Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘spring

What’s reality, anyhow?

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The last post gave you a vintage red-white-and-blue look at a flowering Ipomopsis rubra, called Texas plume and standing cypress. This year I encountered the species for the first time on April 27th, before flowers or even buds had appeared. On the other hand, the firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) beyond the standing cypress were blazing away, and I knew they’d complement the standing cypress in color and shape. Any red would come from the firewheels, with none from the standing cypress. I went for the feel of what I was seeing rather than trying to keep as much as possible in focus and recording reality—whatever that is. Here are three of the portraits I made that were new takes for me on Ipomopsis rubra.

 

 

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 6, 2019 at 4:40 AM

The answer, my friends

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You usually get straight photography here, but once in a while I show something different, like these 1/5th- and 1/6th-of-a-second pictures of greenthread flower heads (Thelesperma filifolium) as the wind blew them about. Experimental photographs of this type depend heavily on chance, so I can’t know how they’ll turn out. With that in mind, I take a bunch and see if I like any of the results. These two drew my attention. The first portrait is from the front and the other from the back; the darker one looks sideways and the brighter one looks upward. Whether you’ll look askance at these diversions remains to be seen.

In contrast, I’ve more often used a high shutter speed to stop the motion of something blowing about.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 9, 2019 at 4:41 AM

But it wasn’t just the prairie

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My jaunts to northeast Austin on May 9th and May 12th were making me tie the profusion of Bifora americana to the Blackland Prairie, and the common names prairie bishop and prairie bishop’s weed* reinforced that. Then on May 13th I found myself in the second suburb north-northwest of Austin, Leander, where prairie bishop once again became a hero**, this time on the west side of US 183 in a large field that’s prairie-ish but likely lies too far west to be considered part of the Blackland Prairie.

The Engelmann daisy colony (Engelmannia peristenia) there was probably the best I’ve ever seen. Notice the many firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) mixed in as well.

Except for a utility crew that had pulled over on the shoulder of the highway a bit ahead of me to do whatever work they’d been sent to do, not one person in the hundreds of other cars that passed by while I was there stopped to enjoy the view. Here’s how the prairie bishop looked in the swale by the side of the highway.

* Don’t confuse our native prairie bishop’s weed with bishop’s weed, Aegopodium podagraria, a species from Eurasia that has become an invasive nuisance in parts of the United States. As Joel E. Holloway notes sarcastically in A Dictionary of Common Wildflowers of Texas & the Southern Great Plains, the name bishop’s weed was “first applied in Scotland because it was almost impossible to get rid of, as it would be to remove a bishop from the church.”

**The Leander in Texas takes its name from Leander “Catfish” Brown, an official of the Austin and Northwestern Railroad Co. in the 1880s. That down-to-earth origin hasn’t deterred the town from playing up the ancient Greek myth of Hero and Leander, even to the point of renaming a road Hero Way. (Public information officer Mike Neu told me that the road’s new name was also intended as a tribute to public service men and women.) Additionally the town of Leander has inspired the clever and alliterative paleontological name Leanderthal Lady.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 22, 2019 at 4:40 AM

More from Naruna Way

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During the same May 9th foray to the pond at Naruna Way on the prairie in northeast Austin
that led me to the white egret you saw last time, the vibrant green of the fresh growth
along the pond’s shore also called out to be photographed. I obliged.

The combined reflections of the young plants and of the bulrushes
beyond them made for a worthy picture in its own right.
Click below to zoom out into a panorama: Monet, here we come.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 17, 2019 at 4:34 PM

Prairie bishop writ large

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The Blackland Prairie on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. north of Wells Branch Parkway looked so good on May 9th that I went back three days later and once again took a slew of pictures. The star in many of them was Bifora americana, called prairie bishop or prairie bishop’s weed. Hardly a weed it is, and having a great spring it is, too. Also prominent in the first photograph: square-bud primroses, Calylophus berlandieri; firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella; prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii.

The upright dark stalks in the second image are drying Indian paintbrushes, Castilleja indivisa, some red flowers of which you also see approaching the end of their reign.

These three pictures show the Blackland Prairie’s version of snow in May.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2019 at 4:53 PM

The Blackland Prairie does its spring thing

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The east side of Austin lies in the ecoregion known as the Blackland Prairie, named for its rich soil. When land there is left alone, as a plot on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. north of Wells Branch Parkway has been for some years now, spring brings colonies of wildflowers like those shown here on May 9th.

The white flowers that draw your eyes are prairie bishop’s weed, Bifora americana. The mostly red ones are Gaillardia pulchella, called firewheel and Indian blanket, which proliferate in May. The mostly yellow-orange wildflowers are greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium, also abundant in the spring. The tall plants with yellow-green flowers are prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii. Below is a view in which the parsley predominates. I believe the dark little thingies are seed head remains of the greenthread.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 13, 2019 at 4:41 AM

The secondary players become primary

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The previous post about velvet gaura featured firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) and to a much lesser extent mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea) as background color. Now here they are in their own right.

While mealy blue sage flowers are normally light purple, I noticed a bunch of white variants like the one highlighted below; the regular color predominates in the background. Both of these views are from the edge of the office building parking lot from which I walked a short distance to the Mopac embankment at Braker Ln. Unlike those wildflowers along the highway that got prematurely mowed down, these by the parking lot are maintained by a different company and were left alone to thrive.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 11, 2019 at 5:38 PM

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