Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘water

Devil’s Waterhole

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There’s nothing diabolical about the Devil’s Waterhole at Inks Lake State Park. Though we’d been to the park several times in recent years, we’d never wandered all the way down to this end until we visited on May 6th. The first picture is a closer and more abstract take (you know me with abstractions), while the second photograph retroactively sets the scene.

Among things diabolical I include the alarming rise in my country of freedom-hating zealots on the rampage to “cancel” and “deplatform” anyone who has different ideas from them. I’d remind those historyphobes—but of course they’d refuse to listen—how quickly things devolved in the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Fascist regimes in Germany and Italy, China’s [anti-]Cultural Revolution, the insanity of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the dictatorship of the Kim dynasty in North Korea, and other disastrous ideological regimes. As George Santayana warned in the first decade of the 20th century, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Good people have to speak and act now, before it’s too late.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 13, 2021 at 4:40 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

A farewell to icicles

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Over the past month you’ve seen plenty of pictures here showing snow, ice, and especially icicles, courtesy of the frigid weather that descended on Austin and stayed with us for a week in mid-February. But now it’s fully spring, so a farewell to winter is in order. Here are two last pictures from the part of Great Hills Park known as Potter’s Place, which I visited on February 16th. Above, you see how numerous the icicles in that little cove along the main creek were, and the flash I used allowed the clarity of the water to come through. The picture below, taken by natural light, emphasizes the icicles’ reflections in water that now seems dark.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Pedernales Falls State Park

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On March 4th we visited Pedernales Falls State Park, which lies about an hour west of Austin.

Did you know that the Spanish word pedernal (with plural pedernales) means ‘flint’?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 15, 2021 at 4:39 AM

More from the San Marcos Springs

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On February 23rd we went to Spring Lake in San Marcos, fed by the San Marcos Springs, which as you’ve heard “is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in North America. Artifacts discovered in digs conducted from 1979 to 1982 date back 12,000 years.” The folks at the Meadows Center have created a boardwalk that lets visitors walk through a wetland adjacent to the main part of the lake, and there a dense colony of dry cattails caught my attention.

Facing in the opposite direction, I’d photographed heaps of turtles sunning themselves on logs in the water.

Click to enlarge.

And here’s an important thought for our own times from a speech by Frederick Douglass in Boston in 1860:

Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power…. There can be no right of speech where any man, however lifted up, or however humble, however young, or however old, is overawed by force, and compelled to suppress his honest sentiments. Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 13, 2021 at 4:44 AM

Continuously inhabited for 12,000 years

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Spring Lake in San Marcos, fed by the San Marcos Springs, “is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in North America. Artifacts discovered in digs conducted from 1979 to 1982 date back 12,000 years.” On a sunny February 23rd we went there for the first time in years and enjoyed seeing the purity of the water. Whether the amount of algae on the surface was reasonable or problematic, I don’t know. I do know that it provided plenty of visual interest and led to some abstract views like the one below.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 8, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Not strictly a nature picture

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Here’s an abstract and not-strictly-nature picture I made showing algae, curtaining water,
and mineral deposits on a low dam at Berry Springs Park in Georgetown on January 31st.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 18, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Ripples and sparkles

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On November 25, 2020, we visited Russell Park on the northern shore of Lake Georgetown, where I made the picture of ripples shown above. On the first day of 2021 I inaugurated the new year photographically by going over to Bull Creek in my part of Austin for a different and closer take on ripples:

And if you’ll let me bounce back to Lake Georgetown on November 25th,
Jim Hogg Park provided the following photograph of sparkles:

The diaphragm in my Canon 100–400mm lens has 9 blades; multiplying by 2 would account for the 18 rays that emanate from each of the sparkles. Multiply me by two and I’d be four-armed; forewarn me and I’d be fore-armed. And in case you’re tempted to use forewarn, let me warn you that it’s redundant: the only way you can warn somebody about something is before it happens. At least that’s how it is now. A little research showed that an earlier meaning of warn was simply ‘to alert, to make aware,’ in which case forewarn was not redundant. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 71 provides an example of warn in its ‘alert’ sense:

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell; 
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so, 
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot, 
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if (I say) you look upon this verse, 
When I (perhaps) compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay,
Lest the wise world should look into your moan, 
And mock you with me after I am gone.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2021 at 4:29 AM

Condensation is a natural process

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Let me inaugurate this new year with a different sort of picture from my usual ones. You’ve probably noticed how steam from cooking condenses into drops on the inside of a pot’s lid. When I saw that happening one day, I carefully turned the lid over and laid it on my kitchen counter so I could distill that natural process into an abstract photograph.

When it comes to the new year, we’re all hoping 2021 will make a difference. In fact 2021 is a difference of two squares, 2025 – 4, which is to say (45)2 – (2)2 , and therefore 2021 = (45 – 2) x (45 + 2) = 43 x 47. So I wish you a happy 43 47 times, or a happy 47 43 times.

Years like 2021 in which the second half of the number is 1 bigger than the first half are uncommon, occurring only every 101 years. The previous one was 1920 and the next will be 2122. Very few people live to the age of 101, and only a small fraction of them get to say they’ve been alive in two such years. Anyone still living today who was born in or before 1920 can make that claim. Had actress Olivia de Havilland lived half a year longer she could have, but she died on July 26th of what is now last year at the age of 104.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 1, 2021 at 4:49 AM

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Anniversary of our Coron island-hopping tour

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A year ago today we went on our Coron* island-hopping tour
in the Philippine province of Palawan, which neither of us had ever been to.

Can you tell that the first two photographs offer different views of the same nature-sculpted promontory?

The final picture includes the kind of outrigger from which I photographed all these scenes.

* Who knew that just a month later we’d begin hearing and worrying about something else
whose first five letters happened to be Coron?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 13, 2020 at 4:40 AM

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