Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Channeling my inner Rembrandt—or not

with 18 comments

On December 23, 2020, I found myself out on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin waiting for the sun to come up, which it must have done, only the sky was so overcast I never did see the solar disk. In the gloom I channeled my inner Rembrandt and made a somber portrait of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) seed head remains. In contrast, on November 11th at the Riata Trace Pond I’d made a much brighter portrait:

And from January 10th of this year, here’s another vaguely
Rembrandtesque view, this time of some ground-bound goldenrod:

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2021 at 4:30 AM

18 Responses

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  1. The first photo brought to mind the third section of T.S. Eliot’s “East Coker,” which begins with the lines:

    “O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
    The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant…”

    Of course, that section also includes the line, “So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing,” which accords nicely with your second photo.

    Your ground-bound goldenrod appears ground-browned, too.


    January 26, 2021 at 6:38 AM

    • Your “ground-browned” follow-up to “ground-bound” reminded me of “How now brown cow.” That in turn led to “It sure would be odd to find goldenrod that put forth a pod.” Maybe I’d find a few in some vacant interstellar spaces.

      The lines that follow the ones you quoted are:

      “The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
      The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
      Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
      Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark….”

      I have to wonder if Eliot was influenced by Emerson’s “Hamatreya”:


      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2021 at 7:13 AM

  2. That middle one looks like it should be a feast for some birds. 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    January 26, 2021 at 6:43 AM

  3. I see your inner Rembrandt was successful, just a shaft of light is missing illuminating some of the contours of the goldenrod. For its cheerful appearance, I prefer the second photo, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    January 26, 2021 at 7:33 AM

    • It’s January and you’re in Canada, so I understand why you’d favor the brightness of the middle picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2021 at 7:50 AM

  4. The chiaroscuro effect in the first photo is very nice and atmospheric. I like the abstraction of the “ground browned” one as well 🙂


    January 26, 2021 at 8:00 AM

    • The last picture is simple and yet I like it for that simplicity. It’s the sort of thing that’s a common sight up north, but its rarity here probably contributes to my liking of it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2021 at 8:52 AM

  5. It’s the first one, my friend.

    Michael Scandling

    January 26, 2021 at 10:52 AM

  6. The dark one presents an interesting mood. It is unique.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 26, 2021 at 5:28 PM

  7. I like the somber portrait very much, and the story of how it came to be. The “ground-bound” (clever!) goldenrod covered with snow reminds me of days past when I lived in NY. It’s been a warm, wet winter here with no trace of snow. Not so in the mountains, fortunately.


    January 29, 2021 at 12:37 PM

    • The somber portrait is different from what I normally do, but if I don’t try new things I might miss out on worthwhile pictures. I’m glad I went ahead even when circumstances didn’t seem promising.

      Have you been or will you be able to get up into the mountains for some of that snow?

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 29, 2021 at 8:40 PM

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