Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘death

A Halloween lizard

with 17 comments

 

I’ll occasionally punctuate the posts about our great New Mexico/ West Texas trip with some more-recent goings-on back in Austin. And what could be more appropriate for Halloween than a dead lizard? Mind you, I didn’t think it was dead when I first spotted it in our driveway on the morning of October 25th; I figured the cool temperature had rendered it inert while it waited for more warmth. I went back into the house, put a macro lens and ring flash on my camera, and went back out to the driveway. When I looked more closely at what I take to be a Texas spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus), I noticed tiny movements in the eye socket. Then I realized I was seeing ants, and the lizard was dead. If you’re up for a close look at that, click the thumbnail below. Ghastliness is in the eye of the beholder—and in this case the eye of the photograph’s subject.

Happy Halloween.

 

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2022 at 4:35 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Two degrees of passing away

with 12 comments

In February of 2021 a days-long freeze killed off all the huisache trees (Vachellia farnesiana) in Austin. I saw no new growth for the rest of that year but am happy to report seeing some green springing up from the wreckage in the past few months, even with our current drought. The broken remains of the huisache tree shown here along John Henry Faulk Dr. on August 1st caught my attention because of the Clematis drummondii vine that had climbed on it and had entered its fluffy stage, with the seed-bearing fibers gradually turning dingy and accounting for the vernacular name old man’s beard. Seen from this angle, the fluffy mound calls to mind—at least to my fluffy mind—the way the main part of Spain looks on a map.

 

❦        ❦        ❦

 

Last month I quoted from a talk about free speech that Carl Sagan gave in around 1987. The other day I came across another prescient passage, this time from his 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark:

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

:

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 13, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Bluebonnet-blessed

with 34 comments

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

with 15 comments

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

with 25 comments

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.

 

✢         ✢         ✢

 

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

with 37 comments

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.

  

❧         ❧         ❧

 

  

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

with 36 comments

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

with 66 comments

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.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

* 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

with 23 comments

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

with 26 comments

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

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: