Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Enchanted Rock

It and I* caused a crowd to gather

with 45 comments

After we’d hiked most of the way back down from the main dome at Enchanted Rock on April 12th, Eve called my attention to a brightly colored lizard the likes of which I don’t recall ever seeing before. I put the 100–400mm lens on my camera, zoomed all the way out, and began to take pictures, gradually moving closer, never knowing when the lizard would dart away. This was along the main trail, so quite a few people passed by, and as they did, more and more of them stopped to see what I was photographing. Once they spotted my subject they were taken, as I of course was, with the lizard’s saturated blue. In all, probably between one and two dozen people had gathered round.

Back home later I searched for an identification and found that this seems to have been a male common collared lizard, Crotaphytus collaris.

* The phrases he and I, she and I, and you and I are common. They and I occurs less often, generally replaced by we. The it and I in this post’s title, though perfectly grammatical, seems strange, probably because of the clash between it, which usually refers to non-human and mostly inanimate things, and I, which is the most personal of personal pronouns. It and you, it and we, it and he, it and she, and it and they also sound somewhat strange, don’t you think?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 6, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Spiderworts were a star of the show

with 24 comments

At Enchanted Rock on April 12th spiderworts (Tradescantia sp.) were the most prominent wildflowers. You caught a glimpse of some in the recent post about vernal pools, and now you’re getting a few closer looks. In the top photo, spiderworts towered over dried ferns and some struggling prickly pears. The middle picture shows you a happy group flowering away in a vernal pool.

And below is an even closer view from an area that had granite in the background.

Back in September I ran an “editorial” in response to the widespread and intentional slanting of “news” stories. The jihad against fairness, factuality, objectivity, and due process in the United States has noticeably increased since September, so I feel I need to repeat what I wrote then.

Suppose you’re trying to determine how prevalent a certain thing is in a given population. The science of statistics requires that you get a sample that’s random and also large enough to greatly reduce the likelihood of being unrepresentative (which occasionally happens just by chance, like being dealt a straight flush in poker). Unfortunately, many in the news media violate those principles by choosing to present only occurrences that support a certain ideology, while purposely not reporting occurrences, often much greater in number, that contradict that ideology.

Let’s concoct an example. Suppose I’m a member of the Green Eyes Party, and I claim that adults with green eyes are rich. I go out searching until I eventually find four wealthy people who happen to have green eyes, and I produce a lavish documentary about them. At the end I say: “See, it’s clear that adults with green eyes are wealthy.” In so doing, I violated the axioms of statistics—and fairness!—because I included only green-eyed adults who are rich; I didn’t include many of them; and I didn’t take into account the much larger number of green-eyed adults who aren’t rich.

So when you hear on the news or elsewhere that X is a common occurrence, or that there’s an “epidemic” of X, do your best to find out whether large-scale, properly gathered statistics show that X really is common. In unfortunately many cases you’ll discover that X is actually rare but seems common only because certain interests are heavily promoting it.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 1, 2021 at 4:41 AM

Vernal pools at Enchanted Rock

with 43 comments

Enchanted Rock is known for its vernal pools, shallow depressions in the stone where water accumulates and fosters plant life. In past years I’ve seen water in some of the vernal pools there, but on April 12th all the ones I noticed had no water standing in them. That didn’t mean there wasn’t residual moisture that plants were still taking advantage of. In the first picture you see a closeup of a vernal pool only a few inches across filled with stonecrop plants (Sedum nuttallianum).

The middle picture shows a much larger vernal pool with plenty of lush vegetation in it. The flowers are spiderworts (Tradescantia sp.) and the cacti are prickly pears (Opuntia engelmannii). Below, notice how a bunch of vernal pools had obligingly lined up.

Two days ago I posed a few questions. Robert Parker proved by his answers that he’d been holding out on us and that he’s really Mr. World Geography.

Which river touches the most countries? It’s the Danube, which borders or passes through 10 countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, in that order. The river that touches the next highest number of countries is the Nile, with 9.

Which country is the least densely populated? It’s Mongolia, with not quite 2 people per square kilometer. Greenland (whose name is misleading because it’s largely covered with ice) has a significantly lower population density but it’s not an independent country (Denmark owns it).

