Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘native plants

Two experiments

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When I worked at the base of a cliff along the Capital of Texas Highway on June 27th, some of my pictures were experiments in abstraction. In the one above, I noticed that several cattail leaves (Typha domingensis) had dried out to the point that they turned white, and I played an in-focus leaf off against a few out-of-focus ones. A couple of hundred feet away I noticed that some leaflets on a flameleaf sumac tree (Rhus lanceolata) had turned prematurely red. Not only that, but the breeze was blowing the branches about, so I decided to go with the (air)flow and do some long exposures that would make the movement a key element. The picture below, taken at 1/6 of a second, flaunts its rich red; in contrast, the first photo is close to black and white.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 7, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Bulrushes with wispy clouds

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Austin botanist Bill Carr describes the southern bulrush, Schoenoplectus californicus, as “the tallest of our sedges, forming large dense colonies, vaguely reminiscent of those of cat-tails, in shallow to fairly deep water….” Also called the California bulrush, the species is nevertheless native in Texas and more than a dozen other states. You’re seeing a colony that stands by the pond at the Arbor Walk as it looked on April 15th. By getting low enough and aiming high enough I managed to turn the bulrushes into classy cloud-climbers and also exclude the traffic on Mopac as well as the office buildings on the far side of the expressway.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2020 at 4:22 AM

New Zealand: Otari-Wilton’s Bush

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Five years ago today we spent time at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington.
That calls for five pictures, the first being a typical bush scene there.

The next one shows you a Marlborough rock daisy, Pachystegia insignis.

I’m a sucker for lichens, as you see in the following two pictures.

The lichen in the first of these was on the trunk of a tawa tree (Beilschmiedia tawa).

And how could I not show you another tree fern, especially from above?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 20, 2020 at 4:49 AM

White wandered in

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White wandered into Austin sometime between late Wednesday night and early yesterday morning in the form of a slight coating of snow or something akin to snow. Whatever it was, I knew it would melt as soon as the sun rose high enough and the day warmed up, so out I went yesterday morning to take photographic advantage of something that happens here only once every several years.

The dry seed heads in the second picture are horsemint, Monarda citriodora.
The leaf below belongs to a greenbrier vine, Smilax bona-nox.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Toot toot again

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After a post early in 2019 that shamelessly showed pictures of mine from the Native Plant Society of Texas photo contest of 2018, this first post for 2020 shows winners from the 2019 contest, which once again categorized entries according to Texas’s 12 ecoregions. Click any picture that you’d like to see in more detail.

Arizona/New Mexico Mountains: Fallugia paradoxa.

Chihuahuan Deserts: Fouquieria splendens.

East Central Texas Plains: various species.

Edwards Plateau: Coreopsis tinctoria.

High Plains: Phacelia integrifolia.

Western Gulf Coastal Plains: Vaccinium arboreum.

Southwestern Tablelands: Dalea formosa.

Texas Blackland Prairies: Liatris punctata. var. mucronata.

Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes: Mimosa strigillosa.

©2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 1, 2020 at 4:36 AM

From Muhlenberg to Kulmbacher

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In far north Austin on November 19th I drove into a still-under-construction subdivision that already had fully paved streets with signposts showing their names. On Kulmbacher Drive I parked and walked over to check out a pond. A few dense stands of bare plants that I took to be slenderpod sesbania (Sesbania herbacea) caught my attention, and now they can catch yours. Do you see, as I do, a resemblance to the Muhlenbergia that I’d photographed the previous day? And in case you’re wondering about the many little white dots in the lower half of the picture, they’re asters that were happily flowering their heads off.

The last post told about the Muhlenberg that Muhlenbergia was named for. Kulmbacher in German means a person from Kulmbach. Who the Kulmbacher was or is that the Austin street refers to eludes me. Also eluding me was the egret you see below between two poverty weed bushes.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 30, 2019 at 4:43 AM

Riata Trace Pond in autumn

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On November 15th the Riata Trace Pond in northwest Austin had taken on an autumnal look. Above you see the feathery stage of poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta), and below the fluffy stage of goldenrod (Solidago sp.).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 13, 2019 at 4:34 AM

The change from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning

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From Monday’s weather forecast I learned that the overnight temperature into Tuesday morning would drop a few degrees below freezing. Sure enough, when I checked the thermometer early Tuesday morning it read 29°. Equally sure enough, that meant I had to dress warmly and go out into the cold for the season’s first possible pictures of frostweed ice. I drove the half-mile to my usual stand of plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hills Park and found—nada. Despite the freeze, not a single frostweed plant had produced ice.

On Wednesday morning the thermometer read 32° and I gave the project a second try. This time a couple of dozen frostweed plants had woken up and remembered what they’re supposed to do when the temperature drops to freezing, and they did it, as these two photographs confirm. The second image is more abstract, which I consider a good thing in my quest for different ways to photograph a familiar subject.

If the frostweed ice phenomenon is new to you, you’re welcome to look back at previous posts to learn more.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Where there are ducks there may also be duckweed

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A few posts back you saw ducks gliding on a pond at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge on October 6th. Near those ducks I photographed several abstractions created by the duckweed, Lemna minor, that covered portions of the pond. I don’t know the identity of the other tiny plants that were mixed in.

At this scale you’ll have trouble discerning all the tiny things in the images.
Click the thumbnail below to see an enlarged excerpt from the first picture:

Here’s a more expansive view showing the interface between duckweed and bulrushes:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 3, 2019 at 4:41 PM

Bulrush reflections

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Bulrushes and water lilies were common at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, as you see above. In one place without water lilies the bulrushes drew my attention by the way they made reflections in the water. Of my two dozen experiments in trying to record those abstract reflections, the one below strikes me as the most interesting; I can almost imagine that someone had knitted or woven the image.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2019 at 4:40 PM

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