Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘chiaroscuro

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

Dark and light

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On June 12, 2018, at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts, I photographed the buds of black cohosh (Actaea racemosa). The only other place I’d ever seen black cohosh was in Arkansas in 2016.

The dense pentagonal flowers of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) remain a highlight of my visit to Garden in the Woods. They’re quite different from those of the similarly named but botanically unrelated Texas mountain laurel that you’ve seen in these pages several times.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 12, 2019 at 4:34 AM

Less than a full puff of silverpuff

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Above is a chiaroscuro portrait showing less than a full puff of silverpuff (Chaptalia texana) in the heavy shade beneath some Ashe juniper trees (Juniperus ashei) on Floral Park Dr. in my neighborhood on March 30. It’s been a good while since this species has appeared here, so below from the same photo session I’ve added a reminder that silverpuff’s flower heads are cylindrical, tend to nod, and stay mostly closed.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2019 at 4:45 AM

Almost black and white

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Call it chiaroscuro, this portrait of frostweed flowers (Verbesina virginica) growing wild in my neighborhood on October 4th. Hard to believe this species is a genus-mate of the cowpen daisy you saw here last month.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 23, 2018 at 6:12 AM

Fallingwater, falling light

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After decades of reading articles and seeing documentaries about it, on June 14th we finally made our way to Mill Run, Pennsylvania, for Fallingwater, the house that the architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed to straddle a waterfall rather than sit alongside it. The places where I most wanted to stand for pictures, the base of the main waterfall and the banks of the creek flowing away from it, unfortunately remain off limits to visitors. I can’t show you the pictures I might have made, so here instead are a few idiosyncratic takes on light and shadow at Fallingwater.

While I couldn’t look up from the base of the falls, I could and did aim straight down from the top.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2018 at 4:54 AM

When purple is white

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Several times over the years that these posts have been appearing I’ve pointed out that purple flowers seem more disposed than those of other colors to produce naturally occurring white variants. That was clearly the case with some spiderworts (Tradescantia spp.) that caught my attention at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 14th. You can see residual traces of purple in those flowers.

Two years ago you saw a largely white variant of a bluebonnet. (Most bluebonnets strike me as purple rather than blue.)

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 25, 2018 at 4:38 AM

Bastrop burned tree remains

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Bastrop State Park. August 11. Remains of the horrendous forest fire of 2011.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, points 3, 14, 18, and 19 in About My Techniques pertain to this picture.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2017 at 4:48 AM

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