Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Turnabout is fair play

with 17 comments

A few days ago you saw how at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 8th a vibrant colony of partridge peas (Chamaecrista fasciculata) claimed attention, with a stand of blazing stars (Liatris punctata var. mucronata) adding complementary colors in the background. Now the roles are reversed, and a Liatris flower spike is the center of attention. Just as I snapped this picture a bumblebee took off. While the 1/400 of a second that the camera’s shutter speed was set to wasn’t nearly fast enough to stop the action, and I normally want insects to come out sharp, the traces of wing movement ended up pleasing me. I know nothing about how to paint, but it occurred to me that an artist might paint a bumblebee with brush strokes that look like this to suggest rapid movement.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman








Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2022 at 4:33 AM

17 Responses

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  1. Here we go again, and with the blurry wings of a bumblebee, we discover another link between art and photography.

    Peter Klopp

    September 19, 2022 at 9:09 AM

  2. Vibrant colors in late summer! I like the wing motion of the bee, which for me, really brings life to the image. Do you remember, was there any kind of breeze that day?


    September 19, 2022 at 10:46 AM

    • Vibrant indeed! For the past few weeks the land has entered what I’ve taken to calling “botanical fall,” meaning that although the heat hasn’t relented, that plants that have been coming up are ones that people here associate with fall.

      I don’t remember any breeze that day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2022 at 8:24 AM

  3. LOL! I like this theme and color combo too! Great motion on the bee. Yes, I do think an artist would use brush strokes just like that to create the sense of motion.


    September 19, 2022 at 11:35 AM

    • Welcome to botanical autumn in central Texas: the heat continues, and yet the plants of fall are making their presence known—in this case with the strong color combo you singled out. From what you say, I was onto something in my conjecture about a painter representing motion.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2022 at 8:27 AM

  4. “Busy as a bee” captured in photo – thanks for sharing, Steve. 😎

  5. This concept would make a nice project.

    Steve Gingold

    September 19, 2022 at 1:38 PM

  6. The bee looks rather startled – flight seems more of a miracle frozen like this.


    September 19, 2022 at 4:04 PM

    • You’ve got me thinking about how the Wright Brothers labored for years to make that miracle possible for people.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2022 at 8:39 AM

  7. I like seeing motion with birds and insects, especially when there’s a combination of sharpness and blur: body and wings.

    I can’t remember seeing partridge pea and liatris together before; it’s a new way of combining autumn’s purple and gold. I can’t help wondering if the attention plants get at the Wildflower Center might account for the pairing. When I’ve been out and around, I see liatris and I see partridge pea, but I’ve never seen them growing together; liatris and goldenrod seems more common. Perhaps I’ve just not been in the right place. In any event, it’s a cheerful photo.


    September 19, 2022 at 8:12 PM

    • Agreed: showing sharpness and blur together is usually better than blur alone.

      Yesterday along the coast we saw some of the partridge peas you’d mentioned. Now you’ve got me rummaging around in my memory to see if I’ve ever found partridge pea and Liatris together. I believe I have, though I’d have to extend the rummaging to my archive to verify that. Goldenrod and Liatris I’m sure of without needing to pore over pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2022 at 8:46 AM

  8. Color contrasts like this are very appealing, and I completely agree with you about the bee, how it has what appears to be a possibly painterly look to the wings. It works.

    Todd Henson

    September 25, 2022 at 2:27 PM

    • This kind of color contrast is one we look forward to here every fall. The main purple at this time of year is the one you see here. Yellow comes from various wildflowers; in addition to partridge pea, the most prominent ones are Maximilian sunflowers and goldenrod. I appreciate your validation of the painterliness in the bee’s wings.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 25, 2022 at 3:33 PM

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