Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘trees

Bayside Park

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The bay that Bayside Park sits on the western shore of is Mobile Bay.
In that Alabama park on August 10th I photographed a vine covered-pine tree.
The vine could have been trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans, which also grows in Austin.

After turning the other way, toward Mobile Bay,
I found a dark plant beneath a dark cloud.

I photographed a few other things, and then, as I was about finished, some birds flew into view. My telephoto lens was in the camera bag. The 24–105mm lens that was on the camera was set to only 56mm and the shutter speed to only 1/320 of a second (as I learned afterwards from the metadata). Those are poor settings for photographs of birds in motion but there was no time to change anything: all I could do was pan to follow the birds while I got off four shots in as many seconds. To my surprise, there was no blurring of my subjects. Shannon Westveer later identified them for me as American white pelicans, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2019 at 7:00 AM

5100

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Over the 26 days from July 17 through August 11 we drove 5100 miles on a journey that took us as far afield as Toronto and New York. This was a combination trip:

  • People, including some I hadn’t seen since 1973.
  • Culture, primarily in the form of museums, most of which we got into for free thanks to reciprocal privileges from our membership in Austin’s Blanton Museum.
  • Scenic places (had to do at least some nature photography, right?).

On July 17 we made the fatiguing 650-mile push to Memphis. The next morning I photographed a pond along the Austin Peay Highway northeast of Memphis.

Here’s a second view of that pond:

Not long afterwards I stopped at another pond a little further east:

In the shallows of that second pond grew a plant that, because of reflections, seemed to be floating in clouds:

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 15, 2019 at 4:47 AM

Phoebulous St. Edward’s Park

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You saw last time in two horizontal photographs that on June 11th I documented parts of the cliffs along Bull Creek in St. Edward’s Park. Today’s first picture is a vertical version of the previous post’s first picture. Perhaps you’re wondering how the large black willow mysteriously vanished; the answer is that I waded far enough into the creek to get out from under the tree and have a clear shot at the cliff.

At one point, as I zoomed in to the max (400mm) on the top of the cliff and began to compose an image, a little bird flew into the frame and landed. Later Shannon Westveer identified the visitor as an Eastern phoebe, Sayornis phoebe, which you can see a lot better in the crop below.

Click to enlarge.

After I’d prepared this post I came across a mention in David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers of the comic poem “Darius Green and His Flying Machine,” written by J.T. Trowbridge before 1870. It contains these lines:

“Birds can fly,
An’ why can’t I?
Must we give in,”
Says he with a grin,
” ‘T the bluebird an’ phoebe
Are smarter ‘n we be?”

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2019 at 4:44 AM

St. Edward’s Park

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On June 11th I spent some time at St. Edward’s Park in our northwest part of Austin. While it’s not quite true that a river runs through it, Bull Creek does, and has flowed there for so long that over eons it carved out the cliff you see above, and even higher ones. The large tree across the upper part of the first photograph is a black willow (Salix nigra), common along watercourses in this part of the world. The band of darker green at and close to the creek’s surface is southern maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris (the Latin species name translates as Venus-hair), likewise familiar here in wet places. Enough rain had fallen a week earlier that water was trickling over the edge of the cliff; for some of my pictures I zoomed in on the splashing water.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2019 at 4:46 PM

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

A subtler wildflower meadow

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April being the 4th (and according to T.S. Eliot the cruelest) month, with the 22nd designated Earth Day, here are 2 x 2 pictures showing a floral meadow in my Austin neighborhood as it looked 10 days ago. Flowers covered the ground densely enough that I found it hard to walk without crushing any of them, yet at the same time they were subtler than the flashy, color-saturated wildflowers from March and early April that you so often saw here. You may recognize the background trees in the first photo as Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), which proliferate in central Texas.

Each of the next three views brings you closer to the wildflowers in the meadow.

The yellow flowers are four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris linearifolia.) The upright white ones are rain-lilies (Cooperia pedunculata). The purple ones are wild garlic (Allium drummondii). Most numerous of all in this luxurious meadow are the low white flowers that have the curious name corn salad (Valerianella spp.) They’re also unusual in the way they tend to grow in roughly rectangular arrays.

Notice in the last picture that the prominent 4 x 4 array in the center consists of 16 clusters, each of which is a little rectangle in its own right. The folded-over ray floret in the lower of the two four-nerve daisies was likely the work of a spider making a little hide-away for itself. That’s a common sight in these parts.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2019 at 4:42 AM

Every school should have grounds that look this good

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When I showed you the grounds of Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock last spring, the bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) had done their thing but the huisache trees (Vachellia farnesiana) had not. When I returned on April 4th this year, both were in their flowering prime.

Unlike the huisache surrounded by bluebonnets that I found near Poteet two weeks earlier, which was far away in a pasture made inaccessible by barbed wire, here I could wander freely (while stepping carefully among the bluebonnets) to get close and try out varied compositions. Below is one such. Note the white bluebonnet at the bottom. Unfortunately I can’t show you the combined aromas of bluebonnets and huisache blossoms.

I called the school to ask how the property came to look so good. The person who answered the phone said that the bluebonnets on one side of the entry road had always been there, whereas people replanted the ones on the other side after construction of the auditorium messed up that part of the colony.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 11, 2019 at 4:48 AM

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