Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘abstract

Slenderpod sesbania

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I made this more-is-more portrait of drying-out Sesbania herbacea plants in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on November 1st. Because this species grows in many places, it has accumulated a bunch of common names: slenderpod sesbania, hemp sesbania, coffee-bean, danglepod, coffeeweed, Colorado River-hemp, and peatree sesbania. The photograph confirms that the first of those names is accurate; the pods really are slender, measuring 10–20 cm in length but only 3–4 mm in width.

One of the plants was conspicuously fasciated, as you see in the second picture.
You might also say it was having a bad-hair day.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today (with the original spelling and capitalization): “we have spent the prime of our lives in procuring them the precious blessing of liberty. let them spend theirs in shewing that it is the great parent of science & of virtue; and that a nation will be great in both always in proportion as it is free.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Willard, 1789.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Still more from Gault Lane at Burnet Road on October 11th

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⇧ Huisache daisy, Amblyolepis setigera, with a small insect.

⇧ Aquatic plants at sunrise.

⇧ Cardinal flowers, Lobelia cardinalis.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 12, 2020 at 4:32 AM

The reason I’d gone to Gault Lane and Burnet Road on October 11th

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The reason I’d gone to Gault Lane and Burnet Road on October 11th was that early in the morning on the day before I’d seen a bright orange sun disc rising, and I hoped I could line that up behind either of the two fountains in the pond there. Well, the sun wasn’t as good on the 11th, and it turned out that trees and other objects around the fountain would have gotten in the way anyhow.

Even so, I got some fountain photographs that were abstract enough to make me think of them as successes. The picture at the top reveals how the apex of one fountain’s vertical jet of water was the first part the rising sun lit up—if you can even say “lit up,” given how dark the water looks against the brightening sky. The second photograph shows the way the increasingly high sun gradually illuminated lower parts of the fountain. Below, about six minutes later, there was even more light.

For you technophiles out there, let me add that I used a shutter speed of 1/2500 of a second in the first two takes and 1/2000 of a second in the last picture. You could say I made fast work of the subject.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Harry Truman liked to say that the only new thing in the world is the history you don’t know…. A sense of history is an antidote to self-pity and self-importance, of which there is much too much in our time. To a large degree, history is a lesson in proportions.” So said David McCullough in his 1998 speech “The Lessons of History,” given at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 11, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Desert views

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Four years ago today we drove across the southern California desert on our way to Tucson. In the picture above of the Salton Sea, mist made the mountains beyond the western shore unclear, and it’s also unclear to me what range it is (perhaps the Borrego Mountains). The second picture comes to you from along Interstate 8. A lot of the dunes there allow recreational vehicles, and as a result I couldn’t take pictures in many of the places I wanted to because vehicle tracks marred the scene. While the dunes below do show a slight amount of disturbance, I hope you’ll still find this panorama pleasant.

But if you insist on arenaceous purity and no tracks, I’ll backtrack two weeks to October 23rd of 2016, when we stopped at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah. Though it also allows recreational vehicles, we stayed long enough for me to wander around and find undisturbed parts of the dunes to photograph.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “J’ai toujours aimé le désert. On s’assoit sur une dune de sable. On ne voit rien. On n’entend rien. Et cependant quelque chose rayonne en silence….” “I’ve always loved the desert. You sit down on a sand dune. You see nothing. You hear nothing. And yet something glows in silence….” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit prince, The Little Prince.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 6, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Time again for ladies’ tresses orchids

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Last fall I found exactly zero Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchids (Spiranthes magnicamporum) at a site in northwest Austin that I’ve been going to for over a decade to photograph them. This year, tipped off by Meg Inglis on October 19th that the ladies’ tresses in her area a little west of Austin had already been coming out for a while, I went to “my” property on October 24th and soon located a dozen or so, even though it was unusually early in the season for me to expect any there. I photographed several of the orchids from the side, which is “normal,” but I also had the urge to do some limited-focus portraits looking down from above for a change. The brown around the spike of spiraling flowers came from drying leaves on the ground.

UPDATE. It occurred to me that you may not know what a ladies’ tresses orchid looks like, so here’s a conventional view taken at the same site six years ago. Within that post is a link to a more esthetic view from the side.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” — Elliott Erwitt.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2020 at 4:26 AM

Slide Rock State Park

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Oak Creek Canyon

On this date in 2016 we spent a few hours in Slide Rock State Park near Sedona, Arizona.

A strangely deformed alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana)

Overwhelmed by so many other scenic places on that trip, I never showed any of the Slide Rock pictures.

How about those shadows?

After four years, finally you get to see a few of those views.

Oak Creek’s rocks and water came in for a lot of attention.

And here’s a question rather than a quotation: how often do you renew your poetic license?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 20, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Two more views of pickerelweed

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Pontederia cordata; August 13th at a pond near E. Howard Lane
on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today: “We can finish nothing in this life; but we may make a beginning, and bequeath a noble example. Thus Character is the true antiseptic of society. The good deed leaves an indelible stamp. It lives on and on; and while the frame moulders and disappears, the great worker lives for ever in the memory of his race. ‘Death,’ says the Philosopher, ‘is a co-mingling of Eternity with Time. In the death of a good man, Eternity is seen looking through Time.'” — Samuel L. Smiles; George Moore, Merchant and Philanthropist.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Two disparate emblems from the Blackland Prairie

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On September 7th I headed out to the Whitehorse Ranch subdivision that’s been going up on the west side of Manor for the past few years. Ever on the lookout for new ways to portray familiar subjects, I noticed I could line up the soft bract of a snow-on-the-prairie plant (Euphorbia bicolor) with a sunflower (Helianthus annuus) beyond it, as you see above. I wasn’t the only one plying my trade there: men were working on nearby houses to the accompaniment of Mexican music. Because it was a construction site, I noticed a certain amount of junk lying around on the ground. One thing that caught my fancy was an “empty” and partly scrunched water bottle, inside of which the remaining bits of liquid had evaporated and then re-condensed on the inner surface. Picking up the bottle carefully so as not to dislodge the drops, I photographed the abstraction.

And here’s a quotation relevant to the second picture: “A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us.” — Lucy Larcom, The Unseen Friend, 1892.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 9, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Little bluestem in front of gayfeather flowers

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You’ve already had two posts from September 15th along FM 2769 in far northwest Austin showing Liatris punctata, known as gayfeather and blazing-star. In one you saw normal purple flowers, and in the other white flowers. In today’s photograph the gayfeather plays a supporting role (though colorfully a dominant one) behind a stalk of little bluestem grass, Schizachyrium scoparium, a part of which had turned brown in anticipation of approaching autumn.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “When a theory really has got your brain in its grip, contradictory evidence—even evidence you already know—sometimes becomes invisible.” — Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 7, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Charred

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The wildfires that began on Labor Day in 2011 burned down
a large part of the forest in and near Bastrop State Park.

On August 14th of this year I made abstract portraits of some of the charred trees. Those included the standing remains shown in the first picture, along with two tree trunks on the ground that I could aim straight down at; the first of those two shows a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), and the second perhaps an oak.

There are plenty of relevant quotations I could cite. Here are a few.

“From small fires comes oft no small mishap.” — George Herbert.

“Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda.” “A little spark gives rise to a mighty flame.” — Dante, The Divine Comedy: Paradiso.

“A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.” — Robert Herrick.

“The most tangible of all visible mysteries—fire.” — Leigh Hunt.

“A little fire is quickly trodden out;
Which, being suffer’d, rivers cannot quench.” — Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3.

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” — New Testament, James 3:5.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 5, 2020 at 4:47 AM

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