Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘brown

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

Alibates flint

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I’d be remiss if I mentioned the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, as I did last time, without showing you a piece of that flint.

And below is a different take on orange and brown at that same site in the northern reaches of the Texas Panhandle.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2017 at 4:43 AM

Beginning of winter in Austin

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Thanks to two bridges, on the first official day of winter (December 21) we walked a two-mile circuit around a portion of downtown Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. At Vic Mathias Shores on the south side of the lake I pulled out my iPhone and recorded this view of bald cypress trees, Taxodium distichum, turning their end-of-year colors. The tall, bare plants in the foreground are giant ragweed, Ambrosia trifida. How could I pass up a sky like this as a contrasting background?

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 16, 2017 at 5:02 AM

Female redwing blackbird

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Female Redwing Blackbird 7224

Look how different the female redwing blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is from the male. Like the previous photograph, this one comes from the Volo Bog State Natural Area in Lake County, Illinois, on June 7th.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 22, 2016 at 5:08 AM

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