Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘patterns

Two more views of pickerelweed

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Pontederia cordata; August 13th at a pond near E. Howard Lane
on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today: “We can finish nothing in this life; but we may make a beginning, and bequeath a noble example. Thus Character is the true antiseptic of society. The good deed leaves an indelible stamp. It lives on and on; and while the frame moulders and disappears, the great worker lives for ever in the memory of his race. ‘Death,’ says the Philosopher, ‘is a co-mingling of Eternity with Time. In the death of a good man, Eternity is seen looking through Time.'” — Samuel L. Smiles; George Moore, Merchant and Philanthropist.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Mottled

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As the pads of a prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii) die, they often become
mottled in ways that are bound to intrigue a nature photograph—or at least this one.

I made these portraits on September 3rd near the Sierra Nevada entrance to Great Hills Park. The overcast skies preceding rain led me to use flash for a change, and that had the advantage of letting me stop down in all three of these pictures to f/14 for good depth of field and crisp details. In the last picture the drying needles and little fruits had fallen from an Ashe juniper tree (Juniperus ashei).

And here’s a thought for today: You’ve probably heard someone say “You can’t prove a negative.” It depends. Some negatives can be proved. For example, take the question of whether a fraction exists such that when you multiply the fraction by itself the result is exactly 2. An infinite number of fractions exist, so you can’t multiply each and every fraction by itself to find out whether the result is ever 2. Maybe you’ll get close: for instance, 99/70 multiplied by itself gives 9801/4900, which is close to 2, but you can see that the top is just slightly more than twice the bottom. It turns out that no fraction has the property that when you multiply it by itself you get exactly 2. Maybe equally surprising is the fact that smart people were able to prove that negative as long ago as ancient Greece. Hats off to the ancient Greeks.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 5, 2020 at 4:34 AM

A torch-like take on a familiar subject

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If 2020 has been a good year for new takes on Mexican hats, it has also turned into a good year for novelty with Clematis drummondii. This portrait from July 29th on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin is unlike any I’d done in my two decades exploring the most prolific of our three native Clematis species. You can see that I played an opening bundle of silky fibers off against already loosened strands a little further away. Because the vertical bundle strikes this former New Yorker as rather torch-like, for today’s quotation let’s have the poem “The New Colossus,” which Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the giant statue* that France had given to the United States to commemorate the country’s declared independence in 1776:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities** frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

UPDATE: You can listen to the famous part of the sonnet set to music by an immigrant to the United States, Israel Beilis, better known as Irving Berlin.

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* The French title of the statue that sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi designed was Liberté éclairant le monde, Liberty Enlightening the World, but Americans know it as the Statue of Liberty.

** The twin cities were New York and Brooklyn, which weren’t consolidated until 1899.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Ripples over bedrock in Bull Creek

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On my way to Stone Bridge Falls on July 10th I wore rubber boots so I could walk up the creek. In several shallow areas the patterns of the flowing water as it rippled over the bedrock caught my fancy and I gladly took a bunch of pictures. When you’re aiming straight down at such an abstract subject there’s no “proper” orientation; I turned this way and that as I looked to fill the frame in attractive ways. Here are two of them.

Our unrelated quotation for today comes from American humorist Will Rogers (1879–1935):
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2020 at 4:30 AM

Another take on Clematis drummondii swirls

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Offering you one view per season wouldn’t do justice to the silky and feathery fibers of Clematis drummondii, so here’s another. In today’s take I used flash so I could stop down (in this case to f/16) to keep more of the luxuriant strands in focus than in the softer approach you saw last month. These intricate swirls are a good way to fill a frame, don’t you think? I made this “more is more” portrait along Rain Creek Parkway on July 11th.

A thought for today: ” Destiny is seldom recognized until it has changed its name to history.”
— Donald Culross Peattie in Green Laurels.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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Four views of Ashe junipers

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If you’d been out on the morning of May 29th in central Texas last year you’d have taken pictures of the great wispy clouds, too. I did so from a bunch of places, including a property at the corner of Bagdad Road and Brashear Lane in Cedar Park. I’d never worked there before and I don’t know if I will again, given the rapid development that’s been taking place in that area for years.* In the photograph above, the clouds served as a backdrop for a line of Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), the most common and widely distributed evergreen tree we have in central Texas. Below, from my own front yard on June 17th, you get a closeup of an Ashe juniper trunk that shows how these trees usually have stringy bark and also sometimes develop a corrugated texture.

From July 13th near Old Lampasas Trail, here are two more views. The first shows how a slew of dry leaves fallen from an Ashe juniper covered the ground so thoroughly you can’t detect any of the earth beneath them.

And below you see a shaft of sunlight on one Ashe juniper that was particularly sinuous.

 

* When I started taking pictures in Cedar Park in the late 1970s, it seemed way out in the country and its population was in the hundreds. Now home to about 80,000 people, it’s the second-largest suburb of Austin and there’s no break between it and the northernmost part of the city.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 18, 2020 at 4:42 AM

A pastel take on Clematis drummondii

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Of the three native species of Clematis in Austin, by far the most common is Clematis drummondii, which also happens to put on the best fibrous display of the lot when its fertilized female flowers mature. Here from July 10th along Rain Creek Parkway is a pastel take on those partly silky and partly feathery fibers.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 17, 2020 at 4:35 AM

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New Zealand: Cathedral Cove trees and textures

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Probably the most visited bit of nature on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula
is Cathedral Cove, where we spent several hours three years ago today.

Leaning out over the cliff in the first photograph are pōhutukawa treesMetrosideros excelsa.

Me being me, I was taken with all the appealing rock textures.

I took dozens of pictures, of which you’re seeing a few.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 7, 2020 at 4:51 AM

New Zealand: another look at Little Manly Beach

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Five years ago today I spent some morning time—in fact the last morning in New Zealand on that first trip—at what turned out to be one of my favorite places for abstract photographs, Little Manly Beach on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland.

You’re looking at some of the beach details that fascinated me.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 27, 2020 at 4:41 AM

New Zealand: up and down at Tunnel Beach

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Three years ago today we visited Tunnel Beach about five miles southwest of Dunedin.

I took the first picture from the edge of a cliff looking down at some bull kelp in the surf below.
Doesn’t it remind you of the long, flowing hair in a Botticelli painting?

The next two photographs, taken from the beach, show natural designs on the walls of a cul-de-sac.

And here’s the view looking back up at the adjacent sculpted rocks:

Living in Texas, I can’t help but be reminded of a pair of outsized cowboy boots.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2020 at 4:40 AM

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