Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two quite different takes

with 22 comments

On May 15th in Allen Park I found a nice group of silverpuff plants (Chaptalia texana) with prominent seed heads. I took the top picture by natural light, of which there wasn’t a lot, so the resulting broad aperture of f/2.8 led to a dreamy portrait with little in focus. For the closer view below I used my ring flash and an aperture of f/13 so I could keep a lot more details sharp. Fireworks, anyone?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 13, 2021 at 4:36 AM

22 Responses

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  1. It’s an interesting contrast, and a fine reminder that different views can offer the same pleasure. The purity of the white in the first photo, and its softness, reminds me of my favorite angora sweater collar, c. 1955. The detail in the second brings to mind the similar seedheads of basket-flowers: which, by the way, I managed to find yesterday.


    June 13, 2021 at 6:10 AM

    • It’s good to hear your basket-flower quest was a success. (Alas, that’s not true of your angora link, which seems to have agoraphobia and doesn’t want to come out into the open.) I expect we’ll be seeing something from your basket-flower haul before too long.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2021 at 7:14 AM

  2. I couldn’t decide which of the two images I like best. The softness of the first is quite alluring, but the detail of the second is riveting. If you hadn’t said it first, I would have mentioned that the second reminds me of exploding fireworks! Nicely done, Steve!


    June 13, 2021 at 6:23 AM

    • Thanks, Lori. Sometimes I suggest how an image might come across to viewers, as I did here by mentioning fireworks. Usually, though, I don’t say anything and wait to see if people say a picture reminds them of something else. Maybe you and I have explosive personalities.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2021 at 7:20 AM

      • Ha ha! That could very well be! As much as I dislike the BOOM and noise of fireworks, I do enjoy the beauty and color.


        June 13, 2021 at 11:47 AM

  3. I often find some photos more appealing that are slightly out of focus. Your first shot of the seedhead is a good example, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    June 13, 2021 at 8:19 AM

    • You and lots of other people prefer a soft approach to portraiture. Sometimes I do that, other times I go for a sharper treatment. Sometimes I go both ways, as here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2021 at 11:04 AM

  4. Flowerworks anyone?

    Michael Scandling

    June 13, 2021 at 10:44 AM

  5. I prefer the soft background and dreamlike quality of the first. Great detail in the second but not as enjoyable.

    Steve Gingold

    June 13, 2021 at 4:24 PM

  6. Lovely photos, both. I like the seed with its hairy pappus at the bottom left of the first photo. It looks like its readying for the next puff of wind to carry it aloft! The bit of asymmetry adds a lot to the photo.


    June 13, 2021 at 7:46 PM

    • I’m glad you like that bit of asymmetry. In fact some of the seeds did waft away while I was there, so loosely attached had they become by then. It was my second go at silverpuff seed heads this spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2021 at 8:09 PM

  7. I’m partial to the first one – the blurred edges and soft colors make it very attractive. Even more, though, I’m partial to people experimenting so good on you!! 😉


    June 13, 2021 at 8:39 PM

  8. Both photos are exquisite! How special that you’ve shown different facets of the beauty of this ‘puff’ with these different settings.

    Birder's Journey

    June 14, 2021 at 8:30 AM

    • While people who draw and paint have the greatest freedom in portraying a subject, photographers can play with camera settings and photographic software to produce quite a variety of effects, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 14, 2021 at 1:05 PM

  9. Nicely done! I like them both and how you showed them soft, and very textured, and detailed.


    June 14, 2021 at 9:40 AM

  10. Definitely fireworks in the second image.


    June 15, 2021 at 6:34 AM

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