Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘dry

Taut strings and other imaginings

with 18 comments

Algae Strands Dried Out 3036

The algae you saw beginning to dry out in the previous post’s first photograph appeared to consist of strings, but those strings were crumpled, presumably because there had been no strong flow in that part of the creek. The second photograph in that post showed somewhat straighter and drier but still mostly green algae.

Now contrast those patches of algae with the ones in today’s post, which are likewise from a tributary of Bull Creek. In today’s first photograph you see dried and stretched-out strings of algae that retained the imprint of a once-fast current. Note several sycamore seeds (Platanus occidentalis) tangled in the algae strands.

Here’s another picture from that same January 29th session in which the algae are so finely swept that you might think you’re looking at the grain in wood or the strata in rocks:

Finely Swept Algae 2950

And finally, in a third straight-down view, the picture below offers up curves and feathery structures in dried algae, as well as intricately delicate forms that could pass for cobwebs. This photograph kept reminding me of a fossil of Archaeopteryx, and then also of the Escher lithograph Drawing Hands.

Algae Drying Out 2985

So ends a three-part trip into pallor. Color comes crashing back in tomorrow.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 17, 2016 at 4:48 AM

Monochrome marsh fleabane colony

with 17 comments

Marsh Fleabane Colony Dried Out 9901

I found this expansively monochrome colony of marsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata, gone to seed and drying out in the also drying bed of Devine Lake in Leander on November 26th.

Goodbye, 2014. We won’t see you again.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 31, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Mexican hat with a curious loop

with 10 comments

Mexican Hat Seed Head Remains with Looped Stem 8351A

Do you remember what a Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera, looks like? If not, you’re welcome to look back at a fresh one flowering. In the dry state shown in today’s post, not much remains of the hat or the outer part of its column, but the stalk calls unusual attention to itself by the curious way it formed a tight loop and then a broad arc that together rotated the head more than 360° with respect to the approximately vertical part coming up from the ground.

As was true for the photograph of flameleaf sumac in the previous post, the date was December 17th, 2013, and the place was the right-of-way beneath the power lines to the west of Morado Circle in my Great Hills neighborhood.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 1, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Marsh fleabane: a closer look

with 6 comments

Pluchea odorata Turned Fluffy 2720

Click for more clarity.

In the last post you saw a drying colony of marsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata, at Devine Lake Park in Leander on November 19, 2013. Here’s a much closer look at a single one of those plants. The gone-to-seed fuzziness is typical of many species in the Asteraceae, the huge botanical family that includes sunflowers, daisies, asters, and many plants whose flowers don’t look like those better-known ones.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Marsh fleabane colony gone to seed

with 8 comments

Pluchea odorata Colony Turned Fluffy 2690

Click for greater clarity and larger size.

One reason for Pluchea odorata to be called marsh fleabane is that it grows on marshy ground. I found this drying colony at Devine Lake Park in Leander on November 19, 2013. Monotone isn’t necessarily monotonous, but if you’d like a colorful reminder of what one of these plants looks like when fresh, you can take a look back at a post from the early months of this column.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2014 at 6:06 AM

One consequence of cattails coming undone

with 8 comments

Cattail Fluff Covering Dry Plant 4240

In the previous post you saw the way a cattail, Typha domingensis, was coming undone. Nearby I noticed a dried-out plant that had had a scaffolding of cattail seeds and fluff erected around it by the wind. The site of this sight was a sump on Samsung Blvd. in northeast Austin on August 12. If you double that 12, and if you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that point 24 in About My Techniques is relevant to this photograph.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 21, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Purple leatherflower releasing its seeds

with 20 comments

Clematis pitcheri Core with Few Seeds Left 4509

Click for greater clarity.

And now here’s a look at a Clematis pitcheri, or purple leatherflower, at the stage where one of the vine’s drying seed cores has loosened its hold on many of its mature seeds and has left only a few still hanging on. Once again you’re welcome to compare this to the much more common Clematis drummondii when it’s at a similar stage.

This picture is the last you’ll be seeing from my visit to Hamilton Pool Preserve on August 19th. The photograph’s background color is from the Pedernales River, which this purple leatherflower vine overlooked from a bluff.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 19, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Mountain pink eradicated

with 16 comments

Mountain Pink Dried Out Against Sky 3427A

Click for greater clarity.

On July 30th, a month ago today, I was walking through a still-undeveloped property in northwest Austin when I came across a mountain pink, Centaurium beyrichii, which was normal in the way it had dried out but abnormal in two other respects: something had pulled the plant, root and all, out of the ground; and something, perhaps the same agent that caused the eradication, had flattened the plant. So there I found it, flat on the ground, looking forlorn, not a great subject for a photograph. I picked the plant up, held it out in front of me at arm’s length—why aren’t my arms longer?—and photographed it, as shown here, against that day’s wispy sky. The plant’s brightness may make you think that I used flash, but the only illumination came from the noontime sun.

If you’d like a reminder of what this species is like when it’s fresh—and not just as a background the way it appeared in yesterday morning’s photograph—you can have a look upward from afar at some plants on a cliff or closely downward at a flowering dome. And for the large majority of you who weren’t visiting this blog in the second week of its existence in June of 2011, I invite you to see what a mountain pink bud looks like.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 30, 2013 at 6:09 AM

Something new under the sun after all

with 28 comments

Small Tan Snail on Firewheel Seed Head Remains 1491

The firewheel was dead: to begin with.* There is no doubt whatever about that. But the little snail had given this dry Gaillardia pulchella a new sort of life by anointing it with slime, some of which accounted for the firewheel’s glistening in a way I’d never seen. Now you get to see it too.

Like yesterday’s picture, today’s is from a July 19th session on a piece of the Blackland Prairie along Schultz Ln. in southern Round Rock.


* Bonus points to anyone who can identify what this is a parody of.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 25, 2013 at 6:13 AM

Remember basket-flowers?

with 7 comments

Basket-Flower Colony Dried Out in Landscape 1208

Click for greater size and clarity.

Do you remember what a basket-flower looks like? Sure you do. Yes, you do indeed.

Today’s picture shows what a large colony of Centaurea americana looks like after it has gone to seed: sere, yes, yet still something to see and celebrate in our sunniest season.

Date: July 19.  Location: Meister Ln. at Schultz Ln. in Round Rock.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 24, 2013 at 6:14 AM

%d bloggers like this: