Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘winter

Brickellia flowering in January

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Brickell-bush, Brickellia cylindracea, is a wildflower I don’t see as often as many others. One field guide describes it as having unbranched, upright stalks. I’ll go for unbranched, but in this case the two stalks I found were lying inconspicuously on the ground. Maybe I wouldn’t’ve have noticed them if I hadn’t stopped on January 18th to photograph the adjacent goldeneye and boneset that you’ve seen in recent posts. The profile above shows that even mature flower heads stay mostly closed. The view below gives you a better look at the disk flowers; there are no ray flowers in this genus. The brown in the background came from a bed of fallen leaves—this is January, after all—and adds to the mood (or moodiness) of the two portraits.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2020 at 4:46 AM

Wildflowers in January

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Central Texas has a warm enough climate that even in the winter you can see several native plant species flowering. I’ve noted six of them this week, and yesterday for the first time since returning from the Philippines on December 25th I went out to take some nature photographs. Today’s picture from Morado Circle in my northwest Austin neighborhood shows you a flower head of Viguiera dentata, known as plateau goldeneye or just goldeneye. All that yellow should cheer up any of you who are suffering the rigors of a cold northern winter.

As for the tropical Philippines, more posts from there are still forthcoming. I just thought it’s time to start interspersing a few current views from Texas.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 19, 2020 at 4:48 AM

Downstream

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Downstream from the places you saw a couple of posts ago, the main creek flows out of Great Hills Park
and wanders through a golf course. Near Rain Creek Parkway, that stretch of the creek is bordered
by switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), which by January 25th had done a pretty job of drying out.

Here’s a closer view of the switchgrass on the other side of the creek.

Across the road some sycamores (Platanus occidentalis)
also wore their winter look. Notice the many hanging seed globes.

When I drove past there yesterday I found that all the switchgrass
on both sides of the creek had just been cut back to the ground.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 7, 2019 at 4:05 AM

More from nature on December 25, 2018

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Here are more things I encountered west of Morado Circle on the morning of December 25, 2018.
It’s not unusual to find a hole in the pad of a prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii).

Look at the complexity in the dense branches of a dead Ashe juniper tree (Juniperus ashei).
Some seed-capsule-bearing limbs of a Mexican buckeye tree (Ungnadia speciosa) reached in from behind.

Why this patch on the top surface of an otherwise dark rock was so light, I don’t know.

The bright fruits of a yaupon tree (Ilex vomitoria) in front of
an Ashe juniper may strike you as appropriate for the date.

And look at the wireweed that had sprouted in the power lines overhead.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2019 at 4:57 AM

Another wildflower in winter

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Gulf vervain (Verbena xutha) west of Morado Circle on December 25, 2018.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2019 at 4:30 AM

Frostweed ice abstraction

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Envious of the ice and snow pictures that some of you who dwell in the lands of true winter have been showing lately, this morning I finally got a chance to follow suit after the overnight temperature dropped to freezing and a few frostweed plants (Verbesina virginica) in Great Hills Park did their magic ice trick. Shown here is a little piece of ice that separated from the frostweed stalk it had formed on.

If the phenomenon of crystallofolia is new to you, you can find a basic explanation in a post of mine from 2012 and a thorough treatment in an article by Bob Harms.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2019 at 11:48 AM

“Fall” foliage in winter

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From my neighborhood on January 4th comes this emblematic leaf of an oak (Quercus spp.).
You could say the composition is minimalist; you’d have trouble making that claim about the color gamut.

Notice how far into the season we were still seeing isolated instances of colorful foliage.
The same outing brought another example, this time from a cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia).

While yellow is the most common fall color for cedar elms, I also found two leaves that had turned orange.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 15, 2019 at 4:48 AM

Posted in nature photography

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If you’ve got it, flaunt it

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The “it” in this case is a wildflower in January. Here from yesterday afternoon is a flower head of goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, growing wild in my neighborhood.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, this picture is an example of points 1, 2, and especially 6 in About My Techniques.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 5, 2019 at 4:52 AM

Possumhaw fruits brightening a misty morning

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Several times the bright red fruits on a bare possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) had caught my eye along the route that lets traffic heading southeast on the access road of US 183 merge onto the southbound access road of Mopac. On this year’s cool and misty Valentine’s Day morning I finally celebrated the red by parking as close as I could to the possumhaw, walking across several lanes of intermittently coming cars, and then stepping onto the ground beyond, there to wield my camera. Today’s picture gives no hint of the noisy traffic zooming by less than a hundred feet away on Mopac. Mixed in with the possumhaw are some bare branches of flameleaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata). The greenery in the lower right is from a related bush with the apt name evergreen sumac (Rhus virens).

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 12, 2018 at 4:58 AM

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Another way in which our water still remembers how to freeze

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Yesterday you saw the sideways way the surface of the water pulls and folds and stretches on the rare occasions when it freezes in our creeks. Another sort of freezing that we rarely see in Austin is the kind that turns the dripping-dropping movement of cold water into textured downward columns made of ice. Sustained temperatures in the 20s from the night of January 15th through the morning of the 17th did the trick. Both of today’s photographs show you icicles that had freeze-dripped down from the roof of the picturesque limestone overhang in the southern part of Great Hills Park.

The first picture, taken with a wide-angle lens at an aperture of f/7.1, gives you an overview (nay, underview) of part of the limestone and adjacent woods. Call the picture pretty in a conventional way.

In the service of a different vision, from about the same place and aiming in about the same direction I focused on one icicle with a 100mm macro lens set at its broadest aperture of f/2.8 to produce the second photograph. The sunny light in the distance apparently influenced the camera’s sensor to register the ice as bluer than people’s eyes see it under the same conditions. The image as a whole may seem abstract and even unrealistic, but there are times when reality is overrated; this could be one of those times.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 20, 2018 at 4:47 AM

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