Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

About This Column

with 8 comments

While philosophers and fatalists hold that all things must eventually come to an end, it’s also true that everything we create must have a beginning. In September of 2010 I started a column about one of my interests, etymology (see wordconnections.wordpress.com). But I’ve long had several passions, and since I’m always me, they occasionally bleed into one another. Sometimes I’ve purposely made that happen: even while writing about word origins, I’ve managed to include photographs of prairie verbena, coral honeysuckle, Texas vervain, zexmenia, Texas bindweed, rain-lily, and some other wildflowers that grow natively in central Texas.

To put an end to any subterfuge, I’m now (in June of 2011) beginning a column devoted overtly to nature photography, a pursuit on which I spend even more time than I do on etymology. In the twelve years that I’ve been at it, I’ve come to think of my body of work as Portraits of Texas Wildflowers, although I’ve photographed many things in nature that aren’t strictly flowers but are usually connected in space or time, directly or indirectly, to flowers: leaves, insects, trees, lichens, plants drying out, spiders, fruit, tendrils, seeds, etc.

Follow this column and you’ll see nature as I’ve come to see it in this part of the world, which is Austin and vicinity. That said, almost all of the plants shown here do have a wider range than central Texas. Most grow in at least some other parts of Texas; many can be found in adjacent states and northern Mexico; and a few are native in large parts of the United States and even as far north as Canada and as far south as Central or even South America.

The emphasis will be on the photographs themselves, each of which we are told is worth a thousand words, but along the way I’ll occasionally talk technique so you can learn how I took, and sometimes how I suffered in taking, a certain picture. The fact that the photographs are from central Texas, a part of the world not known for scenery on the order of Yosemite or Yellowstone, is proof that you can find wonders wherever you live. All you have to do is look.

Update in 2015:

Speaking of looking, in the last few years I’ve occasionally had a look at some parts of the world other than central Texas. When that has happened, I’ve interrupted the flow of Texas pictures with some nature photographs from those other places. As a result, posts have appeared here showing Massachusetts, west Texas, the American Southwest, and New Zealand.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 4, 2011 at 8:21 PM

8 Responses

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  1. Hi Steven, wonderful photography and a suberb way of introducing others to the beauty of your surroundings… . Texas, isn’t the place we associate with ‘scenic’ wonder, but how fascinating to see the wealth of native flora.


    January 20, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    • Thanks, Liz, and welcome to the native flora as I’ve come to see it and am still learning to see it here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2012 at 3:46 AM

  2. A realist might hold that there is no ‘real’ end or beginning, just this moment now, in which everything has its being – the flowers and bugs and … So the best we can do is to realise it and enjoy it, whenever or whatever it is – as long as it’s not man made … 🙂

    Lovely flower pix Steve.


    April 26, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    • I enjoy your philosophizing—both here and on your blog—and of course your wonderful macro photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2012 at 6:30 AM

  3. […] Schwartzman of Portraits of Wildflowers posted his Best of 2012 Nature Photos and told of a query from Scientific American’s Alex […]

  4. Hi Steve, I found out about your blog from a lady I met at the prairie park in Mueller. She saw me taking photographs with my point-and-shoot camera and stopped to talk. I really love your photographs and the generous and wonder-filled spirit with which you share them,

    Although I don’t have technical skill or knowledge in photography and use only a point and shoot camera, I feel a kinship with you. There is something for me about carrying my camera that enlivens my relationship with the natural world. I slow down and really look at things. The world becomes more magical and beautiful.

    Your work inspires me to save for an SLR camera and a macro lens and to start gaining some technical skills and knowledge. Also, to be open to the surprises I might find in vacant lots behind big box stores.

    I humbly offer this link to a poem / slideshow that was inspired by the mornings I spend at the Mueller Prairie Park. The sound quality is really bad. I’m going to buy a microphone at some point so I can do more of this kind of thing.

    with admiration and gratitude,
    Elizabeth Kubala

    Elizabeth Kubala

    August 13, 2015 at 1:06 PM

    • Hi, Elizabeth, and thanks for writing. One morning some years ago I was taking photographs at the Mueller prairie and likewise ended up in conversation with a woman who happened by, perhaps the same one you spoke with. I think I visited there only once so far this year, but every time I go I find plenty to observe and photograph.

      Point-and-shoot cameras can do a lot these days, but having a good SLR and a good macro lens does make a difference. I find I use my macro lens more than the others I own; it’s the close views that reveal things we’d normally miss.

      Thanks for your sunflower presentation; it’s clear that you have a love for your subject. By coincidence, I’ve been taking a bunch of sunflower photos for the past week. I guess that’s not surprising, given how prominent those plants have been this far into the summer. For some time I’ve been considering an e-book devoted to the “common” sunflower, and that’s been on my mind as I’ve taken the recent pictures.

      Thanks again for letting me know you appreciate this blog.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2015 at 3:05 PM

  5. […] my “About This Column” page I noted that everything we create must have a beginning. The photograph shown here marked […]

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