Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘leaves

Mesquite pod and dry leaflets by pond

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While I was avoiding hikers near the boardwalk pond in River Place on August 10th, I made some portraits of honey mesquite pods (Prosopis glandulosa). The dark-looking water and otherwise black background in today’s photograph might make you think I used flash. I didn’t. The sunlit pod was bright enough to make the background dark by comparison, and in my processing of the image I played up that difference. (If clicking the photograph in your browser brings up a black page around the image, as Chrome does, so much the better; the picture, in particular the blue-indigo of the water, looks more vivid that way.)

While we’re on the subject of mesquite, you may remember I photographed what I called a zebra mesquite thorn back in June. I’m sorry to say that within weeks of my taking that picture the site was razed for construction. That’s at least the fourth loss in 2020 of a place where I’d taken nature photographs.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 30, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Two abstract cattail leaf portraits

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Many long-time artists try new things. In the first of two recent experiments, I played off a yellowing cattail leaf (Typha domingensis) against differently colored cattail leaves behind it that were parallel to one another but not to it. I held the foreground leaf in focus to convey its texture, while making the background leaves as free of details as possible. In the image below of a shallow cattail leaf arc, I channeled my inner Michael Scandling: barely anything is in focus, and the overall effect is of pastel colors.

Here’s a vaguely related quotation for today:

“L’homme n’est qu’un roseau, le plus faible de la nature; mais c’est un roseau pensant. Il ne faut pas que l’univers entier s’arme pour l’écraser : une vapeur, une goutte d’eau suffit pour le tuer. Mais quand l’univers l’écraserait, l’homme serait encore plus noble que ce qui le tue, parce qu’il sait qu’il meurt, et l’avantage que l’univers a sur lui, l’univers n’en sait rien.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Thoughts).

“Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature; but he’s a thinking reed. It doesn’t take the whole universe up in arms to crush him; a vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But even if the universe did crush him, man would still be nobler than the thing that kills him, because he’d know that he’s dying, whereas the advantage that the universe has over him, the universe would know nothing about.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Thoughts).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 24, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Four views of Ashe junipers

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If you’d been out on the morning of May 29th in central Texas last year you’d have taken pictures of the great wispy clouds, too. I did so from a bunch of places, including a property at the corner of Bagdad Road and Brashear Lane in Cedar Park. I’d never worked there before and I don’t know if I will again, given the rapid development that’s been taking place in that area for years.* In the photograph above, the clouds served as a backdrop for a line of Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), the most common and widely distributed evergreen tree we have in central Texas. Below, from my own front yard on June 17th, you get a closeup of an Ashe juniper trunk that shows how these trees usually have stringy bark and also sometimes develop a corrugated texture.

From July 13th near Old Lampasas Trail, here are two more views. The first shows how a slew of dry leaves fallen from an Ashe juniper covered the ground so thoroughly you can’t detect any of the earth beneath them.

And below you see a shaft of sunlight on one Ashe juniper that was particularly sinuous.

 

* When I started taking pictures in Cedar Park in the late 1970s, it seemed way out in the country and its population was in the hundreds. Now home to about 80,000 people, it’s the second-largest suburb of Austin and there’s no break between it and the northernmost part of the city.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 18, 2020 at 4:42 AM

Two experiments

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When I worked at the base of a cliff along the Capital of Texas Highway on June 27th, some of my pictures were experiments in abstraction. In the one above, I noticed that several cattail leaves (Typha domingensis) had dried out to the point that they turned white, and I played an in-focus leaf off against a few out-of-focus ones. A couple of hundred feet away I noticed that some leaflets on a flameleaf sumac tree (Rhus lanceolata) had turned prematurely red. Not only that, but the breeze was blowing the branches about, so I decided to go with the (air)flow and do some long exposures that would make the movement a key element. The picture below, taken at 1/6 of a second, flaunts its rich red; in contrast, the first photo is close to black and white.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 7, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Zebra mesquite

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On June 17th, when I saw how the sun cast shadows of mesquite tree leaflets (Prosopis glandulosa) onto a thorn and the branch it was on, the word zebra popped into my head.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 3, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Crinkliest of flowers

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A.E. Housman began a poem with the words “Loveliest of trees, the cherry….” An Austin counterpart could begin with “Crinkliest of wildflowers, the white prickly poppy….” I made these two portraits of aging Argemone albiflora flowers in Great Hills Park on April 30th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2020 at 4:43 AM

New Zealand: Shadows and light at Riccarton Bush

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Three years ago today in Christchurch we visited Riccarton Bush,
where dense foliage created interplays of shadows and light.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2020 at 4:28 AM

Fronds

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Fronds caught my attention at the Bojo River Nature Reserve in Aloguinsan on December 17th.

The challenge was finding good ways to fill a rectangle.

In the last picture I took a different approach.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2020 at 11:40 AM

Two views of flameleaf sumac

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Longtime visitors here know that central Texas is too warm to get the kind of fall foliage that colder parts of the country are famous for. That said, we do get some autumn color, and one reliable source of it is the aptly named flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata. On November 9th I spent time on part of the Brushy Creek Regional Trail in Cedar Park, where I made the two flameleaf sumac pictures in today’s post.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 10, 2019 at 4:40 AM

Goldenrod at Lucifer Falls

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As we drove around the Northeast in the second half of July and the first week of August, we were surprised to see goldenrod (Solidago sp.) already flowering abundantly in many places. One of those was at Lucifer Falls in New York’s Treman State Park on August 1st. That was seven weeks ago; I’ve yet to see any goldenrod flowering in Austin, though I’ve read reports online of people beginning to see some here.

And while we’re still talking about Treman State Park,
let me show you one more picture of the picturesque rock strata there:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 22, 2019 at 4:47 AM

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