Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘frostweed

35° was low enough

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Our outdoor thermometer yesterday morning had dropped to about 35°F (1.6°C). I’ve learned from years of experience that that’s normally low enough for me to find ice extruded from the frostweed plants (Verbesina virginica) in the nearest portion of Great Hills Park, about half a mile away. From home to there is downhill, and the frostweed plants grow at the base of a slope that descends from where the road bottoms out. Down there it’s apparently colder enough for frostweed ice to appear, because that’s what’s been happening for years now.

I took a bunch of pictures. Most of them, like the one below, didn’t show any blue. That’s because frostweed ice forms at and near the base of the plant’s stalk, and it’s hard to include sky in a photograph of such a low subject. To get the top portrait I lay on my mat on the ground and struggled to line the ice up with a patch of blue sky while excluding the many other nearby plants. Usually at least a little junk showed up at the bottom in that set of photographs, but today’s top picture proved a success.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 13, 2021 at 4:31 AM

Frostweed ice and frostweed frost

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The overnight temperature dropped enough from November 30th into December 1st for frostweed (Verbesina virginica) to do its magic ice trick, as I found when I spent a couple of hours that morning taking pictures in the shade in Great Hills Park (the sun hadn’t risen above the trees yet). I made photographs with and without flash; the latter came out softer and bluer, as you see above. If you’re new to the frostweed ice phenomenon, you may want to read an excellent article about it by Bob Harms.

Many frostweed leaves had actual frost on them, as shown in the second picture.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 2, 2020 at 4:33 AM

The change from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning

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From Monday’s weather forecast I learned that the overnight temperature into Tuesday morning would drop a few degrees below freezing. Sure enough, when I checked the thermometer early Tuesday morning it read 29°. Equally sure enough, that meant I had to dress warmly and go out into the cold for the season’s first possible pictures of frostweed ice. I drove the half-mile to my usual stand of plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hills Park and found—nada. Despite the freeze, not a single frostweed plant had produced ice.

On Wednesday morning the thermometer read 32° and I gave the project a second try. This time a couple of dozen frostweed plants had woken up and remembered what they’re supposed to do when the temperature drops to freezing, and they did it, as these two photographs confirm. The second image is more abstract, which I consider a good thing in my quest for different ways to photograph a familiar subject.

If the frostweed ice phenomenon is new to you, you’re welcome to look back at previous posts to learn more.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Frostweed ice abstraction

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Envious of the ice and snow pictures that some of you who dwell in the lands of true winter have been showing lately, this morning I finally got a chance to follow suit after the overnight temperature dropped to freezing and a few frostweed plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hills Park did their magic ice trick. Shown here is a little piece of ice that separated from the frostweed stalk it had formed on.

If the phenomenon of crystallofolia is new to you, you can find a basic explanation in a post of mine from 2012 and a thorough treatment in an article by Bob Harms.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2019 at 11:48 AM

Frostweed ice: toward abstraction

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The extrusion of ice by frostweed (Verbesina virginica) is a great natural phenomenon. Austin’s temperature stayed mostly below freezing from the morning of January 1st, when I went down to Great Hills Park to take my first photographs of the new year, through this morning, when I returned for a second round of frostweed pictures, even more than two days earlier. Frostweed ice offers an opportunity for photographic abstractions, and that’s what you’re seeing here. Unlike the picture you saw last time, which involved flash, today’s images were made by natural light, which necessitated wider apertures that produced a softer feel.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2018 at 6:00 PM

The frostweed, yes.

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I don’t know if Carl Sandburg knew about frostweed’s magic ice trick, but those of you who’ve been coming here for a while sure do. When the Austin temperature dropped to 26°F (–3°C) on New Year’s Eve, I knew there was a strong likelihood for frostweed ice on January 1st. When morning came, I dressed warmly and headed for a stand of Verbesina virginica I know in Great Hills Park, there to spend two hours in the cold taking scads of pictures.

If you’re not familiar with the frostweed ice phenomenon, you can read more about it in an early post.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2018 at 4:33 AM

I wasn’t expecting another chance this season…

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frostweed-ice-abstraction-0391

I wasn’t expecting another chance this season to photograph frostweed ice. My outlook changed two nights ago when the weather forecast for the morning of January 7th predicted a low temperature of around 23°F (–5°C). Out I went into that cold morning, once more to Great Hills Park, and sure enough some of the frostweed plants were doing their thing again. Because of previous performances, this time practically all the ice displays were way down low on the stalks, often touching the ground. In my 90 minutes of taking pictures I went mostly for close and abstract views of the ice, one of which you see here.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 8, 2017 at 5:03 AM

A contrast in strata

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Above: Geological strata in Sedona (Arizona) on October 20.

Below: Frostweed ice strata in Austin (Texas) on December 19.

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© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 23, 2016 at 4:49 AM

The spy who came in from the cold

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Click for better quality and clarity.

The person in the title is me, who came in after two hours yesterday morning spent spying on the ice formations produced by frostweed plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hill Park. For the first time this season the temperature in Austin dipped below freezing overnight, as the forecast had predicted, so I felt duty-bound to bundle up and go out into the morning’s 29° in hopes that that would have been cold enough for frostweed to do its thing. It had been.

Unlike pictures of the phenomenon I’ve posted here in other years, this photograph emphasizes the way the ice first splits the outer part of a frostweed stalk. Notice that the tissue just inside the brown bark is still green.

If you’re new to frostweed’s ice trick and would like more of an explanation, along with images showing other aspects of the phenomenon, you can follow these links:

https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/frostweed-explains-its-name/

https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/frostweed-debuts-its-ice-trick-for-2012/

https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/no-frost-but-frostweed-did-its-icy-trick/

https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/cold-enough/

https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/a-closer-look-at-frostweed-ice/

https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/cold-enough-once-again/

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2016 at 5:01 AM

Cold enough

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When I checked the outside temperature around 8 o’clock in the morning on November 17th, I saw that it was 34° F (1° C). Had the overnight temperature dipped below freezing, and had any frostweed (Verbesina virginica) done its magic ice trick? An easy way to find out was to check the frostweed plants in a portion of Great Hills Park just half a mile downhill from my home. When I got there I saw that most of them were untouched, but about a dozen stalks showed the characteristic curls of ice I was hoping to find, and that I then spent a good while photographing. Here’s one of them:

Frostweed Ice Scrolls 7165

If you’re unfamiliar with frostweed’s ice trick, one of the strangest and most beguiling phenomena in nature, you can check out the explanations and photographs in posts from this season over the last three years:

2011

2012

2013

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 20, 2014 at 5:33 AM

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