Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘chiaroscuro

Cowpen daisy buds and flowers

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For whatever reason, I rarely come across cowpen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) except in a few places, all of which conveniently happen to be near each other in my own neighborhood. On June 6th (D-for-Daisy Day) I was coming home “the back way” on Rain Creek Parkway when I spotted some wildflowers by the side of the road bordering the Great Hills Country Club and stopped to investigate.

The Wikipedia article on this species gives the additional common names golden crownbeard, gold weed, wild sunflower, butter daisy, American dogweed, and South African daisy. That last is strange because this species is native in North America, not South Africa.

In contrast to the yellowscuro portrait above, look at how different the second picture is. I’d made it two minutes earlier by getting low and aiming upward toward a patch of bright blue sky rather than downward toward a partly shaded area the way I did in the top portrait.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2020 at 4:43 AM

Engelmann daisy flower head and bud

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From April 26th along Old Lampasas Trail comes this gialloscuro* portrait
of Engelmann daisies (Engelmannia peristenia).

* The Italian term chiaroscuro means literally bright-dark. I replaced the first part with giallo,
the Italian word for yellow, to get gialloscuro. In Englitalian that’s yellowscuro.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 30, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Crinkliest of flowers

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A.E. Housman began a poem with the words “Loveliest of trees, the cherry….” An Austin counterpart could begin with “Crinkliest of wildflowers, the white prickly poppy….” I made these two portraits of aging Argemone albiflora flowers in Great Hills Park on April 30th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2020 at 4:43 AM

Chiaroscuro times two

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I found myself doing many more chiaroscuro takes than usual this spring, including these two from the Doeskin Ranch on April 8th. Above is a gall, and below an aging four-nerve daisy, Tetraneuris linearifolia.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Corn salad flowers, many and few

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The blossoms of the strangely named corn salad (Valerianella sp.), while small and never rising far from the ground, have the collective power to cover a limestone-lined wildflower meadow in central Texas with what could be taken for a dusting of snow. In the second picture you get a closer look at the characteristically rectangular inflorescence; each five-petaled flower is between 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch (1.5–3mm) across.

I took these pictures west of Morado Circle on March 19th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 2, 2020 at 4:45 PM

New Zealand: Shadows and light at Riccarton Bush

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Three years ago today in Christchurch we visited Riccarton Bush,
where dense foliage created interplays of shadows and light.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2020 at 4:28 AM

Light and dark in Galveston County

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As you saw a couple of posts ago, on October 4th we went on a field trip to a property in Galveston County managed by the Marathon Oil Company. The visit produced these two moody portraits showing the opening bud on a green milkweed, Asclepias viridis, that we found growing there. I can’t help thinking of side and front views on a prison rap sheet, only here it’s native plants that are wanted.

The contrast between white and black stood out in this growth on a fallen and decaying pine trunk:

Dark and light characterized the seed head remains of a brown-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta:

On a much larger scale, a venerable tree (perhaps an ash) at another property on the field trip also intrigued me with its interplay of light and shadow as well as the hollowed-out part of its trunk:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 18, 2019 at 4:48 AM

Two gulls at Niagara Falls on July 25th

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I took the first picture from the Canadian side in the morning and the second from the American side near sundown, each time with the lens zoomed to its maximum focal length of 400mm. Both birds spoke to me. Take that figuratively and you’re all right; believe it literally and you’re gullible.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 8, 2019 at 4:44 PM

Cavern Cascade

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One of the waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region is Cavern Cascade. Below is a chiaroscuro portrait of it from July 30th that plays the falling water off against the rock strata in the gorge.

What makes Cavern Cascade so popular is that the trail leading to it passes behind the cascade. Naturally that’s where I wanted to stand to take a less-conventional photograph, but so many tourists kept coming along the path in both directions and stopping to have someone take their picture or to do a selfie that I despaired of ever getting half a minute completely free from people. Eventually there was a brief letup in the human caravans and I rushed in to make my abstract portrait looking out at 1/800 of a second through the waterfall toward the light beyond it.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2019 at 6:24 AM

Shimmering light

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One stretch of a Bull Creek tributary in my neighborhood flows beneath a limestone overhang. There are times when morning light filters through the trees, reflects off the surface of the water, and shimmers on the limestone wall of the overhang. July 8th at 9:04 was one of those times.

For the photographically curious: I took these pictures with a simple old 50mm lens wide open at f/1.4. Understandably, given the optics and the flowstoned face of the rocky overhang, not everything came out sharp, but somehow that hasn’t bothered me.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 16, 2019 at 4:46 AM

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