Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘ruins

The past

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Mayan ruins, Copán, Honduras, 1978

“What’s past is prologue.” — Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1611.

“The best prophet of the future is the past.” — Byron, in a letter, 1821.

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 23, 2017 at 5:03 AM

From the cliffs of Montezuma

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Let’s get two things straight about Montezuma Castle: Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, had nothing to do with it, and it’s not a castle. No, this cliff in northern Arizona shelters the 600-year-old remains of a cliff dwelling created by a people called the Sinagua. And let’s get a third thing straight: that wasn’t their name. No, Sinagua was a name created in 1939 from the Spanish words sin ‘without’ and agua ‘water,’ based on the scarcity of flowing water in the region.

The prominent plants in the foreground are four-wing saltbushes, Atriplex canescens. Here’s a closer look at some saltbushes bordering the parking lot:


If you want an even closer look, you can check out a post about our 2014 trip to the Southwest.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 18, 2017 at 5:01 AM

The ruined world below and the ruined world above

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Burned Forest Above Mesa Verde Cliff Dwelling 1229

I’d long wanted to see the ruins at Mesa Verde, and on September 26th I finally got my wish. This split-level picture shows in its lower third a group of cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. Looming over those dwellings and cutting across the middle of the photograph are the massive layers of rock that served as protection for the people who lived beneath them. Blanketing the uppermost layer of rock are the much more recent ruins of a forest destroyed by fire, of which there have been half a dozen in the past 15 years alone.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 7, 2014 at 5:38 AM

Still golden after all these weeks*

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Click for greater clarity.

Now I get to tell you that as of today, January 6, the solitary goldeneye plant growing wild on a low limestone embankment by the side of Morado Circle in my Great Hills neighborhood has kept on flowering. Every day for weeks I’ve looked to see whether the little daubs of yellow have still been there, and so far I haven’t been disappointed. You’ve seen this fall-blooming species before, on October 19 and more closely on October 20, but never as closely as now, in a photograph that comes from some roadside sitting I did on December 28.

I like to show different stages in the development of a plant, and even more than one stage simultaneously, as here. The stylized star-shaped remains of the seed head in the foreground are characteristic of many plants in the sunflower family, while the daisy-like flower heads of Viguiera dentata also identify it as a member of that large family. That the radiating floral yellow in the background is a softer echo of the dried-out central form is a pictorial bonus.


* The title is reminiscent of Paul Simon’s song “Still Crazy After All These Years,” which some might be tempted to apply to the photographer rather than the songwriter.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2012 at 5:11 AM

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