Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Here’s looking at you

with 29 comments

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I happened to be going through my archives recently and ended up in the year 2007, where I found this picture of a turtle looking at me apprehensively because it wasn’t used to having the front end of a macro lens put so close to its face. My friends Bill Brooks and Tim Cole, who are wise in the ways of things reptilian, told me independently that this is probably a red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans. The turtle kept its head retracted the entire time that I photographed it at Hornsby Bend in southeast Austin on July 26, 2007, so I never got a photo showing extra features that might have clinched the identification.

The turtle was dressed in its usual garb of upper and lower shell plates but it was also fashionably accessorized in duckweed, which is a type of tiny aquatic plant that can sometimes be seen floating in large numbers and forming a covering on the surface of ponds.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 24, 2012 at 6:16 AM

29 Responses

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  1. I love a smile to start my day! 🙂


    September 24, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    • I seem to recall that the turtle was more hissing than smiling, but I’ll be happy to smile for you (even if you can’t see me doing it).

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2012 at 6:20 AM

      • LOL Not too happy with a camera lens being thrust into his personal space, I suppose. Still looks to be smiling to me; don’t pop my bubble, Steve. It’s Monday, for crying out loud! (And thanks for the 2nd smile.)


        September 24, 2012 at 6:22 AM

  2. What a great image… Perfect perspective!! (Even if he wasn’t too thrilled, heh.)


    September 24, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    • We can put things in perspective (as people say): the turtle wasn’t thrilled, but I was because I got a good picture of it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2012 at 6:33 AM

  3. Great pic!!!


    September 24, 2012 at 6:35 AM

  4. My, what lovely teeth he has. I honestly never realized that turtles had teeth! Hissing or not, he does appear to be smiling. A wonderful shot!
    ~ Lynda


    September 24, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    • I’m glad you like the portrait, Lynda. I confess I know very little about turtles, so I typed “Do turtles have teeth?” in my browser and found the following on answers.com: “No, they have a beak. Their jaws however have horned ridges, which have basically the same function as teeth! Meat-eating turtles have sharp ridges whereas plant-eating have more of a serrated design.” Now I know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2012 at 6:56 AM

      • Well, those “horned ridges” sure do look like canines in back of his “lips” (OK, beak). 😉 Thanks for the clarification.
        ~ L


        September 24, 2012 at 10:35 AM

  5. I love these little guys. They’re quite common here, and often get hit as they cross roads on their way from one pond to another, looking for a good place to spend the winter. There’s a local woman who’s a great rehabber – I was amazed to learn that, absent other injuries, broken shells can be fiberglassed. I always carry a box and towel with me, just in case.

    This one’s expression is priceless. It does look as though he might be keeping an eye on that free riding snail, though. And thanks for the mention of duckweed. Now I have a name for a very familiar plant.


    September 24, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    • I can imagine how common they must be in east Texas, with all its waterways. Who would have guessed that a broken shell could be fiberglassed? I guess what’s good for a boat hull is good for a hull of a reptile. It’s considerate of you to carry a box and towel, just in case. As for the turtle’s expression, I took other pictures that show it with its mouth closed, but I prefer this one because of the insight it provides.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2012 at 7:05 AM

  6. A lovely portrait today! Thanks for making me smile Steve!


    September 24, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    • You’re welcome, Cathy. One thing that makes me smile is the German word for a turtle, Schildkröte, which I take to be a toad with a shield. How imaginative, no?

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      • The German language is often very logical!


        September 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM

  7. Incredible capture.


    September 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM

  8. This is great and I love the “fashionably accessorized”


    September 24, 2012 at 12:38 PM

  9. That’s great!


    September 24, 2012 at 11:59 PM

  10. Extraaordinary 🙂

    The Wanderlust Gene

    September 27, 2012 at 6:30 AM

    • It is indeed outside of what I ordinarily find. I don’t think I come across more than about one turtle a year that’s close enough to photograph like this.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 27, 2012 at 6:48 AM

      • And even if he can’t run away he’s probably just as quick as a monkey to disappear in his shell!

        Your specimen – with those extraordinary markings, and, as you pointed out, the zig-zag eyes – was a revelation to me. Great share.

        The Wanderlust Gene

        September 27, 2012 at 8:54 PM

  11. Hi Steve – such a great picture .. and delighted you posted it for us … brilliant. I love the Sumac range, while the ‘tuna’ is stunning in its colour … brilliant photos – thanks so much .. cheers Hilary


    September 28, 2012 at 4:55 AM

  12. […] had just the picture for this […]

  13. this turtle on this photo is very beautiful !


    January 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM

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