Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bishop’s Cap Mountain and more

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When you scanned the previous picture from Glacier National Park on August 31st, did your glance get caught on the rocky protrusion way off to the left in the same way it probably did on the much more prominent Pollock Mountain? This time you get a closer of view of Bishop’s Cap Mountain, which is the name of that other peak. Despite the appearance of blue sky, there were clouds, and they moved rather quickly. You see the shadows of two of them, one to the right of the picture’s center and the other in the lower left corner. Intruding itself at the lower right, immobile, is a flank of Pollock Mountain.

So much depended on where I looked. The picture of Bishop’s Cap shows a clearer view than I had for much of the rest of the day. Compare that to the photograph I took two-and-a-half minutes later, also from the Logan Pass visitor center, facing in a different direction.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 16, 2017 at 5:01 AM

The sometimes hard life of a subalpine fir

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Glacier National Park in winter, especially at high altitudes, is a hard place. On August 30th I saw the enduring consequences of that harshness on some of these subalpine fir trees, Abies lasiocarpa, at Logan Pass (altitude 6,647 ft.). Beyond them is Pollock Mountain, which sits on the Continental Divide.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 15, 2017 at 4:54 AM

Maximilian sunflowers in far north Austin

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On October 12th, four weeks after returning from Alberta, I finally went out onto the prairie side of Austin in search of fall wildflowers. I found them. Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) seemed to be at their peak. If you could use a blast of yellow today, you’ve got it.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 14, 2017 at 4:51 AM

From Columbia to Columbian

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Okay, so I graduated from college at Columbia University in 1967. That didn’t prepare me for my first encounter, fifty years later, with a Columbian ground squirrel (Urocitellus or Spermophilus columbianus) outside the Logan Pass visitor center in Glacier National Park, Montana, on August 31st. I’d kept hearing a clucking noise that I couldn’t identify. A nearby person said “it” was on the other side of some trees from where we were standing. When I walked around I found out what the “it” was: this squirrel chattering away and coincidentally lording it over a little colony of flowering fireweed (Chamaenerion or Chamerion or Epilobium angustifolium). This is the second appearance recently of fireweed in a supporting role with an animal; the prolific plant will eventually appear in its own right. In the meantime, if you want a much closer look at the ground squirrel, click below on the excerpt from a different frame. You’ll be glad you did.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2017 at 4:37 AM

Regeneration

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When I stopped in Glacier National Park on August 30th to photograph the remains of a forest fire from a few years before, I was taken with these seed heads of a grass that had filled in parts of the forest floor since that fire. The dry grass stalks stood immobile that afternoon, yet their leaning and their arcs might prompt your imagination to see movement. The gray skies in the distance need no imagination to be seen for what they were: smoky from the wildfires that became the backdrop for much of our trip.

Sonja Hartmann at the park’s plant nursery identified the photogenic seed heads as Calamagrostis rubescens, known as pinegrass. Above the center of the picture’s lower border are the similarly colored but differently structured seed head remains of yarrow, Achillea millefolium.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 12, 2017 at 4:54 AM

A different Gaillardia

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Because I’m familiar with several species of Gaillardia in central Texas, when I saw a little group of plants in Waterton Lakes National Park on August 29th I knew right away that I was dealing with some kind of Gaillardia. After returning home I consulted the BONAP maps for the genus and was relieved to find only one species marked for that area: Gaillardia aristata, known colloquially as common gaillardia, blanketflower or great blanketflower, and even (confusingly) brown-eyed susan, which I associate with a different genus in the sunflower family. In any case, I was taken with this Gaillardia flower head that had dried out and was part-way through producing and releasing its seeds. The curve of the stem added to its appeal.

Click for greater clarity.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 11, 2017 at 4:53 AM

Monetizing Bow Lake

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A common meaning of monetize is ‘to make into a source of income.’ That’s not the sense I intended with the title of today’s post, which is clearer if I insert a hyphen into the verb: Monet-ize. Monet’s water-lilies came to mind when I looked at some of the abstract photographs I’d been inspired to take of Bow Lake in Alberta’s Banff National Park on September 4th.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2017 at 5:00 AM

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