Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘clouds

3-D

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Here’s something different: a stereo* pair I took at a quarry in Cedar Park on September 14, 1980—40 years ago today! To see the image in 3-D, I suggest you get about 15 inches away from the screen and line each eye up with the matching half of the pair. Look straight ahead, then relax your eyes. Once you get used to things, the left half should drift a bit to the left, the right half a bit to the right, and in between them should appear a fused image of the two halves. If you manage to discern that middle image, your brain will interpret it as 3-D and you’ll see the big slab and the boulders behind it as having depth; the cloud was too far away from the foreground to have any depth. People’s vision varies enormously, so to get 3-D you may have to enlarge or shrink the images on your screen, or view the screen from closer or farther away, or put on or take off glasses, or drink a magic potion. Whatever you do, don’t close one eye; it takes two eyes to see 3-D, which is why we have two eyes. (People who have lost the sight of one eye or close one eye retain their sense of how things look in the physical world and may imagine they’re still seeing in 3-D, but they aren’t.)

Here’s a related fact for today: well-known movies filmed in 3-D include “House of Wax” (1953), “Kiss Me Kate” (1953), “It Came from Outer Space (1953), “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954), and “Dial M for Murder” (1954).

* We’ve grown up with the word stereo referring to music played through two speakers. More than a century before scientists applied the term to sound, though, they applied it to sight. The Greek original meant ‘solid,’ and solidity, i.e. three-dimensionality, is what a photographic stereo pair conveys.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2020 at 4:31 AM

Smoke in the Canadian Rockies

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When I look at my photo archive I’m impressed by how much we accomplished on this date in 2017, all of it accompanied by varying amounts of smoke from forest fires. The first picture shows a view along the Trans-Canada Highway as we drove east that morning from our hotel in Golden, British Columbia.

We continued on to two scenic and therefore much-visited lakes in Alberta’s Banff National Park. The photograph above shows Moraine Lake, with its richly colored water, later in the morning. The view below lets you see how sunshine radiated through the clouds and smoke over Lake Louise as dusk approached.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 8, 2020 at 4:12 AM

Yellow and blue

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While at a construction site in southern Round Rock on August 1st I photographed central Texas’s answer to the pussy willow, the golden dalea (Dalea aurea). I also made a portrait of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus).

As I said, this was a construction site, and across the lower section of the sunflower picture you see part of a long ridge of earth that bulldozers had heaped up. In a few of my pictures I made that ridge a subject in its own right, overflown and enhanced by the day’s wispy clouds.

And here’s a tip for today: I recently stumbled across the Good News Network, which lives up to its name by providing good news from around the world. That’s a much-need balance to the endless tales of woe and outrage that so many other news outlets feature. Check it out and see what you think.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2020 at 4:43 AM

I hardly expected a basket-flower on August 1st

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On August 1st, after taking a bunch of nature pictures at a large construction site in southern Round Rock, I was almost back to my car when I noticed something unusual for a date so far into the summer: a fresh basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus), the only one of its kind. It was almost touching one of those low black fences that mark the boundaries of work sites, so I lay on the ground and contorted myself to take pictures in ways that excluded both the dark fence on one side and a nearby sign on the other. Below is a more detailed view that I made by standing back up, leaning over, and aiming down at the flower head.

Here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” — Maurice Switzer in Mrs. Goose, Her Book, 1906.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 13, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Austin’s diurnal answer to Comet Neowise

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My imagination ignored the time of day and told me that a long wispy cloud stretched out over northeast Austin on July 24th was Comet Neowise, which other people have been showing pictures of. This is the closest I’m going to come to portraying that comet, which won’t be back for 6000 years. Somehow I don’t think I’ll still be here then, even if my mind super-optimistically assures me that I will.

Related etymology for today: our word comet goes back to Greek komētēs, which meant ‘long-haired,’ from the word for ‘hair, komē. Can you imagine this wispy cloud as long white tresses?

And a bit of biology, too: botanists have borrowed coma, the Latin form of Greek komē, to designate a tuft of hairs on a seed, as for example a milkweed seed.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2020 at 4:28 AM

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Four views of Ashe junipers

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If you’d been out on the morning of May 29th in central Texas last year you’d have taken pictures of the great wispy clouds, too. I did so from a bunch of places, including a property at the corner of Bagdad Road and Brashear Lane in Cedar Park. I’d never worked there before and I don’t know if I will again, given the rapid development that’s been taking place in that area for years.* In the photograph above, the clouds served as a backdrop for a line of Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), the most common and widely distributed evergreen tree we have in central Texas. Below, from my own front yard on June 17th, you get a closeup of an Ashe juniper trunk that shows how these trees usually have stringy bark and also sometimes develop a corrugated texture.

From July 13th near Old Lampasas Trail, here are two more views. The first shows how a slew of dry leaves fallen from an Ashe juniper covered the ground so thoroughly you can’t detect any of the earth beneath them.

And below you see a shaft of sunlight on one Ashe juniper that was particularly sinuous.

 

* When I started taking pictures in Cedar Park in the late 1970s, it seemed way out in the country and its population was in the hundreds. Now home to about 80,000 people, it’s the second-largest suburb of Austin and there’s no break between it and the northernmost part of the city.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 18, 2020 at 4:42 AM

Miscellany

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Apropos of nothing in particular, don’t you love how stilted some spam comments are? Here’s a recent one I got: “A person essentially lend a hand to make significantly posts I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular submit extraordinary. Magnificent job!” What can I say? I’ve made to make all my submits extraordinary.

I’m reading Charles MacKay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, which first appeared in 1841. What ever could have made me turn to such a book?

Because of the pandemic, people in nudist resorts are having to wear face masks. Yes, and they’re not happy about it; they say it ruins the experience. Oh well, in this case it’s better to be completely virus-free than completely clothing-free, don’t you think?

And because this is a nature photography blog, I guess I should include a picture. Here from June 6th in my neighborhood is a flowering silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) with some spider silk on it.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Firewheel seed head on a sinuous stalk

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Today’s portrait of a firewheel seed head (Gaillardia pulchella) comes from June 17th near the northeast corner of Mopac and Braker Lane. If you count the color on the curiously bent and re-bent stalk as red, then the picture provides the requisite red, white, and blue that have come to symbolize Independence Day in the United States, those being the three colors of the American flag. The firewheel’s sinuous stem when viewed sideways, whether left or right, conveniently traces out the first letter in both names of the photographer, whose birthday has never failed to coincide with the national holiday.

Perhaps because of that coincidence in dates, and certainly because of my nature, I’ve always felt a connection to the founding period in this country’s history. The story goes that when the delegates to the Constitutional Convention finally emerged from their Philadelphia meeting room in 1787, a woman stopped Benjamin Franklin and asked him what form of government they’d given the country. His famous two-part reply, first factual and then oracular, was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Now here we are 233 years later, and recent events make it seem more and more likely we won’t be able to keep it. I hope we can.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 4, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Wet sunflower with dark clouds

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Six years ago today I took some pictures of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus) against dark clouds after a rain. Until recently I assumed I’d shown one of those photographs here in 2014, but a search proved that somehow I never did. Today’s post makes up for my negligence. What I unfortunately can’t make up for is the loss of the property where I photographed this sunflower and many other native plants for a couple of years before a Wendy’s and a Holiday Inn Express finally occupied that land.

Given this picture’s small size, you may have trouble recognizing a crab spider at about the 9 o’clock position on the sunflower. If you’re interested in the craft of photography, points 3 and 8 in About My Techniques apply to today’s image.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Green milkweed flowers and pods

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From May 29th at the Benbrook Ranch Park in Leander you’re seeing the flowers and pods of green milkweed, Asclepias viridis. And how about those great clouds? Because I took these pictures only three minutes apart, the clouds hadn’t changed that much, so if you compare you can still match some of them up.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM

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