Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

So what about the fountain?

with 53 comments

So what about the fountain that I’d stopped to photograph when I found the crawfish claw?
Above is a picture of the water’s apex taken at 1/2000 of a second to stop the motion,
and below you have a soft take on the fountain at a long 1/15 of a second.

Today’s subject flows into Shelley’s poem “Love’s Philosophy”:

The fountains mingle with the river
   And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
   With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
   All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
   Why not I with thine?—
See the mountains kiss high heaven
   And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
   If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
   And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
   If thou kiss not me?


© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 17, 2020 at 4:39 AM

53 Responses

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  1. Wonderful flows, my friend and their flow to Shelley! 😉
    Happy Monday!

    marina kanavaki

    August 17, 2020 at 7:48 AM

  2. One of my favorite poets, but I didn’t know this one, a nice pairing with the fountains.

    Robert Parker

    August 17, 2020 at 7:55 AM

    • I knew this poem but wouldn’t have thought of it by myself. That’s where a book of quotations with a thorough index of keywords came in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 9:17 AM

  3. I really like the first photo, particularly the way the water droplets in the foreground shade the water behind. (At least, that’s the explanation I decided on. At first, I thought different densities were at play, but that didn’t seem right.) It gives a nice depth to the image, and the shades of gray are beautiful against the gradations of color in the background.

    As for the second image? My first thought was of unchopped strands of fiberglass, and I can’t unsee them. I’m not sure Shelley would add mixing fiberglass and epoxy to his poem, which is just as well. That job’s work, but it’s not particularly sweet.


    August 17, 2020 at 8:27 AM

    • I was quite very happy with the first picture, along with many others of a similar type that I took. By setting my camera to burst mode, I confirmed once again that pictures taken a fraction of a second apart often show very different configurations of water. I agree with you that the varying shades of gray in the water and blue in the background make the picture special. A person looking at the actual fountain probably wouldn’t see things this way. One view of art is as a transformation of reality, and that view fits here.

      Your work predisposes you to see fiberglass where I saw—if I saw anything other than flowing water—a flowing fabric. If you could plunk any of those Romantic poets down into our two-centuries-later world, who knows how they’d react?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 9:30 AM

  4. I did not come across this love poem in the English literature course I took in 1965. Your photos of the fountain’s action go well together with this lovely poem, which I will read to my wife at breakfast.

    Peter Klopp

    August 17, 2020 at 8:31 AM

    • Now that will be a romantic (and Romantic) breakfast! I’m glad I included Shelley’s poem.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 9:41 AM

  5. That’s a beautiful poem, thanks for sharing.

    For sure the first image is the most intriguing in my humble opinion. It doesn’t even look like a photo to me. It’s almost like a painting or a CGI image. I’m imagining some AI materializing or a hologram in the space.


    August 17, 2020 at 8:57 AM

    • You’re welcome for the sharing of Shelley’s poem. I’m with you in being intrigued by the first image. It was one of a bunch I took at high shutter speeds—there’s the connection to technology—and the effect seemed magical to me. As a late addition to the post I included the second picture as a soft contrast to the beautiful chaos of the first.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 9:55 AM

  6. I like both renderings a lot. The first looks like a work of art, a pointillistic painting, the second one like a veil.


    August 17, 2020 at 9:14 AM

    • Yes, I see a veil, too. While this is a fountain, some waterfalls—a similar kind of flowing water—are named Bridal Veil Falls. As for the first picture, I got excited when I saw how my work had come out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 10:14 AM

  7. Love it. This is a Shelley poem I hadn’t seen. Thanks for your faithful “uplifting.”

    Margie McCreless Roe

    August 17, 2020 at 10:48 AM

    • I like the way you put it: faithful uplifting. I’ve known the Shelley poem for a long time but you’re the third commenter to say you weren’t familiar with it; now you’ve been uplifted in your knowledge.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 11:00 AM

  8. Superb, Steve! I love the abstraction, and what a fine poem to go with it.


    August 17, 2020 at 12:02 PM

    • Too bad I couldn’t get Shelley to pose for a portrait in front of the fountain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 12:55 PM

      • Some things are better left to the imagination….


        September 4, 2020 at 8:03 PM

        • With the advanced state of computer graphics these days, I expect someone could create a convincing photograph of Shelley by that fountain.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 4, 2020 at 11:35 PM

  9. Great work Steve, made me go back to reading about Shelley, who I found out was the first published vegetarian and leader of nonviolence resistance theory. It’s amazing how much the same subject matter transforms itself with the shutter speed. I can’t remember how many times I’ve stared at a fountain and see it transform this way.


    August 17, 2020 at 3:01 PM

    • Yes, when it comes to rapidly moving water, the difference in the effect of a slow versus a fast shutter speed is huge. At the two extremes shown here, neither result is what we normally see. I generally gravitate toward a fast speed in order to stop the movement and see all the details, which in the first photograph really got me excited. I tend to avoid a slow shutter speed, especially with waterfalls, maybe not intrinsically, but because the cottony look has become so very common among photographers.

      I didn’t know Shelley was a vegetarian. I see from a Wikipedia article that “Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) aligned most of his views on vegetarianism with those of Ritson. Like Ritson, Shelley believed that a meatless diet was the best mode of consumption for a healthy, disease-free life. He believed that human disease could be alleviated by a simple reversion back to a plant-based diet. The eating of meat, to Shelley, was a practice that polluted the body with syphilis, among other unpleasant ailments. In A Vindication of Natural Diet he wrote, ‘Should ever a physician be born with the genius of Locke, I am persuaded that he might trace all bodily and mental derangements to our unnatural habits,’ these unnatural habits being the consumption of meat. He compared the negative effects of a meat-based diet to alcoholism, asking, “How many thousands have become murderers and robbers, bigots and domestic tyrants, dissolute and abandoned adventurers, from the use of fermented liquors?’. He goes on to suggest that a human of gentle disposition towards animals, ‘rising from a meal of roots,” will be a healthy man whose only threat of death will be that of his own natural, old age.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 3:22 PM

    • It sounds logical. It seems he came to practical conclusions having died so young.

      Well, even when you say about the images ‘neither result is what we normally see’, they instill in me a memory of a way water behaves in a fountain. “To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.”-
      Pearl S. Buck


      August 17, 2020 at 5:48 PM

  10. I love photographing water 🙂 Well done, they’re both amazing.

    M.B. Henry

    August 17, 2020 at 4:21 PM

    • Thanks. That first one especially pleased me. Then I thought to balance it with the soft view.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2020 at 4:24 PM

      • I agree the first one is my favorite, but both are very good!

        M.B. Henry

        August 17, 2020 at 4:27 PM

        • My excitement was all about the high-speed views, of which I made a bunch. Later I looked at the few slow-speed views I made and I kinda liked the soft effect, too, so I added the second picture.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 17, 2020 at 4:30 PM

  11. Wonderful Fountain. Where it place?


    August 18, 2020 at 4:04 AM

    • The fountain is located on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin, specifically on the northeast corner of E. Howard Ln. and The Lakes Blvd. I may have to go back there under different lighting to see what other kinds of pictures I might get of the fountain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2020 at 7:08 AM

  12. Meaningful poem.


    August 18, 2020 at 4:04 AM

  13. Interesting poem. It contains several comparisons similar to those I’ve made in song lyrics of my own, although I was not aware of this poem until now. My first thought on seeing the name Shelley was that he was married to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, in which dead flesh was reanimated by the good Doctor. And as usual, the photographs are outstanding, and I agree with the general preference for the first shot at a thinly sliced point in time.


    August 18, 2020 at 7:53 AM

    • I’ve known this poem of Shelley’s for a long time, which is why I thought other people would know it, too. Yet that seems not to be the case, at least based on the comments here. Yes, this is the same Shelley whose wife wrote Frankenstein. The phrase “the Frankenstein monster,” meaning ‘the monster that [Doctor] Frankenstein created,’ was misinterpreted by enough people that many now think Frankenstein is the name of the monster.

      I generally go for fast shutter speeds with moving water, as in the first picture here. It and its high-speed companion pictures got me excited when I saw how they turned out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2020 at 2:16 PM

  14. A fun subject photographer in a fun way (against the sky).


    August 18, 2020 at 12:20 PM

  15. Shelley certainly had a very elegant way to convince his beloved to get laid (pardon my French). His poem is not just about a kiss.


    August 18, 2020 at 8:45 PM

  16. It will come as a surprise to you that I prefer the first. Either one is a nice representation of the fountain. But for me the first has an abstract quality that really has nothing to do with the water and everything to do with vision.

    Steve Gingold

    August 19, 2020 at 7:16 PM

    • Yeah, the vision thing: I agree with you. The first picture really is abstract, and I was very happy with the way it (and its companions) turned out. I went back to the fountain this morning in your style, which is to say while it was still dark, hoping I could get warm colors in the water from the sunrise. Unfortunately the fountain wasn’t running that early. I hung around till after 7:00, when it was already light, but still no fountain, so I went elsewhere and did other things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2020 at 8:45 PM

  17. […] the morning of August 19th while it was still dark I went back to the fountain you saw here recently, hoping to get some warm colors in the water at sunrise. Eventually the sun came up but the water […]

  18. I particularly like the first image with its soft colors and cool shapes.


    September 13, 2020 at 8:03 AM

    • Those shapes are what got me as soon as I saw the images enlarged on my computer screen. While still out taking the pictures I couldn’t tell how well many of them had come out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2020 at 8:34 AM

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