Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sycamore seed ball decomposing by the side of a creek

with 32 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Around the time that 2011 gave way to 2012, you saw the seed ball of a sycamore tree, Platanus occidentalis, beginning to come apart. As the rain falleth on the just and the unjust alike, so the seeds of the sycamore may rain down on land or on water, the second being perhaps as likely as the first because of this tree’s fondness for growing alongside creeks, rivers, and ponds. Today’s picture dates from exactly a year ago, January 23, 2012, near the Smith Memorial Trail adjacent to Bull Creek in northwest Austin.

Notice in the upper and lower left of the photograph that a couple of insects seem to have met their demise in the water.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2013 at 6:04 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Ganz fantastisch!!!


    January 23, 2013 at 6:21 AM

  2. I thought I recognized those bubbles. All of your photos that include them are striking (or humorous, as when the photographer’s accidentally included!) I was glad to be reminded of the seed ball. It’s so unfamiliar to me I couldn’t visualize it from what you show here, but a quick glimpse was all it took to sort things out. It’s rather amazing that the little “feathery things” stay feathery in the water and don’t clump up into a sodden mess.


    January 23, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    • You have a good memory for bubbles. (I’d forgotten about the picture in which I’m reflected in several of the bubbles, and I’ve gotten so used to clicking on things to enlarge them that when I looked back at that image just now a part of me wanted to click one of the bubbles to enlarge it.) I’m glad that the look back at the seed ball proved helpful, because as you said, you wouldn’t be able to reconstruct an image of the seed ball from some of its decomposed remains in the creek.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2013 at 7:28 AM

  3. Wow – this looks like something out of a fantasy world.

    Journey Photographic

    January 23, 2013 at 7:11 AM

  4. this is so unique! thanks for sharing!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    January 23, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    • It was unique in my experience. Although I’d photographed (and keep photographing) bubbles on some of our creeks, I hadn’t found anything like this combination of elements till that day. Let’s hope I can find something different but equally compelling on future looks into creeks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2013 at 7:33 AM

      • it’s always great to stumble upon something unique and have the ability to capture it forever! nature often presents to us some amazing surprises! some of us happen to be on the lookout! thanks for doing your part!!!

        Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        January 23, 2013 at 7:36 AM

        • You’re welcome. I wish I could drive just a few miles and find myself in the environments of Costa Rica and Ecuador to record some of the very different natural wonders there, as you get to do. We all do our part.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 23, 2013 at 7:39 AM

  5. Love the whimsical mood.

    John & Lois

    January 23, 2013 at 7:24 AM

  6. Just amazing!!!


    January 23, 2013 at 9:49 AM

  7. Quelle magnifique photo Steve, j’aime toutes ces petites bulles qui scintillent. Dans quelques années il y aura surement par ci et par là de nombreux petits sycomores qui sortiront de terre.
    Comme j’ai vu que tu t’exprimais très bien en français, je me permets de varier..


    January 23, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    • Merci, Chantal. De temps en temps, comme les bulles, moi aussi je scintille!

      Quant à ton projet de varier, go for it, vas-y, variety is the spice of life.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2013 at 1:20 PM

  8. “… the rain falleth on the just and the unjust alike”. True enough; and “truth is stranger than fiction,” although it’s hard to believe that this is a photograph and not an illustration from a fantasy tale.


    January 23, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    • I’m glad you had the reaction you did. Every so often I’ve managed to make a photograph that looks like it’s from a world of fantasy yet is still a straightforward record of the world of nature. It’s a happy meeting of the two realms.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2013 at 1:27 PM

  9. This is beautiful, steve….looking like a frozen set of bubbles…just beautiful!


    January 23, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    • I’m pleased that you find it beautiful. If this had been January in many other parts of the country, the bubbles might really have been frozen: what a different opportunity for photographs that would be.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2013 at 4:02 PM

  10. Glad you explained what that spectacular bubbly blob was. RIP, litte hard body buddies.


    January 23, 2013 at 4:48 PM

  11. Exquisite!

    Susan Scheid

    January 23, 2013 at 6:04 PM

  12. Incredible photo- amazing work.


    January 24, 2013 at 1:31 AM

  13. I love the colours and the abstract feel to this image!


    January 24, 2013 at 2:18 AM

  14. […] By the way, isn’t it interesting that this close downward look at a small body of water is so different from one that appeared in January? […]

  15. […] a close look at what one of these seed globes looks like when it comes undone. You can also revisit the remnants of a seed ball in a creek alongside a sparkling array of bubbles. And if you really want to make good on the more in sycamore, you can see one of its leaves […]

  16. […] past three years you’ve seen photographs showing bubbles in creeks. In all those cases either the water and bubbles were fairly static or if the water rushed by and produced rapidly changing bubbles I used a high shutter speed to […]

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