Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Texas

Another way in which our water still remembers how to freeze

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Yesterday you saw the sideways way the surface of the water pulls and folds and stretches on the rare occasions when it freezes in our creeks. Another sort of freezing that we rarely see in Austin is the kind that turns the dripping-dropping movement of cold water into textured downward columns made of ice. Sustained temperatures in the 20s from the night of January 15th through the morning of the 17th did the trick. Both of today’s photographs show you icicles that had freeze-dripped down from the roof of the picturesque limestone overhang in the southern part of Great Hills Park.

The first picture, taken with a wide-angle lens at an aperture of f/7.1, gives you an overview (nay, underview) of part of the limestone and adjacent woods. Call the picture pretty in a conventional way.

In the service of a different vision, from about the same place and aiming in about the same direction I focused on one icicle with a 100mm macro lens set at its broadest aperture of f/2.8 to produce the second photograph. The sunny light in the distance apparently influenced the camera’s sensor to register the ice as bluer than people’s eyes see it under the same conditions. The image as a whole may seem abstract and even unrealistic, but there are times when reality is overrated; this could be one of those times.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2018 at 4:47 AM

Our water still remembers how to freeze

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With great anticipation I awaited the rain, sleet, and perhaps even snow predicted in central Texas for the night of January 15th into the morning of the 16th. I figured I’d finally get another shot at ice-encased plants like the ones from 2007 you’ve seen in the last two posts. The rain came right on time. The temperature promptly dropped below freezing and ended up staying there for a day and a half. Alas, the morning light on January 16th revealed that practically no ice had stuck to any vegetation. I decided to wait till the 17th to go out and see whether at least the prolonged cold would have produced some things for me to photograph. As I walked along the creek that runs through the southern part of Great Hills Park, the line that is the title of today’s post sprang into my mind.*

Both of the pictures included here from that day look straight down at places where the surface of the creek was turning to ice. The abstractness of the first image appeals to me. In the second photograph, notice the amphibian in the water beneath the ice. I was so intent on capturing patterns in the congealing surface of the creek that I didn’t see the animal till I looked at my pictures on the computer screen later, and even then it took me a while.

 


 

* I find the line has several virtues. The thought is poetic. The meter is iambic pentameter. As far as Google can tell, no one has ever written down that sequence of words. Thanks, mind, for the inspiration.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 19, 2018 at 4:50 AM

The ice storm of 2007 — the second day

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As you heard and saw last time, on January 17, 2007, Austin had an ice storm. The next morning, 11 years ago today, the land remained frozen. The roads were a little better, so I ventured beyond my neighborhood and ended up at a property on the northeast corner of Burnet Rd. and Wells Branch Parkway.* There I spent some three hours suffering in the cold for the rare chance in such a warm climate as ours to record plants transformed by ice. The photograph above shows a southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis. Below is a colony of bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus.

Look at the patterns on the ice in this close view of a bushy bluestem seed head bent sideways:

And there were branching jeweled abstractions of ice and light and lens:

 


 

* That property, where I went photographing in the years before and after the ice storm, finally got built on, I think in 2015. I’ll always see it wild, as it was when I roamed there.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 18, 2018 at 5:00 AM

The ice storm of 2007

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On January 17, 2007, Austin had a rare ice storm. As a photographer who lives in the warm climate of central Texas and who much prefers heat to cold, I was nevertheless happy for a chance to try my hand at getting pictures of the sort I’ve envied northern nature photographers for. To that end, I dressed in a sweater, gloves, thigh-high waterproof boots, and a well-padded winter jacket with a hood, and carefully walked the half-mile downhill to Great Hills Park. There I found, among other crystalline wonders, the branches of a poverty weed tree, Baccharis neglecta, bowed down by the weight of the ice encrusting them:

Look more closely at this abstract view of ice encasing lichens on a branch:

Ice did nothing to dim, and may even have enhanced the saturation of, the red fruits on a possumhaw tree, Ilex decidua. (You recently saw a non-iced view of possumhaw fruits from much farther away.)

And oh the retributive delight of all those who suffer in January from allergies set off by the pollen of Ashe junipers, Juniperus ashei, to find the twigs of that tree smothered in ice:

More nice ice next time.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 17, 2018 at 4:55 AM

Possumhaw possibilities

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Possumhaw with Fruit 1875

Given the persistent overcast here recently, I’d been waiting for a sunny day to go out and exploit the photographic possibilities of a possumhaw tree. Yesterday morning my chance came and I took it. The scientific name Ilex decidua tells you that this holly is deciduous. That loss of leaves in winter makes it easy to see the clusters of fruit on the female trees and also easy for those red-orange fruits to contrast with the bright blue of the clear sky beyond them.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 10, 2018 at 4:48 AM

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Unusual clouds

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The last unusual clouds you saw here were from Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta on September 3 of last year. Two days ago when we headed out to run a few errands, the atypical combination of clouds overhead caught our attention. Rather than go back home for a real camera, lazy me pulled over and used an iPhone.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me at the time, the last of the several pictures I took included a jet plane. It appeared to be flying parallel to the prominent cloud, yet the airplane produced no contrails at all. The long white cloud remains a mystery.

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2018 at 4:36 AM

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Frostweed ice: toward abstraction

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The extrusion of ice by frostweed (Verbesina virginica) is a great natural phenomenon. Austin’s temperature stayed mostly below freezing from the morning of January 1st, when I went down to Great Hills Park to take my first photographs of the new year, through this morning, when I returned for a second round of frostweed pictures, even more than two days earlier. Frostweed ice offers an opportunity for photographic abstractions, and that’s what you’re seeing here. Unlike the picture you saw last time, which involved flash, today’s images were made by natural light, which necessitated wider apertures that produced a softer feel.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2018 at 6:00 PM

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