Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘stone

The background moves to the foreground

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The white in the background at the top of yesterday’s photograph came from the rocky cliffs along Capital of Texas Highway north of FM 2222. The most recent cliff faces were formed about 40 years ago when the roadbed was cut through for the highway.

In the four decades since then, the forces of rain, seep water, gravity, wind, sun, bacteria, and no doubt other things have been at work in some places to alter the vertical face of the exposed rocks. This post shows three of those textured areas as they looked on June 19th.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Alibates flint

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I’d be remiss if I mentioned the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, as I did last time, without showing you a piece of that flint.

And below is a different take on orange and brown at that same site in the northern reaches of the Texas Panhandle.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 22, 2017 at 4:43 AM

Volcanoes in Austin

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When most people think of Austin they don’t think of volcanoes. Nevertheless, this region was once volcanically active. Whether the sinuous brown strata in a cliff along Onion Creek in far southeast Austin in this picture from July 19 are igneous, I’m not sure, but an expanse of rock a few minutes’ walk away from this spot clearly suggests an origin as congealed flows of lava.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 10, 2016 at 4:57 AM

Patterns in the sand

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Beach Patterns with Seagull Tracks and Stone8309

Place:  Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Date:  June 17.

Tracks:  Seagull.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 15, 2016 at 5:07 AM


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Two days ago, a post at Pairodox included a photograph in which part of a rock appears to be the head of a bear. Today being April 1, a day on which people celebrate illusions, it seems appropriate—and not at all paradoxical—to follow up with a picture from Great Hills Park on July 17th of last year. I won’t influence you by telling you what animal I saw here; you’re free to use your own imagination.

Rock Looking Like Animal's Head 1968A

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 1, 2016 at 5:06 AM

The tales that rocks can tell

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rudistid/caprinid fossil. This is an extinct fossil group that was a prolific reef-builder in the Cretaceous, when our local formations were deposited.

Speaking of rocks (as I did yesterday), on February 2nd a couple of miles from home I found a rock with a fossil in it. I assumed the piece of fluted column, which was 2 inches (5cm) in diameter, had come from the stalk of a tree or plant, but as I know nothing about such things I turned to geologist Eric Potter at the University of Texas. He referred my question to paleontologists and the answer came back that this was a “rudistid/caprinid fossil.” That “extinct fossil group… was a prolific reef-builder in the Cretaceous, when our local formations were deposited.” The Cretaceous ended some 65.5 million years ago, so this might be the oldest thing I’ve ever found. For more on this kind of creature, you can read about rudists and caprinids.

On February 26th I came across a different sort of fossil on the opposite side of my neighborhood. This time I could tell that I was looking at shells. Eric Potter confirmed that these were “oysters stacked together in an ‘oyster bank’, very similar to what we have today in our coastal bays. This is a cross-sectional view.”

oysters stacked together in an “oyster bank”, very similar to what we have today in our coastal bays. This is a cross-sectional view.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 25, 2016 at 5:00 AM

Ancient Egypt visits the Big Bend

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Sandstone Formation Looking Like a Sphinx 0518

Last week Steve Gingold commented that some rock formations in Study Butte reminded him of a Sphinx. That in turn reminded me that after I’d started the long trek home to Austin on November 23rd I stopped one last time in Big Bend National Park to do a little wandering and picture-taking. Among the things I photographed were the ocotillo you saw last time and this sandstone formation that looked to me like a Sphinx, although in this view it seemed to be having a bad hair day. The structure also looks to me now like the front end of a streamlined locomotive from the mid-20th century.

With those fanciful visions we bid adieu to the scenic Trans-Pecos desert of west Texas. Tomorrow I’ll begin to catch you up on some of the things that have been going on in nature close to home for the past month.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2016 at 4:52 AM

New Zealand: Barnacles

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Here are three consecutively closer views showing the barnacles I found so plentiful on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula’s Little Manly Beach on the morning of February 27th. The way they’d colonized the seaside rocks in that part of New Zealand reminds me now of the way stonecrop colonizes little areas of flat limestone in central Texas.

UPDATE: Thanks to Linda Leinen for pointing out that what I thought were mollusks are barnacles, which in spite of their shells turn out to be crustaceans. Who’d have expected that? Steve Gingold had mentioned barnacles in his comment but I’d mistakenly thought he was referring to the dark objects.

Little Mollusks and Colorful Rocks 8514

Mollusks on Rocks 8456

Little Mollusks 8447

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 22, 2015 at 5:24 AM

New Zealand: Contrasting rock patterns from Little Manly Beach

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Colorful Orange Rocks at Little Manly Beach 8600

Here are two patterns with different color schemes and configurations from Little Manly Beach on the morning of February 27th. The first is swirly, while line-like elements call for attention in the second one.

Rock Patterns at Little Manly Beach 8480

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 19, 2015 at 5:17 AM

Once again, I hope you can tell this isn’t Austin

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Orange-Brown Rock Formations on US 160 in Northern Arizona 1541

When I began showing pictures from a trip to the Texas Panhandle in April, I entitled the first post “I hope you can tell this isn’t Austin.” Now it’s not even Texas. No, I photographed these sandstone formations along US 160 in northern Arizona on September 27th, about a third of the way into a 3300-mile trip that began with an overnight stay with our friends in Lubbock and went on to include three nights in Albuquerque, two in Durango, and three apiece in Phoenix and Tucson. Of course it was the days between those nights that most interested me because then I was free to do my photographic thing—or actually things, lots of them.

When we returned to Austin on October 4th I found the place in full fall mode botanically (though not in terms of climate, because afternoon temperatures stayed stuck in the low 90s for the next seven days). I’ve already giddily (and alas allergenically and chiggerly and fire-ant-ily) charged back in to local nature photography. I’d like to post some of those central Texas pictures before they get too dated, so beginning today I’ll show perhaps a dozen trip pictures and then mix more-recent images from Austin’s autumn into the continuing selection from the Great American West. I hope you won’t get see-sick later this month from looking at photographs that bounce back and forth between the two realms, but variety is the spice (and in this blog the species) of life.

Bouncing back to the picture in today’s post, let me add that I had trouble getting the views I wanted because not only was the land fenced off, but also electric wires and poles cut across the site in several places. I zoomed and angled my way past the obstacles the best I could.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 13, 2014 at 5:20 AM

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