Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for the ‘abstraction’ Category

JULY IV, MDCCLXXVI

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Statue of Liberty Tablet 1A

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July 4, 1976, marked the bicentennial of the United States. That day found me in New Harmony, Indiana, on my way to Austin, but I’d spent June in New York. One of the things I did during my stay there was to go up into the Statue of Liberty, from whose crown I looked down and took this abstract photograph. It shows a relatively close view of the tablet that Liberty holds in her left hand, and the title of today’s post is the text that’s on that tablet.

In the 1970s I used lots of black and white infrared film, and because chlorophyll reflects high amounts of infrared light, the trees and grass in the photograph came out white. (A year and a half ago I posted one other infrared photograph from the same era.)

If you’re wondering what all this has to do with nature in Texas, the answer is: nothing. As I did on this date two years ago, I’m giving myself leave to depart from my normal approach to the natural world. Or you could say today’s image is a natural for the 4th of July holiday.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 4, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Contortion

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Here’s an austere change of pace. On January 26 of this year, as I walked through the lower portion of Allen Park in north-central Austin, I came across this small and strangely contorted stalk. Because it was dried out and had no leaves or fruit attached, I didn’t have any clues to the kind of plant it was from, nor do I know what caused it to grow in such an unusual way. I do know that I was fascinated by its bending and was happy to take pictures of it.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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The daily posts that you’ve become accustomed to will continue while I’m away from Austin. Feel free to comment if you like, but please be aware that I may not be able to answer for a while.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2012 at 5:01 AM

Passion

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Passion vine, that is, Passiflora lutea. And I was passionate about recording this view of one of the vine’s tiny coiled tendrils against the backlit leaf behind it. The place was McKinney Falls State Park; the date was April 5.

Those interested in photography as a craft will find points 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 14, 19 and 20 in About My Techniques relevant to today’s image. (No, I didn’t set out to do all those things, most of them just happened.)

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2012 at 5:28 AM

One of three cacti

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It was March 2, and as I walked around the undeveloped area behind a small playground on Yaupon Dr. in my northwestern part of Austin, I came across something unusual: three species of cactus growing within an area of about a square meter. One was the ubiquitous prickly pear, which you’ve seen many times in these pages. Another appeared to be a Mammillaria. The third and smallest was the one shown here, a lace cactus, Echinocereus reichenbachii. None of the three species even had buds this early in the season, but I was intrigued by the radial pattern at the top of the lace cactus, which I emphasized by aiming the camera straight down and cropping the resulting photograph in a circle. The diameter of that circle represents a distance of about 3 cm., or a little more than an inch.

Those of you who are interested in photography as a craft can confirm that points 1, 8, 9, 15, and 21 in About My Techniques are relevant to this image.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 11, 2012 at 5:48 AM

Yucca rupicola

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Now you know why Yucca rupicola, which in all the world grows natively only in central Texas, is called twistleaf yucca. Although the species is endemic here, it’s not rare at all: in fact it’s quite common, and I see it practically every time I go out wandering. I took this photograph of a twistleaf yucca leaf on February 23 at the same roadside fringe of land in northwest Austin that most recently and fruitfully brought you pictures of a hover fly and crossed anemones. I did my best to keep the closer edge of the leaf in focus, and my trusty Canon 100mm macro lens did its best to oblige me. Call that teamwork.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 7, 2012 at 5:44 AM

Sunflower seed head remains

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On February 21st I went out to a sumpy place I know on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin. It was there, in the late spring of 2011, even in that year of the dreadful drought, that I found a thriving colony of wild sunflowers, Helianthus annuus. Now, some eight months later, I found their remains—or what remained of their remains—and this time there was some water in the sump that had been dry the last time I visited.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Spanish moss seen differently

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It’s probably safe to say that when we think of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, our minds emphasize the vertical dimension of this Southern plant as it hangs in long strands from the trees. Vertical our Spanish moss certainly is, but a closer look reveals that its strands can be quite dense, and in sections like this one not at all vertical. Notice the bits of green that wouldn’t be apparent from a distance. All in all, this reminds me of the flowering swirls of the unrelated Clematis drummondii that I enjoy photographing so much. (If you weren’t coming to this blog in its early days, you may want to compare the photograph that appeared last July).

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Spanish moss

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You know, the stuff you see hanging in long strands from the trees in movies about the Old South. It doesn’t grow in Spain and it’s not a moss: so much for truth in advertising. Known by botanists as Tillandsia usneoides, it’s an epiphyte, a plant that finds physical support on a tree or other plant or even an inert structure but isn’t a parasite. This is a section of a Spanish moss in a colony of them that I encountered in the preserve behind the Austin Nature Center on February 22. (A smaller relative, ball moss, Tillandsia recurvata, made a cameo appearance in the recent picture of a possumhaw beginning to leaf out.)

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2012 at 5:42 AM

Cattail seeds scattering

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Several feet away from the chaos of the last picture, taken at Riata Trace Pond on February 15, was this contrasting and much simpler scene, where some cattail seeds had fallen or been blown onto the rough surface of one of the plant’s long leaves. I assume the seeds eventually came loose and made their way into the water or onto the nearby shore.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 28, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Like a beast with his horn

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In spite of the way things look in this picture from March of 2011, the drought hadn’t reached anything close to its later severity. The plant depicted (in small part) is an agave, Agave americana, and most of its leaves were still green; it’s normal for an agave’s older, lower leaves to gradually die and dry up, and that’s what you see here. I found the rippling texture of this dry leaf more interesting than the features of its still-living fellows, so I took close photographs of several parts of it. When I saw the results later I couldn’t help thinking of a phrase from one of Leonard Cohen’s best-known songs: “like a beast with his horn.” And crossing that line from the plant to the animal kingdom, I seem to see an eye on the left side of this would-be reptilian scene: another case of a vivid imagination.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM

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