Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A study in colors and shapes

with 32 comments

On March 19th we drove an hour south to Gonzales to see how the spring wildflowers were coming along. On the whole the results disappointed us, especially compared to the great spring of 2019 in that area. One okay place was the McKeller Memorial Park just north of Gonzales, which did host a colony of bright red phlox (Phlox sp.) and some bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis). The breeze dictated a high shutter speed, which in turn meant a rather shallow depth of field. As a result I experimented with some abstract studies like this one, in which only the tip and an adjacent bit of the unfurling phlox bud were in focus.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2021 at 4:41 AM

32 Responses

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  1. The wind has been murderous here also, ruining all hope for wildflower photography. Very strong colors. What’s the blue flower?

    Alessandra Chaves

    March 26, 2021 at 7:27 AM

    • For me the strong colors contribute a lot to make this abstract view effective. The blue flowers are the famous bluebonnets of Texas. As for wind, I think I mentioned to you once that I’ve gotten adept at steadying a plant with my left hand while taking a picture with my right hand. And of course I try to take pictures during brief lulls in the wind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2021 at 7:42 AM

      • Well, it’s 25 mph winds. I tend to give it up. I like the colors also on your abstract. I’ve tried some abstracts in the past with flowers but didn’t achieve anything I liked.

        Alessandra Chaves

        March 26, 2021 at 7:56 AM

        • I’ll grant you that 25 mph would push the limits of my technique. I’ve sometimes succeeded by cranking up the ISO and using a high shutter speed, but it’s hit and miss. Sometimes with strong winds I’ve taken the opposite tack and used a slow shutter speed to purposely let things blur. I’ve done a good many close flower abstractions in the past year and have been pleased with some of the results.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 26, 2021 at 8:34 AM

  2. Those are kaleidoscopic colors! I can’t wait to find some. Despite my love of white flowers, and a fondness for spring pastels, I’m ready for something more.

    shoreacres

    March 26, 2021 at 7:56 AM

    • Kal-eido-scope: beautiful-view-look at. Beautiful colors they were indeed. It shouldn’t be long before you see them too. Yesterday I read a favorable report of wildflowers along TX 71 between Columbus and La Grange, and also down by Pleasanton south of San Antonio.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2021 at 8:39 AM

  3. That’s a nice splash of colors, with a patchwork kind of appearance. It’s funny that I’ve never paid attention to a phlox bud. They’re already open when I see them, so I just never noticed!

    Littlesundog

    March 26, 2021 at 8:05 AM

    • I’ll bet now you notice how phlox buds start out rolled up tightly and then unfurl.
      Yes, this picture did end up looking patchworky, and that’s one reason I like it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2021 at 8:41 AM

      • Oh I felt the same about the patchwork design! And you are correct about now noticing the phlox buds. I went out this morning and of course there were as many rolled up buds as there were open. I’m not sure why I never really paid attention to that before, but I will forevermore!

        Littlesundog

        March 26, 2021 at 3:00 PM

        • Quoth the (botanical) raven: forevermore! Even after photographing some species here for two decades, it’s not unusual for me to notice new things.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 26, 2021 at 3:09 PM

  4. One great shot like the one above overcomes the disappointment of not finding what you had expected to find, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    March 26, 2021 at 8:39 AM

    • I’m used to portraying individual flowers or small groups, so even in the absence of the great colonies we expect here in the spring, I always find something to photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2021 at 8:48 AM

  5. I liked this vibrant burst of spring flowers, Steve.

    Jet Eliot

    March 26, 2021 at 9:24 AM

  6. I’m surprised to not find a comment mentioning lipstick! These vibrant colors would make an excellent advertisement.

    Robert Parker

    March 26, 2021 at 4:56 PM

    • I guess everyone was waiting for you to mention it. Maybe you should trademark the name Phloxstick™.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2021 at 5:12 PM

      • I like it!

        Robert Parker

        March 26, 2021 at 6:00 PM

        • Then go for it. Alongside Estée Lauder we can have Robert Parker.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 26, 2021 at 6:16 PM

          • That’s Robert Parquerre if you please.

            Robert Parker

            March 26, 2021 at 6:54 PM

            • My French phonetics teacher in college was Mme. Lily Mahuzier Parker, and she pronounced her married name the way you spelled it, with stress on the final syllable.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 26, 2021 at 10:13 PM

              • Can I sprinkle on some of those cool accent marks? Pârquèrre

                Robert Parker

                March 26, 2021 at 10:31 PM

                • You can, but people in the know will know you don’t know French nohow. You’ve reminded me that when I was growing up on Long Island, a dry cleaner in our town had named itself Eleganté, which mangled the French adjective élégante by leaving off the accent on the first two e’s and putting one on the final e, where it doesn’t belong. From time to time I also see English speakers put an accent in the right place on a French word, but they get the accent backwards, using ´for `or vice versa.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 27, 2021 at 6:12 AM

  7. That is a beautiful composition, Steve. I like the spiral of the phlox bloom about to unfold.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 27, 2021 at 9:52 AM

    • Thanks. Phlox flowers know a lot more about solid geometry than I ever will. The open flowers are not even an inch wide.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 27, 2021 at 10:07 AM

  8. Phlox offers a tightly wrapped package. Nice rich color too.

    Steve Gingold

    March 29, 2021 at 4:57 AM

    • That red was super saturated, and I made good use of it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2021 at 5:30 AM

      • Thanks for the typo fix.

        Steve Gingold

        March 29, 2021 at 5:37 AM

        • Sure. I’ve noticed that most bloggers don’t fix typos and other mistakes in the comments they get. I fix every one that I catch. As a poor typist myself, that’s only fair.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 29, 2021 at 5:42 AM

          • I do the same although not 100% of the time. It is too bad there is no edit option once we hit the comment button.

            Steve Gingold

            March 29, 2021 at 5:53 AM

            • I’ve thought about that, too, and I’m pretty sure the reason WordPress doesn’t allow it is that it would let an unscrupulous person come back later and change a comment to say something very different. The easy workaround would be for WordPress to let commenters edit their own comments, and to send any changed comments to the blogger for approval before it appeared online—just as WordPress lets us do with first-time commenters.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 29, 2021 at 6:18 AM

  9. Loving those colours Steve … hoping that more wildflowers abound

    Julie@frogpondfarm

    April 1, 2021 at 2:16 PM


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