Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘backlit

In the pink again

with 36 comments

Having already shown you a colony of pink evening primroses this spring, I’d be remiss in not adding a closeup. Today’s view of an Oenothera speciosa flower dates back to April 14th in southeast Austin. The light coming from in front of me cast shadows of the stigma, stamens, and pollen strands onto the petals. The multi-pointed green member at the lower right is the sheath that used to enclose the flower’s bud.

 United becomes its opposite, untied, if you flip it around.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2022 at 4:30 AM

Three takes on bushy bluestem

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At Chalk Ridge Falls Park in the outskirts of Belton on January 17th I did several takes on the native grass known as bushy bluestem, Andropogon tenuispatheus. Above, you see a stand of it on the opposite bank from where we walked along the Lampasas River. Soon afterward I had a chance to get close to some on our side of the river.

Elsewhere I worked quickly to record a bushy bluestem plant while it was still backlit. A few minutes later
and the moving sun—actually of course the moving earth—would have deprived me of the chance.

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Last week I finished reading the 2015 book Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice. My personality normally sets me at odds with activists, many of whom I see increasingly pushing ideologies despite objective reality contradicting those ideologies. Yet this activist, Alice Dreger, is also a historian, and she upholds historians’ traditional ethics: do the research and document the truth, whether it matches your preconceptions or not.

Here are a few people’s recommendations for Galileo’s Middle Finger:

Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine
Galileo’s Middle Finger is a brilliant exposé of people that want to kill scientific messengers who challenge cherished beliefs. Dreger’s stunning research into the conflicts between activists and scholars, and her revelations about the consequences for their lives (including hers), is deeply profound and downright captivating. I couldn’t put this book down!”

Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; author of The Blank SlateEnlightenment Now, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Rationality:
“In activism as in war, truth is the first casualty. Alice Dreger, herself a truthful activist, exposes some of the shameful campaigns of defamation and harassment that have been directed against scientists whose ideas have offended the sensibilities of politicized interest groups. But this book is more than an exposé. Though Dreger is passionate about ideas and principle, she writes with a light and witty touch, and she is a gifted explainer and storyteller.”

Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and The World until Yesterday: 
“Alice Dreger would win a prize for this year’s most gripping novel, except for one thing: her stories are true, and this isn’t a novel. Instead, it’s an exciting account of complicated good guys and bad guys, and the pursuit of justice.”

Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor, Emeritus, Harvard University (who died this past December 26th): 
“In this important work, Dreger reveals the shocking extent to which some disciplines have been infested by mountebanks, poseurs, and even worse, political activists who put ideology ahead of science.”

 

I’ll give more information about Galileo’s Middle Finger in a follow-up commentary.

    

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2022 at 4:32 AM

Two takes on greenbrier

with 26 comments

From December 12th in Great Hills Park the top picture shows the backlit leaf of a greenbrier vine (Smilax bona-nox) with a small insect on it. And from January 17th at Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Belton, look at the still-green leaves on the otherwise dry and impenetrable tangle this species often forms when it hangs from trees it has climbed. (At least one other kind of vine is mixed in.)

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No matter how effectively a false belief flaunts the believer’s mental prowess or loyalty to the tribe, it’s still false, and should be punished by the cold, hard facts of the world. As the novelist Philip K. Dick wrote, reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

So much of our reasoning seems tailored to winning arguments that some cognitive scientists, like Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, believe it is the adaptive function of reasoning. We evolved not as intuitive scientists but as intuitive lawyers.

Steven Pinker, Rationality, 2021

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair, 1934. Quote Investigator traces earlier incarnations of the thought.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 3, 2022 at 4:34 AM

We bade* goodbye to fall

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On the last full day of fall, December 20, we drove down to Buda, a rapidly growing suburb south of Austin. A year earlier at around the same time we visited the expanding Sunfield subdivision there, where we watched a strangely somnolent squirrel. This year along an edge of the still-expanding subdivision on the conveniently named Eve’s Necklace Drive I renewed my acquaintance with a great colony of bushy bluestem (Andropogon tenuispatheus). The top photograph shows how the bushy bluestem sits in an expanse of dry broomweed (Amphiachyris dracunculoides), which you see in front of and beyond the fluffy grass. The on-the-ground vantage point shown in the view below swapped out the broomweed for an expanse of clear blue sky and turned the bushy bluestem plants into towers.

