Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘abstract

A golden basket and a wheel of fire

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A post yesterday in “The World According to Dina” began with a quotation by Cézanne: “La couleur est le lieu où notre cerveau et l’univers se rencontrent,” “Color is the place where our mind and the universe meet.” What a great poetic idea, don’t you think? The post included three of Dina’s photographic experiments in color created by moving the camera while the shutter remained open. Go have a look.

As you know, I’ve also been pursuing color abstraction this year. For me the points of entry have been the colors and shapes of Austin’s wildflowers. The title of today’s post alludes to two of them: the basket-flower, Plectocephalus americanus, and the firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella. The one “basket” and the two firewheels portrayed here were growing in the dedicated wildflower area at the Floral Park Drive entrance to Great Hills Park on July 8th. If you’re burning to read more into the image, the little structures on the basket could be stylized flames.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 11, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Two experiments

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When I worked at the base of a cliff along the Capital of Texas Highway on June 27th, some of my pictures were experiments in abstraction. In the one above, I noticed that several cattail leaves (Typha domingensis) had dried out to the point that they turned white, and I played an in-focus leaf off against a few out-of-focus ones. A couple of hundred feet away I noticed that some leaflets on a flameleaf sumac tree (Rhus lanceolata) had turned prematurely red. Not only that, but the breeze was blowing the branches about, so I decided to go with the (air)flow and do some long exposures that would make the movement a key element. The picture below, taken at 1/6 of a second, flaunts its rich red; in contrast, the first photo is close to black and white.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 7, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Zebra mesquite

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On June 17th, when I saw how the sun cast shadows of mesquite tree leaflets (Prosopis glandulosa) onto a thorn and the branch it was on, the word zebra popped into my head.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 3, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Pushing into colorful abstraction

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Click to enlarge.

For the past few months I’ve often found myself pushing into abstractions that are more about color and shape than about their ostensible subjects. From Great Hills Park on June 15th, here’s that kind of take on a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) and a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Firewheel edge-on

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On the morning of May 25th I went out to an area where there still wasn’t much light. Even at a high ISO, all I could manage was an aperture of f/4, so I decided to go for some limited-focus portraits like this one of a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, with dewdrops on it.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 20, 2020 at 4:48 AM

A damaged Mexican hat

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On May 19 at a “vacant” lot in northwest Austin I found a damaged Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera. It no longer fit the species name, which means ‘column-bearing,’ because something had broken off most of its central column, and in addition (actually subtraction) only one ray floret remained. The plant’s losses became my photographic gain. The intact wildflower shining huefully in the background was Gaillardia pulchella, known as a firewheel or Indian blanket. This is another picture that’s at least as much about color as form.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 8, 2020 at 4:43 AM

White snail on a developing firewheel

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Here’s an abstract view of a mostly white snail on an opening firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 6th. An open flower head of the same species accounts for the red and yellow. If the green in the lower right suggests a bird on the wing, it’s probably just my imagination taking flight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2020 at 4:38 AM

How something can land

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On May 1st we went walking in our neighborhood. A few blocks from home I noticed that a drupe from a yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) had fallen onto an agave and gotten caught in the crook of one of the plant’s thorns. How long had the little fruit been trapped like that? Perhaps a few days, given how shriveled it was.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 21, 2020 at 4:29 AM

From nonagons to dewdrops

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The last post showed a least daisy surrounded by sparkly dewdrops that my camera lens had turned into nonagons. Now I feel I owe you a picture of untransmogrified dewdrops. Today’s view comes from a different ground-lying spiderweb close to Yaupon Dr. on the morning of April 23rd. Because the small size of a blog-suitable photograph makes it hard to appreciate the individual droplets, you can click the excerpt below to zoom in and get a much more detailed look at one section of the image.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2020 at 4:45 AM

Making the most of a least daisy

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The previous post showed you a densely mixed colony of four-nerve daisies and much smaller least daisies (Chaetopappa bellidifolia), whose flower heads are maybe only a fourth of an inch (6mm) across. While I was on the east side of Yaupon Dr. on April 23rd I found a least daisy rising a little above a horizontal spiderweb that lay close to the ground and sparkled with light reflected from morning dew. Those reflections played through the elements in my lens and in so doing created the unusual nonagon-strewn portrait you see here.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 3, 2020 at 4:46 AM

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