Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘macro photography

Tiny damselfly

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On June 24th along and near Bull Creek I noticed plenty of tiny damselflies. This one was about an inch long. After looking at John C. Abbott’s book Damselflies of Texas and comparing with online photographs, I’m thinking this could well have been a male blue-ringed dancer, Argia sedula.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2022 at 4:26 AM

Inaugurating the new year

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On New Year’s morning I went to Great Hills Park to try out a new camera: I’ve taken the plunge with a Canon mirrorless camera, the EOS R5. Although that means a reduction in picture size of about 11% compared to my EOS 5DS R, a review I’d read said the better resolving power of the five-year-newer sensor could make up for that loss, and in addition there would be greater dynamic range and less noise at each ISO, particularly the higher ones.

One thing that caught my attention in the park was some shelf fungi on the stump of a black willow tree, as shown above. I worked hand-held and without flash at the high ISO of 2500, which let me stop down to f/14 to keep most details sharp. Yes, some noise appeared in the image, but it was tolerable, and processing let me reduce it even more. The next day I returned with my earlier camera and my ring flash to make some more-abstract, edge-on views of the fungi, like the one below.

Does it look to you, as it sometimes does to me, like the front edge of the fungus in the second picture is protruding forward from the plane of your monitor?

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Last year I reported on two attempts by the current American administration to illegally give out money to people according to their race. One program involved farmers, and another program involved restaurant owners. Thankfully, judges eventually ruled both programs unconstitutional because they discriminated against people based on their race.

Now New York State is flouting the equal-rights protection that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees to all citizens. On December 27, 2021, the state’s Department of Health announced that it is going to prioritize giving certain Covid-19 medicines to non-white people: “Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.” The organization America First Legal has threatened to sue if New York State doesn’t rescind that illegal policy of prioritizing medicines based on the race of an ill patient.

The obvious solution is to prioritize people based on their actual conditions. The aged are at high risk, as are the obese and people with other co-morbidities. Those are the groups who should get priority. If it so happens that more non-whites than whites fall into those categories, fine, but the rationing of medicine will be on medical grounds, not prima facie—and illegally—according to race.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 7, 2022 at 4:39 AM

Icing strikes again

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When the Austin weather forecast on January 1st said that temperatures would drop into the high 20s by Sunday morning, I knew I’d have to go out and check local frostweed plants (Verbesina virginica) again to see if any performed their ice trick. Some did, though the formations were fewer and mostly a lot smaller than on December 12th. Nevertheless, I found ways to portray what ice there was.


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A few years ago I read Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. The primary author was the late Hans Rosling, aided by his son Ola Rosling and Ola’s wife Anna Rosling Rönnlund. The book does a great job in bringing forth facts and statistics to document the progress our world has been making, despite many people’s belief to the contrary. I highly recommend Factfulness. You can also find lots of facts at gapminder.org that led Hans Rosling to the conclusion that the world has been getting better.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2022 at 4:28 AM

A red theme

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Wanderers through countryside with lots of prickly pears (Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri) know that the cactus often attracts certain bugs. This is one of those, Narnia femorata, on a tuna, or fruit of the prickly pear cactus, in the Zilker Nature Preserve seven years ago today. The bug is a nymph in one of its early instars, which are the developmental stages that the larva of an insect passes through. Click below if you’d like a closer look at the bug as it appeared in a different frame.

Although Texas in the summer of 2011 was suffering one of its worst droughts in decades, when I recently looked back at my archive for August 12th of that year I saw that I went photographing in four locations that day and ended up with hundreds of pictures, like this one along Scenic Drive of ripe snailseed fruit (Cocculus carolinus):

I also found from looking at my archive that I went out taking pictures on 19 of the 31 days in that torrid August of 2011. You could say that I lived up to the motto of the USPS (United States Photographic Service): “Neither heat nor drought nor sun nor sweat stays these intrepid image gatherers from the due documentation of their appointed rounds.”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2018 at 4:49 AM

White prickly poppy center

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White Prickly Poppy Flower Center 0486

Here’s a close and downward look at Argemone albiflora, the white prickly poppy. Notice the crowd of yellow stamens invariably paying homage to the red-topped pistil that rises above them in the center of the flower. This photograph is from Great Hills Park on April 23, 2013, five years ago today. I’d planned to show the picture soon afterward but put the post aside and only recently rediscovered it. Better late than never.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2018 at 4:47 AM

Horsetail detail

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Horsetail Detail 7461

From the Volo Bog State Natural Area in Lake County, Illinois, on June 7th comes this elongated closeup of a horsetail (Equisetum spp.).

Of the more than two thousand photographs that have appeared here over the past five years, this may be the one with the greatest height-to-width ratio.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 19, 2016 at 4:44 AM

Wild onion bud

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Wild Onion Bud 9860

You’ll probably find more patterning and texture than you’d expect in the bud of a wild onion, Allium canadense var. canadense. Though ancient in design, it could pass for the latest sculpture or architecture.

This photograph is from April 3 along E. University Blvd. in Georgetown. The property was one on which I’d never worked before.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 9, 2016 at 5:10 AM

Question Everything.

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Question Everything 1532

Okay, here’s something different. After I’d photographed the Mexican hats you saw in the last two posts, I walked a little further down Morado Circle looking for other plants along an undeveloped stretch of land on one side of the road. Before long I noticed that someone had gone to the trouble of painting a portion of a light pole white in order to write a message on it. As you can see, the person got off to a rough begiining beginning. Too bad there wasn’t any way to move the dot of the mistaken i to the end of the sentence to make up for the missing period.

Speaking of missing things, this is supposed to be a nature photography blog, so here’s another picture of a Mexican hat, Ratibida columnifera, from that January 2nd outing. Notice how the tiny disk flowers develop from the bottom toward the top of the “thimble.” In terms of composition, I like the way the arc of amorphous yellow patches in the background echoes the predominant yellow in the subject’s ray flowers. That arc also amplifies the slight curve of the flower head’s stalk.

Mexican Hat Flower Head 1463

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 18, 2016 at 5:00 AM

A close view of a wood sorrel flower

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Purple Wood Sorrel Flower with Petals Ribboned Back 8837

In the previous post you didn’t see much of the wood sorrel flower, Oxalis drummondii, that caught my attention on the floor of the woods in Great Hills Park on November 4th, although it did coincidentally lend its color to all the foliage in the negative version of yesterday’s image.

A few paces from that scene I found the wood sorrel flower shown here. It had its five petals appealingly ribboned back to form a would-be pentagon, even as an adjacent bud on the same plant was beginning to open. If you’d like to compare a close view of a wood sorrel flower when its petals aren’t curled down, you can check out a post from this blog’s first fall.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 15, 2015 at 4:57 AM

Snailseed redux: a portrait in red and green

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Snailseed Fruit Cluster and Leaf 7319

In contrast to the distant bridge-bright view of snailseed, Cocculus carolinus, that you saw in these pages last month, here’s a simultaneously light and shadowy closeup of this vine’s fruit and leaves from the greenbelt north of Spicewood Springs Rd. on October 10.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 21, 2015 at 4:43 AM

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