Portraits of Wildflowers

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Posts Tagged ‘creek

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

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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

Waterfall Wednesday #2

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Last week you heard how on June 3rd, before the day turned and stayed rainy, I drove three miles to a tributary of Bull Creek where a picturesque waterfall was flowing at full strength. In addition to many straightforward photographs taken at slow shutter speeds like an eighth or a half of a second, I experimented with even slower shutter speeds and zoomed the lens or otherwise moved the camera while the shutter was open. I’ve included two of the results here, each from a four-second exposure. Look how different these views are from the ones you saw last week; in particular, they’re more abstract and less recognizable.


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Yesterday I mentioned the horrendous depredations of the Anti-Cultural Revolution in China under the dictatorship of Mao Zedong. Today I’m following up with the story of Xi Van Fleet, a woman who managed to escape the terror of that Chinese Communist regime. She was fortunate to find freedom in America, but now she’s dismayed to discover that her school district in northern Virginia is indoctrinating its students by using some of the same kinds of techniques and lies the Chinese dictatorship did to keep its people brainwashed and in bondage. You can read about her testimony in a New York Post article from last week.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2021 at 4:23 AM

Waterfall Wednesday #1

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In recent years May has become a rainy month in Austin, as 2021 proved yet again. In fact the rain continued into June. On the morning of June 3rd, before the day turned and stayed rainy, I drove three miles to a tributary of Bull Creek, where a picturesque waterfall was flowing at full strength. The waterfall has two side-by-side parts, each shown here individually. I took the top picture at a shutter speed of half a second. For the other view I used one-eighth of a second and later cranked up the clarity slider in Photoshop.

And here’s a thought for today:

“Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.”
“Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”
Benito Juárez, 1867.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 9, 2021 at 4:37 AM

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Valley Spring Creek Waterfall

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Another water feature we visited for the first time at Inks Lake State Park on our May 6th visit was the Valley Spring Creek Waterfall. The view below, which looks about 90° left from the angle of the view above, shows some of the rock formations and pools adjacent to and downstream from the waterfall.

The other day I became aware of a horrible proposal being put forth by the current government of my country. The proposal calls for spending large amounts of public money to impose racism in America’s schools. You read that right: racism, which is the treating of people differently depending on their ethnic heritage and the color of their skin. You can read about the proposal in a brief summary prepared by the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism.

I encourage those of you who are American citizens to go to the U.S. government website that is accepting comments on the proposal and to speak out forcefully against it. The May 17th deadline for comments is almost here, so you’ll need to act quickly.

Here’s what I wrote in my dissent:

“I am against this proposal with all my heart, mind, and soul. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires equal treatment of all citizens. Yet the government’s proposal calls for treating different categories of citizens differently. That violates the 14th Amendment and is therefore illegal. Officials in our government have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not to fly in the face of it. If the government insists on flouting the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court will rule the move unconstitutional and will strike it down. This racist and unconstitutional proposal should be immediately withdrawn.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2021 at 2:32 AM

Texture, reflection, abstraction

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Onion Creek in McKinney Falls State Park; March 15, 2021.

And here’s an unrelated observation from Sense and Sensibility (1811): “…When people are determined on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel injured by the expectation of any thing better from them.” Throughout the novel, Jane Austen’s comments about many of her characters are trenchant, acerbic, cynical, sardonic. Those observations are unfortunately lost in movie versions of the novel. Perhaps someday a director will make a version with voice-overs to preserve the author’s commentary. Here’s another passage:

“On ascending the stairs, the Miss Dashwoods found so many people before them in the room [at a store], that there was not a person at liberty to tend to their orders; and they were obliged to wait. All that could be done was, to sit down at that end of the counter which seemed to promise the quickest succession; one gentleman only was standing there, and it is probable that Elinor was not without hope of exciting his politeness to a quicker despatch. But the correctness of his eye, and the delicacy of his taste, proved to be beyond his politeness. He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself, and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined, all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop, were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, he had no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies, than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares; a kind of notice which served to imprint on Elinor the remembrance of a person and face, of strong, natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in the first style of fashion.”

How about “sterling insignificance” as a zinger?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 22, 2021 at 4:40 AM

A farewell to icicles

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Over the past month you’ve seen plenty of pictures here showing snow, ice, and especially icicles, courtesy of the frigid weather that descended on Austin and stayed with us for a week in mid-February. But now it’s fully spring, so a farewell to winter is in order. Here are two last pictures from the part of Great Hills Park known as Potter’s Place, which I visited on February 16th. Above, you see how numerous the icicles in that little cove along the main creek were, and the flash I used allowed the clarity of the water to come through. The picture below, taken by natural light, emphasizes the icicles’ reflections in water that now seems dark.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2021 at 4:38 AM

A snowy both sides now

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During my February 16th trek into a wonderfully white Great Hills Park I made sure to portray several portions of the main creek. These two views, anchored by the snow-mounded rocks in the center of the creek, face in opposite directions.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 24, 2021 at 4:28 AM

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