Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘clouds

Black and white versions

with 21 comments

 

In a comment on this morning’s post Alessandra Chaves suggested the image of tall goldenrod seed head remains (Solidago altissima) against wispy clouds would look good in black and white. Of the infinitely many ways to convert a given color photograph to monochrome, here are two.

 

 

You can compare these to the original color photograph.

 

© 2023 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2023 at 10:53 AM

Solidago sentinel

with 31 comments

 

At the pond by the Costco in suburban Cedar Park on the morning of January 11th wispy clouds enhanced the remains of what I take to be tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima. Though these plants’ yellow to yellow-orange flowers brighten up our autumns, the dried-out seed heads stand as sentinels far into the year that follows. Up wasn’t the only direction I could look at goldenrod seed heads to see blue; down worked as well, and it brought me a different shade of that color:

 

 

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Disconcertingly many measures that supporters claim will help disadvantaged groups actually end up harming them. You can read about that with respect to school discipline in a January 17th editorial by Jason L. Riley.

 

© 2023 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2023 at 4:33 AM

Posted in nature photography

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An early-in-the-season and early-in-the-year look at fully fruited possumhaw

with 27 comments

 

On January 3rd I drove across town to Austin’s main post office to talk with a postal inspector about an unknown packet I received; it turned out to be our federal government spending our tax money to send us yet another round of Covid tests that I hadn’t specifically asked for. Afterwards, a few blocks away from the post office, I noticed a possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) with a good amount of fruit on it. I also noticed how wispy the clouds were. So began my quest, carried out in at least four places that morning and early afternoon, to match up those two things in photographs.

 

  

I also took dozens of pictures of the clouds in their own right, so right did they look in the sky.

 

 

 

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Check out a four-minute video in which Konstantin Kisin describes a clever psychological experiment that shows how someone’s mindset can distort the person’s perception of reality. In particular, a belief in victimhood can lead a person to perceive victimization where there isn’t any.

 

© 2023 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2023 at 4:26 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Enjoy a cholla

with 41 comments

 

Make that three of them. The first two cholla cacti (Cylindropuntia sp.) were growing in New Mexico’s City of Rocks State Park on October 12th of last year. No extra charge for the bird’s nest.

 

 

Three days later I lay on my mat on the ground at the visitor center for Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque so I could incorporate the morning’s cottony clouds into my portrait.

 

 

And so as the sun sets in the west we bid farewell, at least for now,
to posts about our scenic travels in New Mexico and west Texas last October.

 

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I call your attention to a January 6th article in Quillette by Andrew Doyle titled “A Puritanical Assault on the English Language,” with subtitle “Social justice zealots think they can save the world by inventing absurd new ways to describe it.” Here’s how the article begins:

It is a truism that people are often educated out of extreme religious beliefs. With good education comes the ability to think critically, which is the death knell for ideologies that are built on tenuous foundations. The religion of Critical Social Justice has spread at an unprecedented rate, partly because it makes claims to authority in the kind of impenetrable language that discourages the sort of criticism and scrutiny that would see it collapse upon itself. Some would argue that this is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church resisted translating the Bible into the vernacular for so long; those in power are always threatened when the plebeians start thinking for themselves and asking inconvenient questions.

This tactic of deliberately restricting knowledge produces epistemic closure, and is a hallmark of all cults. The elitist lexicon of Critical Social Justice not only provides an effective barrier against criticism and a means to sound informed while saying very little, but also signals membership and discourages engagement from those outside the bubble.

It is inevitable that the principle of freedom of speech should become a casualty when powerful people are obsessed with language and its capacity to shape the world. Revolutionaries of the postmodernist mindset would have us believe that societal change can be actuated through modifications to the language that describes it, which is why Max Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School maintained that it was not possible to conceive of the liberated world in the language of the existing world. As for the new puritans, they have embraced the belief that language is either a tool of oppression or a means to resist it. This not only accounts for their approval of censorship and “hate speech” legislation, but their inability to grasp how the artistic representation of morally objectionable ideas is not the same as an endorsement.

 

You’re welcome to read the full article (at least if it’s not behind a paywall).

 

© 2023 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 12, 2023 at 4:30 AM

Hot off the press: first pictures from 2023!

with 44 comments

 

Two hours ago we went walking in our neighborhood to get some exercise. When several of the things that we came upon saw that I carried my iPhone 14 with me they insisted on having their picture taken. Out of politeness I yielded to their demands. First came a possumhaw tree, Ilex decidua, with plenty of fruit. The portrait above strikes me as having a Chinese or Japanese sensibility.

 

 

Next came a Texas red oak tree, Quercus buckleyi, which told me to get under it and take advantage of backlighting to bring out the saturated red of its leaves. Once again I followed instructions. I’m so deferential.

 

 

Finally, back in front of our house, I gave in to the call of the wispy clouds overhead. Using raw mode and the camera’s primary lens (1x) meant that the original of this picture contained a whopping 48.8 megapixels before I cropped it for a better composition.

 

A good start to the new year, I’d say.

 

© 2023 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 1, 2023 at 2:24 PM

Camel Rock again

with 17 comments

 

By the time we’d visited the Santuario de Chimayó and eaten at the Rancho de Chimayó restaurant to celebrate the Lady Eve’s birthday on October 18th, it was late afternoon and therefore too late to continue on to Taos, as we’d be losing daylight by the time we got there. We turned back toward Santa Fe. On the way down US 84 I couldn’t resist stopping again at Camel Rock. On our previous visit to the area in 2017 we’d lucked out and caught a great sunset there. No such luck this time. Still, a photographer has to deal with conditions as they are, and these two pictures show the approaches I tried. In both cases I played up the clouds, and in the second image I obviously went for a silhouette.

 

   

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2022 at 4:26 AM

From Nambé to Chimayó

with 20 comments

   

On October 18th at Nambé Pueblo I had a great time photographing the hoodoos and other formations. Then, as we continued north-northeast on Highway 503, which forms a portion of the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway, to reach Chimayó about 10 miles away, we kept seeing more parts of the Nambé badlands that deserved to pictured.

 

 

You’re seeing two of those pictures here. And who could resist the clouds
over the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo mountains off to the east?

 

 

  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2022 at 4:30 AM

Looking back at the Sandia Mountains

with 20 comments

 

Late in the afternoon on October 15th we drove up to Sandia Crest, which at 10,679 ft. looms large to the northeast of Albuquerque. The previous post showed views from there. The next morning in our hotel’s parking lot I noticed that the view back toward the mountains, now covered with fog and clouds, was dramatic—at least if I could ignore light poles, buildings, billboards, highways, and other trappings of the city. To exclude as much of that as possible, for the top picture I zoomed my telephoto lens to its maximum focal length of 400mm. With a change of scale and locale you might see an ocean wave breaking near the shore. Three-quarters of an hour later and miles further north as we wended our way toward Santa Fe, the land added color to the still-shrouded mountains.

 

  

 

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Look at this:

 

1    3    5    7    9    11    13    15    17    19    21    23    25    27    29  …

 

If I asked you what it is, you’d say it’s the odd numbers.

(Or if you wanna get fancy, you’d say it’s the positive odd numbers.)

You’ve been seeing these numbers for a long time, ever since you were in elementary school.

Now here’s something you might never have noticed.

 

The “sum” of the first 1 odd number is 1, which is 1 x 1, or 1 squared.

The sum of the first 2 odd numbers is 1 + 3, or 4, which is 2 x 2, or 2 squared.

The sum of the first 3 odd numbers is 1 + 3 + 5, or 9, which is 3 x 3, or 3 squared.

The sum of the first 4 odd numbers is 1 + 3 + 5 + 7, or 16, which is 4 x 4, or 4 squared.

The sum of the first 5 odd numbers is 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9, or 25, which is 5 x 5, or 5 squared.

The sum of the first 6 odd numbers is 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 + 11, or 36, which is 6 x 6, or 6 squared.

The sum of the first 7 odd numbers is 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 + 11 + 13, or 49, which is 7 x 7, or 7 squared.

 

Now if I skipped ahead 93 lines and asked you what the sum of the first 100 odd numbers is, you wouldn’t have to do any adding at all. You’d chime right in and say with verve and élan that the sum of the first 100 odd numbers is 100 x 100, or 10,000.*

  

If you’d like a nifty visual explanation for why the sum of
the first however many odd numbers is always a square, here it is:

 

 

But if you’d also like an explanation of where the word nifty came from, you’re outta luck: no one knows.

 

* One day in the early 1970s I was in a supermarket in my home town of Franklin Square, New York. As I walked down an aisle in that large store I passed a woman who was telling her young daughter that ten times ten is a hundred and a hundred times a hundred is a thousand. Why she was saying that, I don’t know; why I didn’t intervene and correct her I also don’t know. Evidence points more to politeness than a lack of boldness. That’s because in the same supermarket minutes later when I heard two women talking about pressure cookers, with each saying they had one but didn’t use it, I approached them and asked if I could have those pressure cookers that they didn’t use. I ended up several days later with two pressure cookers, one of which, a fancy stainless steel model with a copper bottom, had been a wedding present and was essentially brand new. I used it for decades until finally part of the handle came loose and the rubber gasket no longer sealed properly, and replacement parts were no longer available for such an old pressure cooker.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 23, 2022 at 4:26 AM

Dramatic goldenrod

with 23 comments

 

On a prairie remnant along The Lakes Blvd. in northeast Austin on October 29th I lay on the ground and photographed some goldenrod against the sky. Use of full flash brightened my subject and by contrast made the morning’s clouds seem darker and more ominous than they actually appeared to me. Call it interpretation, call it transformation; though not true to life, the visual drama pleases me.

 

(Pictures from our New Mexico/west Texas trip will resume next time.)

 

 

Soundback

 

So I caught the end of the 1946 movie rendition of Great Expectations on television the other day. As the main character, Pip, approaches and walks into a decaying mansion that has played a big part in the story, we hear lines by various characters that were spoken much earlier in the movie at the corresponding spots. If we had been re-shown those early scenes we would call them flashbacks. It occurred to me that the sound-only versions should be called soundbacks. I don’t find the word in any dictionary but I give you leave to use it.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2022 at 4:28 AM

From Apache plume to plumy clouds

with 12 comments

  

On October 15th in a garden outside the Albuquerque Museum I spent time photographing native plants. Among those I photographed was Apache plume, Fallugia paradoxa, which I couldn’t resist playing a flower of off* in a minimalistically** appealing way against some wispy clouds that intrigued me, as you see above.

 

 

Over a span of about half an hour I also couldn’t resist portraying
some of the wispy clouds in their own right as they shifted shapes.

 

 

* Few native English speakers realize that off and of were originally the stressed and unstressed form, respectively, of the same word. Speakers of foreign languages who are learning English have to be taught which form to use when.

* * The sesquipedalian adverb minimalistically doesn’t practice what it preaches.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 20, 2022 at 4:29 AM

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