 2020 at 3:13 AM

  6. I like both these shots, nice contrast. I’m always attracted to abstracts and I imagine that this clematis is quite challenging to photograph, but you captured it beautifully.


    September 21, 2020 at 8:11 AM

    • It was indeed challenging to photograph Clematis strands this way. For one thing, I couldn’t always manage to keep the focus on the tip, where I wanted it. To compensate, I took a bunch of shots, hoping that at least one would succeed—and at least one did, as today’s first image shows. In the second picture l ended up liking the way things turned out even with the focus falling a little before the tip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2020 at 8:54 AM

  7. It’s funny how familiarity with certain plants can shape our perception. Without any text as a clue, I could have seen the first image as the dried seedhead of a ten-petal anemone in front of the C. drummondii.

    But that second photo? On a scale of one to ten, I’d put that one at about a fourteen. Wowser! I can’t believe no one mentioned the iridescence, or the variety of colors. It’s like a botanical version of a Clavilux. If it was matched with music, I could see it spinning to Ravel’s Bolero.


    September 21, 2020 at 11:22 AM

    • I’m pleased you mentioned the second image, which, with its softly colorful iridescence, is so different from any other Clematis picture I’ve ever made. Unlike Ravel’s “Bolero,” I had to remind myself about Clavilux and color organs to appreciate your comment.

      What you said about dried seed heads of ten-petal anemones resembling the brown Clematis strands could serve as another example of so-called convergent evolution, in which unrelated species develop a similar characteristic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2020 at 1:58 PM

  8. Very nice movement in the first photo – it really seems to be dancing. 🙂


    September 28, 2020 at 7:22 PM

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