Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘snail

First snails for 2022

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As you’ve seen here many a time, land snails are common in central Texas. This year I photographed my first pair of them in Luling on March 28. The soft congregation of vapors near the bottom of the picture pretended to be another snail but I wasn’t taken in: two’s company, three’s a cloud.

 

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Picasso went through his Blue Period and his Rose Period. Me, I went through my Infrared Period from 1976 through 1983. During those years I extensively used black and white film that could record light in wavelengths the unaided human eye can’t see. I even showed one of my vintage infrared nature photographs in a post here ten years ago. Now the cleverly satirical publication The Babylon Bee has come out with a story headlined “Pride Flag Switches To Infrared Spectrum After Running Out Of Visible Colors.”

MALIBU, CA—Organizers of the Transgender Day Of Visibility unveiled an updated pride flag this week at a ceremony in Malibu. After running out of colors in the visible light spectrum, the new pride flag features colors that are only visible with special infrared goggles. 

“Human beings are only capable of seeing around a million different colors with the naked eye,” said designer Wesley Arturio. “Obviously there’s, like, way more than a million different genders and sexual orientations, so we moved to the infrared spectrum, which is about 3,000 times wider than the visible light spectrum.”

You’re welcome to read the full story.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 7, 2022 at 4:31 AM

Posted in nature photography

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A tiny white snail shell as a sarcophagus on a carpet of fallen dry Ashe juniper needles

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Allen Park; December 17, 2021.

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Have you ever noticed that some people have appropriate names while others have ironic names? An example in the “appropriate” category was a United States district judge for the Eastern District of Texas named William Wayne Justice.

Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) provides two examples in the “ironic” category. The current police commissioner there is named Danielle Outlaw. But what’s in a name? The double irony is that while Danielle Outlaw is actually trying to enforce laws and protect the citizens of Philadelphia, the real outlaw in Philadelphia’s justice system is the district attorney, Larry Krasner. His family name ultimately goes back to a Slavic word that means ‘beautiful,’ yet he is anything but beautiful in his stubbornly ideological refusal to prosecute many criminals. Unfortunately the new district attorney in Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, began bragging on day one of his term that he also will refuse to prosecute many crimes and will downgrade others from felonies to misdemeanors. You can read even more about that if you wish.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 9, 2022 at 4:31 AM

Līmax in the sky with branches: both sides now

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From July 27th along John Henry Faulk Dr. you’re seeing both sides
of a little white snail (for which one Latin word was līmax).

In the title of today’s post, readers of a certain age will likely catch
the references to two songs from half a century ago.


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Ever since elementary school I’ve been interested in the phenomenon of language. George Orwell’s novels 1984 and Animal Farm, which I read in high school, and later his essay “Politics and the English Language,” which you can read online, made me aware of the ways in which propagandists distort words for ideological purposes. For example, in the appendix to 1984, Orwell explained that newspeak, the language that the dictatorship imposed on people, allowed the word free to be used only in the sense that a dog can be free from fleas, but not in the sense that a person has free thought and freedom to act independently.

The other day I came across a recent example of language distortion (and also of pusillanimous groveling):

During a recent endocrinology course at a top medical school in the University of California system, a professor stopped mid-lecture to apologize for something he’d said at the beginning of class.

“I don’t want you to think that I am in any way trying to imply anything, and if you can summon some generosity to forgive me, I would really appreciate it,” the physician says in a recording provided by a student in the class…. “Again, I’m very sorry for that. It was certainly not my intention to offend anyone. The worst thing that I can do as a human being is be offensive.” 

His offense: using the term “pregnant women.” 

“I said ‘when a woman is pregnant,’ which implies that only women can get pregnant and I most sincerely apologize to all of you.”

I invite you to read the article by Katie Herzog about that incident. Illiberal activists like to impugn people they disagree with by calling them x-phobic, where x represents some favored cause or group. I’m now proposing the alliterative term fact-phobic to describe people who deny reality, including the biological reality that anyone who becomes pregnant is a woman. Refusing to deny reality isn’t offensive. Denying reality is.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 18, 2021 at 4:27 AM

Little white snail on an opening firewheel

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Where 2020 proved an out-and-out snailfest on the prairie, the prolonged freeze in February of 2021 may explain the dearth of snails I’ve seen this spring. On May 9th I did finally see one on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville. That little white snail had found its way onto the developing flower head of a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, which insisted on opening despite its extra load.

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “La plus perdue de toutes les journées est celle où l’on n’a pas ri.” “The most wasted of all our days is the one when we haven’t laughed.” — Sébastien-Roch Nicolas de Chamfort (1741–1794). Plenty of Internet sites attribute the wording “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter” to e.e. cummings, who liked to write his name in lower case and who wasn’t even born till a hundred years after Chamfort died. Perhaps cummings quoted Chamfort and somebody then mistakenly believed the saying was cummings’s own. Or else someone attributed it to cummings for no good reason at all, and others then copied that without verifying it. Cummings is worth quoting—as long as it’s done correctly. For example, take this assertion: “So far as I am concerned, poetry and every other art was, is, and forever will be strictly and distinctly a question of individuality.” No groupthink for him.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 19, 2021 at 4:31 AM

The often seen and the seldom seen

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In several posts this year you’ve seen little snails that have climbed onto plants in central Texas. The plant that this snail found its way onto is one I’ve encountered only a couple of times in my two decades of nature photography. I couldn’t even remember its name, and had to go searching. Botanists call it Ammannia coccinea, whose species name is Latin for ‘scarlet.’ Colloquially descriptive names are scarlet tooth-cup and valley redstem. I found this specimen not in a valley but at Cypress Creek Park out by Lake Travis on October 4th. Turns out the species has a pretty wide distribution across a large part of the country.

And speaking of things seldom seen, I don’t believe I’ve ever come across a bluebell (Eustoma sp.) as late in the season as October 4th, but that’s what happened when I was calling it a day after photographing the little snail and already heading back toward my car. This was the one and only bluebell I saw there.

 © 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 11, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Austin’s still snailiferous

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Now well past May’s peak of limaciferousness in central Texas, the land beneath our baking sun has continued to host many a snail. Whether the small creatures I’ve found were living or dead has been mostly beyond my ability to say. They haven’t, however, been beyond my ability to photograph. I found the one above on August 6th near the tip of a Mexican hat seed head (Ratibida columnifera), and the one below on a bed of dry fallen Ashe juniper leaves (Juniperus ashei). In that portrait, taken on July 10th, I’d gone for a shallow-depth-of-field approach, with little more than the apex of the spiral in focus.

The last image, from June 15th in Great Hills Park when things were still more colorful,
shows a snail on a living Ashe juniper with a firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) beyond it.

And here’s a quotation about photography:

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”
Ansel Adams in American Way, October 1974.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 23, 2020 at 4:33 AM

Spiral spirit

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Recent pictures of one snail on a fresh basket-flower, another on an opening firewheel, and a foursome on a dry plant have pleased some of you, so here are three more photographs from the limaciferous* Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville during the week of May 4th.

These snails are equal-opportunity climbers. In the top picture, the plant is greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium. The climbed-upon in the middle photograph is blazing star, Liatris mucronata.  Finally you have a square-bud primrose, Oenothera capillifolia.

* I coined limaciferous from the roots of Latin limax ‘snail’ and ferre ‘to bear.’
The choice was between that and the English-Latin hybrid snailferous.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 7, 2020 at 4:34 AM

White snail on a developing firewheel

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Here’s an abstract view of a mostly white snail on an opening firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on May 6th. An open flower head of the same species accounts for the red and yellow. If the green in the lower right suggests a bird on the wing, it’s probably just my imagination taking flight.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 23, 2020 at 4:38 AM

More about snails, on and off the prairie

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On May 7th I went to a surviving piece of the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville and photographed my first basket-flowers (Plectocephalus americanus) of the season. One of them caught my attention because a two-toned snail had slid all the way up the stalk and onto the flower head’s “basket.”

On May 6th I’d gone to an adjacent part of the property, where snails had also been abundant. On the morning of the 7th I went to get my phone, which was charging right next to my camera bag. Imagine my surprise when I found a snail on the phone’s USB cable. As best I can make out, the snail hitchhiked home on or in my camera bag, then slid out overnight and found its way onto the USB cable.

Now it’s 10 days later.

And the small snail, never moving, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid iPhone cable just above my chamber’s floor;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a mollusk’s that is dreaming,
    And the light bulb o’er him streaming throws his shadow toward the door;
And that snail from off that cable that lies coiling near the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!
© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Only in a floral fantasy

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Only in a floral fantasy could one of us, as large as we are, ride on something as small as the flower head of a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). Not so for two tiny snails I found on Mexican hats at the intersection of Capital of Texas Highway and RM 2222 on May 21st. Below you see one of them.

The yellow-to-red glow in the background emanates from a firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella).
Horsemints (Monarda citriodora) account for the hints of purple.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 29, 2019 at 4:38 AM

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