Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘death

Bluebonnet-blessed

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This morning Facebook popped up a post from a group I’d never heard of: World Wildflower Photography. The post showed a cemetery in Walburg that had dense bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) in it. Walburg is a small settlement in eastern Williamson county, much of which has remained rural. Nevertheless, when I searched online I discovered the little town has two cemeteries. Noting the names on a couple of the tombstones in the post’s photographs, I searched in an online cemetery registry and determined that the right cemetery was the one belonging to St. Peter Lutheran Church (which incidentally is a mile away from its cemetery).

Despite the (much needed) rain coming down in Austin, we set out for Walburg and hoped the rain would let up by the time we reached Walburg. It did. Only a minute after we arrived, and before I’d had a chance to take a single picture, another car pulled into the driveway. A couple visiting Texas from North Carolina had also seen pictures of the bluebonnet-covered Walburg cemetery online and had come to check it out, too. Small world, no? And in the middle picture, how about the stylized flower decoration among all the real flowers?

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 13, 2022 at 4:00 PM

Bare dead tree complexity

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Our first-ever visit to Georgetown’s Overlook Park on March 26th yielded pictures of complex dead tree remains in Lake Georgetown. To the novelty of our visit you can apparently add the title of today’s post, because Google returned no hits for the exact phrase “bare dead tree complexity.” Whether anyone has taken a similar photograph of these trees, I can’t say.

Looser groups of tree remains in the lake lent themselves to different kinds of photographs that gave greater visibility to the choppy water the breeze was whipping up that morning.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Contortions

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Contorted is how I might describe the branch of a possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) already leafing out at East Metropolitan Park on March 25th. Five days earlier, as spring officially began, I’d photographed a prickly pear pad in my part of Austin that had reached the end of its life. In addition to the usual drying out and loss of green that a dead pad undergoes, it had contorted itself in a way that made me have to do its portrait.

 

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And speaking of contortion, I recommend Reason for its anti-contorted stance, which is to say its adherence to reason. The magazine of “free minds and free markets” promotes free speech, due process, and the deciding of matters based on evidence and logic. If you check out the Reason website, you’ll notice that it finds things to criticize in camps on both sides of the conventional left~right political divide. You could call that outlook libertarian.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 31, 2022 at 4:29 AM

Drowned remains

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At Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle on January 29th we walked completely around Berdoll Pond, at whose far end I did many takes on drowned tree remains. The nearby skeleton of the plant shown below (perhaps poverty weed) also attracted me.

  

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The press is an availability machine. It serves up anecdotes which feed our impression of what’s common in a way that is guaranteed to mislead. Since news is what happens, not what doesn’t happen, the denominator in the fraction corresponding to the true probability of an event—all the opportunities for the event to occur, including those in which it doesn’t—is invisible, leaving us in the dark about how prevalent something is.

The distortions, moreover, are not haphazard, but misdirect us toward the morbid. Things that happened suddenly are usually bad—a war, a shooting, famine, financial collapse—but good things may consist of nothing happening, like a boring country at peace or a forgettable region that is healthy and well fed. And when progress takes place, it isn’t built in a day; it creeps up a few percentage points a year, transforming the world by stealth.

Steven Pinker, Rationality, 2021

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 18, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Swirly, wispy, fleecy clouds

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Thanks to a tip from Jason Frels, on the morning of May 29th Eve and drove some 25 minutes north to  Leander, a fast-growing suburb of Austin, so we could go walking for the first time in Benbrook Ranch Park. The swirly and wispy clouds that accompanied us the whole time kept changing and forming intricate designs that enticed me to take lots of pictures of them in their own right, as shown above. I also welcomed the chance to play other things off against them, like the dead tree below.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 5, 2020 at 4:31 AM

The cemetery in Sibonga

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Sibonga*, on the east coast of Cebu, is Eve’s home town. On none of my previous trips had I gone to the town’s cemetery, but on the morning of December 15th we walked over there for a visit. From my time in Honduras I’d learned that cemeteries in poor countries are likely to be very different from those in the United States and other wealthy countries, so what I found in Sibonga didn’t surprise me. It may, however, surprise you or even disturb you. With that caveat, here’s a photo essay showing parts of Sibonga’s cemetery.

The boy shown below cutting off coconuts in a tree at the edge of the cemetery seemed an early candidate for membership as he stood barefoot on the tops of two metal poles to which electric wires were attached.

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* Most languages have at least the five vowels [a], [e], [i], [o], and [u]. Cebuano is unusual in that it reduces that basic set to three vowels: a native speaker doesn’t distinguish between [e] and [i], nor between [o] and [u]. As a result, in spite of the spelling Sibonga, people pronounce the name as if it were Sibunga.

Also notice the strange fact that although the inhabitants of the Philippines speak their various native languages almost all the time, when it comes to signs, posters, billboards, and even to tombstones, the large majority of those are written in English. Some of today’s pictures provide examples of that.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2020 at 4:51 AM

Enchanted Rock, part 3

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You’ve already seen trees as secondary subjects in the first two parts of this series about Enchanted Rock.

Today’s post plays up some of the dead and dying trees we saw there in abundance on November 1st.

You’ll notice ball moss, Tillandsia recurvata, on many of the branches.

Not a true moss but an epiphyte in the Bromeliad plant family,
ball moss can live quite well even on inanimate objects,
and that fact proves that it isn’t parasitic.

Even in the presence of death, new life arises.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2019 at 4:45 AM

Dead trees

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On November 1st we were heading north from Kerrville on TX 16 when I caught a glimpse of a solitary dead tree and went back to check it out. Once there, I looked in the opposite direction and noticed other dead trees that leaned in strange directions. They reminded me of scragglier and therefore pictorially more interesting dead trees that had fascinated me at Mesa Verde in 2014.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 27, 2019 at 4:41 AM

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Green triangularity times two

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At least twice in the past month I’ve photographed plants that I noticed growing in the approximate shape of a triangle (at least as a two-dimensional photograph renders them). The first came on August 24th, when a mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis, that had covered the broken remains of a dead tree caught my fancy at Parmer Lane and Blue Bluff Rd. south of Manor. A greenbrier vine, Smilax bona-nox, had also climbed onto the mound; that accounts for the yellow-orange leaves near the photograph’s bottom edge.

I photographed the other green triangle on September 7th at the base of a cliff along Bull Creek near Spicewood Springs Rd. Even during a drought the rocks still seeped enough water to support some southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris. I don’t know what the mixed-in plant species are.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2019 at 4:43 AM

Dead tree trunks and limbs at Watkins Glen

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Here’s a view taken at 1/15 of a second showing a waterfall in Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region on July 30th. The photographer in me was happy that the dead tree trunk had lodged where you see it in spite of the force of the falling water.

Smaller and whiter dead tree limbs also attracted me.

They played off the rock strata in the gorge and contrasted with the living plants around them.

Even before I’d seen any water at Watkins Glen, falling or otherwise, the shadows on a broken but still standing tree trunk along the trail from the parking lot to the gorge caught my attention:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2019 at 4:39 AM

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