Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Rain-lily seed capsules and clouds

with 15 comments

By the time I found a group of particularly tall rain lilies (Zephyranthes chlorosolen) in Great Hills Park on October 23rd, the flowers had given way to seed capsules. At least the height of the capsules made it easier for me to get on the ground below them and aim partly upward to include clouds as a backdrop, as you see here. Change the scale of the top picture, use a hefty dose of imagination, and you might be looking at the Tower of the Americas 90 miles to the southwest.

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“The miracle is how robust free expression and liberal science have proved to be, despite unremitting attacks from every direction over hundreds of years. The idea that obnoxious, misguided, seditious, blasphemous, and bigoted expressions deserve not only to be tolerated but, of all things, protected is the single most counterintuitive social principle in all of human history. Every human instinct cries out against it, and every generation discovers fresh reasons to oppose it. It is saved from the scrapheap of self-evident absurdity only by the fact that it is also the single most successful social principle in all human history. Those of us who favor it, and also our children, and also their children and their children, will need to get up every morning and explain and defend our counterintuitive social principle from scratch, and so we might as well embrace the task and perform it cheerfully.” — Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge (2021)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2021 at 4:35 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

15 Responses

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  1. The second shot reminds me of something that I cannot place, a work of art I think. Of course this is art also but it seems familiar. At first I thought Magritte but couldn’t find anything of his like this. At any rate, très cool.

    Steve Gingold

    November 14, 2021 at 6:05 AM

    • Now you’ve got me (and yourself) wondering which painting the second photograph subconsciously reminds you of. Where I’ve recently had to turn to high shutter speeds a number of times recently to photograph plants moving in the breeze, the “streamer” emerging from the top of the second seed capsule was pretty stiff and didn’t move about. The challenge was to get all of it in focus at the same time; a perpendicular point of view and f/16 accomplished that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2021 at 6:28 AM

    • Might the second picture have reminded you vaguely of Magritte’s pipe?


      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2021 at 7:20 AM

      • If the bowl was green. I was thinking more of his self-portrait with the green apple but that’s not really much like this. Maybe if he had a ponytail blowing in the wind.

        Steve Gingold

        November 14, 2021 at 8:04 AM

  2. With this kind of perspective from below even small objects look huge, especially when any reference points are lacking in the photo.

    Peter Klopp

    November 14, 2021 at 8:48 AM

    • What you say is true. The lack of any indication of scale makes for effective abstractions.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2021 at 8:56 AM

  3. The top image has a very architectural look to me – reminds me of the BT Tower in London. (Though that has a proportionately thicker ‘stem’.)

    Ann Mackay

    November 14, 2021 at 11:11 AM

    • I read the top picture as architectural, too, specifically in the form of a tower. I had to look up the BT Tower in London to compare.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 14, 2021 at 5:20 PM

  4. I’m glad you mentioned the Tower of the Americas, because as soon as I saw the first photo it reminded me of ‘something’ — I just didn’t know what. I’m amazed by those long, straight stems. They certainly make for dramatic and unusual images.


    November 15, 2021 at 6:58 AM

    • At first I thought about the tower in Seattle, then realized the one close to home is a better match. These were among the tallest rain lilies I’ve seen; I only wished I’d caught them flowering. In any case, I have a soft spot for subjects that seem to rise above the clouds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2021 at 7:32 AM

  5. Your shots on the ground are always so interesting .. the second shot especially


    November 22, 2021 at 12:28 PM

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