Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘abstraction

Maximalist Monday

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Winter Tangle 3810

After I prepared this morning’s post, the twin spirits of yin~yang and alliteration descended upon me and I realized that I could just as well have given you a post called Maximalist Monday with a densely detailed photograph taken conveniently close to the one of the minimalist mustang grape vine. Now I have.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 22, 2016 at 10:39 AM

Taut strings and other imaginings

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Algae Strands Dried Out 3036

The algae you saw beginning to dry out in the previous post’s first photograph appeared to consist of strings, but those strings were crumpled, presumably because there had been no strong flow in that part of the creek. The second photograph in that post showed somewhat straighter and drier but still mostly green algae.

Now contrast those patches of algae with the ones in today’s post, which are likewise from a tributary of Bull Creek. In today’s first photograph you see dried and stretched-out strings of algae that retained the imprint of a once-fast current. Note several sycamore seeds (Platanus occidentalis) tangled in the algae strands.

Here’s another picture from that same January 29th session in which the algae are so finely swept that you might think you’re looking at the grain in wood or the strata in rocks:

Finely Swept Algae 2950

And finally, in a third straight-down view, the picture below offers up curves and feathery structures in dried algae, as well as intricately delicate forms that could pass for cobwebs. This photograph kept reminding me of a fossil of Archaeopteryx, and then also of the Escher lithograph Drawing Hands.

Algae Drying Out 2985

So ends a three-part trip into pallor. Color comes crashing back in tomorrow.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 17, 2016 at 4:48 AM

Nature overshadows the human world

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Botanical Shadows on Culvert 0048A

Once in a while I’ve shown the intersection between the natural and man-made worlds. Today’s abstract photograph from October 29th does that, but only tentatively from the side of nature, which is represented here by shadows of branches and vines and leaves rather than by those things themselves. Standing in—again indirectly—for people is the wall of a culvert that channels a tributary of Bull Creek under Floral Park Dr.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 8, 2015 at 4:57 AM

One scene, two takes

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From my inaugural time photographing along the Copperfield Nature Trail in northeast Austin on September 22nd come these two photographs of a typically autumnal landscape in this part of Texas. Both images feature the pink flowers of prairie agalinis (Agalinis heterophylla) and the yellow ones of partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata).

The first picture is what we might call a conventional view of the scene, and as a bonus you get to see a wall of giant ragweed plants (Ambrosia trifida) behind the flowers. The second picture shows the same scene from closer up. This more-abstract image has a few of the prairie agalinis flowers and buds in sharp focus against a larger number of out-of-focus partridge pea plants, whose fresh and wilting flowers my camera’s lens turned into amorphous yellow and orange lights while also turning a few of the more-distant agalinis flowers into featureless pink patches.

Same time, same place, same plants, same photographer, same camera and lens pointed in the same direction—yet such different views.


Prairie Agalinis, Partridge Pea, Giant Ragweed 6781A


Prairie Agalinis Flowers by Partridge Pea Flowers 6807A

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 2, 2015 at 4:55 AM

Halberdleaf rosemallow

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Halberdleaf Rosemallow Flower Base 2290

On August 26th I photographed this halberdleaf rosemallow flower, Hibiscus laevis, that had been planted alongside the pond behind the Central Market on North Lamar (the same place that yielded the recently shown photograph of a dragonfly on a horsetail). This species of mallow is native in various parts of east Texas and grows as close to Austin as two counties away.

After two days of poison ivy, I expect today’s post will come as a relief to many of you.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 1, 2015 at 5:36 AM

New Zealand comes to Texas

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Colorful Rock at McKinney Falls State Park 1251

New Zealand comes to Texas—figuratively speaking, that is. I went a bit crazy over abstract patterns I found over there in rocks, shells, liverworts, lichens, geothermal formations, clouds, etc. Since then I’ve been searching close to home for patterns that might rival, even if subtly, some of the ones from New Zealand. On August 19th I found this colorful panel of rock at McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin. Because abstract photographs often lack orientation, I’ll tell you that in this view you’re looking straight down.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 1, 2015 at 5:11 AM

The day with two dawns

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Airplane Wing and Sunrise 0487

As Phileas Fogg found to his great relief (in the form of a gain rather than a loss of £20,000), and I merely as a curiosity, travelers crossing the International Date Line from west to east gain a calendar day. For me the most recent eastward crossing of the Line took place on February 27th, which I remember as the day with two dawns. You’ve already seen pictures taken during the first one, which I lived through at Little Manly Beach on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland. The second dawn, shown through the safety of an airplane window and the convenience of an iPhone camera, came to me over the Pacific Ocean as we approached the California coast.

Here then, after five installments, you’ve finally reached the last of the photographs you’ll see from the great and fondly remembered New Zealand venture of 2015. Any of you who’d like to take a stroll (or more properly scroll) back through all 70 (!) of the posts about New Zealand may click here.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 24, 2015 at 4:56 AM

New Zealand: Last late afternoon in the country, part 2

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Colorful Shore Rocks 8271

Here are two more colorful images from Little Manly Beach late in the afternoon on February 26th. If you compare the pale blue-grey structures along the bottom of the first photograph with those at the top of the second, you’ll see that they are the same stratum of rock. I looked back at my archive just now and found that I took a few broader views that include both colorful areas in the same frame, but artistically I prefer these closer, separate abstractions. I don’t know what the chartreuse in the second picture is—perhaps moss—but it and the rock patterns around it certainly caught my attention.

Colorful Shore Patterns 8261

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 14, 2015 at 5:23 AM

New Zealand: Last late afternoon in the country

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February 26th was our last full day in New Zealand, and late afternoon found us back at Eve’s niece’s place on the Whangaparaoa* Peninsula north of Auckland. More specifically, the house was just a few blocks from Little Manly Beach, where I spent time racing the declining sunlight to photograph intriguing patterns and shapes and colors along the shoreline. Here’s one structure whose pastel shades particularly appealed to me.

Colorful Shore Patterns 8296


* It’s been a long time since I reminded you that wh in Māori words represents an f sound.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 13, 2015 at 5:17 AM

Cardinal flower

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Cardinal Flower Flowers Close 6634

In a comment a couple of days ago, Lavinia Ross noted that the rich red standing cypress flowers in that morning’s post reminded her of those of the cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis. In my reply I mentioned that that species has a large range, in fact one that includes climates both cold and hot, and that we have cardinal flowers in Austin, too, just as the Northeast of the United States does. I was going to point to a previous post for a comparison between the two red flowers, but I discovered that after four years I’d still never shown a picture of a cardinal flower. Today’s post fills the lacuna, and that’s an appropriate word, because the cardinal flower thrives close to, at the edge of, or even in a body of water (if it’s not too deep).

I took this moody and rather abstract picture on the bank of a creek in my hilly northwestern part of Austin on October 13, 2014.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 29, 2015 at 5:16 AM

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