Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Waterfall Wednesday #2

with 30 comments

Last week you heard how on June 3rd, before the day turned and stayed rainy, I drove three miles to a tributary of Bull Creek where a picturesque waterfall was flowing at full strength. In addition to many straightforward photographs taken at slow shutter speeds like an eighth or a half of a second, I experimented with even slower shutter speeds and zoomed the lens or otherwise moved the camera while the shutter was open. I’ve included two of the results here, each from a four-second exposure. Look how different these views are from the ones you saw last week; in particular, they’re more abstract and less recognizable.

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Yesterday I mentioned the horrendous depredations of the Anti-Cultural Revolution in China under the dictatorship of Mao Zedong. Today I’m following up with the story of Xi Van Fleet, a woman who managed to escape the terror of that Chinese Communist regime. She was fortunate to find freedom in America, but now she’s dismayed to discover that her school district in northern Virginia is indoctrinating its students by using some of the same kinds of techniques and lies the Chinese dictatorship did to keep its people brainwashed and in bondage. You can read about her testimony in a New York Post article from last week.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 16, 2021 at 4:23 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Alternative perspective. Conservatives appear to be undermining genuine discussion on race issues in America and attempting to centre it around critical race theory instead, for their own political ends … NPR News June 15, 2021. Link: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/critical-race-theory-invades-school-boards-help-conservative-groups-n1270794

    Ms. Liz

    June 16, 2021 at 5:18 AM

    • Conservatives believe in treating people equally, without regard to immutable and irrelevant criteria like skin color or ethnic origin. In contrast, critical race theory (which will serve as a generic term for the ideology that has been pervading many American institutions) is a Marxist ideology that sees everything in terms of oppressor and oppressed. Where historical Marxism conceived oppression in terms of social class, critical race theory (as the middle word indicates), has replaced class with race in what is otherwise still a form of Marxist dogma.

      The British writer George Orwell was once a communist, and he fought on that side in the Spanish civil war. His experiences with what communists actually did–how in a lust for power the members of one communist faction purged or even murdered those of another—disillusioned him. In response he wrote Animal Farm to point out the evils of communism. The book is a satire in which animals represent people. In the beginning, the animals adopt an admirable slogan: “All animals are equal.” Later, though, as one faction gains power and dominates everyone else, a second line gets added to the slogan: “But some animals are more equal than others.”

      It’s that second line that epitomizes critical race theory. Increasingly many American schools are violating American law, which requires equal treatment regardless of race, by labeling white children as oppressors and even expecting those children to identify themselves as such. That’s racist. That’s evil. Opposing that evil may benefit conservatives politically, but that doesn’t change the fact that the evil must be opposed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 16, 2021 at 7:06 AM

      • I appreciate your considered reply. I can’t help thinking re your 2nd paragraph about the gaining of power and then dominating others that this most closely resembles the false accusation of a “stolen” US election and the subsequent attack on the Capitol. Certainly I don’t agree with children being expected to identify themselves as oppressors or oppressed but I haven’t seen anything to suggest this is current policy and while there may well be some isolated instances, from what I’ve read to date I suspect it’s been way over-hyped.

        Ms. Liz

        June 16, 2021 at 7:27 AM

        • During the pandemic, most American schools stopped holding classes in person and switched to online learning. One consequence was that many parents, who were also at home because of the pandemic, got to see what their kids were actually being taught. That led to an awareness that critical race theory had gained a broader foothold in American schools than the public had realized. I’ll agree with you that anecdotes are one thing, and that facts and statistics are required in order to find what’s really happening. It’s hard to know the actual extent to which critical race theory has become entrenched, in part because some school administrators have resisted parents’ requests for copies of the syllabi and other relevant documents. Why would administrators do that if there’s nothing to hide? I’ve heard that some parents’ groups are filing legal motions to obtain those documents. The public pays the taxes that run the schools, so of course the public has a right to know what’s going on in their schools.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 16, 2021 at 8:13 AM

          • Perhaps because they’re overwhelmed …

            In South Kingstown, Rhode Island, the parent of an incoming kindergartener submitted over 200 public records requests in two months, seeking copies of middle and high school curricula, lists of all books related to gender available in the library and 10 years worth of harassment complaints and emails. The district said it would take 300 hours to compile all of the records requested.

            Timothy Ryan, executive director of the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association, called the onslaught of records requests an effort “to shut the system down.”

            ~ excerpt from the NBC News article I’ve provided a link to above.

