Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 42 comments

If the 18th century had its Enlightenment, in the 21st century I had my enlichenment. More specifically, it came on February 23rd in Great Hills Park as I surveyed some densely covered dead branches on an elbowbush. Here for your delectation are three views of those lichens. The two pictures with dark backgrounds were taken with flash. So was the other one.

Lichen on Dead Branch 6051

Lichen on Dead Elbowbush Branch 6018

Lichen on Dead Elbowbush Branch 6045

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 9, 2016 at 5:01 AM

42 Responses

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  1. Great…I can be the first to say I’ll be a lichen these images. Lichens will be one of my concentrations this year.

    Steve Gingold

    March 9, 2016 at 5:08 AM

    • I look forward to seeing—and of course likin’— the results of your enlichening concentration.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 8:12 AM

  2. I love lichen. Nice work.

    Sherry Lynn Felix

    March 9, 2016 at 5:31 AM

  3. Are you sure these are lichens? Perhaps I watch too many sci-fi movies, but they sure look like spores from an alien planet.

    Mike Powell

    March 9, 2016 at 5:37 AM

    • Sometimes I feel as if I’m the one from an alien planet. I did read a bunch of science fiction when I was young.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 8:21 AM

  4. Great capture and find!


    March 9, 2016 at 5:53 AM

    • I’ve been monitoring this elbowbush for several years, so the lichen here wasn’t a surprise.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 8:25 AM

  5. I love… especially the number 3


    March 9, 2016 at 6:07 AM

  6. Great pun!

  7. Your captures do justice to this strangely engaging otherworldly character of Mother Nature.


    March 9, 2016 at 7:13 AM

  8. I’ve been enlichened by your enlichenment post. Incredible detail, Steve! There are worlds within worlds within worlds and in the hands of a skilled operator such as yourself, the camera enables us to visit them.


    March 9, 2016 at 7:19 AM

    • Worlds within world indeed. As is so often the case here, Jane, I give credit to my macro lens, without which I couldn’t have recorded these details, which were smaller than the photographs may make them appear.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 9:20 AM

  9. Fantastic shots, and a great title! 🙂


    March 9, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    • Thanks for appreciating both. I looked up enlightenment in German and found it’s Aufklärung. I’d remembered the main part of the word from the title of Richard Strauss’s Tod und Verklärung. So far this morning there’s no sign of the weather “klärung” up after the overnight storm.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 9:26 AM

  10. Clever word play. Stunning photos.


    March 9, 2016 at 8:37 AM

  11. I am particularly enamored by lichen and therefore appreciate all of these. The flash resulted in some dramatic results. Nice work, as usual.

    Pairodox Farm

    March 9, 2016 at 2:52 PM

    • Eventually the sun shone through for a little while, but during most of my time photographing the lichens the sky was overcast and I couldn’t get the extended depth of field I wanted without adding the light of a flash. I think the middle picture was one in which the sun had come out, and that’s why the background isn’t dark the way it is in the other two pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 8:23 PM

  12. I like lichens and these are excellent!


    March 9, 2016 at 4:46 PM

  13. Both the second and third photos brought to mind barnacles, but the third, especially, looks like an encrusted piece of “something” photographed in deep ocean.

    Looking at the first photo, I realized I know almost nothing about lichens. I did a little light snooping, and discovered their symbiotic relationship with algae, and this great quotation from lichenologist (!) Trevor Goward: “Lichens are fungi that have discovered agriculture.”


    March 9, 2016 at 5:21 PM

    • I hadn’t thought about a maritime connection but I can see it now that you’ve suggested it.

      When I learned that a lichen is made up of an alga and a fungus I thought it a strange arrangement. I still do. The statement you quoted explains that arrangement in a clever way. I’ve wondered how (and when) scientists figured out the members of the hybrid. And yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a lichenologist.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 9, 2016 at 8:30 PM

  14. Amazing Steve .. You need lots of clean air for lichen growth. Many of our trees are covered in it …


    March 11, 2016 at 1:39 PM

    • I’m all for lichen-covered trees, photographically speaking. When I was in NZ I photographed some curious-looking lichens on a rock:


      I wish I’d seen some on trees like the ones you mentioned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2016 at 1:46 PM

      • Wow that rock is amazing. I’m for ever defluffing the odd tree in the orchard .. Don’t know why I bother 😃


        March 11, 2016 at 2:12 PM

        • That’s an interesting way you put it: “defluffing the odd tree.” The math[s] man in me immediately had the idea that you’re leaving the even-numbered trees alone.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 11, 2016 at 3:02 PM

          • Ha ha and you are a mathematician too! Oh bonus .. You are making me grin this am Steve! Nope not the odds or evens .. The ones that look like they have beards 😄


            March 11, 2016 at 3:26 PM

            • Uh oh: I have a grey beard, so I hope that doesn’t mean I need defluffing.

              I taught math[s] on and off for 40 years, and although it’s been a while since then, my mind still readily makes mathematical associations.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 11, 2016 at 3:31 PM

              • Oh my that beard sounds flash! 40 years .. Wow Steve I nearly fell off my seat! Did you teach at college / uni?


                March 11, 2016 at 3:53 PM

                • There’s another New Zealandism: flash.
                  I’m sorry I risked having you fall off your seat. I wouldn’t want to be the cause of any bruises or broken bones.
                  I taught secondary math, some of it in high schools and some if it in what we in the USA call community college.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 11, 2016 at 6:02 PM

                • Well done Mr Schwartzman! Maths was literally my worst subject. I think you would have made a ‘top’ teacher 😀


                  March 11, 2016 at 7:15 PM

                • The key is to get a good foundation in elementary school. Without that it’s usually too hard to catch up later.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 11, 2016 at 10:55 PM

  15. Hey Steve .. I’ll pop some pics up on my blog this week for you 😃


    March 11, 2016 at 2:13 PM

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