Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Great Hills wildflower display #3

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Yellow Stonecrop Colony with Other Wildflowers 0125A

As you saw in the last two posts, the undeveloped land along Yaupon Dr. where the big power lines stretch east and west has been flourishing this spring, so at the risk of wearing you out, here’s one more look at a Great Hills wildflower meadow. In this May 6th view, pride of place—literally, in terms of the greatest area covered—goes to yellow stonecrop, Sedum nuttallianum, the yellow-green colony of which hugs the ground as it stretches across the meadow from the photograph’s lower left to its upper right (and curves back down a bit). Once again the conspicuously red flower heads with yellow fringes are Indian blankets, Gaillardia pulchella, and the small yellow ones are four-nerve daisies, Tetraneuris linearifolia. The violet-colored flowers in the foreground are prairie verbenas, Glandularia bipinnatifida, and the dry grass arc-ing out in various directions is purple three-awn, Aristida purpurea. As before, there’s prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri, and limestone rocks.

On the technical side, I’ll add that I took this picture with my lens zoomed out to its widest setting of 24 mm. I moved the camera around until I liked the way the elements filled the viewfinder, even though that meant the camera wasn’t parallel to the ground in any dimension. Call it artistic license.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2015 at 5:32 AM

Great Hills wildflower display #2

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Wildflower Meadow with Prickly Pear 0700

As you saw last time, the undeveloped land along Yaupon Dr. where the heavy-duty power lines stretch east and west has been so rich in wildflowers this spring that you deserve another look. Once again the small yellow flower heads are four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia); the predominantly red ones with yellow fringes are Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella); the ones with smaller reddish-brown centers and more yellow on the rays are coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria). The plant at the left with dark brown pods hanging down is Lindheimer’s senna (Senna lindheimeri). As before, there’s prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri), including one pad with a big circle missing from it.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 18, 2015 at 5:18 AM

Great Hills wildflower display

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Four-Nerve Daisy Colony with Prickly Pear 9528

I live one mile inside the Texas Hill Country in a part of Austin appropriately called Great Hills. You’ve seen plenty of pictures that I’ve taken in Great Hills Park, but today’s photograph is from undeveloped land along Yaupon Dr. at the place where big power lines stretch east and west. The colonies of four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia) there this season are probably the densest I’ve ever seen anywhere, thanks to ample rain beginning in the winter and continuing well into the spring. This May 4th photograph includes three other Hill Country staples: limestone rocks, prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri), and Ashe juniper trees (Juniperus ashei).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2015 at 5:25 AM

A smaller death

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Dead Ant in Tiny White Bubbles on Creek 9488

After the third round of photographs from New Zealand that concluded yesterday with the imminent demise of a spotted stargazer fish on the Wellington foreshore, here’s a smaller death from the preserve behind the Austin Nature Center on March 23rd. Usually the bubbles I see floating on creeks appear green because of algae, so when I saw bubbles that looked white in the shallow water of Barton Creek I bent down for a closer look. It was then that I noticed the body of a dead ant. You can say it was well camouflaged, but that word usually implies purpose or at least benefit, neither of which applies here.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 16, 2015 at 5:28 AM

New Zealand: Southern black-backed gull

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Southern Black-Backed Gull with Stargazer 5949

On February 20th along the Wellington foreshore we noticed that a bird (which turned out to be an immature southern black-backed gull, Larus dominicanus) had found a fish (which turned out to be a spotted stargazer, Genyagnus monopterygius). At first glance the fish seemed dead, but as the gull kept pecking and pulling at it, the fish occasionally wriggled and proved that it was still alive, even if its stargazing nights were clearly over. To say that surviving in a state of nature isn’t always fun is an understatement.

Thanks to Dr. Colin Miskelly, Curator for Terrestrial Vertebrates at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, for confirming that the bird is an immature southern black-backed gull and for identifying the spotted stargazer. Dr. Miskelly hosts a blog dealing with New Zealand’s animals, and by coincidence a recent post showed southern black-backed gull egg and chick.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2015 at 5:32 AM

New Zealand: Needle-leaf grass tree

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Needle-Leaf Grass Tree with Caterpillar 5855

During my visit to Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington on February 20th, I stopped to photograph the unusual shrub called the needle-leaf grass tree, Dracophyllum filifolium. The genus name means ‘dragon leaf’ and the species name means ‘thread leaf.’ Threads and needles I get, but a dragon?

If you’d like a closer look at the little larva I found on this specimen, you can click on the following alternate view to enlarge it.

Caterpillar on Needle-Leaf Grass Tree 5860

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2015 at 5:05 AM

New Zealand: Lady Knox Geyser

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Lady Knox Geyser 7032

Here’s a view of the Lady Knox Geyser after it was induced to go off on the morning of February 24th at Wai-O-Tapu in the geothermal region near Rotorua.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 6 and 7 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 13, 2015 at 5:04 AM


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