Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Halberdleaf rosemallow flower backlit

with 34 comments

Near the end of my foray through the land in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on August 22nd I noticed a halberdleaf rosemallow plant (Hibiscus laevis) some distance away and in a place that was hard to get to. I used my long zoom lens at its maximum 400mm focal length to make this portrait of a backlit flower.

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Here’s a good but sad and disturbing article offering yet another confirmation that many American universities have become indoctrination camps with no tolerance for dissent from woke orthodoxy.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2021 at 4:45 AM

34 Responses

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  1. I especially like the shadow of the bud, and the five-pointed star created by the overlapping petals. This one looks remarkably similar to the swamp rosemallow, Hibiscus moscheutos, although the leaves are recognizably different. The black background certainly helps to show off the flower.


    September 17, 2021 at 6:32 AM

    • When I noticed how strongly backlit this large white flower was I knew it had the potential for a good chiaroscuro portrait, including the black background. Your comment about Hibiscus moscheutos flowers looking remarkable similar sent me to the USDA map, which shows the closest that species grows to Austin is Llano County to the west and Brazos and Robertson Counties to the east. It occurs to me now that the shadow you mentioned in your first words could be called “bud light.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2021 at 9:31 AM

    • The shadows really appealed to me too – it’s a lovely flower!

      Ann Mackay

      September 18, 2021 at 5:29 AM

  2. Years ago a friend gifted me with what she called “lake” hibiscus plants – one exactly like your image, and the other pink where the leaves were shaped a bit different. She found them growing prolifically at a lake just southwest of here. Thanks to your post and Linda’s comment I realize I have both the halberdleaf and moscheutos growing around the house. They seem to love it here, and the large flowers are absolutely stunning!


    September 17, 2021 at 7:48 AM

    • The fact that you have the two similar large-flowering mallow species growing around your house suddenly reminded me of the old Certs television commercials about two mints being better than one. Funny what we remember from childhood, right? And speaking of pink, the red in the center of a swamp rosemallow flower can look pink when viewed from the outside:

      Halberdleaf rosemallow

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2021 at 9:40 AM

  3. Such a sharp and crystal-clear shot from a large distance is quite an accomplishment, Steve. I would have thought it to be a macro photo.

    Peter Klopp

    September 17, 2021 at 8:55 AM

    • My Canon 100–400mm lens is highly rated for sharpness, and yet I’m leery of using it for faraway portraits because I don’t always get the focus right at the high end of the zoom’s range. In this case it worked, and I also succeeded with the same lens on a dragonfly portrait I’ll soon be showing here. I still prefer using my 100mm macro lens for portraits but the terrain surrounding this rosemallow made getting physically close too difficult.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2021 at 9:45 AM

  4. Always did like backlit petals and sepals and bracts showing off their translucence. Pavonia lasiopetala is another member of the mallow family that bears a close resemblance to the Hibiscus genus, and is in bloom these days.
    The article link is indeed sad and disturbing. It reminded me of a course in logic when I asked a question about Theophagy and Transubstantiation, and the professor shut down the discussion instead of opening it up to exploration with logic. And years later, when I was told by an HR lawyer that a hypothetical straight Caucasian male would not have a case for discrimination because he would not be a protected class. I later figured out on my own that no one should be subjected to a hostile work environment, regardless of etc. etc. etc. What’s the saying? I may not agree with another’s opinions, but I will defend one’s right to express them. (I might add, as long as they are truthful, not hateful, and not disparaging or harmful to others).


    September 17, 2021 at 9:01 AM

    • Years ago Eve planted a Pavonia lasiopetala on one side of our house and we still have a couple of descendants not far from where the founder of the dynasty was. In fact one a week or two I noticed the very welcome sight of over two dozen open flowers on one of those plants.

      Your mention of theophagy and transubstantiation strike me as appropriate, given that “wokism” (or whatever other name one uses for that set of beliefs and practices) is like a religion. In fact people like John McWhorter don’t even use the “like”: they say those beliefs and practices are a religion. Just as followers of a conventional religion aren’t allowed to question dogma, neither are people who have concerns about the tenets of wokism.

      The notion of “protected class” is anathema to me. In practice it has come to mean “anyone except a white male,” which is just as discriminatory as ‘anyone except a black male (or female)” used to be. People must be valued by what they do individually, not by immutable bodily features.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2021 at 10:04 AM

    • I’m fine with your next-to-last sentence, which expresses the stance of what has been called a classical liberal. The parenthetical sentence that ends your comment, however, opens the figurative can of worms. You mention these characteristics: truthful, hateful, disparaging, harmful. As I see it, the last three of the four are similar, and they raise the question of who determines what is hateful, disparaging, or harmful. What I’ve seen happening increasingly often on the far left—to the point that it’s almost an uncontrollable reflex now—is that any dissenting opinion gets labeled “hate.” We mustn’t allow the most hypersensitive, least tolerant people to set the threshold for what is considered hateful or harmful.

