Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Pflugerville

Three approaches to portraying basket-flower “baskets”

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On the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 7th I tried various approaches to photographing basket-flower “baskets” in a search for new ways to portray the familiar species Plectocephalus americanus (even if the new genus name isn’t yet familiar). For the first picture, I cast my shadow on the subject to create soft lighting while a wide aperture of f/3.5 kept the background well out of focus. I also had no aversion to a version in which f/8 let a background basket-flower reveal more of its shape:

For the third portrait I used the familiar technique of aiming toward a deeply shaded area:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 31, 2020 at 4:29 AM

A closer look at a clasping-leaf coneflower

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The inflorescence of a clasping-leaf coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis) superficially resembles those of a black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). In fact all three are in the sunflower family’s Heliantheae tribe. One easy way to distinguish the species is to look at the plants’ leaves. Of the three wildflowers, only the clasping-leaf coneflower has leaves that clasp the stem, as the common name indicates. You can see that below—or at least you can imagine how the leaf clasps the stem beneath the mass of spittlebug froth. Actually you can see a bit of the clasping below the bubbles.

These pictures come from the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 7th. You’ve already seen what a whole colony of clasping-leaf coneflowers looked like there on that date.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2020 at 4:33 AM

White snail on a developing firewheel

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Here’s an abstract view of a mostly white snail on an opening firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 6th. An open flower head of the same species accounts for the red and yellow. If the green in the lower right suggests a bird on the wing, it’s probably just my imagination taking flight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2020 at 4:38 AM

First good sunflower for 2020

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I saw the my first really nice sunflower (Helianthus annuus) for 2020
when I visited the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 7th.
It was a welcome early arrival for this species.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2020 at 4:21 AM

The alternating predominance of white and red in two more views of lush wildflowers on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 6th

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Red with yellow fringes = firewheel, Indian blanket; Gaillardia pulchella.
Yellow = sundrops, square-bud primrose; Oenothera capillifolia.
Yellow-orange = greenthread; Thelesperma filifolium.
White = prairie bishop; Bifora americana.

The dark vertical stalks are the remains (with a few flowers) of Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 20, 2020 at 4:39 AM

More about snails, on and off the prairie

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On May 7th I went to a surviving piece of the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville and photographed my first basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus) of the season. One of them caught my attention because a two-toned snail had slid all the way up the stalk and onto the flower head’s “basket.”

On May 6th I’d gone to an adjacent part of the property, where snails had also been abundant. On the morning of the 7th I went to get my phone, which was charging right next to my camera bag. Imagine my surprise when I found a snail on the phone’s USB cable. As best I can make out, the snail hitchhiked home on or in my camera bag, then slid out overnight and found its way onto the USB cable.

Now it’s 10 days later.

And the small snail, never moving, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid iPhone cable just above my chamber’s floor;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a mollusk’s that is dreaming,
    And the light bulb o’er him streaming throws his shadow toward the door;
And that snail from off that cable that lies coiling near the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!
© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Almost a monoculture

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Some Texas wildflowers grow so densely as to form a virtual monoculture. That was the case with these firewheels (also called Indian blankets), Gaillardia pulchella, on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 6th.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 16, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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