Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘rocks

What I’d actually stopped to photograph

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First one and then another recent post showed things I photographed along the northern end of Spicewood Springs Rd. on February 6th. What I’d actually stopped to take pictures of there is the possumhaw (Ilex decidua) that you see below. My intention on that overcast and drizzly morning was to make a rich but subdued portrait using a telephoto lens, and that’s what I did.

On the way home I checked out a creek in the northern part of my neighborhood. There I found a few more fruit-laden possumhaws and also noticed that some of the trees’ red drupes had fallen on the limestone creekbed. Here’s a downward view of one that ended up isolated on some subtly colored rocks.

Bright green mosses cushioned other fallen possumhaw drupes nearby.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 19, 2019 at 4:28 AM

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Creek views from Great Hills Park on January 24th

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Southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris, greened up a panel of creekside wall.

Mustang grape vines, Vitis mustangensis, hung near the shallow waterfall at what’s called the fish pool.

In the southern part of the park a whale of a gravel bar in the main creek conjured up Moby Dick.

After I walked to the gravel bar and looked back, these reflections waved my way.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2019 at 4:37 AM

A different view along Bull Creek

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The morning of December 19th followed that of the 18th by also coming up misty and with barely any breeze, so out I went for the second morning in a row to take pictures. This time I wandered along trails a few miles from home in the part of the Lower Bull Creek Greenbelt accessed from Winding Ridge Boulevard (a short, straight, narrow road that doesn’t wind along a ridge and isn’t a boulevard). While Austin is hardly known as a scenic nature destination, some places here surprise visitors with their attractiveness, and this is one of them.

The creek itself looked greener that morning than I remembered it, perhaps a consequence of the overcast skies that also kept the bright white band of rock from blowing out the photograph’s highlights. The rock layers are limestone, as I presume is the boulder, a much closer view of which you’ll find below. The Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei) tree to the left of the boulder in the top photo appears brownish due to myriad tiny cones that are about to release the airborne pollen that afflicts on many people something called cedar fever—cedar being the colloquial misnomer for this juniper, and fever being the colloquial misnomer for the strong allergic reaction that nevertheless doesn’t cause any fever.

Oh, did I mention that Bull Creek looked green?

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 21, 2018 at 4:37 AM

Joshua Tree National Park

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We spent a good part of November 5th two years ago at Joshua Tree National Park in the desert of southern California. The first picture shows you a picturesque wall of boulders there. The reddish-brown growths occupying the bare branches in the foreground are desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum.

Here’s a closer look at some boulders:

Smaller details also caught my attention:

Oh yeah, we did see some Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park:

By the time we drove out the southern entrance of the park, the sun had already set.
Even so, I stopped to photograph a creosote bush, Larrea tridentata:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 5, 2018 at 4:38 AM

Mount Diablo State Park

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Two years ago today we drove up, up, up to the top of California’s Mount Diablo. On the way we passed these picturesque boulders, which you’re free to imagine a Neolithic people had put in place:

We also passed a hillside covered with plants that reminded me of the sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) I’d seen so much of in New Mexico and Arizona. I wonder if this was Artemisia californica:

In contrast to all that dryness, compare what I thought was a happily fruiting madrone tree, Arbutus menziesii, but which Tony Tomeo says is actually “a toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia. It used to be known more commonly as California Holly, and is what Hollywoodland, which is now Hollywood, is named for. It is very susceptible to fireblight.”

And here was one of the scenic views looking out from Mount Diablo:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 2, 2018 at 4:33 AM

Ways of flowing

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On October 22nd, right by where Bull Creek crosses under Old Spicewood Springs Rd. at flood gauge #6, I experimented with pictures of the patterns the current was making as it flowed over rocks. Below are two adjacent frames of the same place showing you what a difference 61/375 of a second makes.

That unfamiliar fraction—yes, I’ve taken the liberty of assuming you’ve never seen it before—is the difference between the 1/6 of a second at which I made the first version and the 1/250 of a second at which I made the other one. If you have a preference, here’s your chance to speak up and say why you favor the version you do.

Speaking of ways of flowing, not far south of that creek crossing some rain-emboldened water made its way down an embankment on the east side of Spicewood Springs Rd. I recorded it at 1/400 of a second:

And here for comparison is a horizontal take from a little farther left at 1/5 of a second:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2018 at 4:44 AM

Nevada’s Valley of Fire

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Two years ago today we visited the wonderful Vally of Fire State Park about an hour northeast of Las Vegas. The place may be best known for its “beehive” formations.

On a smaller scale, I saw prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) and desert holly (Atriplex hymenelytra).

Following my pattern at Zion, I kept photographing as long as the light lasted. Though the day remained heavily overcast and we got some real rain for a while, late in the afternoon the sun briefly emerged beneath the lowest clouds and its light drenched the formations in warm colors—the fire in the Valley of Fire. You can see that I photographed the rocky Art Nouveau castle below when the shadows had already started climbing its base. A minute or two more and the magical illumination was gone.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 24, 2018 at 4:45 AM

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