Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Water flowing quickly in Bull Creek

with 30 comments

Ripples and Algae in Bull Creek 2199

It wasn’t just the algae and other aquatic plants that I found intriguing in Bull Creek on January 17th. No, it was also the bright but ephemeral rippling of the fast-flowing water. Its speed led to my sensing it more than really seeing it, so for some pictures I set my shutter speed at 1/2000 of a second and blazed away. The abstract picture above is one result, and the little waterfall at the end of the post is a second one. I took many other abstract photographs of the creek at various shutter speeds, but after three days in a row on this subject I’d risk wearing out my welcome if I showed any more of them, so it’s on to something else tomorrow.

But wait! — as hokey television commercials say — now you can get a look, absolutely free, at the first video ever associated with this blog. See algae undulating in scenic Bull Creek! Hear the roar of the frenzied water rushing past! Unbelievable! To take advantage of this amazing offer, click here now: operators are standing by.

Small Waterfall in Bull Creek 2483

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 30, 2016 at 4:59 AM

30 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hi Steve, I love these shots. I’m always partial to some great ripple, reflection and wave shots. I took advantage of the amazing video offer. Will I receive a bill in the mail now? It was enjoyable to hear the rushing water. I’ve been wanting to share videos from my walks but I’m having problems with the software on my computer and the new camera. My IT son has moved out so it’s now dependent on my ability to google technical questions and understand the responses. It may take some time… 😉


    January 30, 2016 at 7:05 AM

    • From the abstractions you’ve shown in your posts, it’s clear that you’re as partial as I to ripples, reflections, waves, and other patterns, whether aqueous or not. Yesterday I did another large batch, this time in a slow- or non-flowing tributary of Bull Creek where algae were in various stages of drying out, from still green and just beginning to pucker, to tan or grey and thoroughly stranded (oh, the play on that word).

      I learned that unless we pay for a premium membership, we can’t embed video directly into our WordPress posts, but we can always link to a site that allows the posting of videos for free. I have no IT son and know nothing about video editing, so I just pressed the button and held the camera still for 18 seconds to produce the (amazing) clip you saw, which required no editing.

      No bill will be forthcoming. I said “absolutely free,” and meant it, unlike the makers of many television commercials who don’t understand the meaning of “absolutely” and who add a hefty charge for delivering their “free” items. Truth in advertising, say I—absolutely.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2016 at 8:15 AM

      • I was sad to discover I couldn’t embed videos without premium membership. Not sure why but the next video suggested to me by Youtube was a Ted talk on making energy from algae.


        February 3, 2016 at 6:22 AM

        • I don’t know what algorithms YouTube uses to select the next video. With music, I’ve noticed that sometimes the following videos are more songs from the same album. In this case algae provided the common thread (another play on words, based on the previous post).

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 3, 2016 at 7:30 AM

  2. I had to laugh at the offerings YouTube suggested for me at the end of your video. Most were concerned with how to clean algae from fish tanks, or unique algae forms found in nature, but in the midst of it all, there was Theo Jansen with his Strandbeest. Who says these services don’t track us?

    I have precisely two video snippets: one of a flock of raucous Canada geese, the other of the Rio Frio. They’re fun to have. Your “Dance of the Algae” is especially appealing.

    I really like the first photo, with its larger view of the ripples and reflections that were so appealing in your first photo of this spot.


    January 30, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    • They do track us: one of the follow-ups offered to me was a long presentation by a National Geographic photographer, and it even began at the spot where I’d paused a few days earlier. Big Brother is indeed watching us. In any case, I the title you gave this video is a good one, “Dance of the Algae,” but I don’t know how you’d notate the score.

      I was “absolutely” fascinated by the ripples. Even at 1/2000 of a second, and even with the camera set to high-speed shutter release so that holding down the button gave one picture after another as quickly as possible, consecutive frames only a small fraction of a second apart had different patterns of light in the ripples. I’ve long been fascinated by rippling water, and included a picture of it when this blog was only a few months old:


      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2016 at 8:32 AM

      • The Waller Creek photo’s really something. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I think your comment about the color is right on: that’s part of what makes the photo such a show-stopper.