Which country borders the greatest number of other countries? Russia and China tie at 14 apiece.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2021 at 4:41 AM

More from Enchanted Rock

with 20 comments

In both of these April 12th views at Enchanted Rock you see intrusive seams in the rock.
For me the clouds in the top picture are anything but intrusive.

Here are three world geography questions for you.


Which river touches the greatest number of countries?

Which country is the least densely populated?

Which country touches the most other countries?


I’ll post the answers in a couple of days.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 27, 2021 at 6:15 AM

Lichens at Enchanted Rock

with 43 comments

Yesterday you heard that on April 12th we visited Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
How about the red-orange color of the lichens in the abstract view above?
Below, see the way pale gray lichens almost completely covered the rock in the foreground.

And here’s little lichen ring you can slip on your rough imagination’s finger:

For a concise and colorful primer on lichens, check out “Why Lichens Matter.” As for what makes matter matter, the answer is existence. An English-language etymologist would add that matter, which traces back to mater, the Latin word for ‘mother,’ is the universe’s ‘mother stuff.’

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 25, 2021 at 4:46 AM

Enchanted Rock a year and a half later

with 34 comments

Not having been to Enchanted Rock since November 2019, and not having gone anywhere that far from home in all of 2020 due to the pandemic, on April 12th we drove the two hours it takes to get to the largest pink granite monadnock in the United States. We ended up spending four sometimes strenuous hours there. The top view looks off to the side from part-way up the main dome. Below is a hoodoo that we got to after climbing all the way to the top of that dome and then descending part-way down the far side.

The first and third pictures show that “boulder-strewn” describes some parts of the site well.

And from the Philippine island of Cebu, here’s an account of a barking dog and an abandoned baby in Sibonga, which happens to be the home town of the Lady Eve.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2021 at 4:24 AM

Enchanted Rock, part 5

with 37 comments

A couple of years ago I was shown a photograph taken by Brian P. Barnes of a geological structure at Enchanted Rock I’d never seen or even heard of. Eventually I learned that it’s called Window Rock, and that’s where I most wanted to go during our November 1st visit. No one in the park’s office could point out on a trail map exactly where the structure is, but one of the staff marked off a stretch of the Loop Trail and told me that Window Rock is located a short distance off that section of the trail. After trying several side paths and not finding Window Rock, I finally came to one that took me to what I’d been looking for.

That path led to the rock but not initially to the best photographs. The picture above shows how the side of the formation that greeted us was shadowed, given that the sun was in front of us. I got around that difficulty by literally working my way around to the other side for better lighting.

As with the jug-like boulders in the previous post, I spent time portraying
Window Rock from various angles and in different degrees of abstraction.

The view below strongly reminded me of the moai on Easter Island.

And so ends the series of posts devoted to Enchanted Rock.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 7, 2019 at 4:36 AM

Enchanted Rock, part 4

with 35 comments

Artists in general and photographers in particular sometimes like to depict the same person or thing in various ways. The Cubists got excited about showing multiple views of a subject simultaneously, as in Marcel Duchamp’s famous “Nude Descending a Staircase.” At Enchanted Rock on November 1st I took a more-conventional approach, making separate photographs showing different aspects of an intriguing boulder formation that looked like huge jugs or flasks with short hoodoos in lieu of stoppers. The first photograph gives you an overview of the formation.

The second view isolates part of the formation that was central in the first image.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include some closer and more-abstract takes on these formations,
the first of which gives you a better look at the orange and yellow lichens on the boulder above.

The two abstractions below continue playing up the rough texture of the weather-sculpted rocks.

You might think you’re looking at the ruins of some ancient civilization in a desert.

The wispy clouds that stayed with us the whole time made for excellent backdrops.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2019 at 4:47 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

Enchanted Rock, part 2

with 40 comments

We hadn’t been to Enchanted Rock in years, and on our previous visits we always worked our way to the top of the main dome. That wasn’t the case this time: instead we headed out clockwise along the Loop Trail, which rises and falls modestly as it circles the park’s higher and more prominent geological features.

Boulders of various sizes abound at Enchanted Rock.

In the previous picture and the next one, notice the markings on the rocks.

I played some of the boulders off against the day’s fleecy clouds, as you see below.

The bottom of the picture above hints that you can see interesting things
by looking down. For example, take the textures and white vein in the rock below.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2019 at 1:46 AM

%d bloggers like this: