Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘chiaroscuro

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

The other wildflower I hadn’t seen in years

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The other wildflower I encountered on June 12th along a clifftop trail above the Colorado River on the west side of the Capital of Texas Highway after not having seen the species for years was Acourtia runcinata, known as peonia and stemless perezia. No one could fault you for adding the name ribbonflower or bowflower. As happened minutes earlier with the Texas milkweed, this wildflower grew in a tree-shaded area and yet a shaft of sunshine coming through the canopy provided the dramatic spotlight I needed at the time.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 14, 2019 at 4:47 AM

Texas milkweed flowers and buds

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On June 12th, after photographing spittlebug spittle, I began making my way back along the clifftop trail above the Colorado River on the west side of the Capital of Texas Highway. After a while I came to a fork. Rather than returning the rest of the way on the same trail I’d come on, I took the path less traveled by, and that made all the difference. It made a difference because I came across first one and then another wildflower I hadn’t seen in years. Both were in mostly shaded wooded areas, yet each was magically lit for a little while by light coming through openings in the canopy. The first was Texas milkweed, Asclepias texana, a perennial whose presence in Travis County botanist Bill Carr describes as “rare in and along margins of juniper-oak woodlands on rocky limestone slopes.”

UPDATE. With regard to the recent post showing spittlebug spittle, Wanda Hill suggested cropping down to the large bubble at the lower tip of the spittle and rotating it 180° so the sky would be at the top. I’ve done that, and if you’d like to see the result, check out the addition at the end of that post.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 12, 2019 at 4:37 AM

Far West

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Near the far west end of Far West Blvd. in west Austin on June 1st I found a twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) leaning out and flowering beyond the leaves of an evergreen sumac (Rhus virens).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2019 at 4:48 AM

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