Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘wind

The answer, my friends

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You usually get straight photography here, but once in a while I show something different, like these 1/5th- and 1/6th-of-a-second pictures of greenthread flower heads (Thelesperma filifolium) as the wind blew them about. Experimental photographs of this type depend heavily on chance, so I can’t know how they’ll turn out. With that in mind, I take a bunch and see if I like any of the results. These two drew my attention. The first portrait is from the front and the other from the back; the darker one looks sideways and the brighter one looks upward. Whether you’ll look askance at these diversions remains to be seen.

In contrast, I’ve more often used a high shutter speed to stop the motion of something blowing about.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 9, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Blowing in the wind

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One of the highlights in the cemetery at Christ Lutheran Church in New Berlin on March 18th was the Nueces coreopsis (Coreopsis nuecensis), whose range doesn’t reach Austin and that I get to see only when I travel south. The wind made closeups difficult but I did my usual thing of getting on the ground, setting a high shutter speed, and taking enough pictures that a few of them would likely be okay.

The orange in the background came from Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) and the blue from bluebonnets (Lupinus spp).

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 22, 2019 at 4:41 AM

Arc, the here-old grasses swing

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In addition to the bushy bluestem grass that’s a delight here in the fall, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) also has its autumn appeal. On the afternoon of December 1st I stopped at an undeveloped lot on the corner of Heatherwilde Blvd. and Yellow Sage St. in Pflugerville to photograph the backlit clump of little bluestem you see above. The wind kept blowing the normally upright stalks into arcs that I was able to record unblurred before they sprang back up by setting my camera’s shutter speed to 1/1000 of a second.

Five days earlier I’d gotten down in a ditch along Spicewood Springs Rd. so I could aim up into a clear blue sky while also portraying some little bluestem seed heads forming arcs in the breeze. That time 1/500 of a second sufficed. If you’re reminded of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, so am I.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2018 at 4:45 AM

Mount Katahdin

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I’ve been reading Laura Dassow Walls’s recent biography of Thoreau. Near halfway through comes an account of Thoreau’s 1846 visit to Mount Katahdin, which at 5267 ft. (1605m) is the highest point in the state of Maine: “From Quakish Lake they got their first glimpse of Mount Katahdin*, still twenty miles away, its summit veiled in clouds.”

On June 2nd of this year, driving north on Interstate 95, we took the pullout for a scenic view of the mountain. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photograph, we had the same experience Thoreau originally did, and the summit remained obscured by clouds. Oh well, maybe another time. No clouds obscured my view of some birch trees (Betula papyrifera, I believe) adjacent to the pullout’s parking lot. Given the briskness of the breeze, I used a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second to keep the leaves from blurring yet still let them convey a sense of the wind.

* By a curious coincidence, in the evening on the same day that I updated the draft of this post to include the information about Thoreau, we watched an unrelated documentary I’d taken out of the library. As the introductory credits appeared, we saw that the company that had made the documentary was Katahdin Productions.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 4, 2018 at 4:40 AM

Speaking of Kananaskis

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Speaking of Alberta’s Kananaskis Range, the site of the previous post, here’s Lower Kananaskis Lake as we saw it on September 11th. Wind gusts created ripples on the lake’s surface that must have resonated with the folds of my cerebrum, because I felt compelled to keep taking pictures of the changing ripples.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 19, 2017 at 4:50 AM

Wind on the Blackland Prairie

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Yesterday morning I went back to the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville, back to a piece of the Blackland Prairie that I’d found in full flower the day before. With the wind gusting to perhaps 25 mph (40 km/hr), I took many pictures at a high shutter speed to stop the plants’ movements. The photograph in this post came into being at 1/1000 of a second.

The yellow flowers are square-bud primroses, Calylophus berlandieri. The clusters of much smaller yellow flowers atop tall plants are prairie parsley, Polytaenia nuttallii. The yellow-fringed red flower heads are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets. The blowing grass is purple three-awn, Aristida purpurea, which arcs over even without any wind and still suggests it’s being blown sideways.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 2, 2017 at 5:02 AM

Chopping an Onion

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Submerged Rocks in Wind-Swept Onion Creek 2666

The wind, that is, chopping up Onion Creek at McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin on January 21. I’d been to the site plenty of times, but never with so strong a breeze, which gave this broadly open part of the creek a surface texture like none I’d seen on it till then. The resulting photographs, with their interlocking patches of color, differ from any I recall taking, whether there or elsewhere, and appeal to me in their abstractness.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 8, 2016 at 5:02 AM

The poverty weed was pretty good this year too

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Poverty Weed with Fluff Blowing 2659

It was Halloween afternoon, and the breeze that had come in with the cold front overnight caused the poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta) to release bits of seed-bearing fluff with each gust. Photographing it was like photographing a snowfall, except much warmer. This bush lives happily on Morado Circle in my northwest Austin neighborhood.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that the second part of point 13 in About My Techniques is relevant to this photograph. I used the approach explained in the first part of that technique for a different sort of poverty weed photograph three years ago.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 13, 2014 at 5:36 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Sand blowing off a dune

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Sand Blowing Off Dune 9392

Of course the main thing that drew me back to Monahans Sandhills State Park on the morning of April 13th was the dunes. At first the air was still, but it didn’t take long for the wind to pick up. I hoped the blowing sand wouldn’t get into my equipment (luckily it didn’t, but I didn’t dare change lenses) as I worked to get pictures that would capture the sense of the wind and the sand’s movement.

The typical “ripples” that you see on a sand dune come about through a geological process called saltation, which has nothing to do with salt, and which you can read a short explanation of on a page from the Great Sand Dunes website. If you’d like to know more about the word saltation itself, you can check out yesterday’s post on my language blog.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 12, 2014 at 6:02 AM

The effect of wind on wildflowers

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Firewheels, Gaura, Nightshade Blowing 2895

Click for larger size.

The red-centered flowers: firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella.

The purple flowers: silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium.

The pink flowers: a species of Gaura.

The metaphor: a river of flowers flowing from upper left to lower right.

The time: 9:38 AM on May 2.

The place: a field on the east side of Bull Creek Rd. at the equivalent of 43rd St.

The sky: overcast.

The temperature: 53°F , 12°C.

The wind: blowing, gusting.

The photographer: glad to take advantage of those gusts.

The shutter speed: 1/15 sec.

The copyright: © 2013 Steven Schwartzman

The end.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2013 at 6:24 AM

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