Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘color

Driving up to the Kolob Reservoir

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Five years ago today we drove north on Kolob Terrace Road to the Kolob Reservoir just outside Utah’s Zion National Park. The placid scene shown above of pallid aspen trunks (Populus tremuloides) awaited us at the top. On the way up to the reservoir we’d stopped at the grove of trees shown below, where fire-darkened trunks and branches contrasted with colorful fall foliage.


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You may find it hard to believe that now, so many decades after the Civil Rights Movement led to the end of segregation in the United States, some public schools in this country have gone back to segregating students by race. Concerned Americans have justifiably been fighting back against this neoracism in our schools. As one example, you can read about illegal racial segregation in the public schools of Wellesley, Massachusetts, and the lawsuit that Parents Defending Education has brought against the offending school district. Notice in the article that this public school district has also been guilty of suppressing the free speech guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 23, 2021 at 4:33 AM

More Texas red oak

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Among the last displays of colorful fall foliage in Austin each year is that of the Texas red oak, Quercus buckleyi, as seen here from Great Hills Park on December 15th. (The oaks are young and slender; the large trunks are from other kinds of trees.) Now it’s two weeks later and I’m still finding some red Texas red oak leaves, including a few in our back yard.

Sensorily and psychologically it seems that red is the most fundamental color, and it’s a truism of linguistics that the first color word a language creates is the one for red. The Indo-European language root representing the color red has been reconstructed as *reudh-, which is still recognizable thousands of years later in native English red and ruddy. Red-related words English has acquired directly or indirectly from Latin, which is a cousin of English, include rufous, rubeola, ruby, rubidium, rubicund, rubefacient, rubella, robust, rouge, roux, and russet. (If you’re puzzled about robust, it’s based on Latin rōbur, which designated a type of red oak tree; robust conveys the strength of that tree rather than its color.) From Greek, also a relative of English, comes the erythro– in technical terms like erythrocyte and erythromycin.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 30, 2020 at 4:39 AM

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Peppervine turning colors

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As another example of fall foliage in Austin, above is a view from the afternoon of November 10th showing a peppervine (Nekemias arborea) turning colors on a black willow tree (Salix nigra) that it had climbed at the Riata Trace Pond. The next morning I went back and took pictures by different light of another peppervine that had turned even more colorful, as shown below. About halfway up the left edge of the second picture you may notice some of the vine’s little fruits that had darkened as they ripened. Peppervine, which some people mistake for poison ivy, grows in the southeastern United States. If you’d like a closer look at the vine’s leaves, you can check out a post from the first months of this blog.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: and this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know. / This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin (synthesizing other people’s thoughts), 1722.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 22, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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Time for some fall foliage

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Central Texas doesn’t put on the grand autumn displays that colder climates claim as a point of pride, and yet you’ll find us faithful to fall foliage in our fashion. It’s time for some winsome pictures of autumn color to begin wending your way. As a first, take a look at this prairie flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata) that we found along a street called Arterial 8 at the far end of the Jester Estates neighborhood in west Austin on November 8th. Notice the reddish-black clusters of tiny fruits in the right half of the image.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 15, 2020 at 4:34 AM

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Two abstract cattail leaf portraits

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Many long-time artists try new things. In the first of two recent experiments, I played off a yellowing cattail leaf (Typha domingensis) against differently colored cattail leaves behind it that were parallel to one another but not to it. I held the foreground leaf in focus to convey its texture, while making the background leaves as free of details as possible. In the image below of a shallow cattail leaf arc, I channeled my inner Michael Scandling: barely anything is in focus, and the overall effect is of pastel colors.

Here’s a vaguely related quotation for today:

“L’homme n’est qu’un roseau, le plus faible de la nature; mais c’est un roseau pensant. Il ne faut pas que l’univers entier s’arme pour l’écraser : une vapeur, une goutte d’eau suffit pour le tuer. Mais quand l’univers l’écraserait, l’homme serait encore plus noble que ce qui le tue, parce qu’il sait qu’il meurt, et l’avantage que l’univers a sur lui, l’univers n’en sait rien.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Thoughts).

“Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature; but he’s a thinking reed. It doesn’t take the whole universe up in arms to crush him; a vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But even if the universe did crush him, man would still be nobler than the thing that kills him, because he’d know that he’s dying, whereas the advantage that the universe has over him, the universe would know nothing about.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Thoughts).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 24, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Taking the long view

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2020 has been a good year for Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera) and an even better one for my portraits of them, of which there have been more than in any previous year. As is true for every physical feature of an organism, the length of the column of disk flowers in Mexican hats varies, and in today’s picture I’ve focused on one that’s in the running for the longest I’ve ever come across. Notice the two pale green insect eggs, each attached on a thread-like stalk to the column; I presume they came from green lacewings. The rich purple beyond the Mexican hat is due to horsemints (Monarda citriodora), while the shades of blue come from patches of sky that I was able to squeeze in by getting close to the ground and aiming slightly upward. I made this portrait along Bluffstone Drive in front of the Junior League of Austin on May 29th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 15, 2020 at 4:39 AM

The Junior League of Austin shows its true colors

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I was sorry a couple of years ago when a property on Bluffstone Drive where I’d been taking nature pictures for a few years became a construction site. Once the building went up, I learned it was the new home of the Junior League of Austin’s Community Impact Center. When we drove by there on May 29th it was apparent that the people in charge of landscaping the site value local native plants and had sown a nice mix of them. The photograph above shows the eye-catching wildflowers fronting Bluffstone Drive. The stacked purple tiers are Monarda citriodora, known as horsemint or beebalm. The red-centered ones with yellow fringes are Gaillardia pulchella, called firewheel or Indian blanket. Here’s a portrait of one of them:

A little later I walked over to one side of the building and found a somewhat spiderwebbed brown-eyed susan, Rudbeckia hirta, among other wildflowers.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2020 at 4:38 AM

Pushing into colorful abstraction

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Click to enlarge.

For the past few months I’ve often found myself pushing into abstractions that are more about color and shape than about their ostensible subjects. From Great Hills Park on June 15th, here’s that kind of take on a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) and a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Firewheel edge-on

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On the morning of May 25th I went out to an area where there still wasn’t much light. Even at a high ISO, all I could manage was an aperture of f/4, so I decided to go for some limited-focus portraits like this one of a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, with dewdrops on it.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 20, 2020 at 4:48 AM

A damaged Mexican hat

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On May 19 at a “vacant” lot in northwest Austin I found a damaged Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera. It no longer fit the species name, which means ‘column-bearing,’ because something had broken off most of its central column, and in addition (actually subtraction) only one ray floret remained. The plant’s losses became my photographic gain. The intact wildflower shining huefully in the background was Gaillardia pulchella, known as a firewheel or Indian blanket. This is another picture that’s at least as much about color as form.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 8, 2020 at 4:43 AM

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