Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

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

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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

Longer strands of life

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Yellow-Green Algae Strand Patterns 2090

It wasn’t just the pastel-green-colored rock in Bull Creek that fascinated me on January 17th, but also the many long strands of algae that the flowing water pulled out into varied patterns. The algae above seemed almost like a textile. The central subject below (is it algae?) looked feathery as it and all the growing things around it undulated in the current.

Feathery Algae in Bull Creek 2122

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 29, 2016 at 5:10 AM

A pastel rock in Bull Creek

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Rock and Algae in Bull Creek 2163

On January 15th I glimpsed a pale peach and green rock in a portion of Bull Creek accessible from the Smith Memorial Trail. I took some pictures from the creek bank but went back on January 17th with rubber boots so I could wade in to get a closer and straight-down look. The bits of algae adhering to the upper surface of the rock reminded me of tadpoles or little fish, and they even seemed to be swimming as they squiggled in the current. In this picture I used a shutter speed of 1/400 sec. to arrest the swaying motion.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2016 at 4:30 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Belated color

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Colorful Oak Leaf Against Blue Sky 0773

I didn’t show you a lot of fall foliage in 2015, so here, belatedly, is an oak leaf I photographed along Rain Creek Parkway on December 6th last year.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 27, 2016 at 5:04 AM

Blazing-star blazed out

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Liatris Spike Turned Fluffy 1550

Do you remember what blazing-star, Liatris mucronata, looks like when it’s flowering? In contrast, here’s what a spike of this plant looks like after it has gone to seed, dried out, and turned fluffy. This photograph is from the Riata Trace Pond on January 7.

UPDATE: It seems that botanists have reclassified Liatris mucronata as Liatris punctata var. mucronata.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2016 at 5:18 AM

Posted in nature photography

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