Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘trees

A strangely desaturated landscape

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While out driving in Austin on March 20th with no particular destination, I turned north off McNeil Dr. onto the confusingly named E. McNeil Rd. Soon we couldn’t help noticing that the land and trees on our left seemed oddly faded, almost as if we’d been teleported into a drier climate than Austin’s. The view on our right side offered an explanation: a tall stack and other machinery of the Austin White Lime Company. Ever-present rock dust from the quarry had settled wherever the wind blew it in the vicinity, causing the strangely washed-out look that caught our attention. If you’re familiar with the normal green of Ashe juniper trees (Juniperus ashei), compare that to the dullness of the two in the first picture’s lower left and the one below. Another comparison could be to a photograph last fall in which I purposely reduced the color saturation.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 27, 2021 at 4:41 AM

Texture, reflection, abstraction

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Onion Creek in McKinney Falls State Park; March 15, 2021.

And here’s an unrelated observation from Sense and Sensibility (1811): “…When people are determined on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel injured by the expectation of any thing better from them.” Throughout the novel, Jane Austen’s comments about many of her characters are trenchant, acerbic, cynical, sardonic. Those observations are unfortunately lost in movie versions of the novel. Perhaps someday a director will make a version with voice-overs to preserve the author’s commentary. Here’s another passage:

“On ascending the stairs, the Miss Dashwoods found so many people before them in the room [at a store], that there was not a person at liberty to tend to their orders; and they were obliged to wait. All that could be done was, to sit down at that end of the counter which seemed to promise the quickest succession; one gentleman only was standing there, and it is probable that Elinor was not without hope of exciting his politeness to a quicker despatch. But the correctness of his eye, and the delicacy of his taste, proved to be beyond his politeness. He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself, and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined, all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop, were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, he had no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies, than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares; a kind of notice which served to imprint on Elinor the remembrance of a person and face, of strong, natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in the first style of fashion.”

How about “sterling insignificance” as a zinger?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 22, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Ice and snow on cedar elms and an Ashe juniper

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From February 18th in Great Hills Park, look how ice had encased the bare branches of cedar elm trees (Ulmus crassifolia). The Ashe juniper tree (Juniperus ashei) further back was conspicuous in the way its branches of evergreen leaves trapped snow, of which 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) had come down. In the closer February 12th pre-snow view below of little icicles on a cedar elm, the pale green came from lichens; it’s a visually energetic way to fill a frame, don’t you think?

And here’s a thought for today from physicist Richard Feynman in 1974:
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2021 at 4:41 AM

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Snow and ice on trees

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On February 18th I headed back to Great Hills Park for another couple of hours documenting snow and ice. Here are two views of a snow-covered tree that may have been brought down a few days earlier by a heavy accumulation of ice. Notice once again the thick mustang grape vines, Vitis mustangensis.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 27, 2021 at 4:16 AM

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Little icicles and more than a little green

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From February 12th in Great Hills Park, here are some little icicles on green things. The one above hung from the lichen-covered twig of an oak (Quercus sp.), while those below encased an Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei).

UPDATE: In the previous post I’ve added a closer view of the frosted strands I take to be spiderwebs.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2021 at 4:28 AM

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Icicles and tangled branches

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On February 16th I went into Great Hills Park from the Floral Park Dr. entrance and cut over to the main creek as soon as possible. At a rock overhang on the creek’s west bank I found that many icicles had formed amid a tangle of dead branches. Let’s hear it for complexity.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 23, 2021 at 4:38 AM

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Palmetto State Park

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Although this picture from January 29th may make you think we went to Florida’s Everglades or some other tropical place, we drove just 70 road miles south of home, to Palmetto State Park, which might as well be a different world. The park is named for a stand of palmettos, Sabal minor, one of only two palm species native to Texas (the other is full-sized and lives at the southern tip of the state). The Ottine Swamp supports the palmettos and also fosters copious amounts of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, which were especially conspicuous now that the trees were winter-bare.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2021 at 4:45 AM

Beetle galleries

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While waiting on January 18th for a leaking tire to get dealt with I went for a one-hour walk, a main portion of which took me along Stonelake Blvd. north of Great Hills Trail. The properties lining both sides of the road there are owned by the University of Texas but have never been developed. At one point, only several feet in from the sidewalk I noticed a couple of leaning dead tree trunks whose outer bark had mostly come off and revealed in the phloem, or inner bark, the trails of insects that had lived there.

From an informative article I learned that those trails are known as beetle galleries because the insects that produce them are beetles. Another reason for the term is that the original sense of gallery was architectural, ‘a covered part of a building, commonly in the wings, used as an ambulatory or place for walking,’ and it’s the walking around of the insects that create the trails in the phloem. By a happy coincidence, the main current meaning of gallery also fits the fact that many people consider these designs to be works of art, specifically woodcarvings. To maintain the abstraction I’ve tightly cropped the photographs

I don’t know what local species produced the beetle galleries in these pictures, but you’re welcome to look at some characteristic galleries identified by species.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2021 at 4:31 AM

Winter woods reflected in pond

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Copperfield Nature Trail; January 17th.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2021 at 3:52 AM

Return to the cliff: textures

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Beyond orange and green things, I mostly focused on geological textures during
my January 16th return to the cliff along the Capital of Texas Highway south of FM 2222.

In the next picture, those among you of the pareidolic persuasion may see
a right-facing profile in the shadow, perhaps even that of George Washington.

And let me close by pulling back to a more expansive view showing an especially photogenic portion of the seeping cliff. At its top you see Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), seemingly ubiquitous in many parts of Austin.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2021 at 4:38 AM

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