Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘rock

Yucca high, yucca low

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Inks Lake State Park; May 6; Yucca sp. How about those lines and shadows?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2021 at 5:24 AM

Valley Spring Creek Waterfall

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Another water feature we visited for the first time at Inks Lake State Park on our May 6th visit was the Valley Spring Creek Waterfall. The view below, which looks about 90° left from the angle of the view above, shows some of the rock formations and pools adjacent to and downstream from the waterfall.

The other day I became aware of a horrible proposal being put forth by the current government of my country. The proposal calls for spending large amounts of public money to impose racism in America’s schools. You read that right: racism, which is the treating of people differently depending on their ethnic heritage and the color of their skin. You can read about the proposal in a brief summary prepared by the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism.

I encourage those of you who are American citizens to go to the U.S. government website that is accepting comments on the proposal and to speak out forcefully against it. The May 17th deadline for comments is almost here, so you’ll need to act quickly.

Here’s what I wrote in my dissent:

“I am against this proposal with all my heart, mind, and soul. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires equal treatment of all citizens. Yet the government’s proposal calls for treating different categories of citizens differently. That violates the 14th Amendment and is therefore illegal. Officials in our government have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not to fly in the face of it. If the government insists on flouting the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court will rule the move unconstitutional and will strike it down. This racist and unconstitutional proposal should be immediately withdrawn.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2021 at 2:32 AM

Devil’s Waterhole

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There’s nothing diabolical about the Devil’s Waterhole at Inks Lake State Park. Though we’d been to the park several times in recent years, we’d never wandered all the way down to this end until we visited on May 6th. The first picture is a closer and more abstract take (you know me with abstractions), while the second photograph retroactively sets the scene.

Among things diabolical I include the alarming rise in my country of freedom-hating zealots on the rampage to “cancel” and “deplatform” anyone who has different ideas from them. I’d remind those historyphobes—but of course they’d refuse to listen—how quickly things devolved in the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Fascist regimes in Germany and Italy, China’s [anti-]Cultural Revolution, the insanity of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the dictatorship of the Kim dynasty in North Korea, and other disastrous ideological regimes. As George Santayana warned in the first decade of the 20th century, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Good people have to speak and act now, before it’s too late.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 13, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Lichens at Enchanted Rock

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Yesterday you heard that on April 12th we visited Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
How about the red-orange color of the lichens in the abstract view above?
Below, see the way pale gray lichens almost completely covered the rock in the foreground.

And here’s little lichen ring you can slip on your rough imagination’s finger:

For a concise and colorful primer on lichens, check out “Why Lichens Matter.” As for what makes matter matter, the answer is existence. An English-language etymologist would add that matter, which traces back to mater, the Latin word for ‘mother,’ is the universe’s ‘mother stuff.’

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 25, 2021 at 4:46 AM

Maidenhair ferns withstanding ice

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Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris), which thrive in places where the banks of Great Hills Park’s main creek form cliffs, go dormant in droughts but seem to have held up pretty well to the rare ice and snow that descended on us in mid-February. You’ll see some of those ferns protruding from the ice in each of the first picture’s three tiers, and you get a better look in the close-up below, both taken on February 20th.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 7, 2021 at 4:40 AM

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Ice formations on a cliff in Great Hills Park

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February 18th saw my third foray into Great Hills Park in quest of ice, and second in search of snow. I pushed further into the park than two days earlier and eventually got to a place where I saw icicles and ice flows up on a cliff. Before I’d left home I knew I’d have to walk a treacherous half mile each way just getting to and from the park, plus more inside the park, so I’d left my heavy camera bag behind and brought only my camera with a 24–105mm lens (and flash) attached. Without a telephoto there was no way I was going to take decent pictures of the icicles high on the cliff unless I climbed at least part-way up the steep slope to get closer. Using two trekking poles for balance and stability, I slowly worked my way higher than I’d ever previously done there even without snow and ice. Intrepid or foolish: take your pick. The longest icicles were in a place that ultimately proved too difficult to get close to, so I got as near as I dared and took a few pictures, aware that I’d have to crop in a lot when I processed them. Fortunately my camera gives 50-megapixel images to work with; what you see in the top photograph represents about one-third of a full frame.

I did manage to get over onto a ledge that put me near several other
ice formations, two of which are shown above and below.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Icicles and tangled branches

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On February 16th I went into Great Hills Park from the Floral Park Dr. entrance and cut over to the main creek as soon as possible. At a rock overhang on the creek’s west bank I found that many icicles had formed amid a tangle of dead branches. Let’s hear it for complexity.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 23, 2021 at 4:38 AM

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North Fork of the San Gabriel River

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On November 30th we spent some time on the North Fork of the San Gabriel River near Tejas Camp in Williamson County. For lack of rain the river had gone down a lot, revealing bedrock that’s more often hidden. The dropping water level left some algae draped over a rock, which the sun did a good job of spotlighting:

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2020 at 4:35 AM

What do these two have in common?

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What the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) has in common with the variegated stone and its shadow is that I photographed them both at Muir Beach in California four years ago today. You might also find that the forms and colors of the heron’s feathers resemble those on the stone.

And here’s a relevant poem for today:

“The Peace of Wild Things”
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 1, 2020 at 4:39 AM

3-D

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Here’s something different: a stereo* pair I took at a quarry in Cedar Park on September 14, 1980—40 years ago today! To see the image in 3-D, I suggest you get about 15 inches away from the screen and line each eye up with the matching half of the pair. Look straight ahead, then relax your eyes. Once you get used to things, the left half should drift a bit to the left, the right half a bit to the right, and in between them should appear a fused image of the two halves. If you manage to discern that middle image, your brain will interpret it as 3-D and you’ll see the big slab and the boulders behind it as having depth; the cloud was too far away from the foreground to have any depth. People’s vision varies enormously, so to get 3-D you may have to enlarge or shrink the images on your screen, or view the screen from closer or farther away, or put on or take off glasses, or drink a magic potion. Whatever you do, don’t close one eye; it takes two eyes to see 3-D, which is why we have two eyes. (People who have lost the sight of one eye or close one eye retain their sense of how things look in the physical world and may imagine they’re still seeing in 3-D, but they aren’t.)

Here’s a related fact for today: well-known movies filmed in 3-D include “House of Wax” (1953), “Kiss Me Kate” (1953), “It Came from Outer Space (1953), “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954), and “Dial M for Murder” (1954).

* We’ve grown up with the word stereo referring to music played through two speakers. More than a century before scientists applied the term to sound, though, they applied it to sight. The Greek original meant ‘solid,’ and solidity, i.e. three-dimensionality, is what a photographic stereo pair conveys.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2020 at 4:31 AM

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