Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fiat lux, fiat nix

with 35 comments

The Latin words “Fiat lux” mean “Let there be light.” Yesterday morning in Austin anyone who’d said instead “Fiat nix,” “Let there be snow,” would have seen that come to pass. I took the photograph above looking out our front window at a yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) that the cedar waxwings had left alone.

I ended up spending two hours and then another three hours yesterday documenting our rare snowfall. More pictures will appear in the days ahead.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 11, 2021 at 4:35 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

35 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Wowww!!! I never thought I would see you post about snow. I can send you A LOT more if you like LOL :).


    January 11, 2021 at 6:28 AM

    • Next thing you know, Elon Musk will build a ski resort in Austin. Actually we do get a little snow in Austin once every so many years, and it normally melts pretty quickly. The temperature yesterday during the snowfall was right at freezing or one degree above (Celsius), and sleet or drizzle was mixed in with it. Too bad the temperature didn’t drop just one or two degrees more.

      While this wasn’t the first picture of winter weather I’ve posted, you’re right that there haven’t been many. You may recall one in 2014 when you warned me about the danger of standing under icicles:


      As for you posting similar pictures, that’d be like carrying coals to Newcastle, or snow to Ontario.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2021 at 7:34 AM

  2. Now this is an unexpected post from you!


    January 11, 2021 at 7:22 AM

    • Unexpected, perhaps; welcome, beyond any doubt. The local news yesterday evening reported as much as 10cm of snow had fallen 50 kilometers north of Austin but I didn’t know about it earlier and might not have driven that far on slick roads even if I had known. Speaking of which, as I drove around my part of Austin looking for good snowy or icy things to photograph, on a downhill section of one street I saw a car that had crashed into a stone wall, presumably because the driver had driven too fast and lost control.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2021 at 7:42 AM

      • It’s been a long time since I had to drive in the ice and snow, but I remember well that awful feeling of having no control.


        January 11, 2021 at 1:39 PM

        • Our Subaru has all-wheel drive but I, who am normally a fast driver, drove slowly and cautiously yesterday because of the slush on the roads. I didn’t want to re-experience the feeling you mentioned of having no control.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 11, 2021 at 4:02 PM

  3. Enjoy the special beauty, it didn’t make it down here.

    automatic gardener

    January 11, 2021 at 7:38 AM

    • Yes, I know other people down there were also hoping the snow would move a little further south but ended up disappointed. I milked it (right color, wrong substance) for all it was worth, photographically speaking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2021 at 7:49 AM

  4. I’m so happy for you to have snow! It’ll be a nice change of pace while it lasts. Nice pop of red in your image.


    January 11, 2021 at 7:53 AM

    • I was happy for me, too. As you read, I spent a total of five hours out in the snow. After the first two I came home and put my soaked winter jacket and gloves in the dryer, grabbed a bowl of soup, and then went out for more pictures. Central Oklahoma is far enough north that you get snow and ice a good deal more than we do, as you documented in your post about the ice storm in late October and your most recent post showing snow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2021 at 8:03 AM

  5. I’m glad you are enjoying your snow.


    January 11, 2021 at 8:09 AM

    • Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to put that in the past tense, other than the pictures that resulted from it. When I look outside this morning there’s still some snow on roofs and in some places on the ground, but the yaupon in this picture has only a little snow left. The sun is just beginning to be visible in a clear sky and the temperature has already risen to 36°, so what’s left of the snow probably won’t last long; that’s how it normally is here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2021 at 8:21 AM

      • We’ve been lucky this year, with only one snow. Of course, it will never melt. We’ll probably still be slipping around in August!!! :(. Ok. I exaggerate. However, currently the polar vortex has split (you may have noticed) and the storms are going above and below us, leaving us with relatively mild temps and no more snow.


        January 12, 2021 at 9:15 AM

  6. Hurrah! Snow in Austin, that must be a rare sight. If you want to see more, come to Canada, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    January 11, 2021 at 9:10 AM

    • Yup, you’ve got no shortage of the white stuff up there each winter. It’s fun to play with, photographically and in other ways, but I wouldn’t want to endure those long northern winters.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2021 at 9:28 AM

      • Coming originally from Germany, we love experiencing this four seasons corner of the world.

        Peter Klopp

        January 11, 2021 at 3:56 PM

        • I grew up with four seasons and I know the appeal of that kind of variety, but my body has never done well in the cold, whereas the heat doesn’t bother me.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 11, 2021 at 4:09 PM

  7. Great shot of your snow-laden yaupon. I look forward to your photos–the snow was lovely. I’m glad I don’t live where it snows regularly, but it’s a treat for us.


    January 11, 2021 at 10:47 AM

    • That’s just how I feel: I moved south from New York to get away from half a year of cold weather. Even so, it sure is fun to play in the rare snows we get. Mostly I didn’t eve feel cold during my five hours outside (the main exception coming from the fact that my left glove got soaked through and through).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2021 at 10:54 AM

  8. Your snowfall looks better than what we’ve had so far. Send some of that our way.

    Steve Gingold

    January 11, 2021 at 2:17 PM

  9. That looks like New England! It’s beautiful!

    Lavinia Ross

    January 11, 2021 at 5:36 PM

  10. Lucky you. We could use a little snow just now, as the days here get hotter. I had two years of Latin in high school, but I have no memory of “nix” meaning snow. My only association with that is the common misinterpretation of many visitors to Germany trying to pronounce “nichts” (which means “nothing”).


    January 12, 2021 at 3:13 AM

    • Lucky me indeed, given how seldom Austin gets snow. It came down for hours, sometimes mixed with sleet. I kept the camera pointed at least somewhat downward as much as I could to try to keep drops off the front of the lens, but then the rubber eyecup around the viewfinder kept getting water in it and I had to hope the camera’s autofocus got the right spot; usually it did but sometimes it didn’t.

      As for Latin nix, the stem for all the cases other than the nominative singular is niv-, which reveals the kinship to the native English cognate snow (remember that Latin v was pronounced like our w). Somehow Latin lost the Indo-European root’s initial s.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 12, 2021 at 8:07 AM

  11. Now, this is an ephemeral! As I watched the snow building on radar, I thought you might have an even better chance than I’d anticipated. As much as I like grand snowscapes, I like snow combined with colored foliage and berries even more. This is a real smile-producer.


    January 12, 2021 at 4:13 PM

    • In addition to closeups, mostly I got what some photographers have taken to calling intimate landscapes. That’s because it’s hard to come by majestic landscapes here, with or without snow. In retrospect, I wish I’d found a good creek with snow on trees and rocks, but I had my hands full and am happy with some of the pictures I did get.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 12, 2021 at 5:01 PM

  12. Red berries are always a pleasant winter sight. Very Christmasy even if you don’t celebrate!


    January 13, 2021 at 11:53 AM

    • Fruity red against the still-green foliage and the white of the snow definitely appealed to me. That’s a celebration in its own right.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2021 at 12:08 PM

  13. I bet that came as a surprise! Great snowy shot Steve


    January 17, 2021 at 12:27 PM

    • A happy surprise it was when the snow came down for longer than the weather forecast the night before had predicted. I took advantage of the extra time, as you’ve been seeing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2021 at 5:35 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: