Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Some bubbly

with 45 comments

Click for much greater size and better detail.

No doubt some of you toasted in the New Year with a glass of champagne, but I had my own dose of bubbly a few days earlier. Near 4 o’clock on December 28th I found myself wandering along a stretch of a nameless creek, a tributary of the Bull Creek that has featured in these pages several times. Because of our recent rain the creeks were flowing again after months of being totally dry, and already algae had come back to parts of the creek beds. With the algae came bubbles, and with both of those came I, camera in hand(s), to see what I could record in the shade of the waning day.

You may have heard me say that I rarely include human elements in nature pictures, but in aiming my camera straight down into the bubbles that afternoon there was no way I could avoid having them act like little convex mirrors; so there you see a hatted me reflected in a few of the larger bubbles, elbows partly raised as I leaned in close to take the picture. Call me a Narcissus if you like, but an unintentional one, as I didn’t see my little clones until I looked at the image spread out across the computer screen later on.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 2, 2012 at 5:12 AM

45 Responses

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  1. I would not have noticed the human element except that you pointed it out. I get algae about like this in the spring. I’ll have to consider it for photographic (and narcissistic) possibilities then.


    January 2, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    • Nor did I notice it at the time, but then I fail to notice a lot of things when I’m absorbed in the taking of a picture (especially, in this case, as I was doing my best to keep the camera perpendicular to the ground so that the bubbles near the edges of the frame would stay in focus).

      Happy narcissism if you go this route.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2012 at 8:23 AM

  2. Great photo, and so appropriate for the season. I want to run out and find my own bubbly creek.

    Pat Bean

    January 2, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    • Thanks, Pat. I hope you find your bubbly creek soon. Depending on where you are, you may even get to play with bubbles trapped in ice, something I wish I could do more often.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2012 at 9:23 AM

  3. As often as I look at it this it does not appear real. It looks like an artist’s abstract painting1

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 2, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    • I’ll take that as a compliment, Bonnie, because I’m fond of abstraction. As for reality, I’m no stickler for sticking to it, and when I was young I was taken with the literary/artistic movement called Surrealism, where the French prefix sur- means ‘above’ or ‘beyond.’ It’s good to rise above reality once in a while.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2012 at 8:35 AM

  4. Great abstract image Steve! It sure is fun taking the ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary! I like this a lot!


    January 2, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    • Thank you, fellow photographer (and fellow veteran of auld film syne). Long live abstraction!

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2012 at 9:40 AM

  5. I think it’s an exciting picture – so much energy in those bubbles (along with the author).


    January 2, 2012 at 9:58 AM

  6. I can’t help but laugh. There was a famous photo on ebay a few years ago, that served as a cautionary reminder for sellers around the world: if you’re going to take photos of very shiny objects, be sure to put your clothing on first. 😉

    I love the blue of the sky mixed with the algae’s green. When I was a child, my mother made a dress for me from a blue and green plaid fabric. I cried and cried, because “everyone” knew blue and green don’t “go together”. At least, they didn’t in the ’50s. My grandmother took me outdoors and asked, “What color are the trees?” I said green. She asked, “What color is the sky?” Blue, of course. “Well,” she said. “Do they go together?” Checkmate.


    January 2, 2012 at 10:49 AM

  7. I love the shot! The bubbling brew of naturally occurring and human-imposed water is a source of constant fascination and, perhaps because of the water-life connection, of mystery and promise, and I greatly enjoy peering into and photographing the effervescence when I can. Self-portraiture may be my subliminal goal (I do have a healthy, if not sizable, ego), but I like to think that it’s in the larger sense of my feeling further connected to nature by the aforementioned link.

    And about your comment to shoreacres regarding “acceptable” color combinations: my favorite experience of that phenomenon was in the days when I was still teaching fundamentals of design courses at the university and, on summer break, painted my parents’ house (40th anniversary while they were out of the country). Everyone was delighted with the color combination, which was admittedly a tad off the beaten path–just enough so that I’d asked permission from the neighbors to use it, their being in an HOA neighborhood–and later the parents got asked numerous times for their paint ID information. Meanwhile, back at school, I’d received a new design textbook to test drive and there, under the blazing headline of “Color Conflict” (subtitled Clashing Colors), was a pair of squares depicting the *exact* colors I’d used on the house as body color and main trim. They were in fact near-complements and so, a tiny bit dangerous perhaps, but obviously the risk had paid off neatly! I loved showing the page to my students, even though I never bought the textbook for them. 😉


    January 2, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    • I’m glad that you love the bubbling brew, Kathryn, and glad also to hear that you’ve peered into it yourself as you’ve contemplated the water-life connection.

      That’s quite a story of synchronicity you tell, about your experience with the design textbook and its supposed color conflicts from near-complements. When I used to teach—it seems that many bloggers have been teachers—I was always happy to bring in examples from real life that tied in to a topic we’d studied or, even better, were in the process of studying. I can savor your experience vicariously.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2012 at 9:36 PM

  8. This is an amazing image. I really like the texture. I don’t think that your reflection in it disrupts it. On the contrary, with it, the image is complete.


    January 2, 2012 at 2:10 PM

  9. Love that bubbly! Clever of you to think of this!

    Susan Scheid

    January 2, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    • Thanks, Susan. It just came to me, and I hadn’t imbibed anything bubbly except some sparking apple juice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2012 at 5:02 PM

  10. Perhaps, actually, the human element is welcome. I love this shot!


    January 2, 2012 at 5:46 PM

  11. I am really loving your work, and you are so prolific with fantastic photos.

    Michelle Armour

    January 2, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    • Thanks so much, Michelle, all the way from Australia. I was in your country only once, six years ago, and when I went walking one day I was surprised to find some lantana, a plant that is native here, flowering on its own in the wild there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 2, 2012 at 9:39 PM

  12. I really like this Steve as with your other algae image. Good eye and good work. Next time smile for the camera and wave. 🙂

    Steve Gingold

    January 3, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    • Thanks, Steve. Stay tuned for a closely related yet different follow-up image tomorrow, but without any smiling or waving or me in the picture at all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 3, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      • I’ll be looking for it. I’m sure it will say “It’s warm here.” Hunting for ice images in the 0° morning temps tomorrow. 🙂

        Steve Gingold

        January 3, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      • The picture itself won’t say “It’s warm here,” unless, by the standards of your latitude, when you say “warm” you mean “not turned to ice.” Afternoon high temperatures here for the last week have been between 55° and 70°.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 3, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      • “when you say “warm” you mean “not turned to ice.”

        That would be a good description. High today was 24°. But we will see it warm up in moderation (30’s) later this week. Kind of strange weather so far this year. Enjoy your temps. I’m sure it’s all relative to what is normal.

        Steve Gingold

        January 3, 2012 at 5:17 PM

  13. […] picture that you saw two days ago of bubbles and algae came from a creek in my northwestern part of Austin, but because the tree-blocked light reaching […]

  14. Very cool – it would not look out of place in a modern art gallery!

    Nick the Editor

    January 4, 2012 at 5:45 AM

    • If it’ll fetch a high price there I’m all for it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2012 at 6:07 AM

      • Well, you will just have to come up with an absurd artist’s statement…something about how it represents the tumultuous nature of life or how it represents the Arab Spring…. Then you’re on your way to fetching six figures 😉

        Nick the Editor

        January 4, 2012 at 7:49 AM

      • Hey, if you can market it for me with an approach like that I’ll give you a good commission.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 4, 2012 at 9:44 AM

  15. I missed the first time. So glad you referenced it again, because I loved discovering that your reflection was there. Fun! Thank you also for the link to Guatemalan color. I have a little blouse that a first grade student’s mother brought me from her home in Guatemala. It is beautiful and a treasure to me. It was my first year teaching. I have worn it to threadbare status and can’t part with it. Some day I will have to find a way to repurpose the lovely embroidered plaquette. ~ Lynda


    January 4, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    • I’m glad you had the belated discovery, Lynda, though I’ll say that the bubbles are more appealing than my tiny clones.

      The link to Guatemalan color in the other post seemed natural enough, as I lived for two years in Honduras and visited Guatemala a number of times. I always returned with multicolored clothing for me or other people, so I understand why you want to wear your blouse from there forever.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM

  16. Wonderful catch, Steve. Having your reflection in the bubble really makes the shot. I am enjoying looking through your blog. I am originally from Texas. I moved to Nantucket in 2004. 🙂



    January 4, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    • And I grew up on the East Coast, so we’ve traded places. Any time you want to see nature in Texas again, just stop on by.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2012 at 5:58 PM

  17. Oh, i like this. Just wonderful with all those round shapes. 🙂


    January 4, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    • And your comment, Katie, assuming it’s the last one here tonight, is a nice way to round out the others that people have made.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2012 at 9:14 PM

  18. This is so cool! Love the color and the depth achieved with this! ..and you know what? I think it is very difficult to do anything artful with bubbles just because of Lawrence Welk. 🙂 What I liked most about this is that it did not remind me of him. Great work!


    January 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    • You’ve got a unique take on this: sounds like you were traumatized by Lawrence Welk. I’m glad that this picture succeeded for you and never called to mind that other thing, or at least not till you went to write this comment. Now if I could just get my photographs into syndication for as many decades as the L.W. television show….

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 7, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      • I wasn’t traumatized by him and watched his program with my Grandparents whenever I was with them for the weekend. It is just that bubble compositions in photos and art usually bring him to mind. Your creation, here stands alone. I like that….. It makes it unique is what I guess I was trying to say. 🙂


        January 7, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      • Okay, I’ll gladly retract the traumatization and focus on the uniqueness. That way we’re both well served.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 7, 2012 at 4:52 PM

  19. Steve – I picked this one to post my comment on simply because it was so spectacular. I haven’t left many comments lately, but I very much enjoy seeing your pictures each day in my E-mail.

    I’ve been awed at how much beauty you’re still finding even in the winter when everything is brown. Even in the bleakness, you’re showing a wonderful world.

    What’s funny is that I was at the botanical gardens last weekend. As I started walking, I thought (seriously) how does Steve FIND this stuff to take pictures of? 100+ pictures later, I decided I knew how. It was a matter of paying attention and looking around. A few field trips help too.




    January 17, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    • Thanks for your kind words, Nancy. You’re right that even in the bleaker times of year (which here in Texas includes the hot hot hot summer) there are things to be found, as long as you keep putting yourself out there. Woody Allen is quoted as saying that “90% of life is just showing up.” I see that that notion worked well for you on the winter walk you took and documented on your blog. I’ll add that winters in Austin are a lot milder than yours (yesterday’s high was around 71°, for example), so it’s easier to stay outdoors and therefore easier to find things. And there’s always the comfort that spring can’t be too far away.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2012 at 6:43 AM

  20. […] the aftermath of the Blizzard of 1947. It’s not the only photograph ever posted here that I appear in, but it’s the first one ever from Long Island and the only one I didn’t take myself. […]

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