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White-mouth Dayflower, Commelina erecta

Good evening KTK. As this school year winds toward a close I find myself increasingly burned out. The past two weeks have been enormously productive in terms of the artwork and projects my students have been exploring, and that means long days in the classroom and then evenings of prep for me. I'm not complaining, it's how I like my work to be, but it does leave me without a lot of extra time for activities here. Ironically, in the midst of this hectic period I have been MORE present on DKos these last two weeks than I had in a couple of months.

One effort that did slip through the cracks was a Spring photo diary from the weekend of March 30th. I spent that Saturday testing out a macro lens attachment for my iPhone, created an almost final draft and was then forced to abandon the remainder of the work in favor of celebrating my brother's birthday here and at Top Comments. What happened next was the diary itself became irrelevant. The pictures were about the very first blooms of the year, ahead of almost all the standard Central Texas wildflowers. By the end of the first week in April, there was nothing left of that fleeting period. It had been fully replaced by the Spring most people here would recognize.

Part of what makes that seasonal phase a special one is these early blooms are mostly very small. The casual observer would notice greening and not much else when taking in a pasture or urban greenbelt around Austin. It was only with deliberate effort that one could see the earliest beginning of the onset of Spring.

As a tribute to that fleeting moment, I'll present the remainder of that diary, unedited except to include the names of the flowers. It was the only work missing but was in fact the most work, necessarily losing out to my harassing commonmass for turning 45.

So, please join me below the fold for a rather long series of macro photos. I do hope you enjoy them, and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have in comments.

The weather here in Austin, TX has finally turned and spring has officially sprung. Ending what was seemingly the longest and coldest winter ever, Central Texas has pulled out of the 50's and 60's and landed squarely inside of the 70's and 80's. After several years of intense drought (we are not out of the woods on that) this winter brought significant rain, from which nature has responded with vigor.

Driving along any local highway one now sees blankets of native wildflowers, especially bluebonnets, in full bloom. This legacy, left to Texas and the nation by Ladybird Johnson's highway beautification campaigns of the 1960's, is carried on by average Texans year after year. People sow bag after bag of seeds from their moving vehicles in a ritual that is pure Texas and results in an abundance, even in dry years, that is considered a State treasure. The resulting vistas are impressively gorgeous and draw thousands of travelers from across the state to sightsee and take pictures of their kids and families in these made-for-portraiture backdrops.

Bluebonnet individual flower.

Such a man-made event is not completely in tune with unassisted nature elsewhere in the environment. Aside from the early blooming bluebonnets and a handful of others, there are few flowers in bloom right now. These magnoliophyta are just beginning their cycles. A bluebonnet tourist unfamiliar with the area could be forgiven for thinking there were lots of wildflowers waiting to be picked outside of the highway areas. Most of what is blooming this past weekend were very small, even minuscule, grasses and ground covers. It's an interesting time of the season, just on the cusp of abundance.

This timing, along with the perfect temperatures and humidity, drew me outside to explore the macro capabilities of the iPhone 5s. I am in love with the richness and subtlety of the color the camera offers and since my wife gave me an Olloclip attachment for Christmas and I have been working to master this difficult lens.

Using an iPhone for serious photography takes its own kind of effort. The Olloclip makes things exponentially more difficult. Because the lens is so small and the distances so close for macro, remaining intuitive is the name of the game. Depth of field is quite shallow and you will notice in all of these images the boundary of focus is exceptionally short.

Many flowers shown here are small, less than 1/2" in diameter and in some cases under ⅛". Several are about the size of a small grain of rice.

All photos are "raw" and have not been manipulated for contrast, white balance, saturation etc.

Images are in Lightbox mode, click to embiggen. Photos were taken using Camera+, (the best phone camera app on the market.)

All photos © bastrop@dailykos.

Texas redbud, Cercis canadensis var. texensis
Texas redbud, Cercis canadensis var. texensis
Crow Poison or False Garlic, Nothoscordum bivalve.

Lindheimer's milkvetch (emerging), Astragalus lindheimeri

Smallest flower I shot. Unidentified. It was so tiny I almost could not focus.
Hairyfruit chervil, Chaerophyllum tainturieri

Golden groundsel (emerging), Packera obovata

Purple prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida.

Autumn Onion, Allium stellatum

Lotus Milkvetch (emerging), Astragalus lotiflorus

Crescent Milkvetch (emerging) (Astragalus amphioxys)

Polished Lady Beetle, Cycloneda munda

Polished Lady Beetle, Cycloneda munda

Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

Pink Evening Primrose detail (Oenothera speciosa)

Pink Evening Primrose detail (Oenothera speciosa)

Pink Evening Primrose detail (Oenothera speciosa)

Drummond's onion (Allium drummondii)

Drummond's onion (Allium drummondii) unopened flower bud.

Sweet Sand-Verbena, Abronia fragrans

Mystery flower. Unable to identify.

Golden groundsel (emerging), Packera obovata

Lindheimer's Milkvetch (Astragalus lindheimeri)

Common Goldenstar (emerging), Hypoxis hirsuta

Berlandier's sundrop, Calylophus berlandieri

Common Goldenstar, Hypoxis hirsuta

Southern Dewberry, Rubus trivial is

Thanks for viewing, I appreciate your interest and support.

- bastrop

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate. Readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

8:11 PM PT: Just to let everyone know, Radar was discovered by my oldest boy when I went out for Chinese food. Apparently he had gotten into the garage and was so afraid of all the MASSIVE QUANTITIES OF STUFF we have in there that he remained quiet and without food and water for several days while we called his name and searched the garage (as much as that was even possible).

No idea why he did this but we are glad he is found and safe. Currently resting comfortable and annoying my wife while she tries to work. Why he chose to come out now is certainly food and water. That much is clear.

So, next time something important goes missing I will be sure to comment about it at Daily Kos and then immediately order Chinese take out and go pick it up. Whatever is missing will reveal itself as I walk through the door!


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