Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘color

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

Mexican hat on a strangely curving stalk

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From a “vacant” lot in northwest Austin on May 19th comes this Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) on a stalk that had curved so far it left the developing flower head upside down. The saturated reds and yellows of the greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium) and Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) in the background make this picture as much about color as form.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 1, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Rainbows don’t get named

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Waterfalls get named. Mountains get named. Rivers get named. Deserts get named. Even people get named. Rainbows, those ephemeral creatures, get no names. Here a necessarily nameless rainbow I saw near 5 in the afternoon on May 28th after we came down from the windy top of Scott’s Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska. Whether the grasses are native, I don’t know, but the rainbow surely was.

It seems like two or even three rainbows banded together here, and I don’t know how to account for that. In checking my archives, I can confirm that multiple rainbows show up in all of the eleven pictures I took.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2017 at 5:01 AM

Not just reddish-orange

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colorful-lichen-on-reddish-rock-5863

The reddish-orange sandstone so common at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada serves as an excellent substrate for lichens of contrasting colors, as you see in these two photographs from our October 24th visit. You can click either picture to get greater size and more details.

vibrant-green-lichen-on-reddish-rock-6016

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 25, 2016 at 4:59 AM

A vivid horsemint

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Horsemint Flowering by Clasping-Leaf Coneflowers and Firewheels 4657

In the previous post the indistinct purple in the background came from horsemints (Monarda citriodora). Now here’s a focused look at one of them, again in the Balcones District Park on May 13th. Pretty rich, huh? The supporting yellow belonged to clasping-leaf coneflowers (Dracopis amplexicaulis) and the red to the usual Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella).

Note: I’m away from home and will be for a while. Please understand if I’m late replying to your comments.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 14, 2016 at 5:03 AM

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