Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘minimalist

Inland sea oats looking different

with 26 comments

I’ve often photographed seed head arcs of inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), and my post on January 16th showed two views of this grass’s leaves looking backlitly colorful. I commented then that although the species name latifolium means ‘wide leaf,’ I’d never considered inland sea oats leaves particularly wide. Now I get to add that not until walking the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail on Valentine’s Day had I ever seen a leaf of this grass as tightly rolled up along its axis as the one you see here. It pointed not only to the farthest seed head but also to the fact that nothing would keep me from photographing so distinctive a leaf.

✬        ✬        ✬

Yesterday morning I successfully woke up. I successfully got out of bed and successfully made my way to my computer, which I successfully bought three years ago. I successfully looked at e-mails that had successfully come in overnight, and I successfully replied to some of them. Then I successfully went into the kitchen, where I not long ago successfully got the fluorescent light fixtures successfully replaced. Nearby was the toaster oven I successfully ordered last month. After its arrival I’d successfully removed it from its shipping box, successfully unwrapped it, successfully put it on a counter, successfully plugged it in, and successfully turned it on. Since then we’ve successfully cooked various foods in it and successfully eaten those foods.

What I’m getting at is that increasingly many people feel obliged to attach the word successfully to routine actions. For example, in January I sent an e-mail to a company after I kept getting billed each month for a subscription I’d canceled. The first reply I got said: “The escalation form has been successfully submitted to Gannett Subscriber Services Team.” Notice the unnecessary successfully.

One place where I think almost everyone has encountered this is on websites that require you to log in. After you log out, you almost invariably get a message with wording like “You have successfully logged out.” Logging out of a website is hardly special enough to be considered a success. It’s mundane. But do you think I’ll ever successfully convince website programmers to successfully drop the superfluous word successfully? I’d say my chances are on a par with getting advertisers to stop hyping a sale as a “sales event,” or businesses that deal in X to stop calling themselves “X Solutions” — which is to say the likelihood is zero.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 21, 2022 at 4:32 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , ,

Drowned remains

with 37 comments

At Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle on January 29th we walked completely around Berdoll Pond, at whose far end I did many takes on drowned tree remains. The nearby skeleton of the plant shown below (perhaps poverty weed) also attracted me.

  

❧         ❧         ❧

 

  

The press is an availability machine. It serves up anecdotes which feed our impression of what’s common in a way that is guaranteed to mislead. Since news is what happens, not what doesn’t happen, the denominator in the fraction corresponding to the true probability of an event—all the opportunities for the event to occur, including those in which it doesn’t—is invisible, leaving us in the dark about how prevalent something is.

The distortions, moreover, are not haphazard, but misdirect us toward the morbid. Things that happened suddenly are usually bad—a war, a shooting, famine, financial collapse—but good things may consist of nothing happening, like a boring country at peace or a forgettable region that is healthy and well fed. And when progress takes place, it isn’t built in a day; it creeps up a few percentage points a year, transforming the world by stealth.

Steven Pinker, Rationality, 2021

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 18, 2022 at 4:36 AM

More fog

with 17 comments

The first day of February came up foggy, so I relished another chance to take pictures in weather that’s not so common here (though the previous time had been not that long before, on December 14th). I headed for the pond along Kulmbacher Drive in far north Austin, which proved a worthwhile place for the kinds of misty photographs I imagined. The top view shows winter cattails (Typha sp.). Below, the reflections of so many bare stalks intrigued me.

 

⨖         ⨖         ⨖

 

 Education in the news

 

In my October 23rd commentary last year I reported that the public schools in Wellesley, Massachusetts, were segregating students in “affinity groups,” which is to say illegally according to race or ethnicity. Several families fought back against the illegal segregation through a lawsuit brought by Parents Defending Education and have now largely prevailed against the Wellesley school district.

At the John F. Kennedy Middle School in Enfield, Connecticut, students were recently given a worksheet that told them to use pizza toppings as metaphors for sex. Honest—I’m not clever enough to have made that up. Examples included “cheese = kissing” and “olives = giving oral.” You can read the details in a New York Post article.

On February 10, Wisconsin state lawmaker Lee Snodgrass tweeted that “If parents want to ‘have a say’ in their child’s education, they should home school or pay for private school tuition out of their family budget.” In other words, even though parents’ taxes pay for the public education system, parents aren’t entitled to a say in how their children are educated in the public schools. You can read more about this in a local television station’s news report.

The American Bar Association, which accredits law schools, is “poised to mandate race-focused study as a prerequisite to graduating from law school.”

“Trade publication Education Week recently reported that about 500 school districts around the country are rating teacher applicants according to their ‘cultural competency,’ another code for wokeness.‘ Many of these districts are contracting with a teacher-hiring company called Nimble, which uses artificial intelligence to examine applications and interview answers to determine which candidates harbor the correct political and cultural attitudes.” You can find out more in a Federalist article.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 14, 2022 at 4:29 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Winter yellow

with 8 comments

Wildflowers are sparse here in January. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t always at least some. On January 11th in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183 I found a few broomweed plants (Amphiachyris dracunculoides) still flowering—barely. (That stands in contrast to how densely flowerful this species is at its peak.) To give you a sense of scale, I’ll add that each broomweed flower head ranges from 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch across (6–9mm). 

⁕         ⁕         ⁕

The other day I heard about an American woman named Chloé Valdary from a New York Post article headlined “How a 28-year-old is fighting against ‘divisive’ anti-racism training.” Check it out for an alternative to the ineffective and racist “anti-racism” programs that have quickly become all too common in American institutions. According to the caption under a photograph of Chloé Valdary in the Post article, she “urges participants to embrace love rather than division in her training sessions, and uses pop-culture references to help foster better connections.” Links in the article take you to her Theory of Enchantment website.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 27, 2022 at 4:32 AM

Lindheimer’s senna leaflets turning yellow

with 25 comments

From my neighborhood on December 16, 2021, come these two takes, one minimalist and the other busy, on colorful Lindheimer’s senna leaflets (Senna lindheimeri).

