Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘lake

Return to Lake Somerville State Park

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On March 11th we returned to the Birch Creek Unit at Lake Somerville State Park for the first time since we’d visited a year earlier. In contrast to the later dramatic view in yesterday’s post, the clouds had been soft and white. The yellow flowers are Senecio ampullaceus, known as Texas groundsel or Texas ragwort. The others are bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis.



If clouds be dreams, what pleasant slumbers.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 17, 2023 at 4:33 PM

Stripes and squiggles

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Here’s an abstraction of horizontal black and blue stripes with squiggly white penetrating them vertically.

If your
makes you
wonder what
was going
on here at
Inks Lake
State Park
on January
26th, click
the little
icon below.




✦       ✦       ✦


So you’re reading an article, and at one point the author refers to somebody as a troglodyte. Unfamiliar with the term, you turn to a nearby friend and ask what a troglodyte is. Your friend answers that a troglodyte is anyone who behaves like a troglodyte. Are you any better off with that answer? Of course not, because you still have no idea what a troglodyte is. Later you check an old-fashioned dictionary and find that a troglodyte was originally ‘a prehistoric person who lived in caves.’ By extension, a troglodyte is ‘a person who lives similarly to a cave dweller, as in seclusion or in a primitive or crude state; a hermit; a recluse.’ Now you understand the term.

A statement like “a troglodyte is anyone who behaves like a troglodyte” is what we call a circular definition. It isn’t a real definition because it “explains” a word by using the very same word we’re trying to learn the meaning of.

These days we needn’t resort to fancy vocabulary like troglodyte to baffle some people. Take the familiar word woman. Last year I reported on a March 23rd interchange as the United States Senate continued interviewing the latest nominee for the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown-Jackson. When it fell to Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn to ask questions, this dialogue ensued:

Blackburn: Can you provide a definition for the word “woman”?
Brown-Jackson: Can I provide a definition?”
Blackburn: Yeah.
Brown-Jackson: No. I can’t.
Blackburn: You can’t?
Brown-Jackson: Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.

I can tell you from over seven decades of being alive and speaking English that not until recently would asking someone what a woman is have been a question so baffling that we have to turn to a biologist for an answer.

Probably more common among gender ideologues than a refusal to answer the question is answering it with a circular definition: “A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman.” If you follow that up with “Describe the characteristics of what the person is identifying as,” you’ll likely be met with a repetition of the circular statement that “A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman,” or with a refusal to say anything further.

That’s the sorry state of affairs some people have devolved to in this third decade of the 21st century. They not only delude themselves into believing that “A trans man is a man” and “A trans woman is a woman,” but also that “A circular definition is a definition.”


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 11, 2023 at 4:33 AM

In the pink

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The last stop on our 12-day trip last fall was Midland, a Texas city we’d never been to. On the morning of October 21st we spent time there at the I-20 Wildlife Preserve, whose website describes it as “one of the few urban playas in the state of Texas, an ecotourism destination, and a science education resource of the Permian Basin.” If you’re not familiar with playa lakes, you can read about them in a Texas Parks and Wildlife article. Along one edge of the lake densely flowering smartweed plants (Persicaria sp.) turned the area pink and made a pleasant contrast with the green of the cattail plants beyond them. Below, a black willow sapling (Salix nigra) had arisen in front of the smartweed colony.



For those of you interested in the craft of photography,
point 15 in About My Techniques applies to the top image,
and point 20 to the bottom one.



§        §        §



In English-speaking countries increasingly many institutions that once dedicated themselves to the quest for truth have been turning despotic:

The University of Sussex forced Kathleen Stock into exile for challenging the concept of gender identity. Evergreen State College ran out Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, after refusing to protect them from violent student protesters. Portland State did the same to assistant professor of philosophy Peter Boghossian after he dared to question politicized scholarship. MIT canceled a lecture that University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot was set to give, citing an op-ed he’d written opposing affirmative action. UC Irvine fired Aaron Kheriaty, a professor of psychiatry and its director of medical ethics, for refusing the Covid vaccine on ethical grounds. Princeton fired Joshua Katz—supposedly over a decades-old offense he had already been punished for—right after he wrote an essay criticizing anti-racism policies.

That’s from a January 7th article by Neeraja Deshpande in The Free Press titled “Will Jordan Peterson Lose His License for Wrongthink?” You can read the full article.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 11, 2023 at 4:33 AM

Red and green at Inks Lake State Park

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One reason I headed out to Inks Lake State Park on May 6th was that some of the prickly pear cactus flowers there in other springtimes have displayed more red than I see in their Austin counterparts. The top picture shows that was true this year, too. In contrast to that red, look at all the placid green around one inlet.



