Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘brown

Shelf fungus

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At Palmetto State Park on November 23rd I photographed several kinds of shelf fungi. Not till I processed this picture the next day did I notice a spider over on the left side—and a strange spider it was, with only six legs. What happened to the other two, I don’t know. You’re welcome to click the excerpt below for a closer look at the six-legged spider.

‡       ‡       ‡

I call your attention to the article “The Empowering of the American Mind: 10 Principles for Opposing Thought Reform in K-12,” in which Greg Lukianoff fleshes out each of these:

  • Principle 1: No compelled speech, thought, or belief.
  • Principle 2: Respect for individuality, dissent, and the sanctity of conscience.
  • Principle 3: Teachers & administrators must demonstrate epistemic humility.
  • Principle 4: Foster the broadest possible curiosity, critical thinking skills, and discomfort with certainty.
  • Principle 5: Foster independence, not moral dependency.
  • Principle 6: Do not teach children to think in cognitive distortions.
  • Principle 7: Do not teach the ‘Three Great Untruths.’
  • Principle 8: Take student mental health more seriously.
  • Principle 9: Resist the temptation to reduce complex students to limiting labels. 
  • Principle 10: If it’s broke, fix it. Be willing to form new institutions that empower students and educate them with principles of free, diverse, and pluralistic society.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Portraits from our yard: episode 10

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Do you remember the white avens (Geum canadense) buds and flowers you saw here recently?
From our back yard on July 22nd comes this view of a white avens seed head.
Its hooks are obviously intended to get caught on the fur of passing animals.


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One morning last week we took a stroll through a nearby part of our neighborhood. When a woman walking her dog came near us, I asked her with no prelude, as I recently started doing to find out how people feel: “What do you think about the current state of our country?” She indicated that she wasn’t happy with it: “Somebody needs to start doing something.” Then she mentioned her young grandson and said she was optimistic that he would turn things around. I followed up: “But do you think we have enough time to wait for him to grow up and do that?” After a few seconds’ thought she said: “No.”

The woman told us her name is Lenore. “Like the Lenore that Poe wrote about?” I asked. She said that was it, that her father was fond of Poe’s works. “So he actually named you Lenore because of Poe’s poem?” “Yes,” she replied, and then she quoted from “The Raven”: “a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.” You never know what interesting things you’ll find out when you talk to strangers.

Just a few houses before the place where we encountered Lenore I’d noticed a yard sign for an organization called Braver Angels. Having never heard of it, I looked it up:

Our mission is to bring Americans together to bridge the partisan divide and strengthen our democratic republic.

We do so by observing the Braver Angels Way:

We state ours views freely and fully, without fear.

We welcome opportunities to engage with those with whom we disagree.

We treat people who disagree with us with honesty and respect.

We seek to disagree accurately, avoiding exaggeration and stereotypes.

We look for common ground where it exists, and if possible, find ways to work together.

We believe that all of us have blind spots and none of us are not worth talking to.

We believe that, in disagreements, both sides share and learn. In Braver Angels, neither side is teaching the other or giving feedback on how to think or say things differently.

Our work ethic is citizen-leadership; we’re many volunteers assisted by a professional staff.

We’re guided by the Braver Angels Rule: At every level of organizational guidance, red and blue leaders are equally represented. Regarding race, ethnicity, and social and economic class, our constant striving is to be an organization that reflects the country we seek to serve.

Sounds like Lenore is getting her wish without having to wait for her grandson to grow up. Somebody is doing something.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2021 at 4:33 AM

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Bald cypress fruit and drying leaves

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Coming home from a productive photo session on August 25th, my gaze and I were arrested by the pale green fruits nestled among drying leaves on a bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) I presume had been planted along United Drive. Don’t you love the shapes and texture and colors? Of course you do.

Let the geometry of these fruits and leaves be a lead-in to today’s quotation: “There is no national science, just as there is no national multiplication table; what is national is no longer science.” — Anton Chekhov, Note-Books, 1921. Unfortunately, there are people a century later who assail objectivity and universality, and who claim that mathematics is oppression.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 3, 2020 at 4:24 AM

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Austin’s still snailiferous

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Now well past May’s peak of limaciferousness in central Texas, the land beneath our baking sun has continued to host many a snail. Whether the small creatures I’ve found were living or dead has been mostly beyond my ability to say. They haven’t, however, been beyond my ability to photograph. I found the one above on August 6th near the tip of a Mexican hat seed head (Ratibida columnifera), and the one below on a bed of dry fallen Ashe juniper leaves (Juniperus ashei). In that portrait, taken on July 10th, I’d gone for a shallow-depth-of-field approach, with little more than the apex of the spiral in focus.

The last image, from June 15th in Great Hills Park when things were still more colorful,
shows a snail on a living Ashe juniper with a firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) beyond it.

And here’s a quotation about photography:

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”
Ansel Adams in American Way, October 1974.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2020 at 4:33 AM

Brown is the new green

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On the afternoon of April 10th I noticed a bright green anole lizard on the Ashe juniper tree trunk outside my window. I walked several steps to my camera bag, quickly attached a long lens to my camera, and turned back toward the window. In that brief interval the anole had become completely brown. Such a presto change-o has earned Anolis carolinensis the nickname American chameleon, even though an anole isn’t a true chameleon—just as an Ashe juniper isn’t the “cedar” that people commonly call it in Texas. Shakespeare said it well: that which we call an anole, by any other name would be as changeable. And speaking of saying, the word anole is pronounced in three syllables: a-nó-le.

If you’d like to see what one of these critters looks like when it’s green and displaying a bright red dewlap, you’re welcome to check out a classic portrait from 2012. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2020 at 10:40 AM

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Brickellia flowering in January

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Brickell-bush, Brickellia cylindracea, is a wildflower I don’t see as often as many others. One field guide describes it as having unbranched, upright stalks. I’ll go for unbranched, but in this case the two stalks I found were lying inconspicuously on the ground. Maybe I wouldn’t’ve have noticed them if I hadn’t stopped on January 18th to photograph the adjacent goldeneye and boneset that you’ve seen in recent posts. The profile above shows that even mature flower heads stay mostly closed. The view below gives you a better look at the disk flowers; there are no ray flowers in this genus. The brown in the background came from a bed of fallen leaves—this is January, after all—and adds to the mood (or moodiness) of the two portraits.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2020 at 4:46 AM

My first alligator

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The first time I ever saw an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in the wild was on October 6th in the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Here’s the rap sheet approach again, with front and side views.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 8, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Softer colors at Stillhouse Hollow

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After leaves have fallen, trees reveal summer-hidden branches and sometimes things within them, like the nest now disclosed here. This bare tree, while neither massive nor colorful like the still-clad oak you saw yesterday, nevertheless appeals in the intricacy of its many slender branches and twigs. Visible beyond it you can make out upper parts of a sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) tall enough to catch light from the late-afternoon sun. Though the tree with the nest in it had no leaves left to help with identification, it might have been a cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia). I have no idea what kind of animal made the nest. Below is an unobstructed view of the sycamore’s browning crown in its own right.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 11, 2018 at 4:38 AM

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Fasciation comes to a black-eyed susan

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Near the end of my visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 26th I photographed some seed head remains of black-eyed susans, Rudbeckia hirta. Here’s one of them, in which you can confirm the usual thimble shape:

Then I spotted an obviously fasciated specimen, with a flattened stem and a bunch of seed heads glommed together into an irregular bundle:

Click the “fasciation” tag below if you’d like to learn more about the phenomenon and see other examples I’ve shown over the years.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2018 at 4:50 AM

A Rembrandtian composite

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This post’s title notwithstanding, today’s photograph is not a composite of several images. No, “composite” is a traditional botanical name for any member of the sunflower family. Of which composite these are the remains remains unclear. Horticulturist Anna Fialvoff said that she thought it might be running groundsel, Packera obovata [which amazingly also grows in Austin], but that she would expect more fluff on the spent seed head.

I made this portrait, which strikes me as Rembrandtian in its tonality, at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts, on June 12.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 11, 2018 at 6:29 PM

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