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Ripples in Waller Creek

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August; Waller Creek at Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin

Today’s photograph is the last of the twelve that are currently on display at Austin’s Elisabet Ney Museum. When I went there on August 17 to see what things I might find in nature to take pictures of, I was surprised to discover some water flowing in Waller Creek, which runs within fifty feet of the museum that had been Ney’s studio. A member of the staff later said he believed the water that day had something to do with the emptying of a public swimming pool across the street. Thankful for any opportunity, even a chlorinated one, to photograph water flowing during our horrendous drought, I used a high shutter speed of 1/640 sec. to capture the action of the moving water. In so doing I recorded the patterns that the water created on the surface of the creek as well as the secondary patterns that they in turn created on the flat rocks making up the bed of the creek a few inches beneath the surface. And who would have thought that talk of making up a bed would enter into a blog devoted to outdoor photography?

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 5, 2011 at 5:35 AM

Snagged feather blowing

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Another thing I found on July 20 when I wandered along the east bank of Waller Creek adjacent to Chesterfield Ave. in north-central Austin was a small feather that had gotten snagged on a drying stalk and was blowing in the breeze. It takes only a wee bit of wind to make a feather do a lot of moving, so I raised the shutter speed on my camera to 1/500 of a second to try to stop most of the motion. Many of my attempts failed, but this one came out reasonably well.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 13, 2012 at 6:11 AM

What made the cobwebs

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On July 20, when I wandered along the east bank of Waller Creek adjacent to Chesterfield Ave. in north-central Austin, I took a bunch of pictures of the Ambrosia trifida, or giant ragweed, that I found flowering there before the species’ usual time. Many of the stalks were covered with cobwebs, a common occurrence in nature, and in looking at my pictures on the computer screen later I discovered that one image showed the spider that had presumably spun the web on this ragweed plant. I don’t think I noticed it in real time (as computer people say), but you can see the little spider below and to the left of the place where this flower stalk, which had come to be positioned horizontally, crossed the vertical stalk behind it.

For those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 2, and 6 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Another early arrival

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2012 has been a year of early flowering for many species in Austin. On July 20, when I wandered along the east bank of Waller Creek adjacent to Chesterfield Ave. in north-central Austin, I encountered another early arrival, but one not likely to thrill the hearts of even the most fervent native plant lovers. What I found flowering at least a month before its usual time, and in quantity, was Ambrosia trifida, giant ragweed, the bane of many an allergy sufferer. Like other ragweeds, this one relies on the wind to do its fertilization, so the plant produces lots of pollen that gets blown hither and yon. Notice how some of that yellow pollen had gotten caught in the conspicuous spider webs that covered this stalk.

If you’d like a look back at a few previous articles on this species, you can check out these posts:

Succession

A family resemblance

A strange embrace

For those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 2, 6, 7, and 17 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2012 at 6:14 AM

Brown snail on cedar elm

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On July 20, when I wandered along the east bank of Waller Creek adjacent to Chesterfield Ave. in north-central Austin, I found the asymmetric sunflower that you saw last time. I also found, I’ll add now, not a partridge in a pear tree, but a snail in a cedar elm tree, Ulmus crassifolia. Most of the snails I find on plants are tiny and white, but this one was larger and had tan and brown markings, as you can confirm.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 11, 2012 at 6:06 AM

Asymmetry

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Here’s an asymmetrically composed photograph of an asymmetric sunflower. I hope you’ll take this double negative, along with the combination of bright yellow and blue, as a positive. As I’ve said many times, there’s nothing common about the “common” sunflower, Helianthus annuus.

I took this photograph on July 20 on the east bank of Waller Creek along Chesterfield Ave. in north-central Austin. Sunflowers typically reach their peak in my part of the world in June, but scattered plants continue to flower through the summer and early fall (and occasionally even late fall, as I reported last December 7).

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2012 at 6:13 AM

Welcome to yet another early visitor

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The latest of our early visitors this year is the Maximilian sunflower, Helianthus maximiliani. This species normally flowers in Austin beginning in late August or September, but on the morning of June 11th I found several of these sunflower plants blazing away on the little prairie that’s being restored at the Elisabet Ney Museum.* In contrast to the leaves of the “common” sunflower, notice how these are long and narrow and how they fold up along their midline.

The many smaller yellow flowers with brown centers are coreopsis, of which I showed you a seasonally advanced photograph way back in January. That’s the kind of ahead-of-ourselves year we’ve had and—with the Maximilian sunflowers—are still having in central Texas.

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* Some of you will recall that in 2011, even during the worst of the drought, I still managed to find things to photograph on this parcel of prairie. Last year’s posts from September 25 to October 5 showed an assortment of those hardy native plants.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 18, 2012 at 5:54 AM

To Have and Have Not

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Yes, once we had water. Ponds along whose banks I’ve taken pictures in years past have dried up. A week ago I went to Waller Creek, a place in central Austin where I’ve occasionally photographed, and found that it too was completely dry. I remember that I was there in the fall of 2006, when, looking down through my camera’s macro lens at bubbles and algae on the surface of the slow-moving creek, I could have repeated García Lorca’s words: “Verde que te quiero verde,” “Green how much I love you green.”

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 14, 2011 at 7:04 AM

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