Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A new winecup

with 36 comments

You’ve seen several species of the wildflowers known as winecups here before. On December 8th in Balcones District Park we came across a tall winecup that looked different from the standing winecup I’m used to. Ryan McDaniel from the Texas Flora group identified it as Callirhoe leiocarpa. Today’s two photographs show what a difference the background can make in a portrait; likewise for whether the light transluces, as above, or reflects, as below; also whether you look at a flower from the back or from the front.

✼        ✼        ✼

Political correctness didn’t decline and fall. It went underground and then rose again. If anything, it’s stronger than ever today. Yet some influential figures on the left still downplay the problem, going so far as to pretend that the increase in even tenured professors being fired for off-limits speech is a sign of a healthy campus. And this unwillingness to recognize a serious problem in academia has helped embolden culture warriors on the right, who have launched their own attacks on free speech and viewpoint diversity in the American education system.

We’ve fully entered the Second Great Age of Political Correctness. If we are to find a way out, we must understand how we got here and admit the true depths of the problem.

That’s an excerpt from Greg Lukianoff’s new article in Reason magazine. The article’s title is “The Second Great Age of Political Correctness” and its blurb is “The P.C. culture of the ’80s and ’90s didn’t decline and fall. It just went underground. Now it’s back.” And look at these figures from the article:

…[V]iewpoint diversity among professors [has] plummeted. In 1996, the ratio of self-identified liberal faculty to self-identified conservative faculty was 2-to-1; by 2011, the ratio was 5-to-1, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

More recent statistics paint a starker picture. A 2019 study by the National Association of Scholars on the political registration of professors at the two highest-ranked public and private universities in each state found that registered Democrat faculty outnumbered registered Republican faculty about 9-to-1. In the Northeast, the ratio was about 15-to-1.

In the most evenly split discipline, economics, Democrats outnumber Republicans “only” 3-to-1. The second most even discipline, mathematics, has a ratio of about 6-to-1. Compare this to English and sociology, where the ratios are about 27-to-1. In anthropology, it’s a staggering 42-to-1.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 16, 2021 at 4:32 AM

36 Responses

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  1. love the contrasts in the flowers


    December 16, 2021 at 4:58 AM

    • Me too. It’s a good idea to try out different approaches to a subject. Sometimes one works when another doesn’t. In this case I’m happy with both, as also with a view from behind against a patch of clear blue sky.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 16, 2021 at 7:47 AM

  2. The winecup here are long gone, so I am happy to see yours this morning! It is a different species than what we see here, but that bold pink color is much the same. I like the dark background best but seeing the contrast is nice!


    December 16, 2021 at 7:13 AM

    • Normally the winecups would be long gone here too. I don’t remember ever seeing any of our winecup species blooming in December or even in the fall. Both of these views work for me, also does one I made from behind against a patch of clear blue sky.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 16, 2021 at 7:51 AM

  3. Looking at the first photo, I wondered if you’d brought some winecups into the studio for a portrait seession. It’s attractive, and certainly shows the details well, but I prefer the second.

    I am curious; what caught your eye about this species? What differences are there between it and Callirhoe digitata? I have some photos of tall winecups that were taken between Gonzales and Cost that I’ve never published, and that always have felt a little ‘different’ to me. Now I’m wondering if I might have come across this species, since Gonzales County’s shown as part of its home territory.


    December 16, 2021 at 7:44 AM

    • I agree that the top portrait has a studio look to it. A nature photographer I know in Austin has built a light box to take pictures of just that sort. In my case I managed to line up the winecup flowers with a whitish patch of sky—normally something I avoid—and in processing I raised the exposure level somewhat for a bright look.

      What had struck me as different about this winecup was that the stalk, especially the lower portion, was unusually thick and long and woody. Here’s the picture I posted to the Texas Flora group for identification.


      If you’re unable to access that, let me know and I can e-mail it to you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 16, 2021 at 8:02 AM

      • I’ve found that I can view that Facebook group, since it’s public. I just can’t comment or read comment threads. I pulled up the article on iNaturalist the fellow mentioned in his reply to you — I’ll spend a little more time with all this after work tonight.


