Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mexican water lily

with 8 comments

Nymphaea mexicana opening at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 8th.

 For those of you interested in the craft of photography, points 1, 9, and 18
in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s portrait.



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Are you troubled by the rising tides of censorship and intolerance seemingly everywhere? Dismayed by the loss of complexity and nuance in discussions about, well, seemingly everything? Frustrated that we’ve somehow shorthanded all of this with an unfortunate phrase like cancel culture? Me too.

Having grown up under a military dictatorship in Pakistan, I know well what happens when freedom of expression is threatened and people are bullied into silence. It pains me deeply to see this happening in my adopted country. As a professor, attacks on open speech and academic freedom on campus are even more alarming. Hence my podcast: Banished.

Banished is a show about our reassessment of the many people, ideas, objects and even works of art that conflict with modern sensibilities. To be clear, I have no tribe and don’t feel the need for one. So join me as I look at threats to expression across the ideological spectrum — from book bans to anti-CRT bills to the increasing dogmatism of both conservative and progressive politics. Banished is where you’ll find interesting, intellectually sophisticated and thought provoking conversations about illiberal trends.

That’s from the welcome page of Banished, a blog by Amna Khalid that I recently came across. I call your attention to a July 24th post she wrote with Jeffrey Aaron Snyder called “Cancel Culture: It’s real and on the rise, on the left and the right.” The authors state that

cancel culture is much more than a ginned up moral panic. This becomes evident when you zoom out to look at the U.S. censorship landscape beyond a narrow, partisan frame. In this piece we will debunk the myths about cancel culture advanced by both the left and the right. 

You’re welcome to read the post, which fleshes out seven of what they consider cancel culture myths. The piece includes plenty of links to relevant articles.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2022 at 4:24 AM

8 Responses

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  1. Beautiful picture, beautiful flower, Mexican water Lily!!
    Great all these I have read! Great article, congratulations!!!


    September 14, 2022 at 1:37 PM

  2. That’s a perspective I don’t think I could achieve at the Brazoria refuge ‘lily pond,’ given the boardwalk and distance from these lilies. On the other hand: lucky you, to be able to see one of these beauties at all. Our water lilies have been less than abundant this year, thanks to less water. These yellow lilies are my favorites, and this is a wonderful portrayal — quite different from the straight-down or side views that are usually offered.


    September 15, 2022 at 7:16 AM

    • What made this shot possible is the pond’s artificiality, with access to most of its perimeter. The water lily was close enough to an edge that I could, with some balancing, lean out to get this atypical angle. Not including the whole flower added to the abstraction. Not that I’m opposed to more-conventional angles: I have a side view of a white water lily scheduled for a few days from now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 15, 2022 at 7:58 AM

  3. Since I think that you only showcase native plants I guess this is native to your area. We planted Tithonias which are called Mexican Sunflowers but I haven’t shared them for the reason they are not native here.
    This is a lovely image of a lovely flower.

    Steve Gingold

    September 15, 2022 at 2:49 PM

    • You’re right that I showcase native plants, usually ones from my area or from places where I travel. While this water lily in Austin was a cultivated specimen, the USDA map shows the species growing as close as two counties south of here, so I figured that’s close enough. I was happy with such an abstract image, different from the other water lily pictures I remember taking over the years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 15, 2022 at 4:09 PM

  4. Great shot and points! I agree with Steve, a lovely flower ..


    September 22, 2022 at 1:52 AM

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