Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘macro

Late takes on Clematis drummondii

with 35 comments

I didn’t expect to be photographing one of my favorite subjects so late in the year: Clematis drummondii, a vine known endearingly as old man’s beard. The last times I’d taken pictures of any were late July and early August. In the first week of December I noticed a fluffy colony on the west-side embankment of US 183 just south of Braker Lane, a corner I often drive past as I leave my neighborhood. After telling myself several times that I should check out the Clematis, I finally did on December 10th. The first picture gives you an overview of the colony. You’ll be forgiven if a first glance made you think you were seeing a black and white photograph.

The backlighting that made the colony stand out in the first photograph also served me in the second, a macro view in which you’re seeing a span of maybe 2 inches. In the third picture I took a softer and less contrasty approach. Don’t you love the chaos in the two close views?

And speaking of chaos, did you know that it gave rise to the new word gas? Here’s the explanation in The Online Etymology Dictionary:

1650s, from Dutch gas, probably from Greek khaos “empty space”… The sound of Dutch “g” is roughly equivalent to that of Greek “kh.” First used by Flemish chemist J.B. van Helmont (1577-1644), probably influenced by Paracelsus, who used khaos in an occult sense of “proper elements of spirits” or “ultra-rarified water,” which was van Helmont’s definition of gas.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 24, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Time again for ladies’ tresses orchids

with 37 comments

Last fall I found exactly zero Great Plains ladies’ tresses orchids (Spiranthes magnicamporum) at a site in northwest Austin that I’ve been going to for over a decade to photograph them. This year, tipped off by Meg Inglis on October 19th that the ladies’ tresses in her area a little west of Austin had already been coming out for a while, I went to “my” property on October 24th and soon located a dozen or so, even though it was unusually early in the season for me to expect any there. I photographed several of the orchids from the side, which is “normal,” but I also had the urge to do some limited-focus portraits looking down from above for a change. The brown around the spike of spiraling flowers came from drying leaves on the ground.

UPDATE. It occurred to me that you may not know what a ladies’ tresses orchid looks like, so here’s a conventional view taken at the same site six years ago. Within that post is a link to a more esthetic view from the side.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” — Elliott Erwitt.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2020 at 4:26 AM

A predilection to turn red

with 35 comments

The leaves of smartweed plants (Polygonum sp.) tend to turn yellow and red. On August 25th I positioned myself with the sun in front of me so that its light would transluce this smartweed leaf and saturate the red. Cameras don’t like looking into the sun—which is to say photographers generally don’t like it—because the light bouncing around off the lens elements can create unwanted artifacts. That’s how there came to be orbs at the top of this picture. Technically it’s a defect, and I could easily remove it, but you may find it’s a smart look for a smartweed leaf. The plant’s stems also noticeably have red in them:

The answer to yesterday’s question asking which independent country has the lowest population density is Mongolia, with only about 2 people per square mile. Eliza Waters quickly came up with the right answer, and Peter Klopp soon followed.

When we look at a globe of the world, we’re accustomed to seeing countries represented in proportion to their areas. For a change, you may want to check out a map that represents countries according to their populations (click the map there to enlarge it). You’ll notice some countries appear smaller or even much smaller than you’re used to seeing them (e.g. Canada, Mongolia, Australia, Ireland, Russia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia), and others larger (e.g. Nigeria, India, the Philippines, Japan, Bangla Desh).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 21, 2020 at 3:51 AM

Firewheel edge-on

with 31 comments

On the morning of May 25th I went out to an area where there still wasn’t much light. Even at a high ISO, all I could manage was an aperture of f/4, so I decided to go for some limited-focus portraits like this one of a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, with dewdrops on it.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 20, 2020 at 4:48 AM

Prairie fleabane daisy bud

with 55 comments

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on February 3rd I found some opening prairie fleabane daisy buds, Erigeron modestus. At the stage shown in this portrait, each bud is maybe a third of an inch (8 mm) across.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2020 at 4:45 AM

Leaf abstraction from the Bojo Nature Reserve on December 17th

with 36 comments

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Drying leaf tip from the Bojo Nature Reserve on December 17th

with 18 comments

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 31, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Spiraling leaf tip at the Bojo Nature Reserve on December 17th

with 30 comments

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 29, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

An aura and a wraith

with 64 comments

Here are two takes from April 12th of Heller’s plantain (Plantago helleri), with the rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) behind it seen first as an aura and then as a wraith. I haven’t a ghost of a chance of guessing which version you prefer. (Actually, photographers at a recent gathering did favor one, but at least for now I won’t say which it was.)

UPDATE: The majority of commenters here, like the photographers at the meeting I mentioned, prefer the first photograph.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 28, 2019 at 4:42 AM

Scarlet leatherflower

with 18 comments

While at Bull Creek on April 8th I mostly photographed waterfalls but was also happy to see a Clematis texensis vine with a trio of flowers on it. Anyone watching me at work that morning could have said: “He stoppeth one of three.” It could also be said that Austin is home to three native Clematis species, with texensis being endemic to the state’s Edwards Plateau.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2019 at 4:39 AM

%d bloggers like this: