Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Both sides now times two

with 29 comments


In neighboring Great Hills Park on 11/22/22 (great date) I noticed how different the two surfaces of this drying grape leaf were. I don’t recall ever seeing an upper surface colored and patterned like this one. The underside’s slight fuzz had and still has me thinking the vine was a mustang grape, Vitis mustangensis, the most common species of grape in Great Hills.



On December 23rd, hours before a more-than-daylong freeze was due to hit
central Texas, I was out documenting native plants that still had flowers on them.



One such was the blackfoot daisy, which you see here from above, above, and from below, below.



The maroon “nerves” or “veins” so conspicuous from underneath
are barely discernible on the ray florets’ white upper surface.



§       §       §



Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.


That line from physicist Richard Feynman was quoted in Joanne Silberner’s January 4th article “The Reason There’s Been No Cure for Alzheimer’s.” For several decades now, the funders of medical research on Alzheimer’s disease have given grants almost exclusively to researchers pursuing one theory about the cause—and therefore the potential cure—for that ailment. As in so many fields, groupthink has settled in, despite the fact that treatments based on the reigning theory about the cause of Alzheimer’s have produced practically no improvements.

You can learn the details in Joanne Silberner’s article in the Free Press.



§       §       §



UPDATE: On December 22nd I reported how Stanford University had created a compendium of supposedly harmful language. You know, despicable words like American and grandfather. On January 11th Inside Higher Ed published an article by Susan D’Agostino titled “Amid Backlash, Stanford Pulls ‘Harmful Language’ List.” Let’s welcome any move toward sanity in academia.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2023 at 4:30 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

29 Responses

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  1. the perspective shift is so interesting


    January 17, 2023 at 4:52 AM

  2. Neat comparisons! The top image or the front of the grape leaf looks like a reptile skin to me. The texture is neat.


    January 17, 2023 at 6:24 AM

    • I recently compared the surface of a car at Cadillac Ranch to the skin of a fanciful reptile. The likeness of the mustang grape leaf’s upper surface to a reptile skin hadn’t occurred to me, but now I see it too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2023 at 7:09 AM

  3. I’ve looked at leaves from both sides now,
    From up and down and still somehow,
    It’s leaves of books that I recall,
    I can’t remember plant leaves at all.

    Robert Parker

    January 17, 2023 at 8:56 AM

    • Well said. Like you, I do better with leaves of books than with plant leaves, though I much more often photograph the latter than the former.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2023 at 9:23 AM

  4. Did a lower quality version of this, I am not as practiced. I admire your work highly! Great inspiration! Thank you so much for the share!


    January 17, 2023 at 6:32 PM

  5. Those are beautiful leaf and flower portraits, Steve. As you know, I am partial to the dark background.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 17, 2023 at 7:37 PM

    • And so you got four of them here. Since our freeze a few weeks ago I haven’t seen a single native wildflower, though it shouldn’t be long now—unless another freeze hits us.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2023 at 10:19 PM

  6. The view of the blackfoot daisy from below surprised me. When I’ve come across this flower, I’ve never looked at its underside; I suppose I’ve assumed it was as pure white as when seen from above. The photo also appeals to me because of the subtle signs of end-of-season decay: both in the disk flowers and at the tips of the rays.


    January 18, 2023 at 9:11 AM

    • With this group of blackfoot daisies and some others I found around the same time, I kept looking for a pristine flower head. By December 23rd, however, all of them were showing signs of drying out. Because blackfoot daisies don’t grow very tall, it’s probably not common for people to know what the underside looks like. As usual, I had to lie on the ground for the last picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2023 at 9:18 AM

  7. I think that the undersides of flowers can be very interesting, but then I’m rather into flower structure… 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    January 18, 2023 at 12:37 PM

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed all four thousand words.

    Magnificent photography.

    Wally Jones

    January 21, 2023 at 8:00 PM

  9. Nice theme with these photos, showing both sides. Every so often I’ll notice, as you did, how different the sides are.

    Todd Henson

    January 22, 2023 at 11:30 AM

    • As you know, there’s not always such a difference between sides, but when there is it’s worth showing, and vive la différence!

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 22, 2023 at 8:01 PM

  10. All four views are appealing but I like the first of the top of a potential Mustang Grape the better.
    The backs of flowers can be very photogenic. My favorite pitcher plant flower image is such.

    Steve Gingold

    January 23, 2023 at 6:44 AM

    • The upper surface of the grape leaf looked different from any I’d seen before, and that was a large part of its appeal. A big reason I carry a mat around with me is that often the only way to get a good picture of a flower’s underside is to lie on the ground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2023 at 6:52 AM

      • I carry an old rug sample rolled up in the straps meant for a tripod on my backpack. It’s not large enough for all of me but most of my torso fits. I wanted to link to the pitcher plant flower earlier but for some reason search did not bring it up for pitcher plant even though it is in the keywords.

        07.12.2016 A piece of the puzzle

        Steve Gingold

        January 23, 2023 at 6:58 AM

        • I see that in your reply to my comment on that post in 2016 you said: “I have yet to go there in the winter but have visited during all other seasons.” Have you made it to Hawley Bog in a winter since then? If not, this may be your time.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 23, 2023 at 7:09 AM

          • Still have not. Maybe the next time we have a decent snow but then it might just be a white “waste”land. Actually the pitcher plant leaves maintain some nice color and might look nice in a light bed of snow.

            Steve Gingold

            January 23, 2023 at 7:13 AM

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