Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Late-in-the-year scenes along Brushy Creek

with 12 comments

On December 17th we walked a section of Brushy Creek in far north Austin that was new to us. In the first picture you see how the slender leaves of a black willow tree (Salix nigra) had turned yellow and fallen onto the creek’s surface next to a colony of cattail plants (Typha domingensis), some fresh and others dried out. Nearby it was dead cattails that did the falling:

The image below shows dry goldenrod plants (Solidago sp.)
on the creek bank by dense tangles of vines and now-bare branches.

If you’re interested in the art and craft of photography, point 15 in About My Techniques pertains to all three of the pictures in today’s post. And if you’d like to go off on a bit of a maximalist tangent, you can check out Victorian interiors and certain modern décor.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 29, 2020 at 4:41 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Your first photo reminded me of the acres of spider lilies that sprouted up at the Brazoria refuge after one of their prescribed burns. There weren’t any leaves on the surface of the water, of course, but the post-burn debris served the same purpose visually.

    Every time I see a photo like the second, I start looking for birds. I’ve found several species nesting among reeds like that, especially black-bellied whistling ducks and moorhens. What might look messy to us looks like a snug home to them.


    December 29, 2020 at 8:04 AM

    • I’d sure like to have seen acres of spider lilies, which don’t grow at all in Austin (except under cultivation in gardens like one of the wet ones at the Wildflower Center). With regard to the second picture, it never would have occurred to me that birds might be sheltering among the fallen cattails. Birds and I must differ on which places seem not only messy but also precarious. And speaking of birds, while I was photographing along Brushy Creek that day someone asked me, as so often happens, whether I was photographing birds. That’s almost always people’s assumption. Maybe I should experiment with wearing a sign that says “No, I am not photographing birds,” just to see if it elicits any comments.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 29, 2020 at 8:31 AM

  2. I love seeing winter through your lens, Steve. There is both poignancy for what has been and anticipation for it to come.


    December 29, 2020 at 3:20 PM

    • You described the winter transition well. It’s shorter down here in Austin than in many other places, but when I look around now we’re certainly in that stage, notwithstanding the small numbers of wildflowers still taking advantage of the relatively warm weather.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 29, 2020 at 3:45 PM

  3. Love these shots, the geometry of them appeals to my decidedly non-mathematical mind!


    December 29, 2020 at 6:49 PM

  4. All three remind me of what we see here currently although the green as represented by the cattails not so much. But there are some greens showing and the occasional dandelion.

    Steve Gingold

    December 30, 2020 at 2:33 AM

    • Life springs up amid death, say the green cattails, even if they’re outnumbered. We’ve moved along toward your stick season, but next time I’ll show a couple of current wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 30, 2020 at 6:48 AM

  5. Excellent job capturing the subtle beauty of winter!


    December 30, 2020 at 9:22 AM

  6. The fallen willow leaves are very appealing – the cattails, too. There’s a species of horsetail here that makes some very interesting patterns as it decomposes – very linear.


    January 2, 2021 at 8:03 PM

    • The fallen yellow willow leaves entranced me and I tried out various compositions. I was tempted to show a vertical one but went with the horizontal. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll have to show us some fallen horsetail patterns.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2021 at 9:04 PM

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