Sexy wildflower photos remind us to take in life's details

 

Tim Crawford – an all-around maverick and High Country News subscriber in Bozeman, Mont. – has been doing photography for conservation groups, magazines, books and other purposes for more than 50 years. Now he's debuting a series of close-ups of "Wild & Feral Flowers," including this Mexican hat (also called the prairie coneflower) and musk thistle below.

Mexicanhat_blog.jpg
Mexican hat flower

muskthistle_blog.jpg
Musk thistle flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm struck by Crawford's creative vision in these Western flower photos, and think they convey a worthwhile message. "I've taken pictures of flowers for decades, but I was never satisfied with the results," he says. "I'd be walking along taking photos of the flowers in situ, in nature, but there were always distractions," because the flowers grew amid "the busy green" – the clutter of many plants crowded closely together. And viewed real-life size, the flowers were often so small, it was difficult to appreciate their details. So finally, Crawford decided to "abstract them."

He took individual flowers into his studios, on his two Montana ranches, and posed each one against a black velvet background. He shot with portrait lighting and a Nikon D300 digital camera that, in the right hands, can deliver a high-quality image reminiscent of what his old large-format 4x5 film camera could achieve. (He's switched to digital, like most shooters these days, because it's more convenient.) Another sample, Crawford's vision of the prickly pear:

copy_of_pricklypear_blog.jpg
Prickly pear cactus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These photos emphasize how the flowers are essentially sexual, by focusing on the stamens (male reproductive organs) and pistils (female reproductive organs), which attempt to attract pollinators that connect the organs to eventually form seeds. So the photos are a kind of plant eroticism combined with homage to the beauty and complexity of nature. They also remind me of the famous series by Richard Avedon, who isolated and photographed Western people against a white background.

But a standard computer screen, or even a magazine page, can't display the richness of detail Crawford has captured, because the wildflower photos are meant to be displayed LARGE. For a show in Bozeman's Ecce Fine Art Gallery, which runs through the end of September, for instance, he's mounted some on canvases that are 2 feet wide, or 2 feet tall. The original images measure as large as 7 feet by 5 feet.

So, with Crawford's permission, let's zoom-in on portions of his photos, so you can appreciate the degree of detail:

pricklypear_blog_zoom.jpg
Prickly pear cactus zoom-in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

muskthistle_blog_zoom.jpg
Musk thistle zoom-in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The message, in Crawford's view and mine: Let's all take a closer look at our surroundings and everything and everyone we take for granted, to understand how the ordinary is really wonderful. Or maybe to understand that we actually live on the planet Venus.

Another sample, the scarlet gaura flower, which typically opens for less than a day, surely from the Venus wilderness:

scarletgaura_blog.jpg
Scarlet gaura flower

 

scarletgaura_blogzoom.jpg
Scarlet gaura zoom-in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the ordinary, wonderful purple prairie clover:

purpleprairieclover_blog.jpg
Purple prairie clover flower

 

purpleprairieclover_blogzoom.jpg
Purple prairie clover zoom-in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's close with a final zoom-in on the Mexican hat flower that opened this blog post, because these things are more powerful than words.

Mexicanhat_blog_zoom.jpg
Mexican hat flower zoom-in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ray Ring is a High Country News senior editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • TRANSPORTATION PLANNER
    TRANSPORTATION PLANNER Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the...
  • EARNED MEDIA MANAGER WITH WESTERN RESOURCE ADVOCATES
    Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • WILDLAND FIRE INSTRUCTOR
    Needed: instructor with 5 years *documented* instruction experience, current qualifications, M-410 or equivalent, and able to work as-needed for NM non-profit working with at-risk youth.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Seeking passionate full-time Executive to lead the oldest non-profit organization in Idaho. Must have knowledge of environmental issues, excellent organizational, verbal presentation and written skills,...
  • COLORADO PROGRAM MANAGER
    The National Parks Conservation Association, the leading non-profit conservation organization protecting Americas national parks, seeks a Program Manager for its Colorado Field Office located in...
  • CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Carbondale based public lands advocate, Wilderness Workshop, seeks a Conservation Director to help direct and shape the future of public land conservation on the West...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR WATER PLANNING WITH WRA'S HEALTHY RIVERS PROGRAM
    Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED BIGHORN RIVER BASIN PROJECT MANAGER
    The Bighorn River Basin Project Manager identifies and implements projects to improve streamflows, restore stream and riparian habitat, improve fish passage and rehabilitate or replace...
  • NON-PROFIT OPERATIONS MANAGER
    One of the most renowned community-based collaboratives in the country seeks full-time Operations Manager to oversee administrative, financial, fund development, and board development duties. BS/BA...
  • RUSTIC HORSE PROPERTY
    in NM. 23 acres, off the grid, rustic cabin, organic gardens, fruit trees, fenced, call 505-204-8432 evenings.
  • DIRECTOR OF VISITOR SERVICES & BOOKSTORE OPERATIONS
    The San Juan Mountains Association in Durango, CO is seeking a Director of Visitor Services & Bookstore Operations to lead our visitor information program &...
  • SOLAR POWERED HOME NEAR CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
    1800 sf home on 4.12 acres surrounded by Natl Forest and recreational opportunities in a beautiful area (Happy Valley) between Torrey and Boulder. [email protected], www.bouldermoutainreality/properties/grover/off-the-grid-in-happy-valley,...
  • 40 ACRE ORGANIC FARM
    potential fruit/hay with house, Hotchkiss, CO, Scott Ellis, 970-420-0472, [email protected]
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success...
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one. 928-380-6570, www.testshop.com. More info at https://bit.ly/2Kgi340.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...