Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘blue

Nueces coreopsis alone and in combination

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On March 29th in Colorado County I photographed mixed colonies of Nueces coreopsis (Coreopsis nuecensis) and sandyland bluebonnets (Lupinus subcarnosus). I also got on the ground and aimed upward so I could get a different blue overhead and use it to isolate one of the Nueces coreopsis flower heads.

In the last post I noted that it’s common to hear politicians and activists bandy about the phrase “common sense.” I said it’s a loaded and misleading term because some or even many things that a majority of people believe to be common sense are easily shown to be untrue. The first example came from arithmetic, and now here’s one from chemistry.

Suppose that you have an empty one-quart clear glass container with markings on the sides so you can tell how much liquid is in the container. Now pour a measuring cup’s worth of water and then a measuring cup’s worth of alcohol into the container. How much liquid will you have in the container? “Common sense” will tell most people that 1 cup plus 1 cup equals 2 cups, but that’s not correct here. Water molecules and alcohol molecules interpenetrate somewhat, so the volume in the container will fall short of the 2-cup mark on the glass container. You’re welcome to watch a couple of cheerful kids perform the experiment.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 9, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Texas bluestars

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An online report on the morning of March 24th quickly prompted a 45-minute drive northwest to the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County, where I hoped to see some flowering Texas bluestars, Amsonia ciliata, a species I almost never come across in Austin. After a mile-and-a-half of wandering I found the reported colony.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 2, 2021 at 4:37 AM

A study in colors and shapes

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On March 19th we drove an hour south to Gonzales to see how the spring wildflowers were coming along. On the whole the results disappointed us, especially compared to the great spring of 2019 in that area. One okay place was the McKeller Memorial Park just north of Gonzales, which did host a colony of bright red phlox (Phlox sp.) and some bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis). The breeze dictated a high shutter speed, which in turn meant a rather shallow depth of field. As a result I experimented with some abstract studies like this one, in which only the tip and an adjacent bit of the unfurling phlox bud were in focus.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2021 at 4:41 AM

Clouds over central Texas on February 4th

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Sometimes we get wispy clouds. Sometimes we get cottony clouds. Sometimes we get both.

The long tradition of referring to the skies as the heavens leads us to a quotation for today: “Can you see yourselves as spiritual beings having a human experience, rather than human beings who may be having a spiritual experience?” — Wayne Dyer, 1988. (A Quote Investigator article discusses the sentence’s origin and variations in its wording.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 11, 2021 at 4:45 AM

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Ice is nice, part 4

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Here’s what you learned in part 1: In a shaded part of Great Hills Park on January 12th I discovered that thin sheets of ice had formed close to the ground. Most importantly for my purposes, I found that I could slowly lift up a small section of ice and it would come away in shapes that were irregular yet didn’t break apart. Over and over I did my light lifting, each time facing toward the sun and holding the little panel erect against a background of shaded trees so that backlighting would reveal details in the ice.

In addition to that, I held some of the pieces up higher, against the sky, to make portraits of a different sort, one of which you’re seeing here. Admittedly this is a combination you probably wouldn’t ever find in nature, but the urge to experiment came over me and I yielded.

And here’s a humorous quotation for today: “When a man gits perfektly kontented, he and a clam are fust couzins.” [When a man gets perfectly contented, he and a clam are first cousins.”] — Josh Billings, the pen name for Henry Wheeler Shaw. Wikipedia notes that “Shaw attended Hamilton College, but was expelled in his second year for removing the clapper of the campus bell.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2021 at 4:28 AM

Way up there on the GAIN scale

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Way up there on the GAIN (great appeal in natives) scale for our grasses is gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris), which turns a delicious pink in the fall. It grows as close to Austin as one county east, but landscapers are understandably fond of planting it here. That’s why I could photograph these specimens along South Lakeshore Blvd. on November 17th. Texas is at the southwestern edge of gulf muhly’s range, which I was surprised to find tapers off in the opposite direction through Long Island, where I grew up, and into southern New England. The second picture offers a closer look at the pleasant disarray. In both images I used the contrasting blue sky to set off the pink of the grass.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 14, 2020 at 4:32 AM

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Rhapsody in Blue at the Palladium Hotel

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At Coron in the Philippine province of Palawan we stayed at the Palladium Hotel,
whose design harkens back to buildings on the Greek island of Santorini.

On December 14th, before we left for the airport to fly back to Cebu City,
I tried out compositions that played off the morning’s wispy clouds against the hotel.
Sometimes elements of the hotel became my primary subjects.

Even bubbling water in the swimming pool made for a blue abstraction.

Just thought I’d give you something different for a change.
Actually I’ve been making pictures like these since decades before my emphasis on nature and native plants.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 11, 2020 at 4:24 AM

Ant on pavonia mallow

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We have several pavonia mallow plants (Pavonia lasiopetala) in our yard, but I’ve never managed to get as good a portrait of one from behind as when I went walking through the Taylor Draper entrance to Great Hills Park on October 10th. The backlighting brought out patterns not apparent in a conventional view, as you can confirm by comparing a picture from 2012.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 17, 2018 at 4:44 AM

The end of winter

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Today, March 20th, marks the official end of winter this year. Nature in Austin hadn’t waited that long. The photograph above, taken six days ago at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, shows a possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) that had largely greened out while still densely laden with the bright red fruits it wore all winter. A clear blue sky pleasantly set off the other two colors. Aiming upward near midday let sunlight transluce the new leaves.

(Not long ago you saw a landscape view from Valentine’s Day showing a possumhaw in its winter form, which is to say totally leafless.)

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 20, 2018 at 4:45 AM

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Unusual clouds

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The last unusual clouds you saw here were from Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta on September 3 of last year. Two days ago when we headed out to run a few errands, the atypical combination of clouds overhead caught our attention. Rather than go back home for a real camera, lazy me pulled over and used an iPhone.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me at the time, the last of the several pictures I took included a jet plane. It appeared to be flying parallel to the prominent cloud, yet the airplane produced no contrails at all. The long white cloud remains a mystery.

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2018 at 4:36 AM

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