Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Texas Hill Country

Shimmering light

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One stretch of a Bull Creek tributary in my neighborhood flows beneath a limestone overhang. There are times when morning light filters through the trees, reflects off the surface of the water, and shimmers on the limestone wall of the overhang. July 8th at 9:04 was one of those times.

For the photographically curious: I took these pictures with a simple old 50mm lens wide open at f/1.4. Understandably, given the optics and the flowstoned face of the rocky overhang, not everything came out sharp, but somehow that hasn’t bothered me.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 16, 2019 at 4:46 AM

Woolly ironweed

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I’ve had trouble over the years getting good pictures of woolly ironweed, Vernonia lindheimeri, because it’s hard to get many of its parts in focus at the same time. On June 18th I found some woolly ironweed budding along the Capital of Texas Highway and recorded this straight-down, limited-focus, double-asterisk view that seems okay. To see what the flowers of this species look like, you can check out a post from 2015.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 1, 2019 at 4:47 PM

Annual pennyroyal could just as well be called annual lemonyroyal

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Hedeoma acinoides, known as annual pennyroyal, could just as well be called annual lemonyroyal because the plant’s foliage has a pronounced scent similar to that of lemons. Whether at least some of the same chemicals that account for that aroma in lemons are at work in this pennyroyal species, I don’t know. I do know that this photograph is from April 12th along the right-of-way west of Morado Circle. If you’d like a closer look at one of these diminutive flowers, which barely reach half an inch in length, you can have one.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Perspectives

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On April 21st, in the broad V between Scotland Well Dr. and Spicewood Springs Rd., I walked beside and through parts of a tributary of Bull Creek. People who don’t live in Austin, along with some who do, are surprised to learn that we have landscapes like this, which many associate with forests much further north. In the first image, the tree that had fallen completely across the creek became my main object of interest.

As a photographer I often present a scene from different viewpoints. In this case I walked forward from where I took the first picture, stepped over the downed tree, and became fascinated by the algae that the creek’s current swept into long strands that warranted the vertical orientation of the second photograph. I took both pictures with my lens zoomed all the way out to 24mm to encompass as much of each scene as possible.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, the newly added point 31 in About My Techniques pertains to these two pictures.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2019 at 4:45 AM

More from nature on December 25, 2018

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Here are more things I encountered west of Morado Circle on the morning of December 25, 2018.
It’s not unusual to find a hole in the pad of a prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii).

Look at the complexity in the dense branches of a dead Ashe juniper tree (Juniperus ashei).
Some seed-capsule-bearing limbs of a Mexican buckeye tree (Ungnadia speciosa) reached in from behind.

Why this patch on the top surface of an otherwise dark rock was so light, I don’t know.

The bright fruits of a yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) in front of
an Ashe juniper may strike you as appropriate for the date.

And look at the wireweed that had sprouted in the power lines overhead.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2019 at 4:57 AM

Pointillism in red

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The manifold fruits made manifest in Texas by the dropping of the leaves on the possumhaw trees (Ilex decidua) toward the end of fall are a pointillist pleasure. I’ve usually waited till January each year to go out scouting for fruit along what I’ve nicknamed the Possumhaw Trail, the stretch of TX 29 between Liberty Hill and Burnet. With others’ reports and my own observations of good fruit already by late November of 2018, we did the drive on December 15th. The densest specimen we found was the one shown here a little west of Bertram. Note that while some leaves remained on the tree, they were turning pale and wouldn’t linger.

Photographically speaking, this picture exemplifies point 15 in About My Techniques.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2019 at 4:44 AM

Cardinal flower: a cluttered view and one that’s less so

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On the pleasant afternoon of November 1st we traipsed along the boardwalk around one side of the pond at River Place. I was surprised when I looked down over the railing and saw bright red atop a lone cardinal flower plant (Lobelia cardinalis). In photographing plants I rarely aim straight down because that’s the most likely way to end up with lots of clutter in a picture, as you see here in the photo I took with my 24–105mm lens zoomed to its maximum focal length:

Normally I reduce background clutter in a wildflower portrait by getting close and aiming horizontally, or by getting low and aiming upward. In this case the plant was growing in shallow water, in addition to which the railing and the raised boardwalk prevented me from getting close to the cardinal flower. What to do? I switched to my 100–400mm lens, zoomed it to its maximum, leaned as far as I could over the railing, and then even stretched my arms out so my eye was no longer at the camera’s viewfinder. Guessing at framing my subject and relying on the camera’s autofocus, I ended up with this portrait:

The cardinal flower ranges across an enormous territory from Mexico to Canada, including California through Maine in the United States, as you can verify on a map. You’ve got to hand it to a plant that tolerates the winters in Quebec as well as the summers in Nevada. That last location strikes me as especially surprising, given that this species has to grow near water.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2018 at 4:55 PM

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