Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘nature

But it wasn’t just the prairie

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My jaunts to northeast Austin on May 9th and May 12th were making me tie the profusion of Bifora americana to the Blackland Prairie, and the common names prairie bishop and prairie bishop’s weed* reinforced that. Then on May 13th I found myself in the second suburb north-northwest of Austin, Leander, where prairie bishop once again became a hero**, this time on the west side of US 183 in a large field that’s prairie-ish but likely lies too far west to be considered part of the Blackland Prairie.

The Engelmann daisy colony (Engelmannia peristenia) there was probably the best I’ve ever seen. Notice the many firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) mixed in as well.

Except for a utility crew that had pulled over on the shoulder of the highway a bit ahead of me to do whatever work they’d been sent to do, not one person in the hundreds of other cars that passed by while I was there stopped to enjoy the view. Here’s how the prairie bishop looked in the swale by the side of the highway.

* Don’t confuse our native prairie bishop’s weed with bishop’s weed, Aegopodium podagraria, a species from Eurasia that has become an invasive nuisance in parts of the United States. As Joel E. Holloway notes sarcastically in A Dictionary of Common Wildflowers of Texas & the Southern Great Plains, the name bishop’s weed was “first applied in Scotland because it was almost impossible to get rid of, as it would be to remove a bishop from the church.”

**The Leander in Texas takes its name from Leander “Catfish” Brown, an official of the Austin and Northwestern Railroad Co. in the 1880s. That down-to-earth origin hasn’t deterred the town from playing up the ancient Greek myth of Hero and Leander, even to the point of renaming a road Hero Way. (Public information officer Mike Neu told me that the road’s new name was also intended as a tribute to public service men and women.) Additionally the town of Leander has inspired the clever and alliterative paleontological name Leanderthal Lady.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2019 at 4:40 AM

Like a drawing

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Unlike some of you, I know nothing about drawing. Even so, when I look at this image I get the impression that it’s a pastel drawing and I seem to see the individual strokes that went into it. That’s what photographing a waterfall at 1/6 of a second can do. The dark protrusion was probably a small root or branch of the sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) over whose large roots the creek dropped to form this little waterfall.

I took this picture and plenty of others on April 21st during the same hike along a tributary of Bull Creek that produced the realistic creekscapes you saw last month. If you’d like a more-conventional, still somewhat abstract, and rather busy view of the small waterfall, click the image below.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2019 at 4:41 AM

More from Naruna Way

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During the same May 9th foray to the pond at Naruna Way on the prairie in northeast Austin
that led me to the white egret you saw last time, the vibrant green of the fresh growth
along the pond’s shore also called out to be photographed. I obliged.

The combined reflections of the young plants and of the bulrushes
beyond them made for a worthy picture in its own right.
Click below to zoom out into a panorama: Monet, here we come.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2019 at 4:34 PM

Takeoff

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As I approached the pond adjacent to Naruna Way on the prairie in northeast Austin on May 9th I noticed a white egret (Casmoderius albus) on the near bank. Hoping for a picture, I switched from a wide-angle lens to a 100–400mm telephoto and slowly advanced. As soon as I raised the camera to try for a photo, the egret apparently didn’t like my sudden motion and took off. The one picture I managed to get is at least dynamic. Notice the drops of water clinging to and falling from the bird’s toes.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 16, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Green

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‘Tis not shamrocks but wood-sorrel (Oxalis spp.) greening the ground in our back yard on February 25th.

And if it’s more three-part green leaves ye be craving, here’s another view of southern dewberry
(Rubus trivialis),
this time from February 27th in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 17, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Discovering a new place by looking at a map

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We wanted to go out walking on February 24th so I pulled up a local map on my computer screen to pick a place. As I scrolled around on the map I noticed Mills Pond in the Wells Branch community some nine miles northeast of our house. After 42 years in Austin I’d never heard of Mills Pond, even though I’ve photographed places close to it. That alone was a good reason to check it out. Here are four pictures from our visit.

A few trees were beginning to green out along the pond’s shore.

A very different color drew attention to this redbud tree (Cercis canadensis).

Look at the trees reflected in the creek leading to the lake.

Focusing on the breeze-rippled surface of the creek rather than on the tree reflections gave a different effect.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2019 at 4:37 AM

Fungi on a dead branch

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Adjacent to the blossoming Mexican plum tree you recently saw in a picture from February 6th were these fungi growing on a dead branch. Mycologist David Lewis says they’re probably in the genus Trametes.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 17, 2019 at 5:35 PM

Posted in nature photography

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