Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Elliot Bay

with 35 comments

A year ago today we spent some time at Elliot Bay, 30 km east of Russell in the Bay of Islands. Look at the happy abstractions I found in the beach sand there: flowing water had created patterns that may strike you as more plant-like than the actual plants that ended up on top of them.

The picture below brings you in closer to a portion of what’s above.

Similar patterns recently appeared in the header of a post about a beach in Cornwall, England.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 10, 2018 at 4:32 AM

35 Responses

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  1. I was about to say how much I love to see these abstractions on the beach when I saw your link. Thank you Steve 🙂


    February 10, 2018 at 5:01 AM

  2. The name in the title caught my attention. My mother’s maiden name was Elliott, and like many of the English and Irish Elliotts who traveled to New Zealand in the 1800s, her paternal ancestors came from England. There were a few John Elliotts for whom this bay might have been named; it makes sense that the current owner of the surrounding land, one John Elliott, would be a descendant.

    Apparently some of the same development pressures we face are part of New Zealand life, too: the land is for sale.

    It’s always fun to see patterns in the sand. The reddish color surrounding the plant that escaped being washed away suggests a soliloquy with a slight revision of a famous line: “If you pluck us, do we not bleed?”


    February 10, 2018 at 7:35 AM

    • While preparing this post I came across the same video you linked to, which is from a year and a half ago. A brief search just now turned up nothing more recent. Hmm. As for Elliot, this one has a single -t at the end, rather than what I think is the more common -tt. Oh well, that’s just a spelling convention; the name evolved in an era when almost no one was literate, and even those who were literate largely spelled things however they wished. As quirky as modern English conventionalized spelling is, at least it puts us all on the same page, so to speak.

      That bit of reddish color you picked up on is a small hint of more to come next time. I purposely kept today’s views mostly monochrome.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2018 at 7:58 AM

      • It’s interesting that in several of our family documents — marriage licenses, newspaper clippings, employment records, and such — one -t or two pops up. That may help to explain why I read this with two.


        February 10, 2018 at 8:07 AM

        • Right. And that’s just within English. More variations are likely to creep in when a name from one language gets transliterated to another. Think about Chaikovsky versus Tchaikovsky versus Tchaikowsky, all from the Cyrillic Чайкoвский.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 10, 2018 at 8:25 AM

  3. Wow! It always amazes me how much of nature resembles seemingly unrelated bits of itself.


    February 10, 2018 at 7:43 AM

  4. What a lovely find. Some things are just a mystery.


    February 10, 2018 at 8:57 AM

  5. Same here. At first I thought it was an image of a tree etched in by a human hand. And after staring at it for a bit, I still thought it looked like that. Remarkable. Both images are interesting but the second one is truly beautiful to me.


    February 10, 2018 at 10:29 AM

    • Thinking about it now, I wish I’d also carefully removed the two pieces of seeweed so I could have photographed the sand patterns intact—assuming the seaweed wasn’t too embedded for me to have gotten it out without messing up the sand patterns.

      Only at the last minute did I add the second photograph to the post. As you know, I generally don’t post two similar photographs, at least not together, because they steal attention from each other. Here I relented because the second picture comes in quite a bit closer. For your sake, I’m glad I included it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2018 at 12:18 PM

  6. Beautiful photos, Steve. I don’t think I could resist shooting a subject like this if I came across it.


    February 10, 2018 at 2:04 PM

    • Thanks. We’re kindred spirits when it comes to abstractions. It was easy to find them in New Zealand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2018 at 3:52 PM

  7. There are sometimes reasons for patterns to be seen in unrelated situations in nature, as you know.


    February 10, 2018 at 8:21 PM

  8. It’s funny, because every time when I see those patterns on the beach I couldn’t resist. Filigran trees in the sand…


    February 11, 2018 at 2:33 AM

    • Filigree is a good way to describe these patterns. You’re the first person who’s used that word here in the almost seven years this blog has been running.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2018 at 7:56 AM

      • Maybe it’s because I think german in a certain way!? 😉


        February 11, 2018 at 8:18 AM

        • But filigree goes back at least as far as the ancient Etruscans and Greeks.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 11, 2018 at 8:53 AM

          • Etruscans, Greeks, Latin … However, I often use the word in German. That’s what I wanted to express. I wish you a nice sunday certainly without midges or sandflies 🙂


            February 11, 2018 at 9:33 AM

            • Thanks. Fortunately it’s still too early in the year here for two of our main nuisances, mosquitoes and chiggers.

              English borrowed filigrane from French. The word apparently turned into filigreen and eventually the n got lost.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 11, 2018 at 9:56 AM

  9. […] east side of New Zealand’s North Island, as you saw last time in two picture of inherently low-toned patterns on the beach. Today’s post shows you that we also saw colorful things […]

  10. Those are really wonderful patterns, Steve.


    February 11, 2018 at 8:32 PM

    • Thanks, Lynn. I don’t remember seeing such dendritic beach sand formations before, and I haven’t been to an ocean since then.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2018 at 9:27 PM

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