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Stone Bridge Falls on Bull Creek

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On the 10th of July I followed the Smith Memorial Trail to Stone Bridge Falls on Bull Creek. The picture above shows the creek immediately upstream of the falls. (I could almost imagine I was back on the Bojo River in Cebu.) The yellow flowers are roughstem rosinweed, Silphium radula; you get a closer look at one below.

And how could I not show the waterfall? Here’s a picture in
Steve G.’s accustomed mode, with a shutter speed of 1/3 second.
I think you’ll agree that’s a long time for a hand-held shot.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 20, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Stone Bridge Falls

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Monday night it rained. Tuesday morning I followed the Smith Memorial Trail to Stone Bridge Falls on Bull Creek, hoping the rain would have invigorated the waterfall. It had, as you see in the scene-setting first photo.

Me being me, I experimented with portraying the falls in different ways.
One approach was to use a slow shutter speed (1/13 of a second) to create silky water:

But more often than not I stayed with high shutter speeds, as is my wont.
Along with that, some of the time I leaned toward abstraction, as I’m also inclined to do:

At times I also used my camera’s burst mode to take high-shutter-speed photographs in quick succession. The point was to document how much the water changed in very short intervals. The following consecutive closeups are all time-stamped 9:10:17, meaning that they were recorded in less than one second; each lasted just 1/2500 of a second. I think you’ll agree that it’s easy to spot some changes. For example, one difference is the prominent oval over on the right side of the middle image, which hadn’t fully closed in the first image and which had disappeared by the time of the third picture.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 10, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Firewheel fading

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Firewheel Going to Seed with Dangling Ray 7448

Every spring you’ve seen pictures here of Gaillardia pulchella, the colorful wildflower called firewheel, Indian blanket, and blanket flower. One flower head* of that species provided background color in the photograph you saw last time. A firewheel’s flower heads are also appealing when they fade, as this one was doing on June 8th, 2015, along the Smith Memorial Trail. Of particular interest to me was the withered ray flower* that had fallen, had gotten caught on a bract—I think with the help of some spider silk—and was slowly spinning even in the slight noontime breeze. Oh, just try and stop that swirling: it will send your mind a-whirling.

— — — — — — — — — — — —

* If you’d like to review the meanings of the related terms disk flower, ray flower, and flower head, you’re welcome to turn back to a post from 2014.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 9, 2016 at 5:12 AM

A pastel rock in Bull Creek

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Rock and Algae in Bull Creek 2163

On January 15th I glimpsed a pale peach and green rock in a portion of Bull Creek accessible from the Smith Memorial Trail. I took some pictures from the creek bank but went back on January 17th with rubber boots so I could wade in to get a closer and straight-down look. The bits of algae adhering to the upper surface of the rock reminded me of tadpoles or little fish, and they even seemed to be swimming as they squiggled in the current. In this picture I used a shutter speed of 1/400 sec. to arrest the swaying motion.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2016 at 4:30 AM

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XXX: Time for the annual sex mania

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Zexmenia Flower Head 7473

Make that zexmenia, the native wildflower with the suggestive common name. Sex mania may not have changed, but the scientific name of this species certainly has. When I first became aware of it in 1999 it was Zexmenia hispida. Over the next decade or so it was Wedelia hispida and Wedelia texana. When I looked last month, it had become Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida.

However many changes may yet befall the “unique” scientific name of this species, I can tell you with assurance that this photograph comes from June 8th along the Smith Memorial Trail in my northwest part of Austin. It’s three months later now and I’m still seeing a few zexmenia plants flowering here and there around town.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 6, 2015 at 5:19 AM

White rock lettuce

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Cucumber Beetle on White Rock Lettuce Flower Head 3075

Here’s a species I’ve never showed in these pages till now: Pinaropappus roseus, known as white rock lettuce. I didn’t know why a botanist decided to call it rosy, unless the rose in question was a white one. That’s the only color (aside from the yellow at the center) that I’ve ever seen in one of these flower heads, but when I looked at the entry for this plant on the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center I found this: “It is said that the undersides of the petals are pink to rose-lavender and that the upper side is sometimes pale pink, which would agree with the pink dandelion name.” Next time I run across one of these flower heads, which I don’t often see, I’ll be sure to check the underside.

This photograph, like two of the last three you’ve seen, is from the Smith Memorial Trail in northwest Austin on April 29th. Also like those pictures, today’s includes an insect: this time it’s a spotted cucumber beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata. The species name is from Latin undecim ‘one [plus] ten, i.e. eleven’ and punctum ‘point, dot, spot.’ Notice how the yellow parts of the beetle match those at the center of the flower head.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 3, 2014 at 5:45 AM

Gray hairstreak butterfly on antelope-horns milkweed

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Gray Hairstreak Butterfly on Antelope-Horns Milkweed Flowers 3288

Another visitor to an antelope-horns milkweed flower, Asclepias asperula, along the Smith Memorial Trail in northwest Austin on April 29th was this little butterfly. It appears to be a gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus. Notice that at a hairstreak’s rear there are false antennae that typically move up and down when the insect is nectaring and can mislead a predator into striking at the insect’s rear rather than at its head. A butterfly can live with a chomp taken out of the rear of its wings, but can’t live with a missing head. A similar thing could be said of people, tales of a headless horseman notwithstanding.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 2, 2014 at 5:59 AM

Two antelope-horns flowers

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Tiny Beetle on Antelope-Horns Flowers 3206

The most widespread milkweed in Austin is Asclepias asperula, commonly called antelope-horns. Here’s a closeup of two flowers on a flower globe of this species, along with a tiny two-toned beetle. In that last sentence I’ve played up the number two, but you can see that milkweeds inherently do things in fives.

This picture is from the Smith Memorial Trail in northwest Austin on April 29th.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 1, 2014 at 5:55 AM

Yellow and pink

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Four-Nerve Daisy by Mountain Pink Flowers 7647

Along the Smith Memorial Trail on June 28th I encountered some mountain pinks, Centaurium beyrichii, but as I’d found larger and more photogenic ones a week earlier at the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, I photographed one of the newly encountered plants not in its own right but as a formless background for this nearby four-nerve daisy, Tetraneuris scaposa. The last time you saw a four-nerve daisy in these pages, it was playing the background role and a rain-lily stalk was the star. This talk of roles is tempting me to say that all the world’s a stage, but someone else whose last name also begins with an S has already taken that line. Oh well, here it is anyway, as you like it, measure for measure, and sans further ado:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2013 at 6:07 AM

Spider on skeleton plant flower head

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Crab Spider on Sketleton Plant Flower 7550

Click for greater clarity and size.

While walking along the Smith Memorial Trail in northwest Austin on June 28th, I knelt to photograph the flower head of a Texas skeleton plant, Lygodesmia texana, and there I spied a spider. It shied away and tried to hide between two rays but then hied to a better side for me, as you see. It’s curious how the spider’s abdomen and a few of the creature’s smaller features picked up some of the purple from the floral rays ablaze with light.

It’s been almost two years since I showed any pictures of this species of wildflower, so if you aren’t familiar with it you’re welcome to look back at abstract views showing the base of a flower head and a close-up from above of a flower head’s center; that second image will show you the structures that cast the shadows visible at the bottom of today’s photograph.

Those of you interested in photography as a craft will find that points 1, 3, 6, and especially 12 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 30, 2013 at 6:19 AM

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