Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘white

Rain-lily bud and flower

with 31 comments

Zephyranthes drummondii; April 27 in my neighborhood.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 10, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Cream paintbrush

with 34 comments

Most Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) are red, like the one in the backround in this picture from the town of Manor on April 20th. Occasionally a paintbrush is yellowish or cream or white, like the one in the foreground here that is the real subject of the portrait.

* * * * * * * * *

Two days ago I posed an English language challenge: to come up with a sentence containing the words adopted finished stirred. The three words had to appear exactly that way, with no punctuation or other words in between, and the full sentence had to be grammatical. That seems like a difficult task, and no takers have come forward. (This is primarily a nature photography blog, after all.)

Languages allow for the nesting, i.e. embedding or insertion, of one sentence inside another. With that in mind, let’s begin with three simple sentences, each containing one of the verbs in the challenge (I’ve italicized those verbs).

1: The book stirred emotions.
2: The girl finished the book.
3: The family adopted the girl.

Now let’s nest 2 inside 1 as a way of including what we know about the book:

2 inside 1: The book that the girl finished stirred emotions. (Notice how stirred now immediately follows finished. Do you see where this is going?)

Now let’s nest 3 inside the nested combination of 1 and 2 as a way of including what else we know about the girl:

3 inside 2 inside 1: The book that the girl that the family adopted finished stirred emotions.

Grouping symbols make the nesting structure clear:

The book [ that the girl [[ that the family adopted ]] finished ] stirred emotions.

If you drop what’s inside the double brackets, what’s left makes sense. Likewise, if you drop everything that’s inside the single brackets, what’s left makes sense.

There’s no theoretical limit to how many levels of nesting you can have, but even with just the two levels of nesting in our final sentence, comprehension begins to falter as verbs pile up toward the end of the combined version.

For example, suppose we add just one more sentence to the original three:

4: The senator visited the family.

Nesting that inside what we already had gives us:

4 inside 3 inside 2 inside 1: The book that the girl that the family that the senator visited adopted finished stirred emotions.

I doubt whether even German speakers, who have a head start by often putting two verbs together at the end of a sentence, could follow this.

In fact the sentence could be even more opaque. Through a peculiarity of English, we’re not obliged to include that when it’s the object of the following verb. For example:

2 inside 1: The book the girl finished was long.

If we suppress every such that in a sentence with multiple levels of nesting, not only do verbs pile up toward the end, but noun phrases pile up at the beginning:

4 inside 3 inside 2 inside 1: The book the girl the family the senator visited adopted finished stirred emotions.

Try reading that out loud to someone, even slowly, and I’m pretty sure the person won’t understand it. What fun!

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Two views of a pink evening primrose flower

with 54 comments

In the first view the pink evening primrose flower (Oenothera speciosa) serves as a backdrop for a Texas bindweed flower (Convolvulus equitans). For the second picture I lay on the ground and aimed upward so the pink of the flower would play off the blue of the sky as much as possible.

I made these portraits on April 20th at the same place in Austin where I photographed a cucumber beetle and greenthread flowers.

* * * * * * * * *

Two days ago I mentioned that if you run fast you move quickly but if you stand fast you don’t move at all. A word like fast that has opposite meanings is called a contronym or Janus word or auto-antonym. You’re welcome to read an article that gives other examples of such words. If you’re aware of contronyms in any other language, I’d be glad to hear them.

* * * * * * * * *

Now here’s a new English language challenge: can you come up with a sentence containing the words “adopted finished stirred”? The three words must appear exactly that way, with no punctuation marks or other words between them, and the full sentence must be grammatical. I’ll give a solution in a couple of days.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2021 at 4:35 AM

White prickly poppy colonies

with 30 comments

On April 9th we drove an hour and a quarter west to the Willow City Loop, which people throng to in the spring to see vast colonies of bluebonnets. This turned out not to be an expansive year for them there (we found broad stands at Turkey Bend on the way home), but the white prickly poppies (Argemone albiflora) along the Willow City Loop were going gangbusters. Modest groups of bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) accompanied the prickly poppies in some places, as you see below.

* * * * * * * *

If you’re interested in learning about the ways in which increasingly many American schools are indoctrinating their students, you can read math teacher Paul Rossi’s recent testimonial that classical liberal Bari Weiss disseminated in her “Common Sense” column. As a longtime math teacher myself, I know “how rewarding it is to help young people explore the truth and beauty of mathematics.” That’s one reason I’m especially sensitive to untruths foisted off on students as being realities.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Soft view of a rain lily

with 22 comments

On April 8th in my part of Austin I found exactly one rain lily, Zephyranthes drummondii. I got in close, aimed straight down, and made this portrait in which only the central elements of the flower were in focus.

And here’s a quotation for today: “Winston Churchill reportedly quipped that ‘A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes.’ That was before the internet. Today, the truth can’t even find its shoes.” — Alan Dershowitz, Cancel Culture, 2020.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2021 at 4:41 AM

Drummond’s sandwort

with 21 comments

Drummond’s sandwort, Minuartia drummondii, makes its debut here today, thanks to our finding broad stands of it in a field several miles north of La Grange on March 29th. This species thrives in sandy soil—hence the name sandwort—and doesn’t grow in Austin. You can click the first view to enlarge the panorama, while the second picture offers a closer look at the flowers.

* * * * * *

Yesterday I took the FAIR Pledge. If you’re of like mind, you can take it too. Here’s what it says:

Fairness. “I seek to treat everyone equally without regard to skin color or other immutable characteristics. I believe in applying the same rules to everyone, and reject disparagement of individuals based on the circumstances of their birth.”

Understanding. “I am open-minded. I seek to understand opinions or behavior that I do not necessarily agree with. I am tolerant and consider points of view that are in conflict with my prior convictions.”

Humanity. “I recognize that every person has a unique identity, that our shared humanity is precious, and that it is up to all of us to defend and protect the civic culture that unites us.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 5, 2021 at 4:37 AM

Great purple hairstreak butterfly and Mexican plum blossoms

with 32 comments

On March 15th at McKinney Falls State Park many flying insects were drawn to the heady blossoms of a Mexican plum tree (Prunus mexicana). Among those insects was a great purple hairstreak butterfly (Atlides halesus). You can see that despite its common name, it doesn’t look purple. You can also see in the second picture the dense multitude of blossoms that adorned the tree.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 23, 2021 at 4:29 AM

Ice and snow on cedar elms and an Ashe juniper

with 34 comments

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

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

A snowy both sides now

with 17 comments

During my February 16th trek into a wonderfully white Great Hills Park I made sure to portray several portions of the main creek. These two views, anchored by the snow-mounded rocks in the center of the creek, face in opposite directions.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 24, 2021 at 4:28 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Two mounds of snow in Great Hills Park on February 16th

with 19 comments

The top mound was surrounded partly, and the bottom one fully,
by ice that had formed when water in the park’s main creek froze.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 22, 2021 at 4:41 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: