Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘cliff

Ripple reflections on Bull Creek cliff

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Not having been to the main section of St. Edward’s Park for a long time, I went there on the morning of June 24th. At one of the access points to Bull Creek I noticed that sunlight was reflecting off ripples in the creek and creating shimmers on the cliff. Those shimmers of light in turn appeared upside down as they reflected off the surface of the water on their way to my eyes and to the camera that I put between my eyes and them.

Southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) created the horizontal green band of foliage across the cliff just above the water level. Starkly uneven lighting (which I could only partly even out while processing the image) produced a strange effect: the ferns in the right half of the photograph are clearly reflected in the water, while the main group of ferns in the left half doesn’t have an obvious reflection.

 

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One of the most important developments in the study of racial inequality has been the quantification of the importance of pre-market skills in explaining differences in labor market outcomes between Black and white workers. In 2010, using nationally representative data on thousands of individuals in their 40s, I estimated that Black men earn 39.4% less than white men and Black women earn 13.1% less than white women. Yet, accounting for one variable—educational achievement in their teenage years—reduced that difference to 10.9% (a 72% reduction) for men and revealed that Black women earn 12.7 percent more than white women, on average. Derek Neal, an economist at the University of Chicago, and William Johnson were among the first to make this point in 1996: “While our results do provide some evidence for current labor market discrimination, skills gaps play such a large role that we believe future research should focus on the obstacles Black children face in acquiring productive skill.”

That’s from Roland Fryer’s June 2022 article in Fortune magazine entitled “It’s time for data-first diversity, equity, and inclusion.” That passage supports what I’ve been saying for decades: the single most important thing our society can do for underprivileged children is give them a good education. Instead, the people in charge of education keep making excuses and adopting policies which practically guarantee that those children won’t learn much. It’s a disgrace.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2022 at 4:26 AM

Zilker Nature Preserve

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In the Zilker Nature Preserve on January 13th I spotted the pod of a milkweed vine releasing its seeds. While no leaves remained to suggest what species it was, the most common vine in that family here is pearl milkweed, Matelea reticulata, so that’ll have to do as a tentative identification. Regardless of species, milkweed pods produce a chaos of silk and seeds that a nature photographer who prizes abstraction welcomes. Later we re-crossed the dry bed of Eanes Creek. The picture below shows the lower strata in a hundred-foot tall cliff carved over aeons by rushing water.

 

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True virtue is life under the direction of reason.

[M]en who are governed by reason—who seek what is useful to them in accordance with reason—desire for themselves nothing that they do not also desire for the rest of humanity, and consequently are just, faithful, and honorable in their conduct.

The most tyrannical governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right to his thoughts.

Freedom is absolutely necessary for progress in science and the liberal arts.

Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677); Ethics, 1677.

  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

  

  

  

  

  

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2022 at 4:33 AM

The high cliff along Bull Creek

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As often as I’ve shown scenes from Bull Creek, I don’t think I’ve ever shown this stretch that includes one of the tallest cliffs along the creek. The second photo offers you a better view of the way some slabs of rock have fallen on the creek bank. If you have trouble making out the yellow flowers, don’t worry; an upcoming post will give you a close look at one along a different part of the creek. Both of today’s pictures are from July 5th.


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As manic as some segments of American society have become, voices of reason and moderation do exist. Two such are Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, whose book Cynical Theories appeared in 2020. Its subtitle is How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody. Here’s an example of their principled opposition to what I’ll call academania:

We affirm that racism remains a problem in society and needs to be addressed.

We deny that critical race Theory and intersectionality provide the most useful tools to do so, since we believe that racial issues are best solved through the most rigorous analyses possible.

We contend that racism is defined as prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory behavior against individuals or groups on the grounds of race and can be successfully addressed as such.

We deny that racism is hard-baked into society via discourses, that it is unavoidable and present in every interaction to be discovered and called out, and that this is part of a ubiquitous systemic problem that is everywhere, always, and all-pervasive.

We deny that the best way to deal with racism is by restoring social significance to racial categories and radically heightening their salience.

We contend that each individual can choose not to hold racist views and should be expected to do so, that racism is declining over time and becoming rarer, that we can and should see one another as humans first and members of certain races second, that issues of race are best dealt with by being honest about racialized experiences, while still working towards shared goals and a common vision, and that the principle of not discriminating by race should be universally upheld.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 11, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Return to the cliff: orange and green

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On January 16th, two weeks after my first foray this year to the cliff on the west side of Capital of Texas Highway south of FM 2222, I returned. I did so because when driving past there the previous day I’d noticed that the recent snow/sleet had invigorated the water’s seeping on the face of the cliff. Some of my new photographs highlighted orange areas among the rocks. In the first picture, notice in the upper left how the dead roots or stems of plants were slowly become mineralized. And a little right of center near the bottom it was good of a pillbug to appear as a token representative of the animal kingdom.

In the middle photograph, some of the drying southern maidenhair fern leaves (Adiantum capillus-veneris) at the upper right were taking on a paler version of the orange in or on the rocks. What the green stuff in the final picture was, I don’t know.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2021 at 4:37 AM

A seeping cliff, a shrine, a medallion

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The cliff on the west side of the Capital of Texas Highway just south of FM 2222 seeps water, especially in the days after rain. The picture above shows how a section of the cliff looked on January 2nd after we’d had rain a few days earlier; I’d say you’re looking at a height of about 20 ft. (6m) here. In one place on the face of the cliff some southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) adorned a small natural shrine whose not deep but deep-shadowed interior a flash provided visual admission to. Notice how a few drops of water, inviters and sustainers of ferns, hung from the little grotto’s upper lip

Elsewhere the same kind of ferns made up part of a large medallion. The many darkened ferns testify to the previous period of several months when we’d had almost no rain.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 19, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Verdure on the seeping cliff

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As you heard last time, on June 12th I spent time at the cliff along Capital of Texas Highway a little north of the bridge over the Colorado River. The water that seeps out of the cliff supports vegetation, most notably southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris, which in one place formed a column that grew all the way up to the top of the cliff:

Here and there isolated maidenhair ferns found refuge in little alcoves.

In a couple of areas the lush maidenhair ferns turned the base of the cliff into a green wall.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2019 at 4:40 AM

Seeping cliff

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On June 12th I spent time at the cliff on the west side of Capital of Texas Highway
a little north of the bridge over the Colorado River.

You can see that as water seeps through the cliff it slowly deposits minerals.

Most of the cliff doesn’t seep. In some places the contrast between wet and dry calls attention to itself.

Might these be time- and weather-worn Mayan glyphs?

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 23, 2019 at 4:22 AM

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February 26–27, 2015

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Late in the afternoon four years ago today I walked down to Little Manly Beach, which lies on the south side of a peninsula that juts into the Hauraki Gulf north of Auckland.

You can see that the nearer sea-eroded cliffs and shore already lay in shadow. That didn’t stop me from taking some pictures of fascinating formations, a few of which I showed here after I got back to Texas. Nevertheless, I went back the next morning—my last in New Zealand on that first trip—when the light came from the opposite direction, so I could have another crack at the interesting patterns. Below are several.

Green algae

Rock swirls

Barnacles

I planned to go back at the end of our 2017 visit but unfortunately heavy rains caused mudslides that blocked both roads that would have let us leave the Coromandel Peninsula. We lost a day and made it back to Auckland only a few hours before we had to go to the airport for our return flight to Texas.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2019 at 4:22 AM

As with ferns, so with rocks

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Austin doesn’t offer rock formations anywhere near as grand as the ones I recently saw along the Atlantic coast in Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Nevertheless, on a smaller scale, some structures here are worth looking at.

From the same stretch along Capital of Texas Highway that provided the fern pictures in the previous post, you’re now looking at the cliff’s patterns and textures as I photographed them on June 24th.

I took almost all my pictures in a vertical orientation to align with the downward dripping and flowing of water as it seeped out of the rocks.

I figure the forms in the last two portraits might lead us to form, on the model of the portraitist whose models’ forms are said to be Rubenesque, the adjective seepesque.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2018 at 6:38 PM

East from Los Alamos

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A year ago today we drove east from Los Alamos on New Mexico Highway 502 across part of the Pajarito Plateau. In the distance were the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 11, 2018 at 4:35 AM

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