Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Nelumbo lutea

with 15 comments


At 40 Acre Lake in Brazos Bend State Park southwest of Houston on the morning of September 18th I zoomed my telephoto lens to 400mm to photograph both flowers and seed heads of the American lotus, Nelumbo lutea. I’d have thought water lilies and this lotus are in the same botanical family, and in fact both used to be included in Nymphaeaceae. Now, however, botanists have found evidence to move the lotus into its own family, Nelumbonaceae, whose only extant genus is Nelumbo.



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From Mark Twain in London to ice sheets in Antarctica


As Emily Petsko reported in a 2018 article in Mental Floss:

“In 1897, an English journalist from the New York Journal contacted Twain to inquire whether the rumors that he was gravely ill or already dead were indeed true. Twain wrote a response, part of which made it into the article that ran in the Journal on June 2, 1897:”

Mark Twain was undecided whether to be more amused or annoyed when a Journal representative informed him today of the report in New York that he was dying in poverty in London … The great humorist, while not perhaps very robust, is in the best of health. He said: ‘I can understand perfectly how the report of my illness got about, I have even heard on good authority that I was dead. James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness. The report of my death was an exaggeration.’

People later exaggerated Twain’s last sentence into “The report of my death was a great exaggeration, and now we unfortunately find the incorrect version quoted much more often than the historical one.

I bring that up—and I’m not exaggerating—because a lot of people in the media and in government have been exaggerating, sometimes greatly, the dangers from the world’s changing climate. Physicist* Steven Koonin wrote about that in the September 19th Wall Street Journal. His editorial bears the title “Don’t Believe the Hype About Antarctica’s Melting Glaciers” and the subhead “Two studies carefully explore the factors at play, but the headlines are only meant to raise alarm.” Here’s how Koonin’s editorial begins:

Alarming reports that the Antarctic ice sheet is shrinking misrepresent the science under way to understand a very complex situation. Antarctica has been ice-covered for at least 30 million years. The ice sheet holds about 26.5 million gigatons of water (a gigaton is a billion metric tons, or about 2.2 trillion pounds). If it were to melt completely, sea levels would rise 190 feet. Such a change is many millennia in the future, if it comes at all.

Much more modest ice loss is normal in Antarctica. Each year, some 2,200 gigatons (or 0.01%) of the ice is discharged in the form of melt and icebergs, while snowfall adds almost the same amount. The difference between the discharge and addition each year is the ice sheet’s annual loss. That figure has been increasing in recent decades, from 40 gigatons a year in the 1980s to 250 gigatons a year in the 2010s.

But the increase is a small change in a complex and highly variable process. For example, Greenland’s annual loss has fluctuated significantly over the past century. And while the Antarctic losses seem stupendously large, the recent annual losses amount to 0.001% of the total ice and, if they continued at that rate, would raise sea level by only 3 inches over 100 years.


You’re welcome to read the rest of Koonin’s editorial.



* Some climate alarmist activists have made the ad hominem “argument” that because Koonin is a physicist he has no right to say anything about the climate. Of course someone as steeped in data evaluation and the scientific method as a physicist can spend time studying a situation in another field and draw valid conclusions. In fact Koonin has done enough recent research to write an entire book: Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why it Matters. You can read a December 2021 discussion he had on the subject.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2022 at 4:30 AM

15 Responses

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  1. Beautiful image. As for the article, I’ll re-read in the morning when my brain is sharper. But I do recall my disgust when research, years ago, revealed Gore activities less than honest, to put it mildly. Now there’s the rise of scientism, the religion of science, and facts disappear. 🤔


    September 29, 2022 at 4:50 AM

    • It’s hard not to get good pictures of a lotus, so attractive are its flowers.

      Al Gore, while preaching the gospel of climate catastrophism, flies around in a private jet and lives in a mansion that devours many times as much electricity as the average home.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2022 at 6:39 AM

  2. I remember the first time I saw a lotus flower and it was at Brazos Bend.

    automatic gardener

    September 29, 2022 at 8:10 AM

    • Ah, fond memories. Maybe it’s time for you to revisit the park.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2022 at 9:41 AM

      • I do go back every few years. My favorite time is February on a sunny day because all the alligators are sunning and the rangers said they do not feed at that time. The last time we were there we had our daughter and her boyfriend from up north and we got to witness an alligator eat a turtle.

        automatic gardener

        September 29, 2022 at 11:31 AM

  3. Your images of that Lily are gorgeous! I love the texture of the petals and that crisp line of the leaf in the back of it.


    September 29, 2022 at 10:00 AM

  4. It looks as though your lotus flower had its very own damselfly. The presence of the leaf and the consequent division of the background into two different textures adds a good bit of interest.

    I especially like the photo of the seedhead. When I saw it, I thought of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. The seedhead looks as though it’s scanning the horizon: perhaps for a photographer to munch on.


    September 30, 2022 at 6:23 AM

    • I see the seed head as something less fabled than Nessie but more practical: a shower head.

      At the small size of this blog photograph you can’t tell that the damselfly’s not in great focus. With a 400mm lens depth of field is shallow even in bright sunlight. What the damselfly lacked in focus, the leaf edge made up for, and it proved a good compositional element at well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2022 at 6:46 AM

  5. Such a delightful flower .. super image Steve


    October 6, 2022 at 4:02 AM

    • One of the friends we met there told us that when a local nature group holds occasional photography contests, lotuses are excluded as a subject because they’re so photogenic it’s too easy to get good pictures of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2022 at 5:46 AM

  6. Very pretty! I suggest putting these on your pixels site. They would be pretty hanging on the wall of a spa or yoga studio.


    October 18, 2022 at 12:41 PM

    • Thanks for appreciating these two images. I haven’t much promoted my pixels.com site. Marketing has never been a strong point of mine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 19, 2022 at 7:59 AM

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