Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘shadows

The nature of metallic nets

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Maybe the nature in this post’s title can justify the inclusion of today’s two pictures in a blog ostensibly devoted to photographing nature. Even if it can’t, headstrong me went ahead and included them.

On a sunny March 10th we drove the 90 miles down to San Antonio’s Phil Hardberger Park and checked out the year-old Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge over Wurzbach Parkway. (You’ve seen two jimsonweed pictures from that jaunt.) After leaving the park we stopped for lunch at the nearby Green Vegetarian Cuisine. Some of the restaurant’s outdoor furniture was made of metal, with tabletops and chair seats being net-like. The abstractions produced by those horizontal grids and their shadows on the concrete below proved irresistible, so as an appetizer while waiting for the meals we’d ordered to arrive I went to work with my iPhone. Its camera’s very short focal length proved an advantage for these kinds of pictures, simultaneously focusing things at different distances from the lens.

 

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In Woke Racism, professor John McWhorter makes the case that what he names in the title of his book constitutes a new religion, complete with dogma, sin, priests, proselytizing, and the expulsion of heretics. McWhorter believes that we can no more argue with the followers of that religion about the beliefs they take on faith than you can with the devout believers of any other religion about its doctrine.

So what to do about the reality that many blacks in America lag behind members of other ethnic groups? McWhorter offers three proposals (which I happen to have been proposing for decades now—yay me!):

  • Fight to end the war on drugs.
  • Make sure kids not from book-lined homes are taught to read with phonics.
  • Advocate vocational training for poor people and battle the idea that “real” people go to college.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 27, 2022 at 4:26 AM

Light and shadow, and light

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Central Texas is home to several species of Sesbania, including the Sesbania vesicaria that botanists have now reclassified as Glottidium vesicarium, known as bladderpod sesbania or bagpod sesbania for the shape of its pods. In Bastrop State Park on September 23rd I played with the light and shadows on some of the many pods in evidence there that morning. I also took advantage of bright sunlight to portray a gray hairstreak butterfly (Strymon melinus) on the flowers of what I take to be tall bush clover (Lespedeza stuevei), a species I’d never photographed before and that is therefore making its debut here today.


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Here’s more from Xi Van Fleet, a woman who escaped from the depredations of Mao’s [Anti-]Cultural Revolution and who sees worrisome parallels in the increasing repression and censorship in the United States. (I have a personal connection to such stories because my father and his parents and brother managed to escape from the terror of the Soviet Union in the 1920s.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 19, 2021 at 4:26 AM

An archaeology of light

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An adage says “Out of sight, out of mind,” and yet the saying’s first two words could just as well be replaced by “in.” Familiarity breeds a sort of visual contempt in which ordinary objects might as well be buried.

To let light uncover those everyday objects around the house is to practice an archaeology of light.

On the technical side, I took the first two pictures with my “real” camera
and the third with my iPhone. I prepared this post in 2020 but kept postponing it.

And here’s a thought about photographic esthetics: “Now to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going out for a walk.” — Edward Weston. A bunch of different wordings occur on the Internet. Research leads me to think this one is the most likely to be authentic. I came across a version of the quotation in an article by David duChemin called “Are Your Photographs Poetic?“, which I recommend to you.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2021 at 4:46 AM

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

Texas persimmon trunk

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Call it chiaroscuro or yin-yang, this is the most abstract and minimalist portrait I’ve ever made highlighting (literally) the trunk of a Texas persimmon tree, Diospyros texana. As an article on the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center notes: “This well-shaped, small tree is valued primarily for its striking trunk and branches, which are a smooth, pale greyish white or whitish grey, peeling off to reveal subtle greys, whites, and pinks beneath.” Today’s photograph is from the Zilker Nature Preserve on November 17th.

The picture reminds me now of the stylized serpent that people imagine they’re seeing at Chichén-Itzá’s Pyramid of Kukulkan during the spring and fall solstice.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “Wo viel Licht ist, ist starker Schatten.” “Where there’s bright light there’s a dark shadow,” or more loosely “The brightest light casts the darkest shadows.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the play Götz von Berlichingen, 1773.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 15, 2020 at 4:26 AM

Slide Rock State Park

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Oak Creek Canyon

On this date in 2016 we spent a few hours in Slide Rock State Park near Sedona, Arizona.

A strangely deformed alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana)

Overwhelmed by so many other scenic places on that trip, I never showed any of the Slide Rock pictures.

How about those shadows?

After four years, finally you get to see a few of those views.

Oak Creek’s rocks and water came in for a lot of attention.

And here’s a question rather than a quotation: how often do you renew your poetic license?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 20, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Two more views of pickerelweed

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Pontederia cordata; August 13th at a pond near E. Howard Lane
on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin.

And here’s an unrelated thought for today: “We can finish nothing in this life; but we may make a beginning, and bequeath a noble example. Thus Character is the true antiseptic of society. The good deed leaves an indelible stamp. It lives on and on; and while the frame moulders and disappears, the great worker lives for ever in the memory of his race. ‘Death,’ says the Philosopher, ‘is a co-mingling of Eternity with Time. In the death of a good man, Eternity is seen looking through Time.'” — Samuel L. Smiles; George Moore, Merchant and Philanthropist.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2020 at 4:39 AM

New Zealand: Shadows and light at Riccarton Bush

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Three years ago today in Christchurch we visited Riccarton Bush,
where dense foliage created interplays of shadows and light.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2020 at 4:28 AM

Rhapsody in Blue at the Palladium Hotel

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At Coron in the Philippine province of Palawan we stayed at the Palladium Hotel,
whose design harkens back to buildings on the Greek island of Santorini.

On December 14th, before we left for the airport to fly back to Cebu City,
I tried out compositions that played off the morning’s wispy clouds against the hotel.
Sometimes elements of the hotel became my primary subjects.

Even bubbling water in the swimming pool made for a blue abstraction.

Just thought I’d give you something different for a change.
Actually I’ve been making pictures like these since decades before my emphasis on nature and native plants.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 11, 2020 at 4:24 AM

Dead tree trunks and limbs at Watkins Glen

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Here’s a view taken at 1/15 of a second showing a waterfall in Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region on July 30th. The photographer in me was happy that the dead tree trunk had lodged where you see it in spite of the force of the falling water.

Smaller and whiter dead tree limbs also attracted me.

They played off the rock strata in the gorge and contrasted with the living plants around them.

Even before I’d seen any water at Watkins Glen, falling or otherwise, the shadows on a broken but still standing tree trunk along the trail from the parking lot to the gorge caught my attention:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2019 at 4:39 AM

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