Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Galveston


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Most of the birds that followed the Galveston-Bolivar ferry on October 7th were either gulls—two of which you saw a few posts back—or brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), which you’re seeing now.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 15, 2019 at 4:28 PM

Posted in nature photography

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On the ferry

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“We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.”

So begins Edna St. Millay’s 18-line poem “Recuerdo” (Spanish for “I remember” or “Remembrance”). While we could have gone back and forth as often as we wanted on the free car ferry between Galveston and Port Bolivar*, on October 7th we went only one-way, northbound from Galveston. And we weren’t tired, because it was morning, not night; tiredness would come later, after we’d driven four-and-a-half hours back to Austin.

I hadn’t taken this ferry in decades, yet I had a distinct recuerdo of the way birds follow the boat, and now I aimed to follow the birds and see if I could get any decent pictures of them. My technique was to pan with a telephoto lens at a high shutter speed to track an individual bird as it wheeled by, trying to keep it in focus and also completely inside the frame. Sometimes I failed on one count, sometimes on the other. And occasionally I succeeded, as you see in these two photographs of gulls.

* The Spanish surname is Bolívar, with the middle syllable stressed: bo-LEE-var. The Texas place name, however, has come to be pronounced in a way that rhymes with Oliver.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 11, 2019 at 4:36 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Artist Boat Coastal Heritage Preserve

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On October 6, after time at the Kelly Hamby Nature Trail, we went over to the Artist Boat Coastal Heritage Preserve. Linda had told us to expect to see Solidago odora, called fragrant goldenrod, sweet goldenrod, and anise-scented goldenrod. My nose and brain detected a vinegary scent.

Close to the goldenrod was some croton, Croton sp.

On one of the croton leaves a tiny fly caught my attention. UPDATE: the good folks at bugguide.net have placed the fly in the genus Condylostylus, adding that it may be a female Condylostylus mundus.

Another find was some flowers of Vigna luteola, known as hairypod cowpea, wild cowpea, and yellow vigna.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2019 at 6:17 AM

A cemetery that welcomes wildflowers

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On May 23rd Eve and I were in Dickinson, Texas, to attend the wedding of a former student of mine. The reception was held about 30 miles away in the Hotel Galvez that evening, and as we drove down Broadway in Galveston on our way there, we passed the Old City Cemetery, which to our delighted amazement was covered with wildflowers. Short on light and time (and long on prohibitive clothing), I conceived a plan to return the following day to take pictures, but it rained on and off the next morning back on the mainland where we were staying and things weren’t looking good. At noon we had lunch with Linda of shoreacres, whom we were meeting for the first time (long overdue). When we’d finished our meal, the weather, though still heavily overcast, looked like it might be okay, so the three of us drove to Galveston and spent the better part of an hour exploring the wildflower-bedecked cemetery.

Old City Cemetery in Galveston 1806

You’re looking at a part of it here. Most of the flower heads are a species of Coreopsis, but the ones with prominent red in the center are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels or Indian blankets. Why can’t all cemeteries look this colorful?

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 27, 2015 at 5:21 AM

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