Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

What is this?

with 34 comments

I’m guessing you’ll have no idea what this is. If you’re up for a challenge, pause for a bit to contemplate the photograph and try to figure out what you’re seeing, then continue reading below for an explanation. Of course you’re welcome to tell us what you imagined this abstract picture shows.

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On April 25th I found that some rain-lilies (Zephyranthes drummondii) in my neighborhood had gotten well past the flowering stage and had produced seed capsules, so I set about photographing a few of them. Rain-lily leaves are typically only a third of an inch wide yet can grow to 12 inches long. Given those dimensions, the leaves usually end up lying on the ground, but I noticed that one rain-lily leaf had draped itself over a prickly pear cactus pad, with the result that the leaf’s distal portion was suspended in the air. I conceived the idea of taking pictures tip-on, so to speak, even as a bit of breeze complicated my task by causing the leaf to move somewhat. This minimalist portrait with almost nothing in focus is one result of my experiments. Prickly pear cactus buds on an adjacent pad became the orange orbs you see at the lower right.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2021 at 4:41 AM

34 Responses

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  1. Fascinating image.

    Lemony

    May 5, 2021 at 5:31 AM

  2. Very nicely seen. I love these more abstract images. I thought it might be the tip of a curling flower petal but I wasn’t sure and had no clue what species it might be if it were. Looking beyond that, though, my first thoughts were of a bull or ram horn.

    Todd Henson

    May 5, 2021 at 6:48 AM

    • The horn of a bull or ram makes sense, though I would have needed a lot of moxie to get that close to one of those. I’m not sure what prompted me to go for such an abstract take on the leaf. I’ve occasionally done that kind of thing, so you could say it’s in my photographic blood, even if the large majority of my rain-lily pictures have been of flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2021 at 7:08 AM

  3. Obviously it’s our intrepid photographer, getting to the point.

    shoreacres

    May 5, 2021 at 7:07 AM

  4. This minimalistic photo got me hooked/

    Peter Klopp

    May 5, 2021 at 8:39 AM

  5. I was just going to say that it’s a beautiful minimalist abstract picture. I’ll still go with that.

    Michael Scandling

    May 5, 2021 at 10:37 AM

  6. Great shot !

    gwenniesgardenworld

    May 5, 2021 at 1:23 PM

  7. Never would have guessed this one!

    Eliza Waters

    May 5, 2021 at 3:59 PM

  8. I was thinking the tip of a Calla lily. It’s a neat image.

    circadianreflections

    May 5, 2021 at 4:14 PM

  9. Well, I never would have guessed that. (I am unfamiliar with rain lily anyway.)

    tonytomeo

    May 5, 2021 at 10:10 PM

  10. A good photo.

    harrienijland

    May 6, 2021 at 1:02 AM

  11. Of course I had no idea until reading your description. It is an intriguing abstract.

    Steve Gingold

    May 6, 2021 at 3:40 AM

  12. It is almost lunar-looking. Imagination says event horizon of a black hole.

    Lavinia Ross

    May 10, 2021 at 10:32 AM

    • Well, I’m glad it wasn’t that, or you wouldn’t be hearing from me again or seeing any more pictures here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2021 at 11:49 AM


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