Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘creek

Yellow oval

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Along one of Great Hills Park’s creeks on January 1st I made an abstract portrait that played with faint colors and mostly vague shapes, plus the implied flow of the water.

 

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Abigail Shrier writes a Substack column called The Truth Fairy. In her January 17th piece entitled “Who Will Win America: The Cynics or The Believers?” she considers the current conflict in American politics. What’s new in her take is that she sees the battle as primarily between cynics, regardless of whether they’re on the left or the right, and believers, regardless of which side they’re on.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2022 at 4:28 AM

Zilker Nature Preserve

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In the Zilker Nature Preserve on January 13th I spotted the pod of a milkweed vine releasing its seeds. While no leaves remained to suggest what species it was, the most common vine in that family here is pearl milkweed, Matelea reticulata, so that’ll have to do as a tentative identification. Regardless of species, milkweed pods produce a chaos of silk and seeds that a nature photographer who prizes abstraction welcomes. Later we re-crossed the dry bed of Eanes Creek. The picture below shows the lower strata in a hundred-foot tall cliff carved over aeons by rushing water.

 

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True virtue is life under the direction of reason.

[M]en who are governed by reason—who seek what is useful to them in accordance with reason—desire for themselves nothing that they do not also desire for the rest of humanity, and consequently are just, faithful, and honorable in their conduct.

The most tyrannical governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right to his thoughts.

Freedom is absolutely necessary for progress in science and the liberal arts.

Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677); Ethics, 1677.

  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

  

  

  

  

  

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2022 at 4:33 AM

More from along Onion Creek

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Two posts back you saw a couple of the photographs I took with my longest lens in McKinney Falls State Park on December 20, 2021. During the same outing I zoomed that lens to its maximum 400mm to catch three turtles sunning themselves on the unsubmerged part of a log in a wide-open stretch of Onion Creek. Beyond the turtles, on the far shore of Onion Creek, young sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) still held on to some leaves in otherwise bare winter woods.

A different sort of dry vegetation lay at my feet
in the form of bald cypress leaves (Taxodium distichum).

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“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects or despises, or else by some distraction sets aside and rejects.” — Francis Bacon, 1620.

R. James Carter partly quotes that early recognition of what we’d now call confirmation bias in his thoughtful Quillette article “We Can’t Keep Going Like This,” which you’re encouraged to read.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 5, 2022 at 4:32 AM

Same long lens, same creek, different subjects

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Along Onion Creek in McKinney Falls State Park on December 20, 2021, I took two rather different pictures with my longest lens. First came the drifting yellowed leaf of a sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) that’s shown below. About nine minutes later I panned with the camera to catch a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) in flight over the creek. In 2016 I’d portrayed the same kind of bird at a waterfall a few hundred feet away.

As this post includes a picture of a bird, you can respond in kind
by taking flight to look at 20 recent award-winning avian pictures.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2022 at 4:34 AM

We welcomed winter

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We welcomed the first day of winter, December 21, by hiking along Panther Hollow Trail and Little Fern Trail at River Place. One stretch of Little Fern Creek widens into a natural pool, at the bottom of which sits a rounded basin in the bedrock that’s visible through the water. An adjacent sign says that people have assigned the name Story Hole to this area. What intrigued me there were the ripples on the creek, and I made an abstract portrait of them. In the center of the photograph you may be able to make out the rounded contours of the darker area that corresponds to the basin in the bedrock. The way the ripples created visual cells reminds me, albeit with different colors, of the way Gustav Klimt portrayed Adele Bloch-Bauer during his “gold period.”

I experimented with flash for some of my pictures. Unfortunately, for my purposes, that extra light revealed too many unwanted details of the bedrock and sediment and therefore detracted from the abstraction I was after. In the interest of geology rather than aesthetics, if you’d like a view that’s closer to what the scene “really” looked like, you can have it.

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Critical Race Trove From California District Tells Students How To Use Witchcraft On People Who Say ‘All Lives Matter.’ That’s the hard-to-believe-it’s-true-but-it really-is-true headline of an article discussing the many ways one California school district promotes the tenets of what’s been called “critical race theory” and “wokeism.” Proponents of that ideology often deny that schools are pushing it, but evidence speaks louder than sophist denials. The article includes links to many documents confirming educationists’ racialized orientation.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 30, 2021 at 4:35 AM

What a difference the speed makes

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After Austin got a bunch of rain, I headed over to Bull Creek off Lakewood Dr. on October 14th to see what sorts of pictures I could make of a waterfall there. I took the top photograph at a shutter speed of 1/8 of a second and the bottom one at only 1/1600 of a second. Neither of the images matches what my eyes and brain saw when I was at the waterfall, and that once again raises the question of what is real.


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From reading Jonathan Rauch’s The Constitution of Knowledge, I’ve learned a little about the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce [pronounced Purse], who lived from 1839 to 1914. Here’s a relevant passage from Peirce:

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Upon this first, and in one sense this sole, rule of reason, that in order to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary which itself deserves to be inscribed upon every wall of the city of philosophy:

Do not block the way of inquiry.

