Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Portraits from our yard: episode 2

with 29 comments

From July 23rd, look at the flowers and buds of western ironweed, Vernonia baldwinii. I’ve often found that species difficult to photograph because the parts of its inflorescence don’t generally fall close to a single plane, so I was happy to get as much in focus as I did with this portrait. Using flash was the key; it let me stop down to f/16.

◊ ◊

One of the principles of the scientific method is falsifiability. It means that the scientific community won’t even consider a conjecture unless the conjecture is capable of being disproved. For example, Aristotle believed that heavy objects fall faster than light objects. On its face, that might be true or it might be false, and there’s a way to find out. Surprisingly (or not), only a millennium and a half later did someone put Aristotle’s claim to a real test. In the late 1500s Galileo simultaneously dropped (or is said to have dropped) two dense objects of different weights from the Tower of Pisa and found that they hit the ground at the same time, thereby falsifying Aristotle’s long-believed claim. (To give some credit to Aristotle, his notion had seemed true because of air resistance, which makes a feather and a leaf drop much more slowly than a rock.)

In contrast to that checkable conjecture about falling objects, suppose someone claims the existence of a substance having the property that whenever you try to detect it it becomes undetectable. Do you see that by its very nature a proposal like that can’t ever be disproved? As a result, it lies outside the realm of science.

I bring up falsifiability in science because it reminds me of something going on in the world of the “woke,” where apostles and acolytes of that new religion accuse white people, especially white men, and even more especially old white men, of having “white privilege.” If a white person answers “No, I don’t have any such privilege,” then the true believers snap back and say, “The fact that you deny having white privilege shows your ‘white fragility’ and it proves that you do have white privilege.” Honest, some of them really “think” that way. By that kind of “reasoning,” whenever anyone accused of a crime goes into court and pleads not guilty, the judge would have to find the defendant guilty by virtue of having pled not guilty! It’s downright Kafkaesque.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 31, 2021 at 4:33 AM

29 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I really like the colours.


    July 31, 2021 at 5:54 AM

    • Me too. I don’t remember ever seeing this kind of wildflower in our yard till the day I made this portrait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2021 at 6:56 AM

  2. That’s pretty. It reminds me of a firework.


    July 31, 2021 at 8:29 AM

  3. I especially like the way you were able to capture both the buds and the opened flowers. This doesn’t reach into my area, but we have Vernonia missurica, or Missouri ironweed. The other species I’ve found is V. lindheimeri, especially in Kerr and Gillespie counties. Those flowers didn’t have this deep, pretty color: fuchsia’s not just for Fuchsias any more!


    July 31, 2021 at 12:56 PM

    • Obviously, I was blinded by that luscious color, or I would have closed my tag!


      July 31, 2021 at 12:59 PM

      • We could say that your blinding by the luscious color of the ironweed flowers led you down a blind alley in your HTML syntax.

        Steve Schwartzman

        July 31, 2021 at 2:49 PM

    • Having the flowers and the opening buds together pleased me, too, especially as I’ve rarely succeeded in that with this species. As for the woolly ironweed, and as your linked map confirms, we have it in Travis County, including my part of Austin. The fuzzy buds easily distinguish it from the western ironweed shown here. As an aside, I’ll add that the Fuchs in Fuchsia is the German word for ‘fox.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2021 at 2:44 PM

  4. Beautiful flower picture, well done job. Interestingly, the other day I responded to a friend’s post about covid-19, trying to explain to her why her statement was incorrect. She replied that I was talking from a “place of privilege “. Whenever I see this argument, I walk away. She was simply trying to pick a fight. She might have been looking for someone to call privileged and dismiss his or her argument based on those grounds. It’s becoming very difficult to talk with people.

    Alessandra Chaves

    July 31, 2021 at 3:24 PM

    • One possible response to your friend (though I’m realistic enough to doubt it would do any good) is to point out that people who “spoke from a place of privilege” brought her modern medicine, dentistry, computers, cell phones, airplanes, cars, and so on—all of which she is welcome to give up to remain true to her beliefs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2021 at 4:54 PM

      • I considered that I had the background knowledge to understand that particular issue better than what was conveyed by a stupid meme. She on the other hand was angry at people who she considers privileged. Funny that she’s no less privileged than I am, we attended the same school, I know her family. I just don’t get the attitude.

        Alessandra Chaves

        July 31, 2021 at 5:58 PM

        • John McWhorter and others (including me) consider “wokeism” a religion. As in any religion, true believers accept the church’s tenets as an act of faith rather than reason, so there’s no way for an outsider to question them. McWhorter has taken the stance that it’s not even worth trying, because you won’t get anywhere when facts and logic no longer count for anything.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 31, 2021 at 6:09 PM

  5. I wouldn’t mind having this pretty ironweed in my garden. As it is, I have to make do with cast iron plants. https://www.ourhouseplants.com/plants/aspidistra My aspidistras, both indoors and outdoors, are offspring from an aspidistra ( still in existence at my uncle’s home) which was given to my grandmother in 1917.


    July 31, 2021 at 10:12 PM

  6. Another candidate for floral fireworks. I just planted N.Y. Fireweed in the yard and it should bloom soon.

    Steve Gingold

    August 1, 2021 at 2:06 AM

    • You’re not alone in seeing this as another candidate for floral fireworks.
      Is N.Y. fireweed the same fireweed found in northern latitudes in many places around the globe (currently classified as Chamerion angustifolium)?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 1, 2021 at 7:09 AM

  7. I have hesitated sending you a link before as this comedian is certainly a matter of taste… but he is Texan. And I think you might be amused: https://youtu.be/efA6B2EKLN4
    We watch him all the time!


    August 3, 2021 at 9:11 AM

    • Thanks for that link. His satire there was right on (as we used to say in the 1960s). And of course it was funny. I know I’ve seen J.P. Sears somewhere but I can’t remember where.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2021 at 9:32 AM

  8. Ironweed is beautiful, and it can get tall! We have it pop up all over the property, and of course I let it grow, and reseed. They’ve just started blooming here. Outstanding!


    August 5, 2021 at 9:58 AM

  9. Wonderful portrait Steve …


    August 6, 2021 at 2:54 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: