Portraits of Wildflowers

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More from Huffman Prairie

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At Dayton’s Huffman Prairie on July 21st I found colonies of wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa.
The USDA map shows it growing in all of the lower 48 states except California and Florida.
(When Steve Gingold mentioned this species in June I’d never knowingly seen any. A month later I had.)

I also saw two kinds of yellow composites that I wasn’t familiar with. Daniel Boone at the
Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society identified them for me as wingstem, Verbesina alternifolia,

and prairie dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum. Notice the echinacea in the background.

The kind of dark beetle that I saw on another prairie dock might have been the nibbler of the ray flowers.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2019 at 4:47 AM

The Middle Falls at Letchworth

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The Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in western New York State proved as abundant* as the other two main waterfalls in supplying me with pictures during our July 27th visit. Let’s begin with a scene-setter from a faraway overlook. Notice that in the distance beyond the Middle Falls you can make out the Upper Falls, which are indeed upstream and therefore higher up in altitude as well.

Now for a better look at the Middle Falls in its own right:

And here’s an even closer look at the cascade:

Given all that turbulence, the downstream view from the top seems placid:

A slight, slender, tall waterfall graced one side of the gorge:

When I looked down and to the right I was pleased to see this:

* Appropriately, the word abundant comes from Latin unda, which meant ‘wave’ (think undulate) and which evolved from the same Indo-European root that gave rise to native English water. That root also appears in Irish whisky and Russian vodka, which are, euphemistically speaking, forms of ‘water.’

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2019 at 4:41 PM

Bayside Park

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The bay that Bayside Park sits on the western shore of is Mobile Bay.
In that Alabama park on August 10th I photographed a vine covered-pine tree.
The vine could have been trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans, which also grows in Austin.

After turning the other way, toward Mobile Bay,
I found a dark plant beneath a dark cloud.

I photographed a few other things, and then, as I was about finished, some birds flew into view. My telephoto lens was in the camera bag. The 24–105mm lens that was on the camera was set to only 56mm and the shutter speed to only 1/320 of a second (as I learned afterwards from the metadata). Those are poor settings for photographs of birds in motion but there was no time to change anything: all I could do was pan to follow the birds while I got off four shots in as many seconds. To my surprise, there was no blurring of my subjects. Shannon Westveer later identified them for me as American white pelicans, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2019 at 7:00 AM

The Upper Falls at Letchworth

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On July 27th we visited the three main waterfalls at Letchworth State Park.
These are the Upper Falls photographed at 1/5000 of a second:

To let you sense the water’s movement I made an animation
from two consecutive frames taken less than half a second apart.

Come closer to the churning water at 1/2000 of a second:

The plants on the far side of the gorge enjoyed what amounted to constant sideways rain:

Here’s a view showing part of the top of the falls at 1/2000 of a second:

In contrast, at a slow 1/13 of a second I recorded this view of a nearby side waterfall
that some visitors ambled down to for pictures of themselves at a more-human scale:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 20, 2019 at 4:03 PM

Huffman Prairie Pink

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Huffman Prairie looms large in the history of aviation because it’s the place in Dayton, Ohio, where the Wright Brothers improved their early flying machines to the point of being reliably controllable in the air. According to a source that I read during our trip, Huffman Prairie also happens to be the largest native prairie remnant in the state of Ohio today. When we visited on July 21st we found plenty of wildflowers managing to flourish in the glaring summer light and heat. Prominent among them was a colony of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea.)

Here’s what an individual flower head looks like:

And here’s a somewhat bedraggled fasciated double flower head I noticed there:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2019 at 4:46 AM

(WF) cubed + G cubed

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Today’s title is a coded description of the land that is upstate New York: WonderFully Well-Formed WaterFalls and Gorgeous Gorges Galore. In fact the pictures from those kinds of places make up the majority of all the ones I took on the trip. Rather than going in chronological order, which would mean that for a time you’d see post after post with the same types of photographs, I’ll maintain variety by interspersing* gorge and waterfall pictures from New York State with those of other subjects in other places.

Although I grew up on Long Island and visited various sites upstate during my childhood and later on, somehow until July 27th of this year I’d never made it to Letchworth State Park, which bills its Genesee River gorges as the Grand Canyon of the East. Having been to the Grand Canyon of the West, I find the claim a bit of a stretch. Still, there’s no denying that Letchworth is a worthy place to visit. It’s home to three large and impressive waterfalls that truthfully go by the names Lower, Middle, and Upper, along with dozens of smaller falls. Today’s pictures come from the vicinity of the Lower Falls, which we saw first.


How about the strata in the walls of those rocky gorges?

The angularity of some structures made me think I was looking at the ruins of ancient buildings.
And as always, some plants find rootholds in seemingly unlikely places.

Look how wide the Lower Falls are. I wanted to shoot from further left but I haven’t learned how to fly.

* In current English we can intersperse and disperse and even asperse but we can’t just sperse; in early modern English sperse was a synonym of disperse.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2019 at 4:43 AM

5100

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Over the 26 days from July 17 through August 11 we drove 5100 miles on a journey that took us as far afield as Toronto and New York. This was a combination trip:

  • People, including some I hadn’t seen since 1973.
  • Culture, primarily in the form of museums, most of which we got into for free thanks to reciprocal privileges from our membership in Austin’s Blanton Museum.
  • Scenic places (had to do at least some nature photography, right?).

On July 17 we made the fatiguing 650-mile push to Memphis. The next morning I photographed a pond along the Austin Peay Highway northeast of Memphis.

Here’s a second view of that pond:

Not long afterwards I stopped at another pond a little further east:

In the shallows of that second pond grew a plant that, because of reflections, seemed to be floating in clouds:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 15, 2019 at 4:47 AM

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