* The verb bid has two past tenses. A lot of folks now say bid for the past, the same as the present-tense form. The other past tense is bade, pronounced to rhyme with had. Because many people are no longer familiar with bade, when they do come across it in writing they pronounce it the way the spelling suggests, as if it rhymes with made. In summary, bid has two past tenses, and one of those past tenses has two pronunciations. But wait: that’s not the end of the dualism. Turns out that our modern verb bid came about as the merger of two similar sounding but etymologically unrelated Old English verbs: bidden, which meant ‘to ask, to command,’ and bēodan, which meant ‘to offer, to proclaim.’

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Here’s a bit of humor for today in the form of a comment that rightfully ended up in my spam folder.

I have always been a very spiritual person; I believe that the universe has a way of guiding us forward through our lives with the help of spirits and angels. I was blessed with the gift of being able to connect with the outside world, and love having the opportunity to connect my clients with their universal current. My focus is to bring forth awareness and healing through love and to teach others how to open up their spiritual potential.

MY SERVICES:
Love Spells
Attraction spells
Beauty Spells
Marriage Spells
Stop Divorce Spell
Lost Love Spells
Marriage Spell
Bewitching Spell
Save My Marriage Spell
Reverse A Curse Spell
Aura Cleansing Spell
Casino Spell
Success Spell
Protection Spell
Remove Marriage Problems

I like the rhyming phrase “reverse a curse.” Someone should trademark it.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 29, 2021 at 4:34 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Halberdleaf rosemallow flower backlit

with 34 comments

Near the end of my foray through the land in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on August 22nd I noticed a halberdleaf rosemallow plant (Hibiscus laevis) some distance away and in a place that was hard to get to. I used my long zoom lens at its maximum 400mm focal length to make this portrait of a backlit flower.


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Here’s a good but sad and disturbing article offering yet another confirmation that many American universities have become indoctrination camps with no tolerance for dissent from woke orthodoxy.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2021 at 4:45 AM

Silver bluestem seed heads blowing

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November 9; Brushy Creek Lake Park in Cedar Park.
Silver bluestem = Bothriochloa laguroides.
Backlighting; shutter speed = 1/640.

And speaking of blowing, here’s a comic comment that wafted its way into my spam folder recently: “Hello my loved one! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all important infos. I’d like to peer extra posts like this.”

I hope all you loved ones have also enjoyed peering my posts.

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© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 9, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Cedar elms turning yellow

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A reliable source of autumnal yellow in Austin is the cedar elm tree, Ulmus crassifolia. In the picture above, taken around 4 in the afternoon on November 9th at the Arboretum shopping center, you see some cedar elms whose leaves picked up extra color saturation from the strong backlighting the late-afternoon sun provided. The previous day in Austin’s Jester neighborhood I’d photographed another yellow cedar elm:

I’d also recorded the way a cedar elm’s yellow contrasted with the red
of the flameleaf sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) surrounding it:

As no one has offered a solution to yesterday’s poser, I’ll let it ride at least one more day. The question is what all the following English words have in common beyond the fact that in each of them a vowel letter and a consonant letter alternate.

HIS, SORE, AMEN, PAN, AWE, EMIT, SON, TOWER, HAS, LAX, TOMATO, FAT, SOME, DONOR.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Two rain-lilies

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Because we didn’t get much rain in Austin this summer we also didn’t get many rain-lilies (Zephyranthes chlorosolen). On August 28th I wandered into southwest Austin for the first time in ages and found myself stopping along Commons Ford Rd. when I saw a stand of cattails by a pond. While walking around the site I happily came across a few rain-lilies and took a bunch of pictures. What I like about this backlit portrait, and what distinguishes it from many others I’ve made of rain-lilies, is the green glow at the bottom.

As a related quotation for today, take Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Rainy Day,” with its famous penultimate line:

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

You can also listen to the song from the 1940s by Allan Roberts (lyrics) and Doris Fisher (melody) that bears Longfellow’s aphorism as its title.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 6, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Front- and backlit Lindheimer’s senna pods

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The first photo highlights the outside of a pod; the second, like an x-ray, reveals what’s inside.
These views of Senna lindheimeriana come from October 22 west of Morado Circle.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 19, 2019 at 4:40 AM

Backlit Lindheimer’s senna flower

with 25 comments

Senna lindheimeriana; October 22 west of Morado Circle.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 17, 2019 at 4:28 AM

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