Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘landscape

Devil’s Waterhole

with 24 comments

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

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

A strangely desaturated landscape

with 25 comments

While out driving in Austin on March 20th with no particular destination, I turned north off McNeil Dr. onto the confusingly named E. McNeil Rd. Soon we couldn’t help noticing that the land and trees on our left seemed oddly faded, almost as if we’d been teleported into a drier climate than Austin’s. The view on our right side offered an explanation: a tall stack and other machinery of the Austin White Lime Company. Ever-present rock dust from the quarry had settled wherever the wind blew it in the vicinity, causing the strangely washed-out look that caught our attention. If you’re familiar with the normal green of Ashe juniper trees (Juniperus ashei), compare that to the dullness of the two in the first picture’s lower left and the one below. Another comparison could be to a photograph last fall in which I purposely reduced the color saturation.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 27, 2021 at 4:41 AM

Pedernales Falls State Park

with 33 comments

On March 4th we visited Pedernales Falls State Park, which lies about an hour west of Austin.

Did you know that the Spanish word pedernal (with plural pedernales) means ‘flint’?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 15, 2021 at 4:39 AM

A foggy morning

with 33 comments

The morning of February 27th came up unusually foggy, so in quest of portraits in the fog I headed over to the Riata Trace Pond, where I’d been able to get pictures of that kind two years earlier. The bird in the top image is a white egret (Ardea alba). The tan plants reflected in the pond in the second photograph are dry cattails, Typha domingensis, some of them battered down by the ice and snow two weeks earlier. (Speaking of which, more wintry pictures are forthcoming; let today’s post serve as a little diversion from the cold.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 4, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Berry Creek in winter

with 23 comments

On a sunny, breezy January 31st we went* to Berry Springs Park in Georgetown. The first picture plays up a disembodied tree shadow that aligns well with the reflection of large trees far away, while water wends* the wind’s way in the second picture. Both images play up diagonals and blend blue with green.

* Did you know that went was originally a past tense of wend? (Compare bend ~ bent and send ~ sent.) Eventually wended survived as the only past tense of wend, while went wended its way over to go and drove out that verb’s original past tense. The technical name for the linguistic process in which a form of one word replaces a form of a different word is suppletion. Another familiar example of suppletion occurred in English with good, whose comparative and superlative are better and best, which are related to each other but not to good. Latin went it one better, with bonus, melior, and optimus all unrelated to one another.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 13, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Palmetto State Park

with 23 comments

Although this picture from January 29th may make you think we went to Florida’s Everglades or some other tropical place, we drove just 70 road miles south of home, to Palmetto State Park, which might as well be a different world. The park is named for a stand of palmettos, Sabal minor, one of only two palm species native to Texas (the other is full-sized and lives at the southern tip of the state). The Ottine Swamp supports the palmettos and also fosters copious amounts of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, which were especially conspicuous now that the trees were winter-bare.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2021 at 4:45 AM

%d bloggers like this: