Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

From nonagons to dewdrops

with 48 comments

The last post showed a least daisy surrounded by sparkly dewdrops that my camera lens had turned into nonagons. Now I feel I owe you a picture of untransmogrified dewdrops. Today’s view comes from a different ground-lying spiderweb close to Yaupon Dr. on the morning of April 23rd. Because the small size of a blog-suitable photograph makes it hard to appreciate the individual droplets, you can click the excerpt below to zoom in and get a much more detailed look at one section of the image.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2020 at 4:45 AM

48 Responses

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  1. Interesting to learn a new word for a specific kind of polygon.


    May 4, 2020 at 5:28 AM

    • Most people probably know pentagon, hexagon and octagon. Beyond that, the words in the series are used less often or practically never. Trigon exists but mostly gets replaced by Latin-based triangle. Similarly tetragon gives way to the more unwieldy quadrilateral, where sides rather than angles get counted.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 6:35 AM

  2. I am always intrigued at these spider webs on the ground and try to be cognizant of them as I walk along. Sometimes one can observe the tiny spider awaiting its prey at a tiny opening in the web. But then I suppose I’m just guessing that is what it’s doing. The view through the lens of your camera is very interesting, and the detailed view has a magical appearance.


    May 4, 2020 at 7:00 AM

    • This was a horizontal part of a funnel web. Like you, I’ve sometimes gotten a glimpse (and even a photo) of the spider waiting down in the funnel. On a few occasions I’ve seen one come rushing out in response to a vibration I caused. As for magical appearances, I’m all for them. In the enlarged part, I see the droplets floating in space.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 7:47 AM

  3. Wow. The sharpness of the individual drops is crazy when I looked at the enlarged section that you provided. The full-sized image is really cool, with the drops forming a veil-like curtain, but it takes looking closely to realize how amazing the image really is.

    Mike Powell

    May 4, 2020 at 7:29 AM

    • The pattern of droplets in the overall image—the veil-like curtain, as you described it—pleases me. Given the limits of the optics, not all the drops are sharply focused; you can see the sharpness drop off noticeably at the bottom. For the enlargement, I picked a well-focused region of droplets. I recently read about Topaz Sharpen AI, and I’m wondering what it could do for this photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 7:56 AM

      • I have the software, Steve, and use it sometimes when an overall image is a little blurry. There are separate adjustments for situations when you just want to sharpen or when the issue is focus or stabilization. You can choose to make some adjustments manually or let the artificial intelligence do its thing. I am not sure if it will make all of your droplets super sharp, but might be worth a try.

        Mike Powell

        May 4, 2020 at 8:21 AM

        • Thanks for letting me know about your experience with Topaz Sharpen AI. From an online video I learned about that software’s three modes. You’ve given me one more reason to try it out.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 4, 2020 at 8:26 AM

  4. Wow, what a dramatic effect it was when I clicked on the small image to view the dewdrops. You are not only a great photographer, Steve, but also a master of surprises.

    Peter Klopp

    May 4, 2020 at 7:53 AM

    • I’m glad you clicked and took a magical trip through the looking glass. Surprises of that sort are always welcome, aren’t they? I’m happy you had one this morning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 8:01 AM

  5. I like the effect when ‘bigified’ as a blogging pal, Derrick, puts it.


    May 4, 2020 at 8:02 AM

    • Yes, it’s quite an effect. You’ve reminded me of another blogger who speaks of clicking to embiggen an image.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 8:11 AM

  6. Another beautiful, textural photo. I think you’re onto something; ever thought about making photography your profession? 🙂 It’s a lovely shot, Steve!


    May 4, 2020 at 8:05 AM

    • “Textural” is a good word for it, and I’ll take “beautiful” anytime; thanks. As for making photography a profession, I’ll profess a keen interest in what me might call art photography. As a practical matter, it’s hard to make a living that way, so I kept photography as something I could do my own way and not be beholden to anyone. Two things I do think I missed good careers as are historian and efficiency expert.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 8:22 AM

  7. The overall shot is impressive, but the detail absolutely blows me away. I’ll go for the detail. You can use Topaz Gigapixel AI to make an enlargement. Then it goes on the wall.

    Michael Scandling

    May 4, 2020 at 10:56 AM

    • “but the detail absolutely blows me away” — likewise!