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Alas, in today’s academic world, ideologues are increasingly blocking the way of inquiry by peremptorily declaring certain topics off-limits and attacking anyone who investigates those topics.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 7, 2021 at 4:27 AM

The high cliff along Bull Creek

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As often as I’ve shown scenes from Bull Creek, I don’t think I’ve ever shown this stretch that includes one of the tallest cliffs along the creek. The second photo offers you a better view of the way some slabs of rock have fallen on the creek bank. If you have trouble making out the yellow flowers, don’t worry; an upcoming post will give you a close look at one along a different part of the creek. Both of today’s pictures are from July 5th.


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As manic as some segments of American society have become, voices of reason and moderation do exist. Two such are Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, whose book Cynical Theories appeared in 2020. Its subtitle is How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody. Here’s an example of their principled opposition to what I’ll call academania:

We affirm that racism remains a problem in society and needs to be addressed.

We deny that critical race Theory and intersectionality provide the most useful tools to do so, since we believe that racial issues are best solved through the most rigorous analyses possible.

We contend that racism is defined as prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory behavior against individuals or groups on the grounds of race and can be successfully addressed as such.

We deny that racism is hard-baked into society via discourses, that it is unavoidable and present in every interaction to be discovered and called out, and that this is part of a ubiquitous systemic problem that is everywhere, always, and all-pervasive.

We deny that the best way to deal with racism is by restoring social significance to racial categories and radically heightening their salience.

We contend that each individual can choose not to hold racist views and should be expected to do so, that racism is declining over time and becoming rarer, that we can and should see one another as humans first and members of certain races second, that issues of race are best dealt with by being honest about racialized experiences, while still working towards shared goals and a common vision, and that the principle of not discriminating by race should be universally upheld.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 11, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Waterfall Wednesday #5

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On June 5th I spent time at Stone Bridge Falls on Bull Creek. Whereas in the photo you saw a week ago I used a very fast shutter speed to stop the action and maximize details, in the picture above I chose the slow speed of 1/8 of a second to smooth out the turbulent water. Below is a closer and therefore more abstract portrait I made at 1/15 of a second; some of the water ended up looking like long gray hair.


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“I believe my value lies in the quality of my work, the goodness of my deeds, the essence of my character, and the fullness of my heart, not my skin color.” — Jodi Shaw, 2021.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 7, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Waterfall Wednesday #4

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On June 5th I spent time at Stone Bridge Falls on Bull Creek. To play up the details in the churning creek below the falls, I chose a shutter speed of 1/3200 of a second. While the resulting image might seem black and white, it does harbor some dark brown in its upper part.


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Here’s a passage from Douglas Murray’s thoughtful 2019 book The Madness of Crowds.
 

Even when it does not identify itself as such, the Marxist and post Marxist trend on the political left can always be recognized by the set of thinkers whom it cites and reveres, and whose theories it tries to apply to any and all disciplines and walks of life. From Michelle Foucault these thinkers absorbed their idea of society not as an infinitely complex system of trust and traditions that have evolved over time, but always in the unforgiving light cast when everything is viewed solely through the prism of ‘power’. Viewing all human interactions in this light distorts rather than clarifies, presenting a dishonest interpretation of our lives. Of course power exists as a force in the world, but so do charity, forgiveness and love. If you were to ask most people what matters in their lives very few would say ‘power’. Not because they haven’t absorbed their Foucault, but because it is perverse to see everything in life through such a monomaniacal lens.

Nevertheless for a certain type of person who is intent on finding blame rather than forgiveness in the world, Foucault helps to explain everything. And what Foucault and his admirers seek to explain in personal relations they also attempt to explain on a grand political level. For them absolutely everything in life is a political choice and a political act.

… And always and everywhere is the aim — taken from French literary theory — to ‘deconstruct’ everything. To ‘deconstruct’ something is as significant in academia as ‘constructing’ things is in the rest of society. Indeed, it is one curiosity of academia in recent decades that it has found almost nothing it does not wish to deconstruct, apart from itself.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2021 at 4:34 AM

Shedding some light on the colorful limestone overhang

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Last week you heard about and saw two pictures of a limestone overhang in a hard-to-reach section of Great Hills Park. I mentioned that direct sunlight never reaches the overhang’s wall and ceiling. That said, the floor of the overhang is a creek bed; with enough water in it, and with the sun low enough in the sky, some rays of light bounce off the water and onto the ceiling of the overhang. Because the water’s surface isn’t perfectly still, the reflected light shimmers overhead, as you see in today’s picture from June 10th.


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And here’s a clever quotation for today: “If somebody thinks I’m cherry-picking, show me the other part of the tree.” — Steven E. Koonin in a televised interview about his book Unsettled on May 25, 2021. Also unsettled is the question of why English speakers have picked cherry-pick rather than the alliterative peach-pick or plum-pick, or else apple-pick, lemon-pick, or some-other-fruit-pick. Maybe cherries got picked because they’re small, and therefore cherry-picking is like nit-picking. One thing’s for sure: cherries make for a much tastier pie than nits. And did you know that cherries was originally the singular of the word? We got it from Anglo-Norman cherise. But that sounded to the folks in merry old England like it was a plural, along the lines of berries and ferries, so they created a new singular, cherry. Linguists call that process back-formation, for which today’s picture of the geological formations at the back of the overhang is therefore appropriate. What fun to lead you from limestone to linguistic information and back again.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2021 at 4:32 AM

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