Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Four-nerve daisies in January

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Four-Nerve Daisy Flower Head from Below 2894

On January 29th I was driving out of my neighborhood on Bluegrass Dr. when I saw some four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia) flowering on a rocky embankment. They were the first flowers of this familiar species I’d seen in 2016, so I pulled over, walked back, and took a bunch of pictures by leaning against the embankment and lying on the ground to get good vantage points. Marshall Enquist gives the beginning of the bloom period for this species as March, and that’s why I was surprised to see four-nerve daisies already when we hadn’t quite left January yet.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2016 at 4:53 AM

Newer isn’t always better.

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Walnut Creek in February 1881

On January 7th I went walking in Balcones Regional Park in north Austin and took a few photographs of Walnut Creek. The pictures turned out just so-so, so here From February 4, 2007—nine years ago today—is a view that I do like of that same part of the creek, primarily because of the superimposed layers in the lower half of the image. There’s the water, and what’s reflected in the water, and the way the shadow of the prominent rock cancels the reflection there. The result is that I feel I’m peering into an opening through a dense lattice of trees, yet I can’t shake the impression that things have been turned inside out, as if I were looking at a stereo pair in which the two halves had been accidentally reversed.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2016 at 4:59 AM


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Grackles on McDonald's Golden Arch 1390

Even the familiar golden arches were begrackled at the southwest quadrant of US 183 and Braker Lane near dusk on January 23rd. (That sentence came to S.S. semi-sleeping around 2 A.M. on the 24th.) Also begrackled was the structure at the base of the so-called golden but actually yellow arches.

Grackle on Sign 1344

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 3, 2016 at 5:00 AM

They’re back again too

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Grackles Flying and on Wires 1522

For several years in a row, until about three years ago, in November and December large groups of grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) would gather at dusk each day on the power lines at the corner of US 183 and Braker Lane, then with the coming of darkness settle into adjacent trees to spend the night alongside the noisy highway. For whatever reason, the birds returned to their former haunt and habits in January of this year. Here’s a view of the spectacle at the southwest quadrant of that intersection on January 23rd. Last night I noticed many fewer grackles there, so perhaps the birds are already moving on.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2016 at 5:16 AM

The return of frostweed ice

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Frostweed Ice 2804

On the just-below-freezing morning of January 23rd I went back down to Great Hills Park and found more frostweed plants with extruded ice near their bases than when I’d visited 12 days earlier. Of the many pictures I took on that return outing, I’ve chosen to show you two that are rather different from the two you saw last time.

For the image below, I noticed a small piece of frostweed ice broken off on the ground, so I picked it up, held it out against the sky, and photographed it. The morning was bright (as you can see from the background in the first photo), yet the camera’s sensor rendered the clear blue sky dark in comparison to the sheen of the ice. That’s a reminder of how much more sensitive to light our eyes are than the cameras we use.

Frostweed Ice Detached 2732A


How quickly the time has passed: one year ago today we began our four-week trip to New Zealand, which yielded 72 posts for this blog.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 1, 2016 at 5:05 AM

A loss of color and a chance for progeny

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Do you remember how appealing flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata) can be when its leaves turn colors in the fall? Here’s a reminder from an undeveloped property behind Seton Northwest Hospital on December 4 of last year.

Flameleaf Sumac Turning Colors 0556

I went back to that property on January 12, well after all the sumacs’ leaves had fallen, and had a clear shot at this cluster of tiny fruits on one of the trees.

Flameleaf Sumac Fruit Cluster Drying Out 1786

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 31, 2016 at 4:46 AM

Water flowing quickly in Bull Creek

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Ripples and Algae in Bull Creek 2199

It wasn’t just the algae and other aquatic plants that I found intriguing in Bull Creek on January 17th. No, it was also the bright but ephemeral rippling of the fast-flowing water. Its speed led to my sensing it more than really seeing it, so for some pictures I set my shutter speed at 1/2000 of a second and blazed away. The abstract picture above is one result, and the little waterfall at the end of the post is a second one. I took many other abstract photographs of the creek at various shutter speeds, but after three days in a row on this subject I’d risk wearing out my welcome if I showed any more of them, so it’s on to something else tomorrow.

But wait! — as hokey television commercials say — now you can get a look, absolutely free, at the first video ever associated with this blog. See algae undulating in scenic Bull Creek! Hear the roar of the frenzied water rushing past! Unbelievable! To take advantage of this amazing offer, click here now: operators are standing by.

Small Waterfall in Bull Creek 2483

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2016 at 4:59 AM


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