        January 30, 2016 at 6:31 PM

        • I hadn’t seen a creek with those colors before either, so I was enchanted with the scene and grateful for the chance to photograph it (especially during the terrible drought). In looking back at my archive now, I see that in seven minutes I took 53 pictures of abstract patterns. A few are similar to the one I chose to show, but the others vary, and some of them also look good to me now that I’m seeing them for the first time in over four years.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 30, 2016 at 6:52 PM

  3. Great post, and enjoyed your inaugural video.

    Susan Scheid

    January 30, 2016 at 8:26 AM

  4. Again, the abstract feeling here. Amazing photos, Steve! Loved the first one!


    January 30, 2016 at 10:12 PM

    • I was caught up in that world of rapidly changing abstractions. I kept turning the camera this way and that way, looking to frame pleasing patterns. Every split second those patterns would change, so I often didn’t know what I’d get till I looked at my pictures afterwards.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 30, 2016 at 10:30 PM

  5. Nice video and I like the strong abstract quality of the golden ripples in the first image. I was surprised that it is your only video…not that I have very many either. One more to come shortly.

    Steve Gingold

    January 31, 2016 at 7:56 AM

    • Golden ripples fill your eyes…. I’ve thought that maybe I should’ve paired the first image up with another that’s similarly abstract. The waterfall picture’s abstract too, but in a different way.

      I’ve had video in my SLRs for six years but until this clip I hadn’t been tempted to do more than try out that feature of the camera to make sure it worked. Not that I hadn’t thought that some things I was taking stills of would lend themselves to motion…

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2016 at 9:09 AM

      • I have only done videos with the phone. I suppose I should take advantage of the higher quality from the dslr.

        Steve Gingold

        January 31, 2016 at 9:19 AM

        • Go for it. You already usually have your camera on a tripod (I hand-held mine when I did the video).

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 31, 2016 at 9:38 AM

          • I try to balance the phone on top of the tripod. My hands are very unsteady and I can only handhold a camera at a high speed exposure with the flash which I do rarely.

            Steve Gingold

            January 31, 2016 at 10:31 AM

  6. In The Netherlands we hardly have any naturally moving river or brook water at all. Wind moves it of course but there is no natural flow or eddies around rocks that sort of thing. We also do not have rocks in or on the ground which does make gardening easier. I too love rippling water and am fascinated by its beauty and strength. Be thankful for the natural beauty even in tiny places.


    January 31, 2016 at 8:14 AM

    • When I was in elementary school in New York we learned about the dikes in the Netherlands but our teachers didn’t tell us that your country doesn’t have much naturally moving water, nor many rocks (most likely they didn’t know those things either). The lack of those things must make foreign travel all the more exciting for you.

      Because Austin doesn’t have conventionally scenic landscapes, I’ve found myself focusing a lot on the fascinating small and smaller things that we do have in nature here.

      Your mention of ripple caused by wind on water reminds me that I’ll be showing a picture of that here in about a week.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 31, 2016 at 9:35 AM

  7. Fun to see the undulations. One of the first videos I made with my camera was of a little brook in the neighbourhood, simply because I loved the light in/on the water and the sound of the water. Each waterway has its own voice. That is my view. No idea if there is any scientific evidence for it.


    February 3, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    • Following that idea, wouldn’t each stretch of a waterway have its own voice? And then we could ask that question about each part of each stretch, and so on, as in one of Zeno’s paradoxes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 3, 2016 at 7:32 AM

    • By the way, an elderly friend of mine has pointed out that the word brook seems to be dropping out of American English.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 3, 2016 at 7:34 AM

  8. […] January 29th I spent more than an hour photographing at a tributary of Bull Creek. In contrast to the fast-flowing Bull Creek of a few weeks earlier, this tributary was drying up, so the water in it was mostly shallow and […]

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: