Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘clouds

Clouds over central Texas on February 4th

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Sometimes we get wispy clouds. Sometimes we get cottony clouds. Sometimes we get both.

The long tradition of referring to the skies as the heavens leads us to a quotation for today: “Can you see yourselves as spiritual beings having a human experience, rather than human beings who may be having a spiritual experience?” — Wayne Dyer, 1988. (A Quote Investigator article discusses the sentence’s origin and variations in its wording.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 11, 2021 at 4:45 AM

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Ice is nice, part 4

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Here’s what you learned in part 1: In a shaded part of Great Hills Park on January 12th I discovered that thin sheets of ice had formed close to the ground. Most importantly for my purposes, I found that I could slowly lift up a small section of ice and it would come away in shapes that were irregular yet didn’t break apart. Over and over I did my light lifting, each time facing toward the sun and holding the little panel erect against a background of shaded trees so that backlighting would reveal details in the ice.

In addition to that, I held some of the pieces up higher, against the sky, to make portraits of a different sort, one of which you’re seeing here. Admittedly this is a combination you probably wouldn’t ever find in nature, but the urge to experiment came over me and I yielded.

And here’s a humorous quotation for today: “When a man gits perfektly kontented, he and a clam are fust couzins.” [When a man gets perfectly contented, he and a clam are first cousins.”] — Josh Billings, the pen name for Henry Wheeler Shaw. Wikipedia notes that “Shaw attended Hamilton College, but was expelled in his second year for removing the clapper of the campus bell.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2021 at 4:28 AM

The temperature dropped 15° in as many minutes

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There I was lying on the ground at the edge of Lake Pflugerville on December 30th last year to photograph this bare bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) against menacing clouds when suddenly the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, both noticeably, as the predicted cold front came through. Adding some brightness to the bleak sky and dark branches were the colorful lichens on the tree’s trunk:

Unrelated thought for today:  “Credulity is always greatest in times of calamity.” — Charles MacKay,
Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, first published in 1841.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 10, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Paloverde tree with great wispy clouds

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Parkinsonia aculeata; Roy G. Guerrero Park; December 21, 2020.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 7, 2021 at 4:36 AM

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Three views of sunrise clouds

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When I went outside my house on the morning of December 22nd last year I saw colorful sunrise clouds, as shown above at 7:15. The trees across the street partially obstructed the view, so, hoping for a better shot, I drove east and at 7:23 pulled into a parking lot. Below is what I saw from there, which I think you’ll agree had gotten more fiery.

Then I continued a little further east. At 7:27 from another parking lot I photographed this beguiling cloud:

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 4, 2021 at 4:38 AM

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Our majestic cottonwood trees

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On December 21st, the date of the winter solstice in 2020, I witnessed another display of colorful year-end foliage in the form of two venerable eastern cottonwoods, Populus deltoides subsp. deltoides. Botanist Bill Carr describes the cottonwood tree in Travis County as “uncommon but, due to its massive size, usually conspicuous in gallery woodlands along perennial streams and impoundments.” The two I found were on opposite sides of Pleasant Valley Rd. just south of the Longhorn Dam on the Colorado River. The first picture shows a lower portion of the cottonwood tree on the west side of the road. The other cottonwood, pictured below, had leaves that the different angle of the light made look a little more yellow-orange.

It’s not obvious that some of the leaves were larger than
a person’s face; here’s one in isolation by the Colorado River:

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2021 at 4:35 AM

Anniversary of our Coron island-hopping tour

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A year ago today we went on our Coron* island-hopping tour
in the Philippine province of Palawan, which neither of us had ever been to.

Can you tell that the first two photographs offer different views of the same nature-sculpted promontory?

The final picture includes the kind of outrigger from which I photographed all these scenes.

* Who knew that just a month later we’d begin hearing and worrying about something else
whose first five letters happened to be Coron?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 13, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Stark versus soft

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From the new Lakewood Park in Leander on November 10th come contrasting views. Above, sunrays broke through dramatic clouds over the park’s lake. Below is a portrait of poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta) as its fluff came loose. The soft chaos is similar to that of a thistle at the same stage of development; both plants are members of the sunflower family, after all.

Also softly chaotic and a member of Asteraceae is the seed head of this aster (Symphyotricum sp.) on a stalk conjoined to that of an opening bud; note the tight curling of the emerging rays.

You’ll find pertinent quotations illustrating some of the many meanings of the word soft in the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2020 at 4:32 AM

Great clouds over El Paso

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November 9, 2016, gave us our first daylight time back in Texas since we’d left on our great southwestern trip three weeks earlier. What impressed me the most that morning was the fantastic clouds that stayed with us as we drove from El Paso to Hueco Tanks. The picture above features a yucca, and the one below shows sand sagebrush, Artemisia filifolia, both on the east side of El Paso.

In lieu of a quotation today, let’s welcome some relevant etymology. English acquired nuance from French, where it was the noun made from the verb nuer. That verb, which meant ‘to shade,’ ultimately goes back to Latin nubes, which signified ‘a cloud, mist, vapor.’ A nuance is a metaphorical ‘shading,’ which is to say ‘a slight difference in meaning, expression, or feeling.’ The fancy verb obnubilate means literally ‘to darken or obscure with clouds, to becloud.’ It also has the figurative sense ‘to make unclear, indistinct, vague.’

Here ends the retrospective of the great 2016 southwestern trip. Next time I’ll jump back into central Texas, where nature has kept on happening throughout the past few weeks.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 9, 2020 at 4:40 AM

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Desert views

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Four years ago today we drove across the southern California desert on our way to Tucson. In the picture above of the Salton Sea, mist made the mountains beyond the western shore unclear, and it’s also unclear to me what range it is (perhaps the Borrego Mountains). The second picture comes to you from along Interstate 8. A lot of the dunes there allow recreational vehicles, and as a result I couldn’t take pictures in many of the places I wanted to because vehicle tracks marred the scene. While the dunes below do show a slight amount of disturbance, I hope you’ll still find this panorama pleasant.

But if you insist on arenaceous purity and no tracks, I’ll backtrack two weeks to October 23rd of 2016, when we stopped at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah. Though it also allows recreational vehicles, we stayed long enough for me to wander around and find undisturbed parts of the dunes to photograph.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “J’ai toujours aimé le désert. On s’assoit sur une dune de sable. On ne voit rien. On n’entend rien. Et cependant quelque chose rayonne en silence….” “I’ve always loved the desert. You sit down on a sand dune. You see nothing. You hear nothing. And yet something glows in silence….” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit prince, The Little Prince.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 6, 2020 at 4:37 AM

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