            Ms. Liz

            June 16, 2021 at 4:06 PM

            • I don’t know anything about the South Kingstown school district and requests for curricula and other materials. That may or may not be abusive, depending on the circumstances. I know that some other school districts have done their best not to reveal “woke” teachings in their schools, and parents have had to file legal requests for information. In some cases school boards have conspired to subvert parents’ wishes and have mocked those parents, whom they supposedly serve. Here’s one example:


              Steve Schwartzman

              June 16, 2021 at 6:34 PM

              • Completely unacceptable behaviour but I note it’s from February and to do with when the school would reopen.

                Ms. Liz

                June 16, 2021 at 7:27 PM

            • More generally, I’ll point out that the large majority of news outlets in the United States lean leftward politically, sometimes very heavily. That includes ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and the Washington Post. Likewise for social media like Facebook and Twitter. Likewise for large corporations like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple. I’ve found many instances where “news” media don’t cover events that would reflect badly on leftist ideology, or they report events in a slanted way to make their opponents look bad. It’s no longer unusual at the New York Times for articles in the news section to include reporters’ opinions—to the point that it can sometimes be hard to tell what actually happened. If you get your news about what’s happening in America only from those sources, you’re getting a one-sided account.

              Here’s a particularly egregious example. When the pandemic broke out last year, two origin stories seemed possible. One was that the virus spontaneously passed from bats to humans at a so-called wet market, perhaps via a pangolin (another kind of animal) as an intermediary. Proposers of the second theory noticed the coincidence between the fact that the epidemic started in Wuhan and the fact that that’s the location of the Institute of Virology, which just happens to do research on coronaviruses. Not far into the pandemic, virtually all the news media went with the first hypothesis, even though no actual evidence for it had come forth. Some of those news outlets began saying, without any proof, that the lab origin theory had been “debunked,” even though it hadn’t been. At some point, Facebook and Twitter started taking down all posts that even discussed the lab origin hypothesis. That included posts from highly qualified doctors with years of experience. That’s out-and-out censorship, and of course it created a false impression among the populace.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 16, 2021 at 7:03 PM

              • I’m aware of extreme media influence / bias, Rupert Murdoch came from Australia.

                Ms. Liz

                June 16, 2021 at 7:37 PM

  2. The flowing water in these abstract images looks soft and inviting.

    I am surprised Orwell’s “Animal Farm” hasn’t been banned. It is a satire classic that we read in high school and discussed greatly. I remember it opening my eyes – it made an impression. I have been vocal about how my elementary parochial school upbringing was limiting in so many ways. I attended a Lutheran school through eighth grade and I had no reason not to trust what I had been taught as a child… until I went into the public school system for the next four years, and fortunately had a few very open-minded teachers who encouraged us to look deeply at writing – be it a novel or a newspaper. Even at that age, I understood that I had been misled in my formative years and that much of what was taught in text books was not necessarily the truth. As I matured, I was fascinated at how many cultural issues (especially regarding Native Americans) that I had been taught in text books were serious lies. I am not surprised at what is happening in our country. I feel overwhelmed by the evil and what people choose to accept and be complacent with.


    June 16, 2021 at 7:43 AM

    • We’ll see whether Animal Farm keeps its place as a staple in high school. The fact that even a modern classic like To Kill a Mockingbird has been getting banned in many schools doesn’t bode well for Orwell. What you say about your own schooling is interesting. In what ways did your Lutheran school mislead you, and what did you later feel your textbooks had misrepresented? You mentioned Native Americans, but I assume there were other things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 16, 2021 at 8:51 AM

      • There were numerous other considerations for what was presented as ‘factual’ in textbooks, that later I sought answers for simply because it did not make sense or hold true in my experiences in the walk of life. I would say most of it had to do with our country’s history. My travels were the first eye-opener that maybe there were other “theories” about happenings in history – it caused me to do research and make better sense of an event or happening. Oddly, just after I was confirmed in the church, I had questions – never received answers that explained anything concrete nor did they feel right in my heart, and when I continued to question I was “dismissed” from the church. I think it boils down to inspiring people/children to find their own truth through extensive research, and not hammering someone else’s ideas of truth down throats. It is the freedom to seek and share that I love so much – at the same time being open to discussion and consider other’s point of view. So many people today follow the narrative, and do not investigate for themselves. I am appalled at lifelong friends, who never once questioned the demands and dogma of the church. But I do respect the choices others make to be involved or not. After all, many are the times I flee to Nature when it all becomes too chaotic for me to remain in. It’s too painful to rail up against continually.


