Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘trees

Cedar elms turning yellow

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A reliable source of autumnal yellow in Austin is the cedar elm tree, Ulmus crassifolia. In the picture above, taken around 4 in the afternoon on November 9th at the Arboretum shopping center, you see some cedar elms whose leaves picked up extra color saturation from the strong backlighting the late-afternoon sun provided. The previous day in Austin’s Jester neighborhood I’d photographed another yellow cedar elm:

I’d also recorded the way a cedar elm’s yellow contrasted with the red
of the flameleaf sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) surrounding it:

As no one has offered a solution to yesterday’s poser, I’ll let it ride at least one more day. The question is what all the following English words have in common beyond the fact that in each of them a vowel letter and a consonant letter alternate.

HIS, SORE, AMEN, PAN, AWE, EMIT, SON, TOWER, HAS, LAX, TOMATO, FAT, SOME, DONOR.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Barkley Meadows Park

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On November 6th we made our first visit ever to Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle. A whole lot was going on, botanically speaking, near the western shore of the Berdoll Pond there, as you see in the more-is-more picture above. The myriad small stars throughout are a type of aster, Symphyotrichum subulatum. The fluffy seed heads to the right of center are marsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata. The green saplings are black willow trees, Salix negra. The brown stalks in the back are slenderpod sesbania, Sesbania herbacea, which you saw more fully last time. The tan arcs front and center are the dry leaves of a young cattail, Typha sp. The second picture shows a black willow that had gotten taller.

And below is a closer look at some marsh fleabane gone to seed;
call it a Rembrandtesque botanical version of “Starry Night.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 17, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Muir Woods National Monument

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Four years ago today we drove along Muir Woods Rd. north of San Francisco, where I stopped in the cloud forest to take pictures of the lichen- and moss-covered trees.

Then we pushed on to the Muir Woods National Monument, which the other pictures in this post show.

I’d rather not have visited such a popular place on a weekend. That said, when you’re traveling you can’t afford to sit out two days, so thither we went on a Saturday morning.

With judicious aiming and timing I managed to keep my pictures free from all traces of the crowds.

I was sorry to hear that on Christmas Eve in 2019 a man walking in this park was killed when a redwood tree fell on him.

Related quotation for today: “When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.” — John Muir in his journal in 1869. In 1911 he offered a shorter version in My First Summer in the Sierra: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” In addition to those two authentic quotations, various incorrect versions circulate on the Internet.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 29, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Fall foliage at Zion

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On October 23, 2016, we drove west through Zion National Park on our way to Nevada.

You’re looking at three photographs of the park in which fall foliage co-stars with the rock formations.

And from Kolob Terrace Road, which winds its way in and out of the park’s western fringe,
here’s a view of what I take to be burned but becoming maple trees:

It’s autumn again now. Rather than a single quotation about the season, you can harvest a host of them.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 23, 2020 at 4:41 AM

Two quite different views of the same mountains in Zion National Park

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From Zion National Park on October 23, 2016, here are two quite different views of the same mountains (you can match up the profiles, going from the right). The picture above shows many details in the rocks and the vegetation, most conspicuously a gaily flowering rabbitbrush colony (Ericameria nauseosa). The heavily silhouetted view below shows details only in the clouds. We can describe the pair as differently dramatic.

And speaking of different appearances, here’s a quotation that’s ancient, though not as ancient as the mountains of Zion or even the behavior the words describe: “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.” Homer, The Iliad.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 22, 2020 at 4:48 AM

Zion revisited

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On October 22, 2016, we spent much of the day in Zion National Park.

Because it’s such a scenic place, the park swarmed with visitors well past the summer tourist season; I sometimes had to aim and frame judiciously to keep people from showing up in my pictures.

These four pictures suggest how diverse Zion’s rock formations are.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today:

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.”
― William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 21, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Charred

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The wildfires that began on Labor Day in 2011 burned down
a large part of the forest in and near Bastrop State Park.

On August 14th of this year I made abstract portraits of some of the charred trees. Those included the standing remains shown in the first picture, along with two tree trunks on the ground that I could aim straight down at; the first of those two shows a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), and the second perhaps an oak.

There are plenty of relevant quotations I could cite. Here are a few.

“From small fires comes oft no small mishap.” — George Herbert.

“Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda.” “A little spark gives rise to a mighty flame.” — Dante, The Divine Comedy: Paradiso.

“A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.” — Robert Herrick.

“The most tangible of all visible mysteries—fire.” — Leigh Hunt.

“A little fire is quickly trodden out;
Which, being suffer’d, rivers cannot quench.” — Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3.

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” — New Testament, James 3:5.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 5, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Four views of Ashe junipers

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If you’d been out on the morning of May 29th in central Texas last year you’d have taken pictures of the great wispy clouds, too. I did so from a bunch of places, including a property at the corner of Bagdad Road and Brashear Lane in Cedar Park. I’d never worked there before and I don’t know if I will again, given the rapid development that’s been taking place in that area for years.* In the photograph above, the clouds served as a backdrop for a line of Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei), the most common and widely distributed evergreen tree we have in central Texas. Below, from my own front yard on June 17th, you get a closeup of an Ashe juniper trunk that shows how these trees usually have stringy bark and also sometimes develop a corrugated texture.

From July 13th near Old Lampasas Trail, here are two more views. The first shows how a slew of dry leaves fallen from an Ashe juniper covered the ground so thoroughly you can’t detect any of the earth beneath them.

And below you see a shaft of sunlight on one Ashe juniper that was particularly sinuous.

 

* When I started taking pictures in Cedar Park in the late 1970s, it seemed way out in the country and its population was in the hundreds. Now home to about 80,000 people, it’s the second-largest suburb of Austin and there’s no break between it and the northernmost part of the city.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 18, 2020 at 4:42 AM

Usnea trichodea

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During a March 6th visit to Buescher State Park we saw plenty of grayish-tan stuff conspicuously hanging from trees. Three years ago and a little further east in Texas I thought I was looking at Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, but reader Bill Dodd clued me in that it was most likely the lichen Usnea trichodea, which people apparently call bony beard lichen. Notice how Spanish moss’s species name, usneoides, even means ‘looking like Usnea’. Further evidence comes from the fact that the USDA distribution map for Spanish moss is not marked for Bastrop County, which is where Buescher State Park is located. Some ball moss, Tillandsia recurvata, in the upper parts of the trees in both photographs adds to the complexity of the situation.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 14, 2020 at 4:42 AM

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New Zealand: Shadows and light at Riccarton Bush

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Three years ago today in Christchurch we visited Riccarton Bush,
where dense foliage created interplays of shadows and light.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2020 at 4:28 AM

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