Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A different both sides now

with 24 comments

On July 24th I stopped at the northeast corner of E. Howard Ln. and The Lakes Blvd. to see what I could do photographically with the tall column of water in a fountain there. When I got near the pond from which the water shot up, I noticed a little object on the ground. At eye height I couldn’t tell what it was, so I bent down for a better look. It turned out to be the claw of a crawfish (or crayfish, or crawdad, as you prefer), and an interesting little thing it was. To take some pictures, I held the claw in the tips of a couple of fingers on my left hand and wielded the camera with my right. Because the two sides of the claw were so different, I’ve shown you both views. An alligator, anyone? I should add that this was hardly the first time I’d found and photographed a disembodied crawfish claw; the last time I showed you one was in 2015.

Here’s an unrelated interesting fact: methuselah is the name given to a large container of champagne that holds about six liters. You may recall that Methuselah was a biblical patriarch said to have lived 969 years. Perhaps for Methuselah a methuselah a day kept old age away. UPDATE: even bigger sizes exist.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 16, 2020 at 4:36 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Indeed, you made the crawfish claw look like the mouth of an alligator.

    Peter Klopp

    August 16, 2020 at 8:22 AM

  2. That’s a lot of wine! I hadn’t heard that before. Half the fun of champagne is popping the cork, so I’m not sure I’d want a methuselah.
    I confess I see a lot of disembodied crawdad claws, too, and don’t bother to examine them closely. I’m glad you did. I don’t know how you managed to get such crisp shots while holding the camera in one hand! You did, though, and gave us two vey interesting looks at the claw. Have you ever eaten crawdad? I have….


    August 16, 2020 at 8:27 AM

    • In theory, anything can serve as the subject of a portrait. This claw had such appealing textures and colors that I just had to take pictures of it. When photographing with my right hand alone, I often hold the camera against my forehead for extra support, and I use a shutter speed of at least 1/400 of a second. The first picture was harder than the second because I had to move my left hand far enough to the right to get it out of the picture. Crawfish is a popular food in Texas but I’m semi-vegetarian and don’t care for it. Chacun à son goût. As for methuselahs, I just found out that even bigger bottles exist, each with a name to distinguish it:


      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2020 at 8:48 AM

      • Well who knew? I wonder where one would even get an enormous bottle like Melchizedek. Kinda fun to think about. As for crawdad, I think it tastes pretty awful. I like looking at them, though. Come to think of it, it has been quite awhile since I’ve seen an intact one. On the claw, as it were.


        August 17, 2020 at 8:03 AM

        • I think you can get just about anything online these days, although American regulations about shipping alcoholic beverages may complicate things. Crawdads seem to be on menu for plenty of birds and other animals; that would account for the disembodied parts you and I have found.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 17, 2020 at 8:37 AM

  3. Those are gorgeous! They look like sculpted ceramic alligators!


    August 16, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    • Probably not many people have ever described crawfish claws as gorgeous; now you have. I like your description of them as sculpted ceramic alligators.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2020 at 9:40 AM

  4. Looks pretty much like an alligator to me. 😉


    August 16, 2020 at 12:27 PM

  5. I remember that post from five years ago. The contrast in colors in the two aspects of the claw is pretty striking. The dark outer surface certainly would benefit it by being far less obvious to any potential predator, but I wonder about the value of the far-brighter palmar (as it were) surface. Nice precision tips.


    August 16, 2020 at 5:38 PM

    • You raise an interesting question about the value of that orange color. It seems plausible to me that some features evolve randomly and don’t serve any purpose. If that’s true, perhaps the orange is one such feature. As for those precision tips, without a macro lens I doubt I would have noticed them. Their purpose seems to be for latching onto something. One website says that the main diet of crawfish “is decomposing animal matter and decaying vegetation. These are the easiest food sources to get hold of and they can easily be ripped apart by their claws. They also eat small live fish, if they swim by close enough.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2020 at 8:22 PM

  6. What beautiful photos. There currently are forty-three species on the State of Texas checklist (they call them crayfish). Someone once loaned me her crawfish field guide; imagine the Liggios’ book, but for crustaceans. As I recall, the book owner had documented something like eight species in Brazoria County.

    I suspect the color difference on each side might be related to sun exposure. Just as lobster, crabs, and crawfish turn red after being boiled in a cooking pot, many of the claws and carapaces of dismembered blue crabs I find have turned red, and I don’t think the raccoons are cooking them before eating. Every now and then I find an especially bright one, and drag it home.

    Your description of how you photographed the claw made me laugh. I know someone else who’s mastered the technique.


    August 17, 2020 at 7:07 AM

    • It hadn’t occurred to me that the color of a claw might change as it ages after a crawdad’s demise. Your observation about carapaces of dismembered blue crabs is evidence in that direction. Another question is whether living crawfish also sometimes have claws with different colors on opposite sides. As for your link, that picture is a clever parallel to the photographic technique I described.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 8:43 AM

  7. Finding the odd crab (or crayfish) claw is such a common occurrence, but you did not only choose to photograph it, but you also made it into so much more. These are beautiful, in my mind. I’m glad it/they smiled for you – I think it/they was glad to be appreciated. 😉


    August 17, 2020 at 12:05 PM

  8. Yes, I immediately thought alligator! The claws are a very cool design.


    August 18, 2020 at 12:23 PM

    • Welcome to the alligator club. Your comment about a very cool design made me think that stylized versions of the claws would make for interesting jewelry.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2020 at 3:50 PM

  9. Yes, the second does look gatorish. Interesting the one side, the first, appears to have tiny barnacles while the second does not.

    Steve Gingold

    August 20, 2020 at 4:18 AM

    • It would help to know more about crustaceans here. All I could do was portray what I found, but that was enough for me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2020 at 6:41 AM

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