Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘light

Ripples over bedrock in Bull Creek

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On my way to Stone Bridge Falls on July 10th I wore rubber boots so I could walk up the creek. In several shallow areas the patterns of the flowing water as it rippled over the bedrock caught my fancy and I gladly took a bunch of pictures. When you’re aiming straight down at such an abstract subject there’s no “proper” orientation; I turned this way and that as I looked to fill the frame in attractive ways. Here are two of them.

Our unrelated quotation for today comes from American humorist Will Rogers (1879–1935):
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2020 at 4:30 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

Shimmering light

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One stretch of a Bull Creek tributary in my neighborhood flows beneath a limestone overhang. There are times when morning light filters through the trees, reflects off the surface of the water, and shimmers on the limestone wall of the overhang. July 8th at 9:04 was one of those times.

For the photographically curious: I took these pictures with a simple old 50mm lens wide open at f/1.4. Understandably, given the optics and the flowstoned face of the rocky overhang, not everything came out sharp, but somehow that hasn’t bothered me.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 16, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Fallingwater, falling light

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After decades of reading articles and seeing documentaries about it, on June 14th we finally made our way to Mill Run, Pennsylvania, for Fallingwater, the house that the architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed to straddle a waterfall rather than sit alongside it. The places where I most wanted to stand for pictures, the base of the main waterfall and the banks of the creek flowing away from it, unfortunately remain off limits to visitors. I can’t show you the pictures I might have made, so here instead are a few idiosyncratic takes on light and shadow at Fallingwater.

While I couldn’t look up from the base of the falls, I could and did aim straight down from the top.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2018 at 4:54 AM

What made the nonagons

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Drops in Spiderweb 8745B

Click for larger size and greater detail.

I believe that light refracted by drops of water caught in the spider’s web you saw last time made the glass elements in my 100mm macro lens produce the nonagonal artifacts that you also saw. What you didn’t see was the drops, so here’s another photograph from the same session at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, on June 20. Notice that some of the nonagons in this second photograph are elongated.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 27, 2016 at 5:06 AM

Spider and polygons in the morning

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Spider and Nonagons of Light 8737

Another thing I saw on the grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, on June 20 was this tiny spider, the main part of which my 100mm macro lens resolved quite nicely. The morning sun in front of me lit up some strands of silk in the web while also causing the lens to create polygonal artifacts of light. Those nonagons have better definition than the red ones I showed you in 2013.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 26, 2016 at 4:30 AM

Texas dandelion backlit

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Texas Dandelion Flower Head Backlit 4172

Forget the European dandelion, at least in America, and instead cast your eyes on the native Texas dandelion, Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. I photographed this one on April 21st at the intersection of Blackjack and Rio Vista Cove east of Lockhart, a town about an hour south of Austin. The backlighting let the rays of the flower head show their translucence, but having the sun in front of me also created polygonal artifacts of light.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2015 at 5:07 AM

Trout lily in dappled light

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Trout Lily Flower 8815

I hope you’ve been enjoying the pictures from New Zealand, but I’m going to interrupt that sequence for a little while to catch you up on what’s been happening in central Texas, which you can summarize in one word: spring.

On March 13th I drove out with Nan Hampton to her country place near Lometa, which is in Lampasas County about an hour and a half north-northwest of Austin. The main botanical purpose for my going out there was to see the trout lilies (also called dogtooth violets), Erythronium albidum, that were coming up. For years I’d noticed the entry in Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country but had never seen the plant in the wild, so this was an opportunity to check off one more species from that book.

Bill Carr describes this native perennial as “a striking spring wildflower of forested areas of eastern North America, here at or near the southwestern limit of its range. Rare in oak-juniper woodlands on mesic limestone slopes.” I’ll add that trout lilies typically grow in the underbrush and stay pretty close to the ground, so photographing them meant I had to get close to the ground too and gingerly push aside low branches. Another difficulty was the dappled sunlight coming through the underbrush, but rather than try to work around it, which probably would have been impossible, I lived with the dappling and incorporated it into my portraits, along with artifacts created by the interaction of the bright spots of light with the glass elements in the camera’s lens. You know what they say: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This time you can consider me a joiner.

Note in the lower left a part of one of the trout lily’s characteristically mottled leaves.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2015 at 5:05 AM

Cedar

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Ashe juniper at Pedernales Falls State Park; click for greater clarity.

My eyes and nose and throat yesterday morning told me that here in central Texas we’ve entered the season for what local tradition calls cedar fever. I don’t know about other people, but I have no fever, and the tree whose pollen causes my allergic symptoms isn’t actually a cedar but an Ashe juniper, Juniperus ashei, an evergreen that’s quite common in these parts.* At this time of year the males of the species release large amounts of pollen to make the female trees happy, even if many males and females of the human species suffer as a result.

Anyhow, thinking about that and about an old black and white portrait that I linked to in one of yesterday’s comments, I got the idea to do something different today by jumping back to a photograph of an Ashe juniper that I took early one August morning in 1976 at Pedernales Falls State Park, some 45 miles west of Austin. Landscape photographers are known for getting up and going out in the dark so they can set up for the “magic light” of dawn, and this was one of the rare times I did something like that, even if I was using black and white film. The film also happened to be infrared, which records light in the range that certain animals can see but that we can’t. As a result, the foliage of the juniper and of other plants and trees, though dark green, showed up as a frosty white (and anyone who knows Texas in August knows the irony of using the word frosty to describe it). The early morning sky, though blue, showed up black, thanks to a red filter I used on my camera to enhance the infrared effect.

About a third of the way down the picture you may have noticed the layers of an early morning cloudbank that I think soon dissipated. In the lower portion of the photograph you see the Ashe juniper reflected in water from the Pedernales River. I found the sinuous shape made by the tree and its reflection to be attractive, and I still do after three dozen years.

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* If you’ve been reading this column for a while you may remember that in addition to yesterday’s post a couple of earlier ones showed this type of tree:

one from the end of September about a squirrel in the Ashe juniper outside my window;

one from the first month of this blog about the way the Ashe junipers were shedding leaves and fruit during the drought.

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© 1976 and © 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 13, 2012 at 5:10 AM

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