Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘red

An epitome of red

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Yesterday Steve G. posted a picture of cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis). It’s a species that Texas shares with Massachusetts, so I figured if his were flowering ours might well be too. I went to check a stretch of Bull Creek where I found cardinal flowers last September; sure enough, I found plenty again. Of my many new pictures I decided to show this portrait taken at f/2.8, which for such a wide aperture somehow managed to keep the frontmost flowers in focus while also doing what you’d expect and creating a soft feel overall.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2020 at 3:36 AM

Powdery alligator flag leaves

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When I was out photographing powdery alligator flag flowers (Thalia dealbata) at the River Ranch pond on August 10th, I noticed bright red not only at the base of the inflorescence sheath but also on the stalk at the base of each leaf. You see that in the first picture, which also shows a purple bindweed (Ipomoea cordatotriloba) vine that had twined around the stalk.

I couldn’t help noticing that when the leaves in this species dry out they curl and fold in ways that have photographic appeal. I made several kinds of abstract portraits of them, two of which you see here.

And here’s a quotation for today: “On n’est jamais si heureux ni si malheureux qu’on s’imagine.” “We’re never as happy or as unhappy as we imagine.” — François de la Rochefoucauld, Maximes.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Two tuna takes today, Tuesday

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Tuna is the Aztec-to-Spanish-to English name for the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. Tunas start out green and ripen to various shades of red. Here are two rather abstract takes on Opuntia engelmannii from my neighborhood on August 3rd. In the first, I focused on the tip of an adjacent spine. In the second and much closer view of a different tuna, you see a clump of the short spines called glochids (with the ch pronounced k, as in other words of Greek origin like chasm, stomach, and psychology). Shadows, which are many a photographer’s delight, including mine, play a role in both of these portraits.

Here’s a little-known fact from American history: I certainly wasn’t taught in elementary school, high school, or even college, that before the end of slavery in the United States some free blacks (many actually of mixed race) owned slaves themselves. Hard to believe, isn’t it? And yet it turns out to be true: a thoroughly footnoted 1985 book confirms the practice in one state, South Carolina, via census data, bills of sale, wills, letters, and other documents. It just goes to show that people are people.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2020 at 4:30 AM

Two takes on square-bud primrose flowers

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Along the Capital of Texas Highway on June 13th I found some bright yellow flowers of Oenothera berlandieri, known descriptively as square-bud primroses and poetically as sundrops. How could I not get down low and make abstract portraits of such sunny wildflowers? The first picture shown here plays up the idea of “a light shining in the darkness.” In the second, I was intrigued by the way one of the plant’s leaves curled into a spiral and turned reddish-brown as it dried out. A spider had been intrigued enough to hang out inside the spiral.

Unrelated proverb for today: You can’t unring a bell.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 30, 2020 at 4:41 AM

One shade the more, one ray the less

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As you’ve heard, I’ve been pursuing abstraction a lot this year. My entry into the field has been primarily through the shapes and colors of Austin’s native wildflowers; the two shown here, both members of the sunflower family, are the Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) and the firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella). The title of today’s post is a line from Byron that conveniently lets me allude to the one remaining ray flower on the Mexican hat, which I photographed in the little wildflower area at the Floral Park Drive entrance to Great Hills Park on July 8th. And below from the same outing is an edge-centric, eccentric (ex-centric, off-center) portrait of a firewheel in its own right and my own rite.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 27, 2020 at 4:39 AM

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

All yellow

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Normally the flower heads of Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheel and Indian blanket, have red rays with yellow tips. Every once in a while you get a flower head whose rays are completely yellow. In the full-size version of the first picture I counted four of them (and could distinguish them from the yellow greenthread flower heads mixed in). The second photograph gives you a much closer look at an all-yellow firewheel. Both views are from a “vacant” lot in northwest Austin on May 19.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 10, 2020 at 4:31 AM

Sound the trumpet

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On May 26th ominous clouds made me give up taking pictures in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. The next morning I went back and resumed photographing native plants there. One I found was a trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, with both flowers and buds. The buds were more heavily covered with dewdrops and made better portrait subjects. I estimate this bud was about 2 inches (5 cm) long.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 9, 2020 at 4:43 AM

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How something can land

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On May 1st we went walking in our neighborhood. A few blocks from home I noticed that a drupe from a yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) had fallen onto an agave and gotten caught in the crook of one of the plant’s thorns. How long had the little fruit been trapped like that? Perhaps a few days, given how shriveled it was.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 21, 2020 at 4:29 AM

Red and green

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Another thing I photographed at the Doeskin Ranch on April 8th
was this scarlet leatherflower (Clematis texensis).
Below you see how a bud develops.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 16, 2020 at 4:43 AM

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