Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red does its thing

with 34 comments

Around 3:15 yesterday afternoon I lay on my back at the edge of a parking lot behind an office building along the Capital of Texas Highway. I did that so I could aim upward to record the view against a bright blue sky of an oak tree whose leaves had turned red. Because the leaves were richly red, the tree might well have been Quercus buckleyi, known understandably as the Texas red oak.

As recent posts have shown, we’ve still been getting various fall colors down here, even as the temperature when I took yesterday’s picture had climbed to 78°F (26°C).

Have you heard about the enormous catalogue of the world’s plants compiled in Leipzig, Germany?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 11, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

34 Responses

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  1. I was driving around this week thinking it was looking like fall with the leaves changing colors.

    automatic gardener

    December 11, 2020 at 7:16 AM

    • It sure looked that way yesterday. In addition to oaks, plenty of cedar elms were looking happily yellow. We’re fortunate that many of our trees still have leaves down here, something that people further north lament the loss of now that it’s “stick season” for them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2020 at 7:49 AM

  2. One of my favorite trees. There’s a lot of red oaks at the south end of the Finger Lakes, sometimes scarlet oaks. I admire your dedication to the craft, that you’re willing to lie down in public to get a shot. It’s soaring into the 40’s in Milwaukee today, woohoo! Heat Wave!

    Robert Parker

    December 11, 2020 at 8:09 AM

  3. I think the picture was really worth the effort of you lying down on your back. 🙂


    December 11, 2020 at 8:22 AM

    • Sometimes I go through difficult things for the sake of a picture, like wading through a stand of greenbrier vines the other day. In this case, though, lying down was easy, especially as I always carry a rubber mat with me. I checked out various views of this oak but looking straight up was the best one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2020 at 8:32 AM

  4. Looking at the bright and colourful picture of the oak tree that you photographed, I wondered how you could possibly lie on your back without getting dirty (or wet if you took the picture in our area right now). Then I read your reply to Pit’s comment. I think to carry a rubber mat with you is a splendid idea, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    December 11, 2020 at 9:02 AM

    • Because my main subjects are plants, and because so many of them stay close to the ground, I soon realized I would have to get down there with them if I wanted good pictures. The ground in Texas is less hospitable than in many other places, so carrying a mat around struck me as a good thing and I’ve been doing it for a couple of decades when I go out to take pictures in nature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2020 at 9:24 AM

  5. This is akin to some of the color I saw and mentioned in my previous comment. Even though we can get some color at the coast, the nature of the leaves themselves doesn’t seem to allow for this kind of translucence.


    December 11, 2020 at 2:46 PM

    • Regarding your comment about the oak leaves at the coast seemingly not allowing this sort of translucence, I checked and found that Quercus buckleyi grows in the center of the state. Apparently the leaves of the oaks species you do have are more opaque.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2020 at 3:19 PM

  6. Isn’t it interesting to look up to the sky. It is my reminder to keep my heart open to fresh ideas and new horizons. Lovely capture.


    December 11, 2020 at 2:48 PM

    • I’m accustomed to looking at potential subjects from various angles to see if at least one is good enough to warrant a picture. In particular, I’ve long used a bright blue sky as an isolating and color-contrasting element. Backlighting serves to heighten color saturation in translucent things like leaves, so I’m accustomed to checking out a position where the leaves are between the sun and the camera; in this case being down near the ground accomplished that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2020 at 3:26 PM

  7. Colorful foliage against a strikingly blue sky pleases the eyes on a grey day, Steve. 🙂

    I’ve bookmarked that link on the plant catalog in Leipzig. Thank you!

    Lavinia Ross

    December 11, 2020 at 4:56 PM

    • We had several days of bright blue sky, so I was grateful for the red oak leaves to play off against it.
      Yes, that’s quite a catalog, isn’t it?

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2020 at 5:30 PM

  8. 78 degrees? I’m so jealous!

    Eliza Waters

    December 11, 2020 at 8:28 PM

    • A day or two earlier the temperature at the airport reached 83°, setting a record for that date.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2020 at 8:32 PM

  9. Gorgeous against that azure sky. We had a wonderful oak in our yard in Omaha that was CD’s favorite tree. It was a black oak, but the leaves turned the most amazing red in autumn: https://krikitarts.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/ode-to-a-black-oak/


    December 11, 2020 at 9:05 PM

    • So we took the same approach of photographing the leaves backlit by the sun. Why not? It’s a great way to saturate the colors.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 11, 2020 at 9:13 PM

  10. Beautiful photo. I’m so enjoying the tree foliage color right now. I have two red oaks and a sycamore in my back and side garden and all three are really lovely, especially when there’s a blue sky as background. Eventually and soon, they’ll be on the ground. Not quite as enjoyable. 🙂


    December 12, 2020 at 8:55 AM

    • Then I hope you’ve taken or are taking pictures of them to show them off in Blogland. I’d already been noticing and photographing sycamores for a couple of weeks before finally seeing a few good oaks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2020 at 10:05 AM

  11. The catalogue you linked to reminds me of a book I had many years ago, Exotica…not erotica….that contained over 2500 pages, 17# worth, of pictures of plants, many of which were house plants which I was raising and selling at the time..

    Steve Gingold

    December 12, 2020 at 6:43 PM

    • I think some people confuse exotica with erotica, so it’s good you added the clarification. Seventeen pounds makes for quite a tome.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 12, 2020 at 9:38 PM

  12. This is a nice cheerful image for this freezing rain day.


    January 1, 2021 at 10:22 AM

    • Freezing rain can make for some good pictures. I’d put up with the cold for a crack at that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 1, 2021 at 10:52 AM

      • I’ll skip the potential for a cracked head, thanks. I have quite a number of winter photos to work from already. I will say though that spending just one day indoors was not good for my mental health. I’m hoping we get a thaw today.


        January 2, 2021 at 9:36 AM

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