Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fish fry

with 28 comments

Fish Fry by Algae 4706

As I stood on June 2nd in the shallow water photographing the algae you saw last time on the flooded land adjacent to Naruna Way on the Blackland Prairie in far northeast Austin, a school of tiny fish darted about, sometimes sheltering under the algae and sometimes coming out into the clear, where their rapid movements when startled by my own movements caused the surface of the water to ripple and the sun’s incident light on that clear morning to create shimmering and quickly changing patterns that perhaps not coincidentally made it harder to distinguish individual fry intermingled within them. (How’s that for a single sentence of slightly over a hundred words?)

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2015 at 5:14 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

28 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. … ne pas oublier de prendre sa respiration, ou revenir en arrière pour ne pas perdre le fil 😀


    August 3, 2015 at 5:22 AM

    • Je me suis mis à la recherche de ces fretins éperdus, et pour un moment cette seule phrase m’a fait Proust.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2015 at 6:23 AM

  2. Run on sentences can be your friend.
    I had a similar experience not long ago when I came across some rippling water in Baby Carriage Brook here in town. But there were orange streaks in the water and it turned out to be goldfish that had escaped somehow…more likely dumped…into the brook and were now considered unwelcome guests.

    Steve Gingold

    August 3, 2015 at 5:36 AM

    • What a great name: Baby Carriage Brook. I take it the nearby residents brooked no objection when it got named that.

      I’ve seen occasional goldfish in a pond in Austin, no doubt dumped there in the way you mentioned.

      I think the sentence in the post must be the longest I’ve written in—appropriately—a long time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2015 at 6:37 AM

  3. You are giving Charles Dickens a run for his money with your long sentence. The fry appeal more than the algae, to my eye, at least.


    August 3, 2015 at 6:13 AM

  4. It all makes for an interesting abstract, Steve!


    August 3, 2015 at 6:35 AM

    • I know an abstraction of this sort won’t appeal to everyone, so thanks for letting me know you liked it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2015 at 6:47 AM

  5. I would have added commas around “perhaps not coincidentally,” but your description reads just fine.

    I love the way the structure of the sentence mimics the apparently aimless darting of the fish, which pehaps isn’t aimless at all, but an instinctive and generally helpful attempt to evade predators or even photographers: all those who would capture them in jaws or lenses for the purposes of non-lethal publication or quite lethal snacking. (Fifty-six, but who’s counting?)

    It occurs to me that I don’t hear the word “fry” down here. “Fingerlings” is more common, and the most common phrase is “finger mullet,” which some people consider good bait.

    Now, I’m wondering: wouldn’t “small fry” be a redundancy?


    August 3, 2015 at 6:44 AM

    • Yes, I, too, might have put commas around “perhaps not coincidentally,” and I think I even thought about it. What I wanted to put there was “camouflagedly” or “camouflagingly,” but I desisted, thinking it might come across as a bit too strange.

      More power to you for counting the chaos. Fifty-six is also the total you’d get if you counted the dots in this well-behaved array:


      “Small fry” is indeed redundant, as is the “tiny little [something]” that we often hear people say. I have the impression you’re more likely down here to hear about a fish-fry than about fry per se. As for finger mullet, I’ll have to mull that over because I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2015 at 7:01 AM

      • One reason “fry” is less common here is that the word generally is used to refer to young salmon or trout, and we’re a little short on both.

        The mullet are wonderul, inelegant fish. They slurp along the edges of docks, eating the algae, and also eat the underwater parts of plants like water hyacinth. There’s nothing quite like seeing the hyacinth bobbing up and down, for no apparent reason. It can be a little unnerving until you realize that it’s the fish pulling on their roots and stems that makes them bob.

        Mullet love to jump, too. And in the summer, great flotillas of mullet will cruise around with their heads stuck out of the water. It’s quite a sight. As for the babies, they love to school, and if the water is clear enough you can see millions of them swooping and swirling through the water as if choreographed.

        Strangely enough, that visual representation of 56 looks like mullet cruising along. It reminds me of your discussion in your previous blog about the relationship of reality and math.


        August 3, 2015 at 7:15 AM

        • I like the way you said that mullet slurp. If I were named mullet, I’d probably want to slurp too.

          What you said about the water hyacinths bobbing reminds me of the way I’ve seen prickly pear cactus flower stamens move, seemingly by themselves, but actually from the activity of beetles out of sight down below.

          You do have a good imagination if the array of dots seemed like a mullet. I haven’t done any mullet math before, but maybe I’ve been missing out all these years.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 3, 2015 at 1:15 PM

  6. I hear “minnow” instead of “fry”.

    I had a job a few years ago which required paring down paragraphs from 100-200 words to 50-100. The content was to be maintained as nearly as possible. It was an interesting and oddly satisfying challenge.

    Jim in IA

    August 3, 2015 at 7:02 AM

    • I think that job has left its mark on you. I’ve noticed that you prefer short sentences. When I was in high school I came up with the motto “Brevity is a virtue,” but now I’m happy to be unvirtuous when the mood strikes. The sentence in this post was an extreme example.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 3, 2015 at 7:27 AM

      • I had no trouble reading your sentence. It made sense first time through. Sometimes, long convoluted sentences leave me confused. I have to go back and try again. They slow me down.

        Jim in IA

        August 3, 2015 at 7:40 AM

        • I’m glad to hear my sentence, though long, flowed smoothly. There can still be clarity in length.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 3, 2015 at 1:17 PM

  7. Fascinating image, great demonstration of the rich diverse earth we live on and enjoy.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    August 4, 2015 at 1:00 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 )

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: