Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White makes its rounds

with 24 comments

Here are two takes on white. Above is a flower head of Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia caespitosa) in Allen Park on May 15th. Who the eponymous and alliterative Barbara was is anyone’s guess. The same photo session yielded the portrait below of a firewheel (Gallardia pulchella) with white ray tips, though in that white you can see traces of the customary yellow that’s dominant in the firewheels farther back. The ring flash I used for the top picture accounts for the darkness surrounding the flower head. For the other picture I went with natural light—or did natural light go with me?

Along those lines, here’s Austin Dobson’s poem “The Paradox of Time”:

Time goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go;
Or else, were this not so,
What need to chain the hours,
For Youth were always ours?
Time goes, you say?—ah no!

Ours is the eyes’ deceit
Of men whose flying feet
Lead through some landscape low;
We pass, and think we see
The earth’s fixed surface flee:—
Alas, Time stays,—we go!

Once in the days of old,
Your locks were curling gold,
And mine had shamed the crow.
Now, in the self-same stage,
We’ve reached the silver age;
Time goes, you say?—ah no!

Once, when my voice was strong,
I filled the woods with song
To praise your ‘rose’ and ‘snow’;
My bird, that sang, is dead;
Where are your roses fled?
Alas, Time stays,—we go!

See, in what traversed ways,
What backward Fate delays
The hopes we used to know;
Where are our old desires?—
Ah, where those vanished fires?
Time goes, you say?—ah no!

How far, how far, O Sweet,
The past behind our feet
Lies in the even-glow!
Now, on the forward way,
Let us fold hands, and pray;
Alas, Time stays,—we go!

Dobson took his inspiration from a famous sonnet by Ronsard, which you’re welcome to read in the original and in an English translation.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 11, 2021 at 4:38 AM

24 Responses

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  1. They’re both beautiful. Clever title!!


    June 11, 2021 at 5:41 AM

    • Wordplay often makes the rounds here, too. I’m happy to have it around me, just as I’m glad to have these round wildflowers to photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2021 at 5:45 AM

  2. Time stays, we go. This is a very powerful poem whose true meaning escapes many people who think and act as if they live forever. The two wildflowers are so beautiful, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    June 11, 2021 at 8:17 AM

  3. Both of these images are beautiful. The first reminds me of fireworks. And I cannot say I have ever seen white ray tips on a firewheel. I’ve only noticed the yellow. Regardless, the firewheel is a favorite of mine. I have a few in my flowerbeds.


    June 11, 2021 at 10:07 PM

    • There is something fireworks-y about the first picture, isn’t there? It’s easy to understand why firewheels are among your favorite flowers. They’ve dominated Austin-area landscapes for the past month or two. In addition to the variant with the white ray tips shown here, there’s a variant in which the center of the flower head and the outer parts of the rays are yellow, while the inner parts of the rays are white. I spotted a few of those on June 7th.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2021 at 11:13 PM

  4. I love Barbara’s buttons. I finally found them last year in east Texas, in several sandy, open areas. You mentioned using ring flash for this image; might you have done the same for your previous basket-flower photo? There are some structural similarities, of course, but the quality of the light in both is really effective.

    I suppose the variation in Gaillardia flowers isn’t infinite, but it certainly can seem that way at times. I don’t recall seeing one with white tips; that yellow blush around the edges is pretty.


    June 12, 2021 at 6:16 AM

    • A month ago we attended a piano recital in a home, our first such activity in over a year, made possible by having gotten vaccinated. On the way to the recital I noticed these Barbara’s buttons flowering, so I went back the next morning. Because I knew the flowers were in a shaded area I brought my ring flash with me. Normally the ring flash is a bring flash only when I know I’ll be photographing something that that device will be useful for. Regarding the basket-flower you asked about, I hadn’t left home with any expectation of finding it, so I used natural light for that closeup. I do always carry a regular flash with me, just in case I come across a subject that needs extra light.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2021 at 7:13 AM

  5. Okay, the white got my attention.


    June 12, 2021 at 11:51 AM

  6. Wow – that Barbara’s button is beautiful!


    June 12, 2021 at 7:41 PM

  7. When I was a kid my mother made me a shirt with buttons very much like Barbara’s. They were attractive but hard to slip through the buttonhole. I like the arrangement of the background in the firewheel shot.

    Steve Gingold

    June 13, 2021 at 11:18 AM

    • Do you still have those buttons (if not the shirt itself)? Regarding the second picture, is there something particular in the arrangement of the background that grabbed your fancy? I seem full of questions this afternoon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2021 at 12:53 PM

      • Just the way they frame the subject. It would have been nice to have one in the upper left as in the right but that’s being picky.

        Steve Gingold

        June 13, 2021 at 1:27 PM

        • Oh, and no I don’t. When I outgrew it we gave it to Goodwill.

          Steve Gingold

          June 13, 2021 at 1:28 PM

          • That makes me wonder if your distinctive buttons still exist somewhere. I still have a few shirts from the 1970s.

            Steve Schwartzman

            June 13, 2021 at 1:32 PM

        • I could’ve put one there via Photoshop, but it didn’t occur to me.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 13, 2021 at 1:30 PM

          • I’d be surprised if you did.

            Steve Gingold

            June 13, 2021 at 1:34 PM

            • I think a fair amount of what we see on the Internet has been manipulated to varying degrees.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 13, 2021 at 1:39 PM

              • If we don’t post directly out of the camera then we all do to some extent. Nothing about photography is real and faithful to what exists just based on how we compose. Our mind’s eye and then our digital interpretation are what make photography an art and not just a snapshot.

                Steve Gingold

                June 13, 2021 at 1:54 PM

  8. I like the grittiness of that Barbara’s buttons photo, Steve.


    June 13, 2021 at 8:46 PM

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