Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘wind

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

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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

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