Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bulrush reflections

with 42 comments

Bulrushes and water lilies were common at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, as you see above. In one place without water lilies the bulrushes drew my attention by the way they made reflections in the water. Of my two dozen experiments in trying to record those abstract reflections, the one below strikes me as the most interesting; I can almost imagine that someone had knitted or woven the image.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2019 at 4:40 PM

42 Responses

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  1. Very cool effect, I have to say, groovy! It does seem like it would make a great pattern for cloth

    Robert Parker

    October 30, 2019 at 5:17 PM

    • Groovy: appropriate, I’d say, for a picture by someone who came of age in the 1960s and got his first “real” camera in 1969.

      If you know how to clothify the image, go for it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2019 at 6:23 PM

  2. Although the others are not seen, I don’t think there could be a much better choice. That is one very nice abstract.

    Steve Gingold

    October 30, 2019 at 5:34 PM

    • Glad you agree. In this photograph, like all my other experiments, depth of field was a problem, and I wasn’t happy with seriously out-of-focus areas. Originally I included more below where the bottom of the picture is now but in the end I couldn’t reconcile myself to it being as blurry as it was and cropped it off.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2019 at 6:27 PM

  3. This is beautiful, Steve. I agree with you on the crop.

    Michael Scandling

    October 31, 2019 at 1:14 AM

  4. Every time I see a collection of those floating lily pads, I can’t help but think of the arcade game called Pac-Man. The split in the pads makes them look remarkably like the little character the game made famous.

    The second photo’s delightful. Despite the squiggliness, the alternating bands of color remind me of the kente cloth woven by the Asante and Ewe peoples of West Africa. The cloth is woven in narrow strips and then sewn together; I suspect that ‘strippiness’ is why the photo evoked the cloth. As for the slightly out of focus areas, I like them. They evoke a beginning weaver who didn’t get the warp threads tensioned properly.


    October 31, 2019 at 6:19 AM

    • Though I never played Pac-Man, I certainly remember the circular figures in the game that the lily pads remind you of. I also remember, thanks to you, the kente cloth from Africa. I understand how you’d see the second photograph starting out at the top with kente-like parallel strips. Going downward—a welcome change from the unnecessary “going forward” that so many public speakers feel obligated to use—entropy soon sets in and the squiggles happily take over. You’re more forgiving of the beginning weaver’s work at the bottom than I am.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2019 at 6:35 AM

  5. Channeling Monet, or maybe Van Gogh:)

    Mark Walton

    October 31, 2019 at 7:45 AM

  6. A tiny breeze of the water’s surface can create photographic wonders through its reflections. I love your picture with the reflections, Steve. It looks like an oil painting.

    Peter Klopp

    October 31, 2019 at 8:03 AM

    • Agreed: it looks more like a painting than a photograph, thanks to the rippling on the water’s surface that broke up the reflections.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2019 at 8:22 AM

  7. Both shots are gorgeous, that second one is a painting!


    October 31, 2019 at 8:32 AM

  8. Beautiful images, Steve, especially the second one!

    Lavinia Ross

    October 31, 2019 at 9:20 AM

  9. I love that reflection, Steve, and I agree, it could easily be a tapestry or a knit. It’s wonderful the way the lines gradually deviate from the straight and parallel to swervy curves. 🙂


    November 3, 2019 at 12:19 PM

    • I’m fond of reflections, as I assume you and most nature photographers are. This one was different from any I remember photographing, mainly for what you mentioned: the way the roughly parallel stalks soon become so swervy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 3, 2019 at 1:30 PM

  10. That is in a coastal region? I used to have a copy of the Brazos River yucca here, but that is from much farther inland.


    November 11, 2019 at 2:47 PM

    • Yes, this was close to the Gulf of Mexico. What Wikipedia says about the Brazos River makes sense of how Brazos River yucca could grow near it: “The Brazos River, called the Río de los Brazos de Dios by early Spanish explorers, is the 11th-longest river in the United States at 1,280 miles from its headwater source at the head of Blackwater Draw, Curry County, New Mexico to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico with a 45,000-square-mile drainage basin.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 11, 2019 at 3:08 PM

      • Yes, that is a lot of distance. It would go through many diverse ecosystems.


        November 13, 2019 at 8:32 AM

        • I take it the yucca is near the New Mexico and west Texas end of the river.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 13, 2019 at 9:55 AM

          • The range is west of Dallas, south of Oklahoma. I had to look it up real quick. I though it was closer to New Mexico, at the upper end of the Brazos River. I was fascinated by pictures of it in the wild. The region is so unfamiliar.


            November 16, 2019 at 10:52 AM

            • I see what you mean. The three counties for which the yucca species is marked are in the general vicinity of the river’s midpoint.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 16, 2019 at 11:48 AM

              • Oh, I didn’t mean to trouble you with looking it up.
                I used to grow all but one of the known species of Yucca. I lacked only Yucca flexilis, which might not even be a real species. They were all wild forms, rather than garden varieties, although I had a few cultiars as well. Yucca necopina, although not desirable for landscape purposes, was one of my favorites because it was so ignored. Sadly, the entire collection, including some extremely rare species, was discarded while I was hospitalized.


                November 19, 2019 at 11:49 AM

                • Oh, that’s too bad. It sounds like an excellent collection. I’d never heard of Yucca necopina till you mentioned it. Maybe I’ll see it someday.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 19, 2019 at 9:10 PM

                • Although it is none too impressive, and quite rare, you just might run into it just because you pursue native flora in the wild. One is more likely to see it in the wild than in a landscape. The pictures that I have seen of it show it growing on fence lines along roadways. Epiphytic Yucca lacandonica is the weirdest, but not something you would find. It lives in Belize and adjacent parts of Mexico.


                  November 20, 2019 at 3:31 PM

                • I recognized the species name from the Lacandon Maya in Chiapas.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 20, 2019 at 6:24 PM

                • Wow, not many would recognize that.


                  November 20, 2019 at 7:54 PM

                • From being in the Peace Corps in Honduras I developed an interest in the Maya.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  November 20, 2019 at 10:01 PM

  11. Very abstract indeed. Your subject reminded me of a poem I learned in TXMN training to remember the different monocots: ‘Sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses have joints, when the cops aren’t around.’


    November 17, 2019 at 8:16 AM

    • I think I learned “sedges have [three] edges from an elderly friend. “Rushes are round” is new to me. From observation I’d picked up on the fact that grasses have joints—though not of the mind-affecting kind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2019 at 8:48 AM

  12. I really like both of these tremendously. As Robert says, the second one is groovy. I never liked that word much, but it captures the feel of the image perfectly.


    November 21, 2019 at 9:01 AM

    • I’m glad you like them. While the first is a pleasant enough landscape view, the second goes into a world of abstraction and therefore strikes me as better esthetically.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2019 at 9:12 AM

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