Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Icy possumhaw drupes

with 40 comments

During our wintry weather on January 10th the outdoor temperature rose and fell only within the narrow range of 32°F (0°C) to 34°F (1°C), so the snow was wet and mixed with sleet and drizzle. At the same time that new snowflakes were coming down, some of the earlier precipitation was slowly melting, as confirmed by the photograph above of possumhaw (Ilex decidua) drupes in Great Hills Park. Not all the fruit stayed on the tree; some fell onto iced-over plants below.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2021 at 4:24 PM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

40 Responses

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  1. Aha, these icy beauties are impressive, Steve. They look as if you have taken them in our area except that the possumhaw drupes most likely don’t grow in our area.

    Peter Klopp

    January 13, 2021 at 4:44 PM

  2. I like the pop of color in both of these images. It looks like a fair bit of melting was going on. I bet you felt the need to scurry around a bit, to capture as much of that white and crystal beauty as you could!


    January 13, 2021 at 4:50 PM

    • Just call me Mr. Scurry. Knowing that a chance like this comes our way only once every so many years here, I kept going around looking for interesting things to photograph with snow or ice on them. I didn’t expect that after the two hours spent outdoors in the morning I’d go back for three more hours in the afternoon, but the snow surprised us by continuing to come down and I didn’t want to pass up such a good opportunity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2021 at 4:56 PM

  3. Love the water drops in that first pic!

    M.B. Henry

    January 13, 2021 at 6:07 PM

  4. Oh, those droplets are wonderful, how did you get the black background?


    January 13, 2021 at 6:26 PM

    • First of all, I held the camera close to the little fruits. I used a ring flash, which encircles the far end of my macro lens, so its bright light (which I set at its maximum intensity) was the closest thing to the subject and made it a lot brighter than things further back. When I processed the image I lowered the Blacks slider and pulled the tone curve downward, both of which settings made the background details largely disappear. Then I manually darkened any details that still remained.

      You’ve given me the idea of experimenting to see if I can process the same picture in a very different way that still pleases me. If I succeed, maybe I’ll post the new version, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2021 at 6:45 PM

      • You are such a talented photographer. I didn’t even know of such a thing as a ring flash!


        January 14, 2021 at 4:19 AM

        • So a ring flash didn’t ring true with you. Because a ring flash emits light from all the way around the lens, there’s no harsh shadow on one side of the subject the way there is with a regular flash.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 14, 2021 at 5:39 AM

  5. I love the many contrasts between these two photos! Beautiful images, Steve.

    Birder's Journey

    January 13, 2021 at 6:30 PM

    • Thanks. I paired these two because the background in the first is black, while the overall tone of the second is light. Originally I’d included a middle picture with lots of gray but in the end I figured that was too much and took it out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2021 at 6:47 PM

  6. Beautiful images, Steve, especially the first one.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 13, 2021 at 6:51 PM

    • Thanks. I’d photographed this possumhaw on other occasions, so it was natural to check it out with snow and ice on it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2021 at 7:04 PM

  7. Those drops! They’re pretty great and fill me with anticipation. They feel like you caught them right before they fell off the berries. Nicely done!


    January 13, 2021 at 8:17 PM

    • Those drops sure make the picture. Sometimes in situations where catching the right moment is important I set the camera to rapid-fire mode, but with flash that’s not an option because even with fresh batteries the flash takes at least several seconds to recharge between pictures. In this case I just lucked out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 13, 2021 at 8:59 PM

  8. Those Possumhaw drupe drops look like they were about to drop from the drupes.

    Steve Gingold

    January 14, 2021 at 3:37 AM

  9. Beautiful shots, Steve.

    Icy drupes. I love the word ‘drupes’ not sure why. Those drupes are even more appealing with a layer of ice. I like your response above. Try saying it three times fast–I did and can’t. 🙂


    January 14, 2021 at 10:44 AM

    • I like drupe, too, even if people who hear it most likely think it’s droop. And yes, that’s a hard sentence to say fast and not trip up on.

      The ice in these possumhaw drupes was pretty droopy, which is to say melty. You may remember we had an ice storm in 2007, and that time I photographed some possumhaw drupes encased in clear ice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 14, 2021 at 11:09 AM

  10. The one burst of color in the second photo is wonderful. I bet you had fun in that weather, but it must have been bad for driving! Especially for those not used to it.


    January 14, 2021 at 1:43 PM

    • Our Subaru Outback has all-wheel drive but even so I drove unusually cautiously for normally zippy-driving me. In any case, I didn’t stray more than a few miles from home, finding enough to keep me busy locally. These two pictures are from the park only half a mile from home.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 14, 2021 at 2:07 PM

  11. Amazing detail!

    Harry Zola

    January 15, 2021 at 3:53 PM

  12. Wonderful…colours and composition Steve 🤓👌

    sloppy buddhist

    January 16, 2021 at 2:55 PM

  13. Wonderful Steve! Water droplets never looked so good. I’d never heard of a ring flash ..


    January 21, 2021 at 1:07 PM

    • You mean a ring flash didn’t ring a bell with you.
      Water drops are a world unto themselves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2021 at 1:09 PM

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