Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The temperature dropped 15° in as many minutes

with 32 comments

There I was lying on the ground at the edge of Lake Pflugerville on December 30th last year to photograph this bare bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) against menacing clouds when suddenly the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, both noticeably, as the predicted cold front came through. Adding some brightness to the bleak sky and dark branches were the colorful lichens on the tree’s trunk:

Unrelated thought for today:  “Credulity is always greatest in times of calamity.” — Charles MacKay,
Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, first published in 1841.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 10, 2021 at 4:39 AM

32 Responses

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  1. The top image is great, but the second looks like a waterfall of gold, stunning.


    January 10, 2021 at 5:09 AM

    • Your good description of “a waterfall of gold” reminded me of a stanza from William Blake’s “Jerusalem”:

      Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
      Bring me my Arrows of desire:
      Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold:
      Bring me my Chariot of fire!

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 6:10 AM

  2. When I saw the second photo my mind wandered to the aspen groves in Colorado. Then I realized it’s a macro, not a wide angle aerial. The magic of nature’s imagery!


    January 10, 2021 at 7:17 AM

    • The mathematical concept of fractals has to do with things that look the same when looked at with different degrees of magnification. The way you imagined the second image to be a wide-angle aerial view of aspens isn’t fractal but something in the same spirit. I wish I had some aspens nearby that I could make portraits of.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 8:26 AM

  3. Worlds within worlds~the delights of macro imagery. I love the image of a waterfall of gold.
    Your quote is right on target.


    January 10, 2021 at 8:48 AM

    • You’ve borrowed www from the world-wide web and applied it to the www of worlds within worlds that macro imagery reveals. The second picture isn’t truly a macro, but without some indication of scale it’s hard to tell.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 9:01 AM

      • Well yes.


        January 11, 2021 at 8:10 AM

  4. You raised the low status of the lichens hardly noticed by most people by presenting them in your photo as a tapestry of gold in motion. I also enjoyed reading the comments and your responses above, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    January 10, 2021 at 9:21 AM

    • For me lichens are anything but lowly, a continuing source of photographic fascination. I wonder if anyone has ever made a tapestry or wallpaper from the patterns of lichens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 1:09 PM

  5. Bald cypress are as appealing to me ‘bald’ as they are while still in leaf. Your paired photos certainly suggest cold and warmth as opposites, and the sky behind the cypress is perfect. As for your 15 degree drop, I’m hoping that you might get more than a temperature drop today. Just north of you, this is how things look in Comanche just now.


    January 10, 2021 at 9:37 AM

    • I was out for two hours this morning and the snow is still coming down. The temperature, however, is 34°, so the snow isn’t sticking and staying as well as I’d hoped. If conditions improve I may go back out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 1:11 PM

      • I chuckled at that. One person’s ‘improved conditions’ are another person’s excuse for hot chocolate and a book.


        January 10, 2021 at 1:36 PM

        • I ate one bowl of soup and didn’t dare delay any longer. I can eat anytime but I can’t order up snow.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 10, 2021 at 8:58 PM

      • I just saw some photos from Lake Travis. I’d guess your conditions improved considerably. Lucky you!


        January 10, 2021 at 2:15 PM

    • The snow got a better so I went back out, making my total for the day five hours!

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 8:55 PM

  6. Those are both great images, Steve. We have had days like that here recently. The weather can take some real turns.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 10, 2021 at 10:47 AM

    • Real turns indeed. I don’t remember a previous time when I was out photographing right at the moment when a front came through. I hope your recent fronts were enjoyable.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 1:13 PM

  7. Lovely lichen image! I’ve always marveled at the patterns and varied color of lichen. Those clouds in the first image give it a foreboding look, with perhaps some volatile weather approaching.


    January 10, 2021 at 3:08 PM

    • Foreboding is just the right word for the feeling I wanted to convey after I saw those dark clouds. As for lichens, this afternoon I took pictures of some with snow/sleet on them. I don’t know yet if any turned out well enough to show.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 9:09 PM

  8. Oh winter – I love how you allow us to see the beauty of bare branches reaching to the cloudy heavens.


    January 10, 2021 at 7:09 PM

    • Most of the time I’ve photographed bald cypress trees when their leaves have turned a lovely russet. This bare look was a departure, and it worked well with the ominous clouds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2021 at 9:10 PM

  9. I love the first image!!


    January 11, 2021 at 8:45 PM

  10. Great stormy shot and great subject! The branch structure is just a little different than lots of trees.


    January 13, 2021 at 11:54 AM

    • I was happy with the storm as background. Now I wonder how the tree looked this past Sunday when it would have had snow on it. And yes, the bald cypress has its own kind of branching structure.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2021 at 12:51 PM

  11. Compositions with a basis of near and far are desirable and so are pairs of images. All that lichen is wonderful to behold. The first is something I’d love to find and you’ve done well by getting so low.

    Steve Gingold

    January 13, 2021 at 4:32 PM

    • You could say I gave you the lowdown on this situation. I’ve been showing pairs of pictures more often recently than I used to. I still generally favor a single image that is strong enough to stand on its own, and the first one here could have done that. At the same time, I’ve taken so many pictures in the past year that many of them will never get seen, and that’s why I’ve been adding extras to some recent posts.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2021 at 4:45 PM

      • Generally I feel the same about posting single images. There are times for multiples but often one image should stand alone. I’ve at times posted an image that I liked and another that I wasn’t quite as thrilled with only to have my favorite shunted aside by comments about the second.

        Steve Gingold

        January 13, 2021 at 5:00 PM

        • I’ve had that experience too. Sometimes I’ve been disappointed that a picture I really like didn’t garner much of a reaction. Oh well, c’est la vie.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 13, 2021 at 5:45 PM

  12. I like the way you framed the lichen photos – and what an interesting photo that is.


    January 14, 2021 at 1:48 PM

    • We drove 20 miles to Lake Pflugerville and this tree is the one and only thing I managed to photograph before the cold front blustered through.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 14, 2021 at 2:35 PM

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