Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘sky

Desert views

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Four years ago today we drove across the southern California desert on our way to Tucson. In the picture above of the Salton Sea, mist made the mountains beyond the western shore unclear, and it’s also unclear to me what range it is (perhaps the Borrego Mountains). The second picture comes to you from along Interstate 8. A lot of the dunes there allow recreational vehicles, and as a result I couldn’t take pictures in many of the places I wanted to because vehicle tracks marred the scene. While the dunes below do show a slight amount of disturbance, I hope you’ll still find this panorama pleasant.

But if you insist on arenaceous purity and no tracks, I’ll backtrack two weeks to October 23rd of 2016, when we stopped at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah. Though it also allows recreational vehicles, we stayed long enough for me to wander around and find undisturbed parts of the dunes to photograph.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “J’ai toujours aimé le désert. On s’assoit sur une dune de sable. On ne voit rien. On n’entend rien. Et cependant quelque chose rayonne en silence….” “I’ve always loved the desert. You sit down on a sand dune. You see nothing. You hear nothing. And yet something glows in silence….” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit prince, The Little Prince.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 6, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Yellow and blue

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While at a construction site in southern Round Rock on August 1st I photographed central Texas’s answer to the pussy willow, the golden dalea (Dalea aurea). I also made a portrait of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus).

As I said, this was a construction site, and across the lower section of the sunflower picture you see part of a long ridge of earth that bulldozers had heaped up. In a few of my pictures I made that ridge a subject in its own right, overflown and enhanced by the day’s wispy clouds.

And here’s a tip for today: I recently stumbled across the Good News Network, which lives up to its name by providing good news from around the world. That’s a much-need balance to the endless tales of woe and outrage that so many other news outlets feature. Check it out and see what you think.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2020 at 4:43 AM

Austin’s diurnal answer to Comet Neowise

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My imagination ignored the time of day and told me that a long wispy cloud stretched out over northeast Austin on July 24th was Comet Neowise, which other people have been showing pictures of. This is the closest I’m going to come to portraying that comet, which won’t be back for 6000 years. Somehow I don’t think I’ll still be here then, even if my mind super-optimistically assures me that I will.

Related etymology for today: our word comet goes back to Greek komētēs, which meant ‘long-haired,’ from the word for ‘hair, komē. Can you imagine this wispy cloud as long white tresses?

And a bit of biology, too: botanists have borrowed coma, the Latin form of Greek komē, to designate a tuft of hairs on a seed, as for example a milkweed seed.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2020 at 4:28 AM

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Cowpen daisy buds and flowers

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For whatever reason, I rarely come across cowpen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) except in a few places, all of which conveniently happen to be near each other in my own neighborhood. On June 6th (D-for-Daisy Day) I was coming home “the back way” on Rain Creek Parkway when I spotted some wildflowers by the side of the road bordering the Great Hills Country Club and stopped to investigate.

The Wikipedia article on this species gives the additional common names golden crownbeard, gold weed, wild sunflower, butter daisy, American dogweed, and South African daisy. That last is strange because this species is native in North America, not South Africa.

In contrast to the yellowscuro portrait above, look at how different the second picture is. I’d made it two minutes earlier by getting low and aiming upward toward a patch of bright blue sky rather than downward toward a partly shaded area the way I did in the top portrait.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2020 at 4:43 AM

Green milkweed flowers and pods

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From May 29th at the Benbrook Ranch Park in Leander you’re seeing the flowers and pods of green milkweed, Asclepias viridis. And how about those great clouds? Because I took these pictures only three minutes apart, the clouds hadn’t changed that much, so if you compare you can still match some of them up.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Flowering paloverde tree and clouds

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On May 29th I stopped along Anderson Mill Rd. at Windy Ridge Rd., having never taken pictures there before. What prompted me to pull over was a flowering paloverde tree (Parkinsonia aculeata) that I wanted to play off against the moving (in both senses) clouds that had been with us all morning.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 13, 2020 at 4:44 AM

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Swirly, wispy, fleecy clouds

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Thanks to a tip from Jason Frels, on the morning of May 29th Eve and drove some 25 minutes north to  Leander, a fast-growing suburb of Austin, so we could go walking for the first time in Benbrook Ranch Park. The swirly and wispy clouds that accompanied us the whole time kept changing and forming intricate designs that enticed me to take lots of pictures of them in their own right, as shown above. I also welcomed the chance to play other things off against them, like the dead tree below.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 5, 2020 at 4:31 AM

Dark lenticular clouds

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On May 24th Jane Lurie put out a post with six photographs. One showed lenticular clouds, and I commented that I’ve hardly ever seen clouds like that in Austin. Two days later I went out in the morning to do some nature pictures on the soggy land in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. I found plenty of flowers to photograph and quickly got caught up in what I was doing. After maybe half an hour I was startled to hear thunder. When I looked up to the south I saw that the sky had gotten very dark and dramatic clouds had formed, including some I took to be lenticular. (Coincidentally or not, the last time I’d seen clouds like those was in the very same part of Austin.) As I was standing out in the open on wet ground, I figured prudence was the better part of valor and high-tailed it out of there, stopping only briefly to take some pictures of the clouds on my way back to the car.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 27, 2020 at 4:37 AM

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A world turned upside down

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The post’s title may go for our human world, too, but it’s meant for this four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris sp.) that I found along Q Ranch Rd. on May 2nd. The ray florets in these daisies normally fold back and turn from yellow to white as they age. Whether any of that process happened after the stalk got broken and the flower head was upside down, I don’t know. I do know that the fast-moving clouds and the breeze made lining things up the way I wanted difficult. As a result I took about 30 pictures from various angles, expecting that in at least a few frames both the focus and the composition would come out okay. You’re looking at one that worked for me.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 24, 2020 at 4:43 AM

Gaura by any other name

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The bottom portion of this portrait may let you imagine you’re in the mountains. For good or ill, I was only in the hills of northwest Austin on April 26th.

Botanists have done away with the genus Gaura, transferring all its members to Oenothera. This photograph may show the former Gaura coccinea, now Oenthera suffrutescens. The common name would still be scarlet gaura. Time for Shakespeare again: that which we call gaura, by any other name would look as strange.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2020 at 4:29 AM

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