Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘lichen

Textures of different kinds

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At the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on March 24th I focused on textures of different kinds. The photograph above reveals a prickly pear cactus pad from which all the outer covering and inner cells and water had passed away, leaving only the sturdy structure that once supported them. In contrast, the picture below shows a rounded, colorful patch of lichens on a boulder.

For those interested in the art and craft of photography, I’ll add that the first photograph exemplifies point 4, and the second one point 15, in About My Techniques.

* * * * * * * * * *

A theme I’ve been pursuing here for a week now is that it’s common to hear politicians and activists bandy about the phrase “common sense,” which is a loaded and misleading term because some or even many things that a majority of people believe to be common sense can be shown not to be true.

Here’s a simple example from the everyday world of buying and selling. Suppose an item in a store goes up 50% in price and later comes down 50% in price. A lot of people would say it’s “common sense” that the rise in price and then the fall in price by the same percent would bring the item back to its original price; in this case the +50% and the –50% would cancel each other out.

Alas, that bit of “common sense” isn’t true. To see that it’s not, let’s give the item in question a specific price, say $40. After that price goes up by half (+50%), it’s $60. After the $60 price gets reduced by half (–50%), it drops to $30. The new price is less than the original $40 price, not equal to it.

Now let’s go a step further. In the real world, switching the order of two actions usually leads to different results. For example, mixing the ingredients for a cake and then baking them will give a very different cake than the one you’d get by baking the ingredients first and then mixing them. Waiting for an empty swimming pool to fill up and then diving head-first into it is recreational; diving head-first into an empty swimming pool and then waiting for it to fill up could well be fatal.

With those examples in mind, it seems “common sense” that if we go back to our example of prices and reverse the order of the two equal-percent changes, we might well get a different result. Specifically, what will happen if this time we first apply a 50% decrease to a price and then a 50% increase? Last time the final price ended up lower than where it started. By reversing the order of the changes, might the price now end up higher than where it started? As I used to say to my students: when in doubt, try it out. Beginning once again with a price of $40, if we reduce it by half (–50%) the new price is $20. If we now increase that $20 price by half (+50%) the final price is $30. The result comes out exactly the same as before: the original $40 price will still end up getting reduced to $30. Unlike many things in the real world, in this situation reversing the order of our actions makes no difference.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2021 at 4:28 AM

Nicicles

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Here are three abstract views of nicicles (nice icicles) from February 17th in our yard.

You may be aware that the Icelandic word for ‘glacier’ is jökull. That’s the cognate [i.e. linguistic relative] of the -icle part of icicle. The original word that -icle was a diminutive of meant ‘ice,’ so icicle says the same thing twice. If we had the word wetwater it would be the same sort of redundancy. On another score, the only words in English that rhyme with icicle appear to be bicycle and tricycle; leave those vehicles out in a winter storm and you could end up with many a bicycle icicle or tricycle icicle.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 2, 2021 at 4:39 AM

The temperature dropped 15° in as many minutes

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There I was lying on the ground at the edge of Lake Pflugerville on December 30th last year to photograph this bare bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) against menacing clouds when suddenly the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, both noticeably, as the predicted cold front came through. Adding some brightness to the bleak sky and dark branches were the colorful lichens on the tree’s trunk:

Unrelated thought for today:  “Credulity is always greatest in times of calamity.” — Charles MacKay,
Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, first published in 1841.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 10, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Three views of lichens on granitic rock

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One of the pleasures of visiting the area near Inks Lake in Burnet County is the visibility of granitic rock.

Here are various types of lichens I saw along Park Road 4 on April 27th.

UPDATE: After this posted, I found an article that explains lichens in a way I hadn’t heard before.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 18, 2020 at 4:30 AM

Usnea trichodea

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During a March 6th visit to Buescher State Park we saw plenty of grayish-tan stuff conspicuously hanging from trees. Three years ago and a little further east in Texas I thought I was looking at Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, but reader Bill Dodd clued me in that it was most likely the lichen Usnea trichodea, which people apparently call bony beard lichen. Notice how Spanish moss’s species name, usneoides, even means ‘looking like Usnea’. Further evidence comes from the fact that the USDA distribution map for Spanish moss is not marked for Bastrop County, which is where Buescher State Park is located. Some ball moss, Tillandsia recurvata, in the upper parts of the trees in both photographs adds to the complexity of the situation.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 14, 2020 at 4:42 AM

Posted in nature photography

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New Zealand: Otari-Wilton’s Bush

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Five years ago today we spent time at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington.
That calls for five pictures, the first being a typical bush scene there.

The next one shows you a Marlborough rock daisy, Pachystegia insignis.

I’m a sucker for lichens, as you see in the following two pictures.

The lichen in the first of these was on the trunk of a tawa tree (Beilschmiedia tawa).

And how could I not show you another tree fern, especially from above?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 20, 2020 at 4:49 AM

White wandered in

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White wandered into Austin sometime between late Wednesday night and early yesterday morning in the form of a slight coating of snow or something akin to snow. Whatever it was, I knew it would melt as soon as the sun rose high enough and the day warmed up, so out I went yesterday morning to take photographic advantage of something that happens here only once every several years.

The dry seed heads in the second picture are horsemint, Monarda citriodora.
The leaf below belongs to a greenbrier vine, Smilax bona-nox.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Not just Lucifer Falls

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At Robert H. Treman State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region on August 1st I didn’t only photograph Lucifer Falls and other waterfalls. Here are some non-watery scenes from the western (upper) end of the park.

I can’t not see a bell.

A hornet nest.

Living, dead, and inanimate together.

Oh, the lichens….

This reminded me of those old ruined homesteads out in the country where the only thing that’s left standing is a chimney.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2019 at 4:39 AM

And let’s not leave out the rocks

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Adding to the claim that the prolific coreopsis held on a nature photographer
at Inks Lake State Park on May 25th were the colorfully lichen-covered rocks there.

The Lady Eve, initially glimpsing the second photograph from across the room,
thought she was looking at a waterfall. Stand far back and see what you think.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 2, 2019 at 4:43 AM

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

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Two years ago on this date we spent several hours in the temperate rainforest
of the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve near Guerneville, California.

Intermittent rain accompanied us there. During rainless periods the lace lichen,
Ramalina menziesii, still suggested its own sort of precipitation from the trees.

Even when fresh, bits of lace lichen end up on the forest floor, there to perish.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2018 at 4:44 AM

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