Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘vine

Limited-focus abstract views of Clematis drummondii strands

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On August 22nd I went to Great Hills Park and spent quite a while among a group of Clematis drummondii plants that had produced their characteristic strands. Because of rain the day before, some of the strands had stuck together, especially at their tips. In both of today’s pictures limited focus led to abstract portraits that are pretty different from the many other pictures of this species that have appeared here over the years.

Instead of a quotation or a fact, how about a question? Okay, that was already a question, but not the one I had in mind. Here it is: which independent country has the lowest population density? (I included the word independent because Greenland, which is the least densely populated geographic entity, is a territory of Denmark.) You’ll find the answer at the end of the next post.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2020 at 3:50 AM

Clematis drummondii after the rain

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On August 3rd we finally had some rain, so on the morning of the 4th I went down to Great Hills Park with my macro lens and a ring flash to see if I could get some good pictures of raindrop-covered plants. In particular I had in mind Clematis drummondii, which I don’t recall ever before photographing with drops on it. This vine’s fibers often have a metallic-looking sheen to them, which the flash enhanced. Below, an enlargement from a different picture gives you a good look at raindrops on metalically shining Clematis strands.

And speaking of metals, here’s a relevant quotation for today: “I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Life Without Principle,” 1863.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2020 at 4:39 AM

A torch-like take on a familiar subject

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If 2020 has been a good year for new takes on Mexican hats, it has also turned into a good year for novelty with Clematis drummondii. This portrait from July 29th on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin is unlike any I’d done in my two decades exploring the most prolific of our three native Clematis species. You can see that I played an opening bundle of silky fibers off against already loosened strands a little further away. Because the vertical bundle strikes this former New Yorker as rather torch-like, for today’s quotation let’s have the poem “The New Colossus,” which Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the giant statue* that France had given to the United States to commemorate the country’s declared independence in 1776:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities** frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

UPDATE: You can listen to the famous part of the sonnet set to music by an immigrant to the United States, Israel Beilis, better known as Irving Berlin.

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* The French title of the statue that sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi designed was Liberté éclairant le monde, Liberty Enlightening the World, but Americans know it as the Statue of Liberty.

** The twin cities were New York and Brooklyn, which weren’t consolidated until 1899.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 21, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Color comes to Clematis

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Clematis drummondii flowers and the lustrous fibers that emerge from the ones that get fertilized don’t have a lot of intrinsic color. For these three portraits I’ve used external colors to enhance my subjects. In the picture above of a female flower, the blue came from a small pond on the Blackland Prairie on July 29th, and the brown and green from the land on the far and near sides of the water, respectively. In the second portrait, made during the same outing, I used a shallow depth of field to focus on (in both senses) the seemingly metallic sheen at the base of a flower beginning to produce silky fibers. A nearby sunflower, Helianthus annuus, provided a golden aura to accompany the silvery strands.

The last picture, taken in my neighborhood on July 11th, shows the swirling fibers that this species is best known for. I got low and aimed at an angle that let me include some blue from the sky.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 12, 2020 at 4:26 AM

Another take on Clematis drummondii swirls

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Offering you one view per season wouldn’t do justice to the silky and feathery fibers of Clematis drummondii, so here’s another. In today’s take I used flash so I could stop down (in this case to f/16) to keep more of the luxuriant strands in focus than in the softer approach you saw last month. These intricate swirls are a good way to fill a frame, don’t you think? I made this “more is more” portrait along Rain Creek Parkway on July 11th.

A thought for today: ” Destiny is seldom recognized until it has changed its name to history.”
— Donald Culross Peattie in Green Laurels.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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A pastel take on Clematis drummondii

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Of the three native species of Clematis in Austin, by far the most common is Clematis drummondii, which also happens to put on the best fibrous display of the lot when its fertilized female flowers mature. Here from July 10th along Rain Creek Parkway is a pastel take on those partly silky and partly feathery fibers.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 17, 2020 at 4:35 AM

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More views of Texas bindweed

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You recently saw a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) with a basket-flower serving as a complementary concentric halo. On June 2nd I was working near a different entrance to Great Hills Park and found that another purple flower, the horsemint (Monarda citriodora), provided an out-of-focus backdrop for a softly questing Texas bindweed tendril. (Google turns up no hits for the phrase softly questing tendril, so today is my latest turn as a neologist.)

Jumping ahead to June 15th, I noticed that a Texas bindweed vine had twined itself around a Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera). Riding the flower head was a bug that entomologists call Calocoris barberi, which I’ve learned is most often found on Mexican hats. As far as I can tell, this bug has no common name, so maybe the Entomological Society of America should hold a contest to come up with one.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2020 at 4:44 AM

Texas bindweed flower and basket-flower

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In Great Hills Park on June 15th I found a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans) close enough to a basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) that the latter* could serve as a pretty backdrop for the former. Note the color harmony between the center of the bindweed blossom and the basket-flower beyond it.

* Because of the way we Americans pronounce latter, Britons are amused when they hear us saying what sounds to them like the former and the ladder.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 17, 2020 at 4:47 AM

Beetle on a buffalo gourd flower

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Somehow I haven’t shown a picture of a buffalo gourd flower here since 2011, so it’s high time to make up for the oversight. That making up is made easy by the fact that on May 15th off Lost Horizon Dr. I found a group of flowering Cucurbita foetidissima vines. The species name indicates that this plant has quite an unpleasant smell—at least to people. The odor seems to have had the opposite effect on the little pollen-bedecked beetle shown here that had come from the flower’s interior out onto its rim.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 14, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Sound the trumpet

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On May 26th ominous clouds made me give up taking pictures in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183. The next morning I went back and resumed photographing native plants there. One I found was a trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, with both flowers and buds. The buds were more heavily covered with dewdrops and made better portrait subjects. I estimate this bud was about 2 inches (5 cm) long.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 9, 2020 at 4:43 AM

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