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Did you hear about how the imaging technique of photogrammetry has revealed details of cave art in Alabama from about 2000 years ago? “The motifs, which depict human forms and animals, are some of the largest known cave images found in North America and may represent spirits of the underworld.” Check it out.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Bare dead tree complexity

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Our first-ever visit to Georgetown’s Overlook Park on March 26th yielded pictures of complex dead tree remains in Lake Georgetown. To the novelty of our visit you can apparently add the title of today’s post, because Google returned no hits for the exact phrase “bare dead tree complexity.” Whether anyone has taken a similar photograph of these trees, I can’t say.

Looser groups of tree remains in the lake lent themselves to different kinds of photographs that gave greater visibility to the choppy water the breeze was whipping up that morning.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Bluebonnets at Lake Somerville

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Never having been to Lake Somerville State Park, on April 6th we drove the hour and a half it took to get there. We went “cold,” which is to say not knowing whether we’d find worthwhile wildflowers in that region. Find good ones we did. Both of today’s photographs show that some of the bluebonnets at the park’s Birch Creek Unit on the north shore of the lake extended close to the water.



© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 8, 2022 at 4:35 AM

Devil’s Waterhole

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There’s nothing diabolical about the Devil’s Waterhole at Inks Lake State Park. Though we’d been to the park several times in recent years, we’d never wandered all the way down to this end until we visited on May 6th. The first picture is a closer and more abstract take (you know me with abstractions), while the second photograph retroactively sets the scene.




Among things diabolical I include the alarming rise in my country of freedom-hating zealots on the rampage to “cancel” and “deplatform” anyone who has different ideas from them. I’d remind those historyphobes—but of course they’d refuse to listen—how quickly things devolved in the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Fascist regimes in Germany and Italy, China’s [anti-]Cultural Revolution, the insanity of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the dictatorship of the Kim dynasty in North Korea, and other disastrous ideological regimes. As George Santayana warned in the first decade of the 20th century, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Good people have to speak and act now, before it’s too late.


© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 13, 2021 at 4:40 AM

More from the San Marcos Springs

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On February 23rd we went to Spring Lake in San Marcos, fed by the San Marcos Springs, which as you’ve heard “is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in North America. Artifacts discovered in digs conducted from 1979 to 1982 date back 12,000 years.” The folks at the Meadows Center have created a boardwalk that lets visitors walk through a wetland adjacent to the main part of the lake, and there a dense colony of dry cattails caught my attention.

Facing in the opposite direction, I’d photographed heaps of turtles sunning themselves on logs in the water.

Click to enlarge.

And here’s an important thought for our own times from a speech by Frederick Douglass in Boston in 1860:

Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power…. There can be no right of speech where any man, however lifted up, or however humble, however young, or however old, is overawed by force, and compelled to suppress his honest sentiments. Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 13, 2021 at 4:44 AM

Continuously inhabited for 12,000 years

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Spring Lake in San Marcos, fed by the San Marcos Springs, “is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in North America. Artifacts discovered in digs conducted from 1979 to 1982 date back 12,000 years.” On a sunny February 23rd we went there for the first time in years and enjoyed seeing the purity of the water. Whether the amount of algae on the surface was reasonable or problematic, I don’t know. I do know that it provided plenty of visual interest and led to some abstract views like the one below.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Ripples and sparkles

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On November 25, 2020, we visited Russell Park on the northern shore of Lake Georgetown, where I made the picture of ripples shown above. On the first day of 2021 I inaugurated the new year photographically by going over to Bull Creek in my part of Austin for a different and closer take on ripples:

And if you’ll let me bounce back to Lake Georgetown on November 25th,
Jim Hogg Park provided the following photograph of sparkles:

The diaphragm in my Canon 100–400mm lens has 9 blades; multiplying by 2 would account for the 18 rays that emanate from each of the sparkles. Multiply me by two and I’d be four-armed; forewarn me and I’d be fore-armed. And in case you’re tempted to use forewarn, let me warn you that it’s redundant: the only way you can warn somebody about something is before it happens. At least that’s how it is now. A little research showed that an earlier meaning of warn was simply ‘to alert, to make aware,’ in which case forewarn was not redundant. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 71 provides an example of warn in its ‘alert’ sense:

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell; 
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so, 
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot, 
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if (I say) you look upon this verse, 
When I (perhaps) compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay,
Lest the wise world should look into your moan, 
And mock you with me after I am gone.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2021 at 4:29 AM

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