Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Reflecting on cardinal flowers

with 28 comments

Along Bull Creek on September 12th I reflected on cardinal flowers.

In fact I reflected literally and made some portraits like the first two here,
which show the flowers’ images on the moving surface of the creek.

Even without the cardinal flowers’ rich red, other reflections in Bull Creek made for appealing abstractions.

And here’s a reflection on language: “Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” — George Orwell in “Politics and the English Language,” which is even more relevant now than when it appeared in 1946.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 1, 2020 at 4:33 AM

28 Responses

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  1. The pop of red really stands out on those first images, but I also love the turquois blue in the last three photos. Are the round ripples in the third image from insects on the water?

    You hit the nail on the head with “Political Language” this morning. It’s frustrating to note how many people are taken in by a bold-faced liar. We would all do well to tap into our inner instinct as our wild friends in nature do, when predators walk among us.


    October 1, 2020 at 4:51 AM

    • Those pops of red really got to me, too, especially in the first photograph, where most of the rest of the image is dark. Not long before posting I decided to add a couple of other kinds of reflection pictures I took at the time, ones that don’t depend on the luscious red of the cardinal flowers. In the third picture, I noticed and am happy about the round ripples, but I don’t know what caused them.

      You can see that the current political season has influenced me to include a few quotations like the one in this post. At the same time, I’ve been balancing that with thoughts about other subjects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2020 at 8:44 AM

  2. These are nice shots!
    I understand Orwell’s use of “pure wind” but it’s hard to think of the nasty off-gassing on TV lately as pure wind, maybe a “pyre wind”?

    Robert Parker

    October 1, 2020 at 5:39 AM

    • Thanks. That’s a good play on words with pure ~ pyre. Etymologically speaking, pyre is a Greek cognate of native English fire. Unfortunately California has lately been suffering from pyres ~ fires enhanced by wind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2020 at 8:48 AM

  3. The second and fourth photos as paintings could have a prominent place in an abstract art gallery. They would look much better in detail and composition than most pictures I have seen there, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    October 1, 2020 at 9:15 AM

    • Thanks for your vote of confidence, Peter. I also thought that these abstract images would look good in a gallery.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2020 at 9:18 AM

  4. Wow, those are wonderful! Impressionist in style, the colors are rich and beautiful. Orwell’s words certainly are applicable these days. Sadly.


    October 1, 2020 at 10:05 AM

    • In the past (and again on September 12th) I photographed cardinal flowers directly. I’m glad I thought to also go for some indirect views on this latest cardinal flower outing. The rich red held up in reflections as well as I’d hoped.

      Orwell has been an influence on me for a good fifty years. The urgency he felt may have caused him to set his date of 1984 too early for a surveillance state. He also didn’t know about the online world, where ideologies are pushed not only by governments but by many other institutions and groups determined to suppress views they don’t like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2020 at 10:34 AM

  5. Cool images, Steve!

    Eliza Waters

    October 1, 2020 at 5:11 PM

  6. Cardinal flowers are one of those eastern flowers I miss. They grew in wetter areas there, and were among the first flowers I learned to identify as a child.

    Lavinia Ross

    October 1, 2020 at 6:53 PM

    • I understand why you’d miss such a richly colored wildflower. When I checked, I found that the cardinal flower isn’t only an eastern species; it grows as far west as Nevada and southern California.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2020 at 7:21 PM

      • I haven’t found any up here yet, except as a nursery plant. I have one in a pot, but it isn’t quite like the wild ones I remember.

        Lavinia Ross

        October 2, 2020 at 9:45 AM

        • Right. The northwest is outside the cardinal flower’s native range. (I was surprised to find that it grows in Nevada and southern California.) I understand how a nursery plant might differ from the wild cardinal flowers you remember.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 3, 2020 at 6:57 AM

  7. Very nice collection of abstract reflections, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    October 2, 2020 at 3:38 AM

  8. I’m so glad you posted these as a set. The differences in water flow, and the different reflections they create, are really interesting. I’m reminded again that fresh water reflects differently than brackish, and water flowing over rock retains a clarity that our muddy bayous and bays just can’t replicate. There aren’t many times that I see such gorgeous color reflected in the water; every one of these is appealing.


    October 2, 2020 at 8:58 AM

    • Originally only the two cardinal flower images were part of the post; the additional pictures led you to see one advantage, clarity, that our central Texas streams have over your coastal waters. That seems fair, given the ways in which the coast offers so much to a photographer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2020 at 6:19 PM

  9. Your reflections resemble paintings, Steve, in particular your last one. A very interesting effect.


    October 2, 2020 at 10:19 PM

  10. I like the overall darkness in your first image very much and your concept for this set. The most prominent set of concentric circles in your third appears to have something in its (almost-)center, and it looks very much like a moth, but it could as easily be a freshly-fallen leaf or piece of bark. Your final offering would make a spectacular wall-sized mural.


    October 10, 2020 at 9:29 PM

    • It was the predominant darkness of the first image that appealed to me, too, and in my “classical” blog mode the post would have shown it and it alone. However, I’ve so backlogged with pictures this year that in some posts I’ve taken to showing several photographs. I’ll admit, though, that the four pictures work well together.

      I agree that some object holds the center of concentric ripples in the third image, but I don’t know if I noticed it at the time, and I can’t now say what it was. Your suggestion of a wall-size version of the last photograph reminds me of Monet’s giant paintings in which water was a central element.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 11, 2020 at 5:51 AM

  11. It looks like you had fun, Steve, and you got some beautiful results. The first and third are my favorites but it’s hard to say why. 🙂


    October 13, 2020 at 12:07 PM

    • If those were my favorites, I’d say that 1 and 3 being odd, I find something of myself in them? 😀

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2020 at 3:26 PM

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