Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘minimalist

Paloverde parts

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From August 25th at Mopac and US 183, here are the ever cheery flowers of a paloverde tree (Parkinsonia aculeata). I also did a closeup of one of the tree’s drying pods.

Below is a minimalist view of a paloverde leaf whose curling tip had turned reddish.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today:
“Sensible people don’t grieve over what they don’t have but rejoice in what they do have.”
Epictetus, Fragments.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 23, 2020 at 4:41 AM

A predilection to turn red

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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

Limited-focus abstract views of Clematis drummondii strands

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On August 22nd I went to Great Hills Park and spent quite a while among a group of Clematis drummondii plants that had produced their characteristic strands. Because of rain the day before, some of the strands had stuck together, especially at their tips. In both of today’s pictures limited focus led to abstract portraits that are pretty different from the many other pictures of this species that have appeared here over the years.

Instead of a quotation or a fact, how about a question? Okay, that was already a question, but not the one I had in mind. Here it is: which independent country has the lowest population density? (I included the word independent because Greenland, which is the least densely populated geographic entity, is a territory of Denmark.) You’ll find the answer at the end of the next post.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2020 at 3:50 AM

Spiderwebbed Mexican hat seed head on a sinuous stalk

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After photographing a broomweed plant silhouetted by reflections of the rising sun in a pond along The Lakes Blvd. on August 19th, on the same property I made a portrait of this spiderwebbed Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) seed head on a sinuous stalk. The year of the Mexican hat, which is a name I conjured up for one focus of my photography earlier in 2020, had continued.

The fanciful name Mexican hat reminds me that German refers to a thimble as a Fingerhut, i.e. a finger hat. Another thing you might cover fingers with is a glove, which German calls a Handschuh, which is to say a hand shoe. The next time you’re in a department store, try asking a clerk where the handshoes are. I bet the reaction will be quite different from the answer you’d get if you asked where the handbags are.

As for the white webbing on the Mexican hat in today’s photograph, I recently mentioned that spider actually means ‘spinner,’ based on the webs that spiders spin. And that leads us to our quotation for today: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave,/ When first we practise to deceive!” — Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field, an 1808 historical romance in verse by Sir Walter Scott (who really was a Scot).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 17, 2020 at 3:55 AM

A new way of looking at broomweed

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In the recent post about experiments in zooming I mentioned that the fountain at the Lakes Blvd. and Howard Lane hadn’t gotten turned on by 7:10 in the morning, so I left and did other things. One of the first was to see what sorts of images I could make with the disc of the rising sun reflected in a nearby pond. I used those bright reflections to silhouette a broomweed plant, Amphiachyris dracunculoides.

Here’s an unrelated thought for today: “The notion that nothing might be anything is quite something.” — S.S.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 10, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Smoke in the Canadian Rockies

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When I look at my photo archive I’m impressed by how much we accomplished on this date in 2017, all of it accompanied by varying amounts of smoke from forest fires. The first picture shows a view along the Trans-Canada Highway as we drove east that morning from our hotel in Golden, British Columbia.

We continued on to two scenic and therefore much-visited lakes in Alberta’s Banff National Park. The photograph above shows Moraine Lake, with its richly colored water, later in the morning. The view below lets you see how sunshine radiated through the clouds and smoke over Lake Louise as dusk approached.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 8, 2020 at 4:12 AM

Two abstract cattail leaf portraits

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Many long-time artists try new things. In the first of two recent experiments, I played off a yellowing cattail leaf (Typha domingensis) against differently colored cattail leaves behind it that were parallel to one another but not to it. I held the foreground leaf in focus to convey its texture, while making the background leaves as free of details as possible. In the image below of a shallow cattail leaf arc, I channeled my inner Michael Scandling: barely anything is in focus, and the overall effect is of pastel colors.

Here’s a vaguely related quotation for today:

“L’homme n’est qu’un roseau, le plus faible de la nature; mais c’est un roseau pensant. Il ne faut pas que l’univers entier s’arme pour l’écraser : une vapeur, une goutte d’eau suffit pour le tuer. Mais quand l’univers l’écraserait, l’homme serait encore plus noble que ce qui le tue, parce qu’il sait qu’il meurt, et l’avantage que l’univers a sur lui, l’univers n’en sait rien.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Thoughts).

“Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature; but he’s a thinking reed. It doesn’t take the whole universe up in arms to crush him; a vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But even if the universe did crush him, man would still be nobler than the thing that kills him, because he’d know that he’s dying, whereas the advantage that the universe has over him, the universe would know nothing about.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Thoughts).

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 24, 2020 at 4:34 AM

A world turned upside down

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The post’s title may go for our human world, too, but it’s meant for this four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris sp.) that I found along Q Ranch Rd. on May 2nd. The ray florets in these daisies normally fold back and turn from yellow to white as they age. Whether any of that process happened after the stalk got broken and the flower head was upside down, I don’t know. I do know that the fast-moving clouds and the breeze made lining things up the way I wanted difficult. As a result I took about 30 pictures from various angles, expecting that in at least a few frames both the focus and the composition would come out okay. You’re looking at one that worked for me.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2020 at 4:43 AM

A young greenbrier

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Walking in the woods in northwest Austin on April 26th I spied a young greenbrier vine (Smilax bona-nox) with an interestingly shaped new leaf at the top. Light filtering through the trees illuminated the leaf and I realized that if I scrunched down behind the vine I might get the translucence that backlighting often produces. So that’s what I did and that’s what you see.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 13, 2020 at 4:19 AM

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Stemless evening primrose flower opening

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From the West Pickle Campus in north Austin on March 18th, here’s the mostly closed flower of a stemless evening primrose (Oenothera triloba). The first word in the common name distinguishes this evening primrose from others: each flower stalk emerges directly from a basal rosette of leaves, and the plant has no real stems. Fully open fresh flowers are yellow, rather than the peach at the stage shown here. And speaking of colors, the area that shows up as bluish purple didn’t seem so at the time; processing the photograph intensified the faint color that must have been there all along, even while leaving the hues of the flower and sheath the way I actually saw them. Now I can ask once more: what’s reality, anyway?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 5, 2020 at 4:33 PM

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