Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Forms and textures of a browning leaf and yellowing algae along Old Lampasas Trail on March 3

with 33 comments

Old Leaf Fallen on Algae 7116

For details of some bubbles in this brew,
Just click below to get a closer view.

Old Leaf Fallen on Algae 7116 Detail

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2016 at 5:01 AM

33 Responses

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  1. My daughter, when she was young, would have said, “There’s Biology in there.” Indeed. Whatever was living in that mix was surely thriving … just look at all that oxygen! Where would we be without photosynthesis?

    Pairodox Farm

    March 19, 2016 at 5:37 AM

    • And where would I be without photographesis?

      Speaking of biology: have people tested the bubbles in a situation like this and determined they contain oxygen? You spoke of “that mix,” so are other gases produced as well?

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2016 at 6:57 AM

      • The mix I referred to was one of plants, algae, bacteria, cyanobacteria, diatoms, and who-knows-what-else. The oxygen produced by photosynthesis (and the gas in the bubbles) is pure oxygen (20.95% in ‘air’). As far as the balance of the air we breathe … respiration produces carbon dioxide (0.033% in ‘air’) and nitrogen fixation produces nitrogen (78.08% in ‘air’). I have no idea where the argon comes from (0.93% in ‘air’)!

        Pairodox Farm

        March 19, 2016 at 7:08 PM

        • I’m familiar with the general distribution of gases in the atmosphere, but what I meant to ask was whether processes are going on in or around the algae that add gases other than oxygen to these bubbles.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 19, 2016 at 7:31 PM

          • I don’t believe so.

            Pairodox Farm

            March 20, 2016 at 5:09 AM

            • Then that raises the question of whether a mat of bubbles like this is combustible. No one is likely to put a lighted match to one, but I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if someone did.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 20, 2016 at 7:49 AM

              • That’s an empirical question. I would guess that the experiment would be tough to do in such a highly aqueous environment.

                Pairodox Farm

                March 20, 2016 at 9:18 AM

                • I’ve wondered if we’d get a brief blaze atop a creek, a small version of the way polluted rivers (notoriously the Cuyahoga in Ohio) sometimes used to catch on fire.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 20, 2016 at 9:31 AM

  2. This is one that became even more interesting when enlarged. The bubbles are cool, but I really like the strands that are woven through them. Or, perhaps the bubbles have (appropriately enough) bubbled up through the strands. In either case, it’s a great image, and the addition of the lightly-laying leaf is perfect.


    March 19, 2016 at 7:48 AM

    • The strands that run through and on algae bubbles have always appealed to me too. No doubt scientists have studied the formation of bubbles of this sort, but I have no idea how they form, how long the process takes, and what conditions are required.

      As for the leaf, I assume it fell from one of the nearby live oaks. It was important for the little area of contrasting color it provided.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2016 at 8:01 AM

  3. This one is edging around my previous favorite from your algae images. Quite an interesting mix of textures and very appealing with the leaf for a textural contrast.

    Steve Gingold

    March 19, 2016 at 10:12 AM

    • It’s good to hear that this image is raising the bar. As you see from the enlargement of a little piece, there’s lots of detail here, considerably more than in your other favorite from a decade ago, thanks to advances in sensor technology.

      The leaf was a bit of good luck, offering extra color and different texture.

      Speaking more generally and thinking of some of your recent images: what I lack in ice I try to make up for in algae, and I don’t have to freeze my extremities off in the process.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2016 at 10:31 AM

      • Lucky you. Tomorrow morning my extremities will freeze and then tomorrow night we are due for some early spring snow. Out like a lion, it seems.

        Steve Gingold

        March 19, 2016 at 6:08 PM

  4. Fantastic! Love the close-up of the brew.

    Lemony (Gr)Egghead

    March 19, 2016 at 11:40 AM

  5. This is amazing. And of course, a great photo as well!


    March 19, 2016 at 10:06 PM

  6. The science of this picture is interesting and the close-up, extremely beautiful. I could look at those bubbles and filaments for way too long, Steve. 🙂


    March 20, 2016 at 5:17 AM

    • Sounds like there’s a smartphone app in there somewhere, Jane. I can see the newspaper headline now: “Pedestrian creates own bubbles falling into fountain while absorbed in algae bubbles phone app.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2016 at 7:54 AM

  7. Beautiful composition, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    March 20, 2016 at 10:27 AM

    • Thanks, Lavinia. The bubbles extended broadly enough that I could maneuver the camera to keep the fallen leaf off to one side.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2016 at 10:31 AM

  8. Must be in honor of the sparkling water and slightly effervescent [Texas] Muscat Canelli we shared last night at dinnertime….


    March 21, 2016 at 11:56 AM

    • And yet you wouldn’t want to drink any of this brew, with its quite different effervescence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 21, 2016 at 9:57 PM

      • It does make me think…wonder…would algae have any of the health benefits of seaweed? Hmmm…


        March 21, 2016 at 11:33 PM

        • Good question. There are many kinds of algae, and even if some of them are nutritious, I have no idea how palatable they are. The water in this pictures was becoming stagnant, so I don’t think we’d want to ingest anything that came from it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 22, 2016 at 12:01 AM

  9. These photos are unique and beautiful!
    It is a fascinating glimpse into a beautiful and special world you are giving us.
    Thank you!!!


    March 23, 2016 at 6:37 PM

    • You’re welcome. I’ve been doing lots of abstractions this year, especially with algae but also with lichens and rocks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 23, 2016 at 10:56 PM

  10. SUPER!


    April 4, 2016 at 10:34 AM

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