        June 16, 2021 at 9:56 AM

        • Thanks for elucidating. From what you’ve said, it sounds like getting dismissed from that church was a good thing for you. You wouldn’t have been happy in an organization that couldn’t provide you with satisfactory answers to your questions. Our world has become especially chaotic in the past year, and I understand the urge to flee to nature, where I spend some time, too. Another way I’ve chosen to deal with some of the chaos is to provide information and analysis here, along with the continuing pictures from nature.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 16, 2021 at 11:36 AM

  3. Beautiful photography. I like the unpredictability of ICM.

    Alessandra Chaves

    June 16, 2021 at 7:57 AM

    • Thanks. Unpredictability, thy name is ICM.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 16, 2021 at 8:20 AM

      • I think humans should read more Aesop’s Fables, have more drinks and try to have a better time in this beautiful earth rather than fighting all the time, sometimes against biology, laws of nature, and inevitabilities of our own nature of social animals. Group identity is very important to us to ignore, but it becomes more manageable if we become aware of the need we have to identify with groups. Almost every interaction is meant to establish an “us” to the exclusion of “they” and it is tiring. Race, sex, religion, points of view, partisan affiliation, these are all expressions of group identity. Then finding, persecuting, shaming, excluding a scapegoat gives the group a sense of worth and accomplishment. Now that I am old, I think most of what we live is a big theater. Lives ruined because of a comment, not so entertaining for those involved. I know, know: I wrote much and I said very little.

        Alessandra Chaves

        June 16, 2021 at 12:11 PM

        • Aesop’s Fables is a good suggestion, as those tales encompass many truths. Unfortunately the trend in American schools now is toward trendiness itself, meaning recent writings the play up factional identities, to the exclusion of great literature from the past that deals with the broadest identity of all, namely human nature. As you said, there’s an increasing denial of biology and nature, both human and impersonal. It is tiring to deal with that, and the temptation is to withdraw and try to find a place of inner peace. Unfortunately that leaves the field to the transgressors, and that’s why I’ve begun speaking out.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 16, 2021 at 1:28 PM

  4. The effect of the long exposures of your waterfall photos is impressive, Steve. A four-second exposure seems like a long time to hold steady. I wonder if you had to use a tripod

    Peter Klopp

    June 16, 2021 at 8:07 AM

    • In the approach represented by these two pictures, the photographer purposely moves the camera, so a tripod would be an obstacle, as would holding steady. Mostly I zoomed the lens in an out between its extremes of 24mm and 105mm. In a few cases I also rotated the camera around the axis of the lens barrel. Although digital cameras give us lots of metadata, like the shutter speed and aperture that were used for each picture, digital cameras have no way to report how a lens got zoomed or a camera got moved. As a result, I can’t tell you (or myself) what I did to get each picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 16, 2021 at 8:20 AM

  5. It’s good to try new things and both of these work well although the second comes a little closer to reality.

    Steve Gingold

    June 16, 2021 at 4:46 PM

    • I’d say we normally want as much control over our photographs as we can get. With the techniques I used here, though, I had practically no control over how things would turn out. From one picture to the next I could zoom the lens in similar ways and have the results differ noticeably. What I find with those techniques is that if I take a bunch of pictures I usually end up with one or several that I find pleasing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2021 at 5:39 AM

      • That is just what most everyone who does ICM images will say. I have not tried any but I would expect to do the same.

        Steve Gingold

        June 17, 2021 at 5:53 AM

        • I’m not surprised other photographers have felt the same way. I’ve often enough seen other photographers show results of panning the camera during a long exposure, but I’m not sure I’ve seen other people show the results of zooming the lens in and out, which is my favored technique.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 17, 2021 at 7:08 AM

          • Actually most of this type image I saw in the early days of the practice were zoomed. Tony Sweet and Freeman Patterson come to mind. Now folks are zooming and panning as well as rising and falling all in one exposure. Try to get that accurately as what is in your mind’s eye.

            Steve Gingold

            June 17, 2021 at 4:09 PM

            • I didn’t know about that early zooming. Guess I’ve lived a sheltered life.
              I experimented a little with zooming the lens while also rotating the camera. It occurs to me now that I could also walk forward with the shutter open.

              Steve Schwartzman

              June 17, 2021 at 4:31 PM

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