Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Burnet County

Textures of different kinds

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At the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on March 24th I focused on textures of different kinds. The photograph above reveals a prickly pear cactus pad from which all the outer covering and inner cells and water had passed away, leaving only the sturdy structure that once supported them. In contrast, the picture below shows a rounded, colorful patch of lichens on a boulder.

For those interested in the art and craft of photography, I’ll add that the first photograph exemplifies point 4, and the second one point 15, in About My Techniques.

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A theme I’ve been pursuing here for a week now is that it’s common to hear politicians and activists bandy about the phrase “common sense,” which is a loaded and misleading term because some or even many things that a majority of people believe to be common sense can be shown not to be true.

Here’s a simple example from the everyday world of buying and selling. Suppose an item in a store goes up 50% in price and later comes down 50% in price. A lot of people would say it’s “common sense” that the rise in price and then the fall in price by the same percent would bring the item back to its original price; in this case the +50% and the –50% would cancel each other out.

Alas, that bit of “common sense” isn’t true. To see that it’s not, let’s give the item in question a specific price, say $40. After that price goes up by half (+50%), it’s $60. After the $60 price gets reduced by half (–50%), it drops to $30. The new price is less than the original $40 price, not equal to it.

Now let’s go a step further. In the real world, switching the order of two actions usually leads to different results. For example, mixing the ingredients for a cake and then baking them will give a very different cake than the one you’d get by baking the ingredients first and then mixing them. Waiting for an empty swimming pool to fill up and then diving head-first into it is recreational; diving head-first into an empty swimming pool and then waiting for it to fill up could well be fatal.

With those examples in mind, it seems “common sense” that if we go back to our example of prices and reverse the order of the two equal-percent changes, we might well get a different result. Specifically, what will happen if this time we first apply a 50% decrease to a price and then a 50% increase? Last time the final price ended up lower than where it started. By reversing the order of the changes, might the price now end up higher than where it started? As I used to say to my students: when in doubt, try it out. Beginning once again with a price of $40, if we reduce it by half (–50%) the new price is $20. If we now increase that $20 price by half (+50%) the final price is $30. The result comes out exactly the same as before: the original $40 price will still end up getting reduced to $30. Unlike many things in the real world, in this situation reversing the order of our actions makes no difference.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2021 at 4:28 AM

Groundplum flowers

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While at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on March 24th I found a happily flowering colony of Astragalus crassicarpus. var. berlandieri, a Texas endemic known as Berlandier’s groundplum, groundplum milkvetch, or just groundplum. The species has appeared here only twice before, the first time as a limited-focus view of the plant’s leaves. A straightforward portrait of the flowers, as in today’s view, has a naturally pastel look to it.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 6, 2021 at 4:47 AM

Prairie paintbrush inflorescences

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From March 24th at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County, here’s a close look at the inflorescence
of one prairie paintbrush, Castilleja purpurea var. lindheimeri, in front of two others.


And here are two versions of a blessing known as the Selkirk Grace
that’s attributed to Scottish poet Robert Burns:

Some hae [have] meat and canna [cannot] eat,
And some wad [would] eat that want [lack] it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae [so] let the Lord be Thankit!

*
Some Folk hae meat that canna eat,
And some can eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
So let the Lord be Thanket!

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 4, 2021 at 4:35 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

Three views of lichens on granitic rock

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One of the pleasures of visiting the area near Inks Lake in Burnet County is the visibility of granitic rock.

Here are various types of lichens I saw along Park Road 4 on April 27th.

UPDATE: After this posted, I found an article that explains lichens in a way I hadn’t heard before.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 18, 2020 at 4:30 AM

Prickly pear cactus flower

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I don’t think I did any portraits of prickly pear cactus flowers in 2019. This picture from April 28 along Park Road 4 in Burnet County makes up for that omission. The species is Opuntia engelmannii but I’m not positive about the variety; I’m leaning toward var. engelmannii. Let’s hope I don’t lean too far because I don’t want to get prickly pear glochids and spines in my skin.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2020 at 4:45 AM

Interpenetrating wildflower colonies

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From April 27th along Park Road 4 in Burnet County here are three pleasantly interwoven wildflower colonies. The yellow flower heads with brown centers are brown bitterweed, Helenium amarum var. badium. The red ones are firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella, even if they have more red and less yellow than this species does on average. The white flowers are wild onions, Allium canadense, though I’m not sure which subspecies.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2020 at 4:49 AM

Sometimes a right angle is the right angle

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How about this curiously flexed rain-lily (Cooperia drummondii) that I found at the Doeskin Ranch on April 8th? And before anyone gets all bent out of shape by the flower in the picture not quite living up to the post’s title, yes, I realize that the angle here is a little less than 90°. I claim geometricopoetic license.

I also claim—and I think you’ll agree—that this is quite a different take on a rain-lily from the March 26th one that appeared here not so long ago.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 20, 2020 at 4:40 PM

Red and green

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Another thing I photographed at the Doeskin Ranch on April 8th
was this scarlet leatherflower (Clematis texensis).
Below you see how a bud develops.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 16, 2020 at 4:43 AM

P.S.A. or S.S.A., that is the question*

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I’d been scheduled to do a presentation for the Williamson County chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas on April 9th. I decided to illustrate some techniques of nature photography that conduce to good pictures and therefore might lead to more submissions and better competition in this coming fall’s statewide NPSoT photo contest. As the date drew near, though, it became obvious that the presentation couldn’t be a present-ation, as everyone was already keeping to their homes. Fortunately technology let folks attend live online, and the show also got recorded. If you’re interested in techniques of nature photography, you’re welcome to watch some or all. My part begins at 9:37 and lasts for about an hour; it includes 90 photographs.

Not wanting today’s post to be only an announcement, I’ve added a jolt of sunshiny yellow in the form of a Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus); the little round structure in the upper right is an about-to-open bud. The picture comes from April 8th at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County. I’d hoped for solitude there, but plenty of other homebound people had the same idea, and I was surprised to see so many cars in the normally almost empty parking lot. I was also dismayed when I came back to my car a couple of hours later and found a swarm of teenagers hanging around the car that had parked right next to mine.

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* It occurred to me that this public service announcement could also be construed as a self-service announcement, especially with S.S. happening to be my initials. Oh well, as another S. wrote: “one man in his time plays many parts.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2020 at 4:31 PM

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