Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘geology

New Zealand: More from Matakatia Bay

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Yesterday’s post showed photographs taken exactly seven years earlier, on the last full day of our initial visit to New Zealand. Those three views were landscapes seen from the Matakatia Bay side of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula a little north of Auckland.

The final pictures I took that afternoon—and the ones that most excited me aesthetically—were abstractions showing colors and forms on the shore at Little Manly Beach. Some of those photographs have shown up in posts since 2015. Now here are three more for your delectation.

 

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We [men and women] work side by side, and some of us imagine that because we are equal under the law, we are also the same. We are and should be equal under the law. But we are not the same—despite what some activists and politicians, journalists and academics would have us believe. There seems to be comfort, for some, in the idea of sameness, but it is a shallow comfort at best. What if the best surgeon in the world was a woman, but it was also true that, on average, most of the best surgeons were male? What if the top ten pediatricians were women? Neither scenario provides evidence of bias or sexism, although those are possible explanations for the observed patterns. In order to ensure that bias or sexism is not predictive of who does what work, we should remove as many barriers to success as possible. We should also not expect that men and women will make identical choices, or be driven to excel at identical things, or even, perhaps, be motivated by the same goals. To ignore our differences and demand uniformity is a different kind of sexism. Differences between the sexes are a reality, and while they can be cause for concern, they are also very often a strength, and we ignore them at our peril.

That’s much-needed sanity from A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life, by Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein. You can also watch many presentations by them on their Dark Horse podcasts.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 27, 2022 at 4:33 AM

New Zealand: Matakatia Bay

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Seven years ago today, on the last afternoon of our first fabulous trip to New Zealand,
I took pictures from the Matakatia Bay side of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula a little north of Auckland.

From that vantage point I photographed the coastal bluff shown in the top picture, the seastack
known as Kotanui or Frenchman’s Cap* shown in the middle picture, and Rangitoto Island.

* Due to persistent supply chain problems, New Zealand has had a chronic shortage of apostrophes in proper names. I’ve graciously supplied the apostrophe that was lacking.

 

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For some years now I’ve been calling for a United Nations 2.0. Reasons for jettisoning the old organization include those that I gave in my December 31 commentary: “Starting on January 1, 2022, a staggering 68.1% of the UN Human Rights Council will be dictators and other serial human rights abusers. Despite UN Watch’s detailed report on their gross abuses, Qatar, Cameroon, Eritrea, Kazakhstan and Somalia were all elected in October to the UN’s top human rights body, joining China, Cuba, Russia, Libya, Pakistan and Venezuela.” And “in an April 2021 secret ballot, the UN’s Economic and Social Council elected Iran’s gender apartheid regime to a 4-year term on its Commission on the Status of Women, the ‘principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.’” The article that detailed those abuses included seven others.

Now comes the Russian dictator’s invasion of Ukraine. The current United Nations was unable to do anything about it before or after—didn’t really even seem interested in trying. That ought to be impetus enough for the creation of a new United Nations that no despotic countries will be allowed to join.

At the same time, all civilized nations should expel every Russian diplomat and no longer allow any flights or ships from Russia to land in their countries.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2022 at 4:40 AM

Joshua Tree National Park revisited

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On this date five years ago we spent much of the day at
Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California.

As tall as some of these “trees” grow, they’re actually members of the yucca family, Yucca brevifolia.

Not all Joshua trees remain erect:

In some places a mountainous wall of boulders dwarfed the Joshua trees.

According to Wikipedia, “The name ‘Joshua tree’ is commonly said to have been given by a group of Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century: The tree’s role in guiding them through the desert combined with its unique shape reminded them of a biblical story in which Joshua keeps his hands reached out for an extended period of time to enable the Israelites in their conquest of Canaan (Joshua 8:18–26). Further, the shaggy leaves may have provided the appearance of a beard. However, no direct or contemporary attestation of this origin exists, and the name Joshua tree is not recorded until after Mormon contact; moreover, the physical appearance of the Joshua tree more closely resembles a similar story told of Moses.”

The same article lists a whopping 14 scientific names synonymous with Yucca brevifolia. That raises a question I don’t know the answer to: which plant has had the most scientific names?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 5, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Shedding some light on the colorful limestone overhang

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Last week you heard about and saw two pictures of a limestone overhang in a hard-to-reach section of Great Hills Park. I mentioned that direct sunlight never reaches the overhang’s wall and ceiling. That said, the floor of the overhang is a creek bed; with enough water in it, and with the sun low enough in the sky, some rays of light bounce off the water and onto the ceiling of the overhang. Because the water’s surface isn’t perfectly still, the reflected light shimmers overhead, as you see in today’s picture from June 10th.


