Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 19 comments

On the cloudy morning of September 3rd I spent several hours checking out the Blackland Prairie east and northeast of Austin. The annual crop of snow-on-the-prairie (Euphorbia bicolor) had come up and was doing its attractive white thing. The annual crop of new housing developments and commercial buildings was doing its springing-up thing, too. In the picture below, showing the Seasons at Carillon subdivision in Manor, the native plants were likely making their last stand; I expect by this time next year the land in the foreground will look like what’s in the background. Above, in the Wildhorse Ranch subdivision, I did my usual thing of getting low enough and aiming high enough to exclude all human elements.

The flowering vine in the lower left of the bottom picture is purple bindweed (Ipomoea cordatotriloba).
The gray pipe is a conduit through which a house will soon hook up to utilities.


✦        ✦        ✦


Imagine that the CEO (chief executive officer) of an ice cream company gets asked to list the company’s eight most important goals. Imagine further that the CEO puts “making the tastiest possible ice cream” as the last of the eight goals. Would that entice you to buy the company’s ice cream?

Similarly, imagine that the CEO of a car company, when asked the same question, puts “making cars that are safe” as the last item in the list of eight. Would you feel comfortable buying a car from that company?

I bring up these questions in light of Eric Gibson’s September 2nd opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Woke Ideologues Are Taking Over American Art Museums.” As someone who has visited quite a few art museums, I’ve been observing the increasing reality of that headline over the past decade. A few weeks ago, when we went to the latest exhibition at Austin’s Blanton Museum, I said to Eve about some of the “woke” explanatory placards in the show: “They just can’t help themselves”—with the “they” meaning the museum’s curatorial staff.

In Eric Gibson’s opinion piece he brought up

the remarkable article penned for the British magazine Apollo in 2018 by Kaywin Feldman, now director of the National Gallery of Art. At the time, she was running the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and her article included a list of her museum’s eight core values. At the top was “gender equality.” The list continued in a similar vein until finally getting around to “essentialness of the arts” at No. 8. The director of one of the country’s leading art museums placed art at the bottom of her list of institutional core values.

 You’re welcome to read the full article, discouraging as it is.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 7, 2022 at 4:31 AM

19 Responses

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  1. Just Beautifullllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    September 7, 2022 at 5:34 AM

  2. How sad to see Nature in retreat!

    Peter Klopp

    September 7, 2022 at 9:13 AM

    • In the past decade I’ve witnessed the development of at least 40 properties where I once took nature pictures. Every year now I add about half a dozen more. It’s sad to see. At least I have lots of pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2022 at 10:18 AM

  3. Beautiful! I hope that lot doesn’t succumb to developers too soon. It’s happening here as well, sadly.


    September 7, 2022 at 10:15 AM

    • Yes, Nevada’s population is growing quickly, too. Here’s what one website says: “Nevada is the third-fastest growing state in the United States. Between 2019 and 2020, Nevada’s population increased 1.54% from 3,090,771 to 3,138,259. A majority of new residents migrated from California, followed by Texas, Arizona, and other western states. Unsurprisingly, real estate rental and leasing was the fastest growing industry in the states by total economic output due to the growing demand for housing. Additionally, this has led to growing home prices, with the average home value currently around $307,360.”

      Subdivisions sometimes get built up in stages, so it’s possible that the land in the second photo will remain un-built-on for a year longer. I doubt it, though, because all the streets there are already paved (I was able to drive right up to this lot) and all the signs have gone up showing the names of the streets.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2022 at 10:22 AM

      • They’re tearing up lots and swaths of the desert to make new housing developments all over the valley here. It’s sad. We had hoped it would remain small when we moved here. There’s really not much in the way of industry here still other than services for those that live here I hope that remains! That’s the thing that gives me hope that it will remain small.


        September 7, 2022 at 11:43 AM

        • So do a lot of the people who’ve moved in have long commutes to towns that have more industry?

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 7, 2022 at 3:33 PM

          • It looks like it from the morning commute traffic lights I see heading north. I’m guessing they’re going up to Carson City or Reno for work. Those who are moving to Reno and the area around it are probably working in Reno. I drove through Fernley, and Sparks last month and there’s a lot of new construction and housing developments going up there as well. Lemon Valley has new housing going in all over too. One such development is being built right up to the property line of a refuge I visit. It’s a lake bed…it will fill up again at some point I’m thinking and those houses will be right in it! It seems crazy to me.


            September 8, 2022 at 9:19 AM

            • Building in the bed of a dry lake does seem to be asking for trouble. I wonder if the people there will be required to have flood insurance.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 8, 2022 at 1:38 PM

              • You would think so wouldn’t you? It’s got marshy bits all over there, and the lake is still there further out which attracts lots of wintering birds. In 2021 this county removed flood barriers for what one counsel person called “cosmetic reasons”. Doesn’t seem like sound governing to me.


                September 8, 2022 at 2:26 PM

  4. That’s sad – there is less and less space left for nature everywhere.

    Ann Mackay

    September 7, 2022 at 11:25 AM

  5. Beautiful, especially the top one.

    • Thanks. The top picture is the sort I normally take, the kind I think of as portraits from nature. The bottom view is what I call informational, in this case showing what an under-construction subdivision looks like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2022 at 2:53 PM

  6. Sad to know that it might be the last flower display of these plants…

    Alessandra Chaves

    September 8, 2022 at 9:00 PM

    • And unfortunately other places east of Austin where I’ve photographed snow-on-the-prairie over the past two decades have also been getting developed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2022 at 10:13 PM

  7. […] a post last month you saw the snow-on-the-prairie plant (Euphorbia bicolor) I’d gotten low to photograph […]

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