      As for the first of the four characteristics you mentioned, truthfulness, adherents to the woke religion now often classify even verifiably true statements as “hate speech.” Try going to the UT campus and holding up a sign saying “US government statistics show that in 2019 blacks made up 13.4% of the US population but committed 55.9% of homicides.” Just make sure you’ve written your will and made your funeral arrangements before you hold up that sign.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2021 at 10:27 AM

      • In my experience, it has been the people in power or with the power that comes with position and/or wealth, who have had the power to say what is what when it comes to speech, “merit.” etc. I won’t bore you with details, but I think it is well documented that sociopaths are disproportionately represented among those in positions of power: https://www.quora.com/Does-capitalism-reward-psychopathy-sociopathy-or-the-Dark-Triad-traits-disproportionately-Are-people-who-score-high-on-these-traits-more-successful-as-CEOs-managers-big-business-executives-etc?share=1
        or https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500180 for starters…


        September 17, 2021 at 8:22 PM

        • This is the first I’ve heard of antisocial personality disorder. Maybe that tells you I’ve never been in the orbit of people who wield power. It’s antithetical to me to think that the ends justify the means.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 17, 2021 at 10:12 PM

          • I agree with you there. Peace is the journey, not the destination. Unfortunately, some folks welcome a disruptor who changes “the way we’ve always done” things and collaborates with others to reach goals that are ethical, fair, and for the common good, while some folks see that as a threat to their power, which must be stomped on. These latter folks were some of those named in an indictment, or whose resignation letters for politically appointed positions were immediately accepted when a different administration took over in the state in which I was employed at the time. But enough reminiscing about the good old days – I haven’t looked at today’s wildflower portrait yet.


            September 25, 2021 at 7:37 AM

            • Today it’s not flowers but fruit.

              When it comes to what’s “ethical, fair, and for the common good,” people disagree, sometimes greatly, as we’ve seen so often in recent years.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 25, 2021 at 7:42 AM

              • Yes, people disagree, but that’s where collaboration with others and listening comes into play. Research, setting agreed upon standards, and using them to determine how to reach those goals, in a transparent way, is one way to get to fairness and the common good. Polarization and demonization, as implied by “people disagree, sometimes greatly”, will not get us to the promised land.


                September 25, 2021 at 7:58 AM

                • I don’t see that what I said entails demonization or polarization. I meant that people have to define their terms. If people define a term differently, I don’t see how they can agree on policies relating to that term.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 25, 2021 at 3:40 PM

                • I think that there is plenty of material on ethical behavior for folks to use as reference. “Fair”is decided upon mutually, by both sides, without coercion or duress, I would suggest. I think it’s fair that I have to do all the bill paying, ticket purchasing, etc on the computer since she has become a Luddite these days, but she makes me take my Parkinson’s meds (usually) and does most of the shopping and other household chores while I while away the hours conferring with the flowers. And if one of us thinks it’s unfair, we can aways hold a family meeting, where consensus rules. For the common good again has to be a consensus item, or at least a majority rules case. Who should bust his butt to publish a daily wildflower blog? who’s the better photographer? You or me? I have no doubt about the answer to either of those questions, although occasionally a blind squirrel finds an acorn, as the saying goes.
                  (sorry, I completely avoided the reference to demonization and polarization)…


                  September 30, 2021 at 10:01 AM

                • Alas, it’s often the case that people can’t agree on what’s fair. For me, availability of opportunity is fair; to my opponents, fairness requires sameness of group outcomes. Those are inherently irreconcilable positions. Many of my opponents won’t even agree that objectivity is a criterion for approaching a subject.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 30, 2021 at 6:11 PM

                • I see your point: some want one starting point; others want one ending point (if I have paraphrased opportunities and outcomes correctly). Some folks would like one set of rules and others would like a different set of rules, and never the twain shall meet. I read an article today that suggested asking other folks “What’s your story?” in order to facilitate conversations. Or ask them, “where are you coming from?” to better understand their point of view. (Good luck with that)…


                  October 1, 2021 at 7:36 PM

                • It’s not even just focusing on a goal rather than a mechanism; it’s refusing to accept the rules of the “game,” which have traditionally included logic, objectivity, and factual evidence.

                  I’ll agree that there’s value in people explaining, as a prelude, where they’re “coming from.”

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 2, 2021 at 5:21 AM

  5. I like the sepal shadows and, of course, the flower center contrasting with the petals.

    Steve Gingold

    September 17, 2021 at 1:59 PM

  6. The flower looks even more beautiful in the light. I looked up halberd, which seemed an interesting word, but was not too sure which bit was meant, perhaps because the leaves are sideways.


    September 18, 2021 at 11:49 AM

  7. “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” “😂 he did push the envelope. I have reviewed and also acted as area editor on numerous peer reviewed publications and I cannot possibly imagine how this and other papers he mentions actually got out. I feel sorry for what’s happening to universities though. Very sad.

    Alessandra Chaves

    September 19, 2021 at 8:55 PM

    • Boghossian was one of three pranksters who worked together to show how absurd some parts of academia have become. Imagine any journal accepting an article positing the penis not only as a social construct but also as a cause of climate change! Of course the people in those parts of academia who accepted that nonsense got apoplectic after their craziness was exposed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2021 at 3:58 AM

  8. […] From October 18th at the Arbor Walk Pond, here’s a close abstraction that plays up the curves in a halberdleaf rosemallow flower, Hibiscus laevis. If you’ve forgotten or never knew what one of these flowers “normally” looks like, you can skip back to a post from September. […]

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