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And here’s a clever quotation for today: “If somebody thinks I’m cherry-picking, show me the other part of the tree.” — Steven E. Koonin in a televised interview about his book Unsettled on May 25, 2021. Also unsettled is the question of why English speakers have picked cherry-pick rather than the alliterative peach-pick or plum-pick, or else apple-pick, lemon-pick, or some-other-fruit-pick. Maybe cherries got picked because they’re small, and therefore cherry-picking is like nit-picking. One thing’s for sure: cherries make for a much tastier pie than nits. And did you know that cherries was originally the singular of the word? We got it from Anglo-Norman cherise. But that sounded to the folks in merry old England like it was a plural, along the lines of berries and ferries, so they created a new singular, cherry. Linguists call that process back-formation, for which today’s picture of the geological formations at the back of the overhang is therefore appropriate. What fun to lead you from limestone to linguistic information and back again.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2021 at 4:32 AM

A colorful limestone overhang

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I live in northwest Austin’s Great Hills neighborhood, which is home to the unsurprisingly named Great Hills Park. An isolated arm of the park, seldom reached because getting there entails walking in a creek and pushing past various obstacles, houses a long limestone overhang. Given the geography and the position of the sun throughout the year, direct light doesn’t fall on the overhang’s ceiling or most of its back. An approaching visitor will initially see the inside of the overhang as very dark, though eyes do get somewhat accustomed after a person has been under the overhang for a bit. Even so, the dimness makes it hard to appreciate the ways in which seeping water over eons has colored the stone. I used flash to light up the formations and reveal the pastel colors that you see in these two images, both from June 10th.


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Did you hear about the family in Edinburgh that has six living generations?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 18, 2021 at 4:37 AM

Return to the cliff: textures

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Beyond orange and green things, I mostly focused on geological textures during
my January 16th return to the cliff along the Capital of Texas Highway south of FM 2222.

In the next picture, those among you of the pareidolic persuasion may see
a right-facing profile in the shadow, perhaps even that of George Washington.

And let me close by pulling back to a more expansive view showing an especially photogenic portion of the seeping cliff. At its top you see Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), seemingly ubiquitous in many parts of Austin.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Return to the cliff: orange and green

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On January 16th, two weeks after my first foray this year to the cliff on the west side of Capital of Texas Highway south of FM 2222, I returned. I did so because when driving past there the previous day I’d noticed that the recent snow/sleet had invigorated the water’s seeping on the face of the cliff. Some of my new photographs highlighted orange areas among the rocks. In the first picture, notice in the upper left how the dead roots or stems of plants were slowly become mineralized. And a little right of center near the bottom it was good of a pillbug to appear as a token representative of the animal kingdom.

In the middle photograph, some of the drying southern maidenhair fern leaves (Adiantum capillus-veneris) at the upper right were taking on a paler version of the orange in or on the rocks. What the green stuff in the final picture was, I don’t know.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2021 at 4:37 AM

A seeping cliff, a shrine, a medallion

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The cliff on the west side of the Capital of Texas Highway just south of FM 2222 seeps water, especially in the days after rain. The picture above shows how a section of the cliff looked on January 2nd after we’d had rain a few days earlier; I’d say you’re looking at a height of about 20 ft. (6m) here. In one place on the face of the cliff some southern maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris) adorned a small natural shrine whose not deep but deep-shadowed interior a flash provided visual admission to. Notice how a few drops of water, inviters and sustainers of ferns, hung from the little grotto’s upper lip

Elsewhere the same kind of ferns made up part of a large medallion. The many darkened ferns testify to the previous period of several months when we’d had almost no rain.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 19, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Anniversary of our Coron island-hopping tour

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A year ago today we went on our Coron* island-hopping tour
in the Philippine province of Palawan, which neither of us had ever been to.

Can you tell that the first two photographs offer different views of the same nature-sculpted promontory?

The final picture includes the kind of outrigger from which I photographed all these scenes.

* Who knew that just a month later we’d begin hearing and worrying about something else
whose first five letters happened to be Coron?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 13, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Joshua Tree National Park

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Where else to find Joshua trees than Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California?

The park and the Mojave Desert welcomed us four years ago today, though actually we’d seen our first Joshua trees two weeks earlier in Nevada, and then in Barstow.

These “trees” aren’t truly trees at all, but members of the yucca family, Yucca brevifolia. Yuccas are members of Agavoideae, which isn’t so surprising, but that group is a part of the asparagus family, a fact that does surprise most people. Not all is as it seems, is it?

And how about finding a nest in one of the Joshua trees? Thanks to the staff at Joshua Tree National Park for telling me that the maker of the nest is most likely a ladder-backed woodpecker, Picoides scalaris.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 5, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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