Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A pastel rock in Bull Creek

with 16 comments

Rock and Algae in Bull Creek 2163

On January 15th I glimpsed a pale peach and green rock in a portion of Bull Creek accessible from the Smith Memorial Trail. I took some pictures from the creek bank but went back on January 17th with rubber boots so I could wade in to get a closer and straight-down look. The bits of algae adhering to the upper surface of the rock reminded me of tadpoles or little fish, and they even seemed to be swimming as they squiggled in the current. In this picture I used a shutter speed of 1/400 sec. to arrest the swaying motion.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2016 at 4:30 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

16 Responses

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  1. There’s something about the rock surface that gives me the impression that it’s porous. And that makes me see the thing as a poriferan (a sponge). The bases of the tufts of algae look like the chimneys (oscula) through which water exits the animal. And, the pink areas look like ostia, the pores through which water enters the animal. Can you recall what was causing the pink coloration? Or, is that the natural color of the rock … and it’s simply set off by the surrounding green of the algae? Nice palette of color.

    Pairodox Farm

    January 28, 2016 at 6:57 AM

    • I don’t know if the pink was the natural color of the rock or an accretion on the rock. The pale green definitely seemed an accretion. The combination, as you noted in your reference to the palette, appealed to me.

      Your mention of ostia and porifera made me think of osteoporosis even though the os- of ostium comes from the root for ‘mouth’ while the os- of osteoporosis comes from the root for ‘bone.’ The porosity is the same in porifera and osteoporosis.

      My perception is shaped in part by etymology, yours by zoology.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2016 at 11:12 AM

  2. The algae certainly is (are?) tadpole-like: all swimming upstream.

    When I enlarged the image, I found a multitude of details showing the play of light and wind on the surface of the water: especially sets of very fine ripples on the left side of the rock. It looks as though that side might have been near enough the surface of the water to cause some of the disturbance. I especially like the corkscrew-like distortions just to the left of the rock. They look like someone took a pen and drew in squiggles of a different sort.

    I didn’t realize 1/400 would stop motion. I’ve assumed the shutter speed would have to be much faster. I’ll add that to my growing pile of interesting tidbits to be explored.


    January 28, 2016 at 7:08 AM

    • There are more little details that the full-size image, which is much larger, makes visible, but you’ve managed to appreciate a bunch of features even in this relatively small version. You can enlarge, as you did, but beyond a certain point the image gets coarse and the details begin to blur. In any case, you can understand why I was fascinated with what I saw, even to the point of taking some 400 images on that outing.

      The speed needed to “stop” movement depends on various things, including how quickly the subject is moving, how close the camera is to it, and the focal length of the lens. I put the word “stop” in quotation marks because no matter how high a shutter speed you use, a moving object still moves. It’s a question of how sharp you want the picture to be: there comes a point beyond which, even though technically there’s still movement, the eye and brain can’t detect it. You can try an experiment by using a range of shutter speeds to photograph a steadily moving subject, like water in a creek or cars on a freeway, and compare the results.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2016 at 11:32 AM

      • Your suggestion re: shutter speed is a corollary to what you suggested earlier about experimenting with one subject and multiple aperture settings. Both are good suggestions, and I had a little fun with them this afternoon.

        I just received my copy of David Busch’s book titled, appropriately enough, “Canon EOS Rebel T6s.” I’ve not had much chance to look at its four hundred pages, but I’ve seen enough to know it has a good index, is easy reading, and has a nice balance of illustrations and explanatory text. Best of all, it provides a logical framework for learning the camera. Logical frameworks can be very good.


        January 30, 2016 at 8:26 PM

        • Happy reading. With 400 pages there are bound to be plenty of new things for you, and the logical framework you mentioned sounds promising.

          I’ve learned a lot from good manuals and guidebooks. I wish there were more of them.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 30, 2016 at 9:08 PM

  3. It does look porous which is interesting given where it is. Have you ever taken a net to that stretch of stream? Some years ago I splashed around with a group of scientists who were busy evaluating the quality of our streams. It was amazing what came up in our nets, even when it looked like there weren’t any creatures at all. Also it was great fun! 🙂


    January 28, 2016 at 8:34 AM

    • I have to say that the surface of this rock didn’t strike me as porous when I was there.

      No, I’ve never used a net to find out what’s flowing or swimming by in a stream. Perhaps I would have as part of a basic biology course, but I never had one. I’m always so busy looking for pictures and taking pictures that I don’t think of other activities.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2016 at 2:24 PM

  4. Such a fascinating image; there is so much to explore, to discover, and to enjoy in this world.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    January 28, 2016 at 1:34 PM

    • There’ll be a follow-up tomorrow with more views of what I found in the creek. Stay tuned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2016 at 2:25 PM

  5. Would truly love a print of this hanging in my home. It so reminds me of a Monet painting.

    You are such an amazing photographer!!

    Esther Wilson

    January 28, 2016 at 5:11 PM

  6. My first thought was a porous rock as well. I am sure the rock being submerged altered the colors as well as the appearance.

    Steve Gingold

    January 28, 2016 at 6:31 PM

    • I seem to be porosity-deprived because I never thought about that as a possibility the way the two of you so quickly did. Instead I thought about the pale green getting slowly deposited on the rock.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2016 at 8:58 PM

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