Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Ice and snow on cedar elms and an Ashe juniper

with 34 comments

From February 18th in Great Hills Park, look how ice had encased the bare branches of cedar elm trees (Ulmus crassifolia). The Ashe juniper tree (Juniperus ashei) further back was conspicuous in the way its branches of evergreen leaves trapped snow, of which 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) had come down. In the closer February 12th pre-snow view below of little icicles on a cedar elm, the pale green came from lichens; it’s a visually energetic way to fill a frame, don’t you think?

And here’s a thought for today from physicist Richard Feynman in 1974:
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2021 at 4:41 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

34 Responses

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  1. The view through icy branches to snowy ones is especially pleasing. The icy branches seem as delicate as frost-covered ones, although the thicker ice coating’s visible at second glance. The second photo reminds me of some you’ve posted of possumhaw, with ice and lichens serving the same purpose as bare branches and berries.


    March 1, 2021 at 6:03 AM

    • I’ll add my usual clarification (figurative and also literal) that the high-resolution versions of these pictures offer much better details in the ice. I’m always impressed that you see as many details as you do in these blog-sized images.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2021 at 7:27 AM

  2. As much as I like the images, I really enjoyed the Feynman quote.


    March 1, 2021 at 7:07 AM

    • The quotation was a late addition; I came across it only yesterday. I took it to heart because in the past few years, and more than ever before in my whole life, many people have deluded themselves into believing things true that clearly aren’t. I never thought I’d live to see such a devolution, and it saddens me enormously.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2021 at 7:36 AM

  3. I feel the excitement you must have felt while photographing the beautiful chaos of snow in the trees. There’s something magical about both of these images. And I had no idea you had 6.5 inches of snow! Outstanding for your area!

    That quote is a bit of “slap in the face” reality these days. I’ve been quite frustrated with what I see going on.


    March 1, 2021 at 10:23 AM

    • Excitement indeed: three times after the snowfall I went to Great Hills Park to see a real winter landscape. I don’t remember exactly, but I saw on television that the 6.5 inches of snow was the third or fourth highest here since records have been kept. It was by far the most during my 44 years in Austin.

      Like you’ve, I’ve been frustrated by what’s been going on in the country; I’d say downright depressed at times.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2021 at 10:42 AM

      • I’m more on the angry side – I don’t understand how people can be so duped and fooled. It’s caused me to pull away and distance myself from others. That type of mentality makes me wonder about how brainwashed the population really is. I’m not sure I want to know.


        March 1, 2021 at 10:58 AM

        • I sympathize with you. I get angry sometimes, too, and because of that there are periods when I just can’t watch the news anymore.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 1, 2021 at 11:28 AM

  4. The branches look like delicately etched lines – a transitory moment of beauty.

    Ann Mackay

    March 1, 2021 at 1:10 PM

    • Transitory indeed: by February 20th the ice and snow were melting increasingly fast, and by the end of the next day they’d mostly disappeared as temperatures rose into the 70s. I’m thankful for all the photographic “etchings” I came away with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2021 at 2:01 PM

  5. That second shot would make a killer jigsaw puzzle!

    Eliza Waters

    March 1, 2021 at 4:48 PM

    • I like your idea. Every once in a while people have suggested that for other complicated pictures I’ve posted.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2021 at 6:48 PM

  6. I can imagine that much snow would be interesting and exciting to one who is not used to seeing it. Here, I get that excitement only for the first several snows of the season.


    March 1, 2021 at 6:31 PM

    • Even the highly unusually frigid, icy, and snowy weather we went through is almost as nothing compared to a Montana winter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2021 at 6:49 PM

  7. These photos are stunning. Both evoke the complexity of lace or intricate beading and the whisper of green adds to their beauty.


    March 1, 2021 at 7:43 PM

    • Yay, complexity, and the large originals offer many more details. Your “whisper of green” is a good description of the subtle color the lichens provide in the second view.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 1, 2021 at 8:28 PM

  8. Ah, we were responding similarly to intricate snowy branches yesterday.

    Steve Gingold

    March 2, 2021 at 3:31 AM

    • This has been the rare time when central Texas could offer the intricacy of ice- and snow-covered branches.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 2, 2021 at 6:57 AM

  9. Beautiful photos and a good quote from Feynman.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 3, 2021 at 11:00 AM

  10. I like the intricate look of the interlaced branches. I hope you did OK through the storms down there


    March 3, 2021 at 2:29 PM

  11. That is cool that you have an appreciation for the Ashe juniper. Most who know it tend to ignore it. I am not familiar with it, but I think that it is more distinguished than the Eastern red cedar, and I already like the Eastern red cedar.


    March 3, 2021 at 10:50 PM

    • I remember your affinity for the eastern red cedar from your experiences in Oklahoma. The rather similar Ashe juniper is one of the most common trees in central Texas and is colloquially but equally incorrectly called cedar. Some people don’t like it because it can take over a piece of land. Many hate it because its wind-spread pollen triggers allergies in the winter. On the good side, these trees emit a pleasant fragrance. Pictorially interesting are the shaggy bark and patterns in the wood. We have a bunch of Ashe junipers in our yard; they didn’t fare well in the ice storm, which brought down several large limbs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 4, 2021 at 4:59 AM

      • So it behaves like the Eastern red cedar too, . . . but smells prettier.
        That ice was horrid! People do not realize that redwoods at low elevations can not accommodate the weight of snow. Even those at higher elevations do not tolerate it well, since snow is so extremely rare within their range. I can not imagine what ice would have done to them!


        March 4, 2021 at 2:32 PM

  12. Fine, frail, fleeting forms to fill the frames.


    March 4, 2021 at 4:20 AM

  13. Nice textural abstracts. Do you ever print and show? I could see a whole show with your favorites of this type of shot.


    March 12, 2021 at 2:36 PM

    • I haven’t had pictures in a show for quite some time now. Printing has been my weak link. I had a bunch printed on metal a few years ago and liked the effect; the metal preserves some of the clarity and brightness that photographs have on a good computer monitor.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 12, 2021 at 3:50 PM

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