      Ms. Liz

      May 4, 2020 at 3:26 PM

      • I hope someone eventually managed to grab you and pull you back.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 4, 2020 at 4:10 PM

        • Hahahaha!! I made it back. Your comment made me think of a gorgeous children’s picture book I got from the library a while back. A black terrier opens an umbrella on a windy day and takes off, as the pet cat watches. The dog travels a long way and has incredible adventures, some life-threatening but eventually gets blown back home again. As the dog heads back into the house the cat eyes the umbrella and apparently anticipates heading off on its own adventure. It was a beautiful book! I found a review on WP at: https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/book-review-the-umbrella-by-ingrid-dieter-schubert/

          Ms. Liz

          May 4, 2020 at 4:40 PM

          • It’s clear you really like that book. I tuned into the contrast between the terra, or earth, on which terrier is based, and the fact that the terrier gets blown off the earth.

            Steve Schwartzman

            May 4, 2020 at 6:25 PM

            • Ah ha .. yeah! I like that and hadn’t thought of it.

              Ms. Liz

              May 4, 2020 at 6:30 PM

                • “earth dog” 🙂 how absolutely fascinating, thanks for the link, I’d never made that connection between terrier and earth. I love how you pick up on these things that I’ve, quite frankly, been oblivious to for most of my life!!!

                  Ms. Liz

                  May 4, 2020 at 6:45 PM

                • I’ve long been an advocate for including more etymology in elementary and secondary schools—or any at all, as is often the case. Etymology elucidates many things in all the standard school disciplines. I made it a part of the upper-level math courses I used to touch.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  May 4, 2020 at 9:22 PM

    • Each droplet is a world unto itself.

      I remember you mentioned Topaz Gigapixel AI, which is part of a four-program package I’m thinking of getting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 4:27 PM

  8. Both images are wonderful!


    May 4, 2020 at 1:35 PM

  9. I am unable to say why I like these images so much — they are just very cool! not really a kind of pointillism, the droplets are more like an overlay, well, perhaps it’s enough to simply say that I really like them.

    Robert Parker

    May 4, 2020 at 6:43 PM

    • I’m glad to hear that. Very cool is fine with me. Not everything that gets to us does so intellectually, however adept as we may be in reasoning. What you said about an overlay occurred to me, too. I was thinking that a photographer could create a picture of drops and then superimpose it over something else. Of course it was a lot easier to just photograph this scene.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 9:14 PM

  10. Lovely image, and so many of the droplets are in a plane with one another – pretty unusual for a sheet web.


    May 4, 2020 at 7:41 PM

    • The part I included a closeup of had all the droplets pretty much in a plane, and that’s why I singled out that piece. In some other sections of the full image the droplets departed somewhat from a plane and the lens couldn’t fully focus them all. We do what we can.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 9:17 PM

  11. Thanks for including the second one to embiggen (love the term). Not only are the droplets wonderfully sharp, but the refractions in them are really fascinating in their own right and, of course, each one is subtly different from its neighbors.


    May 4, 2020 at 9:27 PM

    • You’re welcome. Your second sentence is a metaphor for all of us being subtly (or very) different from our neighbors. And some people can be quite refractory, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2020 at 9:30 PM

  12. The clarity in the enlargement’s quite wonderful. My favorites among the droplets are the ones above and along the edges of the brown leaflet underlying the drops. On the left side, the reflection of the leaf is on the left side of the drop; on the right, it’s just the opposite. And, of course, above the leaf, the reflection is centered. Those in the center remind me of the cat’s eyes marbles we treasured as kids.

    This past weekend, I came across a different sort of dew: the kind that doesn’t dry in the sun. Tricky plants, those sundews.


    May 6, 2020 at 8:36 AM

    • I enlarged the part of the image with the best droplet clarity. You’ve made a good observation about how the leaf reflection changes sides. As always, you notice things like that.

      I remember those marbles; haven’t seen any in a long time.

      The only place I’ve ever seen a sundew was in east Texas, 15 or 20 years ago. I’d be happy to see some again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 6, 2020 at 3:48 PM

      • Well, I can (and will) offer some photos. There’s a story to be told, too; it’s one of those odd ones that’s hardly to be believed. It involves my ophthalmologist, a world-famous photographer, Borneo’s carnivorous plants, and Austin. A few more photos and I’ll be ready to tell the tale.


        May 6, 2020 at 4:00 PM

  13. That enlargement is great and I imagine there are hundreds of Mini-you’s in there. I’ve shot orb webs but never a sheet web. This inspires.

    Steve Gingold

    May 7, 2020 at 6:01 PM

  14. Wow, Steve, thank you. Amazing.


    May 8, 2020 at 4:05 PM

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