※     ※     ※     ※     ※

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court heard a challenge to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) nationwide mandate that companies with 100 or more employees must require those employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The challengers, the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, contend that OSHA, not being part of the legislature, doesn’t have the authority to issue such a mandate, and that only Congress does.

During the proceedings, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the following about Covid-19: “We have over 100,000 children, which we have never had before, in serious condition, many on ventilators.” While it’s true that the rate of Covid-19 infection among children has recently climbed higher than at any previous time in the pandemic, the fact remains that children are still the least affected age group, and the claim that 100,000 children are currently afflicted and in serious condition is a gross exaggeration.

A Yahoo! News story from yesterday says that “The current number of confirmed pediatric hospitalizations with Covid in the U.S. is 3,342, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services released on Friday.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Data Tracker shows that for the entire 17-month period from August 1, 2020, through January 5, 2022, the total number of pediatric Covid-19 admissions in the United States was 82,843.

It’s unfortunate that a Supreme Court Justice would claim that the current number of pediatric Covid-19 hospitalizations is 30 times the actual amount.

UPDATE:

What follows is part of an article from The Epoch Times on January 9.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walenksy disputed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s claim that 100,000 children are hospitalized or seriously ill with COVID-19 during arguments made before the court on Jan. 7.

During an interview with “Fox News Sunday” on Jan. 9, Walensky confirmed that there are about 3,500 children in the hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19….

When asked about there being 3,500 children hospitalized as opposed to 100,000, Walensky said, “Yes, there are, and in fact what I will say is while pediatric hospitalizations are rising, they’re still about 15-fold less than hospitalizations of our older age demographics.”

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 8, 2022 at 4:31 AM

Same long lens, same creek, different subjects

with 22 comments

Along Onion Creek in McKinney Falls State Park on December 20, 2021, I took two rather different pictures with my longest lens. First came the drifting yellowed leaf of a sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) that’s shown below. About nine minutes later I panned with the camera to catch a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) in flight over the creek. In 2016 I’d portrayed the same kind of bird at a waterfall a few hundred feet away.

As this post includes a picture of a bird, you can respond in kind
by taking flight to look at 20 recent award-winning avian pictures.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2022 at 4:34 AM

Non-minimalist and minimalist fall color

with 19 comments

I think you’ll agree that the top picture, which shows backlit leaflets of flameleaf sumac
(Rhus lanceolata) against a blue sky, exhibits non-minimalist fall color.

Mature grasses offer up fall color on a small scale. That was the case with this hairy grama (Bouteloua hirsuta) seed head that I photographed on a redder-than-usual stalk. I also noticed a single spike of gayfeather (Liatris punctata var. mucronata) that had turned fluffy and that the sun lit up.

All three pictures are from November 22nd on the same property
that provided the pictures you recently saw of ladies’ tresses orchids.

⦿

⦿              ⦿

⦿

Free expression keeps meeting suppression. Canada seems to be as bad as the United States.

Toronto School Board cancels Yazidi Nobel Peace Prize winner because
her account of being a sex slave at the hands of ISIS ‘would foster Islamophobia’

The Toronto School Board also canceled high-profile criminal defense lawyer Marie Hunein.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 12, 2021 at 4:28 AM

Pearl milkweed vine, old and young

with 9 comments

A common vine in my northwest Austin neighborhood is Matelea reticulata, known as pearl milkweed for the lustrous protuberance at the center of each small flower. The top picture shows the remains of a pod, and the bottom one a new tendril and leaves. Both minimalist views are from Morado Circle on October 23rd.


⧻      ⧻
⧻      ⧻      ⧻
⧻      ⧻

“Stand your ground, but also stand corrected. Check your facts, not your privilege. Stay civil and speak up. You will be surprised by your power.” — Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge (2021). Those exhortations make cogent aphorisms, don’t you think?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 15, 2021 at 4:24 AM

Light and shadow, and light

with 30 comments

Central Texas is home to several species of Sesbania, including the Sesbania vesicaria that botanists have now reclassified as Glottidium vesicarium, known as bladderpod sesbania or bagpod sesbania for the shape of its pods. In Bastrop State Park on September 23rd I played with the light and shadows on some of the many pods in evidence there that morning. I also took advantage of bright sunlight to portray a gray hairstreak butterfly (Strymon melinus) on the flowers of what I take to be tall bush clover (Lespedeza stuevei), a species I’d never photographed before and that is therefore making its debut here today.


←    ⦿    →

Here’s more from Xi Van Fleet, a woman who escaped from the depredations of Mao’s [Anti-]Cultural Revolution and who sees worrisome parallels in the increasing repression and censorship in the United States. (I have a personal connection to such stories because my father and his parents and brother managed to escape from the terror of the Soviet Union in the 1920s.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 19, 2021 at 4:26 AM

Two quite different portraits of the same rain-lily

with 24 comments

The last few days of September gave my northwestern part of Austin some 5 inches of rain, so it’s not surprising that on October 2nd in Great Hills Park I found some rain-lilies (Zephyranthes drummondii) budding and even flowering. The very different looks in these two portraits of the same rain-lily are due to the fact that in the top one I used flash and an aperture of f/22, which led to a black background, while in the view at the bottom I went with natural light and a broad aperture of f/5 for a softer effect. The three bands in the second picture’s background also served that portrait well; the middle band came from a sunlit area.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 9, 2021 at 4:31 AM

%d bloggers like this: