Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Consolation in sunflowers

with 22 comments


I’ve had a driver’s license for 59 years. Not until 2020 did I have the experience while driving of getting my windshield cracked when a vehicle in front of me threw up a rock. I ended up taking the car to get its windshield replaced at a shop in northeast Austin, and having found out ahead of time that the work would take roughly an hour and a half, I’d brought my camera bag so I could take pictures at a nearby pond.

Unfortunately “lightning” struck a second time on the last day of our recent trip to the coast as we drove on Interstate 45 from Houston to Galveston. The next day, September 20, I found myself waiting an hour and a quarter for the shop in northeast Austin to replace the windshield, and once again wandering over to the nearby pond to take pictures.


As you see above, one of the things that consoled me this time was a “common” sunflower, Helianthus annuus. Some fruits from my photographic harvest the first time appeared here and here.




A double standard is no standard at all. — S.S.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 9, 2022 at 4:30 AM

22 Responses

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  1. The light in these two images makes them very striking.

    Ann Mackay

    October 9, 2022 at 6:35 AM

  2. Ah, yes. One inevitable result of all our road construction is the number of people stacked up in the windshield repair places. The drivers of the gravel and asphalt trucks aren’t always the tidiest, and there’s a lot of debris kicked up.

    Did you notice that the underside of this sunflower shows the same elongated bract that you’ve shown before? I grinned when I saw it, remembering the lesson that ‘unique’ isn’t the same as ‘uncommon.’


    October 9, 2022 at 6:48 AM

    • You’ve often enough mentioned the road construction in your area. I didn’t think about that as the source of extra junk on the highways, but it’s certainly plausible. Whatever the source, I paid the same price.

      Truth to tell, I hadn’t paid attention to that elongated bract on the back of the sunflower. I obviously saw it but it didn’t register in the way it should have. Now you’ve got me wondering what portion of sunflowers have a bract like that; another project for a botany student.

      “Unique” certainly isn’t the same as “uncommon,” and “unusual” is yet another “un-” to be reckoned with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2022 at 7:15 AM

  3. You’re 2 up on me, Steve. Might be worth it if I could get results like this.


    October 9, 2022 at 7:02 AM

  4. Since the sunflower is tall, you did not have to lie on the ground to take this shot. One of its petals is bent forward, creating the illusion that it is missing.

    Peter Klopp

    October 9, 2022 at 8:57 AM

    • As I remember it, this sunflower wasn’t all that tall, so I sat or knelt in order to look upward. You’re correct that I didn’t need to lie down, as I so often do. And speaking of often, it’s not unusual for me to notice that a part of a plant really is missing, whether from having fallen off, broken off, or having gotten eaten.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2022 at 9:19 AM

  5. I never had this experience. Lovely photos, I’m glad you found something to do while you’re waiting.

    Alessandra Chaves

    October 9, 2022 at 11:49 AM

    • You’re fortunate never to have had a cracked windshield, as I was until two years ago. Taking pictures at the nearby pond was easier in the spring of 2020 than it was last month, when the temperature and humidity soon wore me out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2022 at 2:18 PM

      • When I was a child, my father did. Very unpleasant trip afterwards at night in the cold until we got home. Police stopped us, it was illegal to drive like that without a windshield. They told us to open the windows, keep going. Another era.

        Alessandra Chaves

        October 9, 2022 at 6:38 PM

        • You must be relieved that that experience is so far behind you and that nothing similar has happened to you as an adult.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 9, 2022 at 7:50 PM

  6. Bad luck, but beautiful sunflower.

  7. That’s some bad luck having your windshield cracked twice. You made good use of the time waiting with these images. The first is quite striking with your signature sky and the beautiful lines and shapes of the sunflowers physical attributes.

    I’ve had windshields damaged but most of the time it was just a flaw in the glass and fit and most others were small dings that developed into cracks. I’ve always kept a large distance behind trucks despite those tire flaps because of an article I read when first learning to drive 58 years ago. A rabbi and his wife were driving in New York City and a large rock was tossed by a truck into their windshield. The wife lived, the rabbi literally had his “brains” knocked out. Even back then of course there was a picture which made a huge impression.

    Steve Gingold

    October 12, 2022 at 2:45 AM

    • Mathematicians point out that the strange thing would be for an unlikely event not to happen twice to somebody. The probability of it happening to any individual person is tiny, but in this case I was such a person. Fortunately neither time did the rock come through the windshield, which as you pointed out in the case of the rabbi, can be fatal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2022 at 6:36 AM

  8. Not good news about the windshield .. but that is a wonderful sunflower! Super shot Steve


    October 14, 2022 at 2:14 PM

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