        December 16, 2021 at 8:05 AM

  4. Fabulous demonstrations of how differently the winecup flower presents itself under various light conditions!

    Peter Klopp

    December 16, 2021 at 8:24 AM

  5. Beautiful pictures.


    December 16, 2021 at 9:44 AM

  6. Both views are lovely but, oh I love the bottom image and those details and texture in the center.


    December 16, 2021 at 10:58 AM

  7. The first photo looks like a painting to me, real-ish, but not of nature. The second looks more natural. I like both photos, though, just a different take on the flowers’ view. I don’t know this winecup. One of the things I bought for my “new” sun garden is winecup, C involucrata. I have enough sun to grow it!


    December 16, 2021 at 2:06 PM

    • I like the way you described the first one as a real-ish painting. For me it’s a less common take on winecup flowers than the second. Callirhoe involucrata is the species I’m probably most familiar with. It’s the most forb-ish of our local ones. Here’s to its success in your newly sunny garden.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 16, 2021 at 5:56 PM

  8. Two very nice treatments of this pretty little winecup.

    Steve Gingold

    December 16, 2021 at 4:21 PM

    • The plant is tallish and sort of gangly, which is why I didn’t recognize it, but the flowers are the same pretty little winecups the other species have.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 16, 2021 at 5:58 PM

  9. I love the luminosity in the first photo – beautiful!

    Eliza Waters

    December 16, 2021 at 6:59 PM

  10. Both portraits are lovely but I love the translucent effect in the first portrait.


    December 17, 2021 at 2:44 AM

    • You may never have thought about it before, but do you think you generally prefer a picture of a subject lit by translucent rather than reflected light?

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2021 at 7:02 AM

      • That’s actually something I have thought about a lot. I think I prefer translucent light. In general, I love light. Late afternoon light as it comes into the house is a favourite.


        December 17, 2021 at 9:58 PM

        • With respect to your last sentence, five months ago I did a non-traditional (for a nature blog) post showing light coming through our house windows and casting shadows:

          An archaeology of light

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 17, 2021 at 10:31 PM

          • Ah, yes, I remember reading that post although I didn’t comment at the time. I particularly like the words ‘archaeology of light’. And I like the images, too!


            December 17, 2021 at 11:35 PM

            • I was happy to come up with the phrase “arch[a]eology of light” but I see at least one person beat me to it by a decade:

              Shadows have fascinated photographer me for at least four decades.

              Steve Schwartzman

              December 18, 2021 at 8:03 AM

  11. Both photos are beautiful. The first one almost looks like a painting.

    Lavinia Ross

    December 17, 2021 at 9:47 AM

  12. Both versions are beautiful. The white background emphasises the delicacy of the flowers and the dark one has a rather moody look to it.

    Ann Mackay

    December 19, 2021 at 10:41 AM

    • Along the lines of “two heads are better than one,” photographers can claim that “two takes are better than one.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 19, 2021 at 11:37 AM

  13. Both are beautiful images but I find that top one just fascinating. It looks very much like a watercolor painting. Nicely seen and realized!

    I just started reading back through the other comments and see others also saw the watercolor in that first one. 🙂

    Todd Henson

    December 20, 2021 at 4:13 PM

    • Happy fascination: you’re indeed not alone in reacting to the first image as a watercolor. I hadn’t intended that, but I’m fine with it. So much is unexpected in photography—including some of the best things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2021 at 5:03 PM

  14. Ah, they are both delightful ..


    December 23, 2021 at 11:58 AM

  15. […] colorful as anything in nature. On December 8th in Balcones District Park, after happily portraying the flowers on a new [to me] species of winecup, I spent time with this pokeweed plant that had even put out buds and a flower. If you look closely […]

  16. […] (If I remember correctly, this is the first picture with a white background I’ve posted since a winecup in December 2021, and that was the first since a rain lily in March 2020. The portrait below shows […]

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