Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Moss on rock

with 22 comments

Moss on Rock 0867

Click for greater clarity and size.

While I was walking in Great Hills Park on February 13th, a colony of bright green moss thriving on a large rock caught my attention. When I got close I could see, rising from that bright base, these spore-capsule-bearing stalks, which were only about a third of an inch (8mm) tall.

Although mosses are common in central Texas, somehow this is the first closeup I’ve ever showed of any. (Ball moss and Spanish moss have appeared here, but in spite of their common names they aren’t true mosses.)

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 6, 9 and 15 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2014 at 6:01 AM

22 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Lovely abstraction of color on yet another snowy morning in the Mid-Atlantic.


    March 3, 2014 at 6:57 AM

    • We got dragged back into winter too, with the sky gray and the temperature 24°F outside now. This moss may survive, but most of the flowers that had started coming out probably won’t.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2014 at 7:11 AM

  2. So unusual. The stalks remind me of calligraphy brushes, heavy with ink, or some of the molds we grew in our grade school science classes. In fact, I just discovered that the scientific name for penicillin Penicillium chrysogenum — comes from its resemblance to a paintbrush– penicillus reportedly being the Latin word for paintbrush.


    March 3, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    • Yes, and the modern word for ‘paintbrush’ is pennello in Italian and pinceau in French. Old French pincel is the source of English pencil, which originally meant ‘artist’s paintbrush.’

      Given the strange things some artists have done over the last century or so, I wonder of anyone has ever painted with mosses in lieu of paintbrushes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2014 at 7:51 AM

  3. Love the colors and close-up


    March 3, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    • It’s hard to appreciate something so small with the naked eye, but if you look through a magnifying glass or macro lens, little worlds like this one come into view.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2014 at 8:20 AM

  4. Really beautiful shot! Great use of shallow depth of field.

    • The problem with getting in close to something as small as this moss is that there is indeed little depth of field. To compensate, I used flash and set the lens aperture at f/14. Even with that small an opening there wasn’t much depth of field, but enough for me to keep a band of these stalks in focus across the picture. Anything farther away fades into the background to varying degrees.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2014 at 10:38 AM

  5. Very beautiful capture! Exquisite!


    March 3, 2014 at 8:48 AM

  6. I love close-ups of moss and lichens. They are amazing.


    March 3, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    • I’m with you, Jude. I’ve showed lichens here a bunch of times, but I haven’t showed any mosses till now, probably because I find them more difficult to photograph well. Lichens are often on branches or boulders where I can get a clear shot of them, but mosses are usually on the ground. The fact that the mosses in this picture were on a small boulder made my work easier.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 3, 2014 at 11:13 AM

  7. it’s beautiful !!!


    March 3, 2014 at 3:54 PM

  8. what a beautiful macro


    March 3, 2014 at 9:04 PM

  9. Just beautiful. I like what you say about it: “It’s an unfamiliar look at a familiar part of nature.”

    Susan Scheid

    March 5, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    • Just think how differently we would conceive the world if the unfamiliar views came our way more often. I wonder if people who spend a lot of time looking through microscopes end up with a different feel for the physical world than the one(s) the rest of us have.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      • That is one interesting speculation, and I’m sure you’re right! How could they not? In fact, it’s for certain that visiting here has changed my way of seeing what’s around me.

        Susan Scheid

        March 5, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: