Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Another fountain

with 30 comments

A year ago today I was driving on Lake Victor Drive in the rapidly grown and still growing Austin suburb of Pflugerville when I noticed a path between houses that seemed to lead somewhere interesting. After parking, I walked through and found myself at a new place: a large pond apparently connected to an apartment complex. The immediate shore all the way around had been heavily mowed and looked like it was always kept that way. Even so, I still found some plants and non-plants to photograph. In the latter category was a fountain of the type that shoots water straight up into the air. The top picture reveals the top of the jet at 1/2000 of a second. Below is a view at 1/1250 of a second showing how sunlight created a rainbow in the water that was mistified* as it fell back into the pond.

* In case you’re mystified by mistified, I’ll add that I created it on the pattern of words like liquified and solidified. Following that pattern, mistified means ‘turned into mist.’

◊        ◊

Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman who came to the United States in 1831 and ended up writing the classic book Democracy in America, had extraordinary insights into the spirit of the young country. Here’s an example:

What good does it do me, after all, if an ever-watchful authority keeps an eye out to ensure that my pleasures will be tranquil and races ahead of me to ward off all danger, sparing me the need even to think about such things, if that authority, even as it removes the smallest thorns from my path, is also absolute master of my liberty and my life; if it monopolizes vitality and existence to such a degree that when it languishes, everything around it must also languish; when it sleeps, everything must also sleep; and when it dies, everything must also perish?

That strikes me as even more relevant in 2021 than it was in 1831.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 19, 2021 at 4:40 AM

30 Responses

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  1. The noun “mist” is its own verb. A large fountain mists, though not to the extent Taughannock Falls mists.


    August 19, 2021 at 5:56 AM

    • You’re right that I could have written “a rainbow in the water that was misted as it fell back into the pond.” I chose the longer mistified because the fi component emphasizes the transition from one state to another. Mistified also let me play up the homonymy with mystified. Someday maybe I’ll get back to Taughannock Falls after 50 years so I can see the mist you mentioned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2021 at 6:16 AM

      • Vaporize is the word in English, mistified does not exist in English until now, and not even then.


        August 20, 2021 at 6:00 AM

        • New words get coined often enough, but few of them catch on and become an enduring part of our language. Slang is especially ephemeral. Mistify has only a misty chance of catching on. It’ll likely get vaporized.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 20, 2021 at 6:31 AM

  2. Misting mystification. The second is a beauty of an abstract.

    Steve Gingold

    August 19, 2021 at 5:58 AM

  3. You may or may not be surprised to know that there was a John Pfluger in Fiji as early as 1874. In the city of my birth there is a Pfluger Avenue. Your shot of mistified water in Pflugerville made me wonder how far afield the German Pflugers spread. The internet tells me very little about the Fiji Pflugers.


    August 19, 2021 at 6:02 AM

    • Those Pflugers sure did plough the waters on their way around the world (in German, a Pflug-er is a plough-er). You’re right that I’d never have thought about Pflugers in Fiji. I don’t know how common Pfluger is as a German family name. The less common it is, the more likely that the Pfluger who settled in central Texas was a relative of the John Pfluger who settled in Fiji.

      Your phrase “Fiji Pflugers” seems to want to be alliterated out into something like “Fiji Pflugers find fun far afield.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2021 at 6:31 AM

    • That talk of ploughing also reminded me of the phrase “or a tar who ploughs the water” in the song “Never Mind the Why and Wherefore” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pinafore”.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2021 at 6:39 AM

      • That was well-remembered. Interesting that we use the word plough for land and water.


        August 19, 2021 at 7:11 AM

        • My family had Gilbert and Sullivan records at home. This was a song I grew up with, never far from consciousness ever after all these decades.

          You’re right that English doesn’t always allow the same word for solids and liquids, the way it does for plough. We eat a cookie and drink a soda, but never the other way around. We spill water but drop a hammer.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 19, 2021 at 7:31 AM

  4. Love those water shots! So beautiful, both of them.


    August 19, 2021 at 9:03 AM

    • Thanks. For the past couple of years in particular I’ve been fascinated with fountains of that type, which offer so many photographic possibilities. In addition to the fountain shown here, there’s one on Burnet Rd. at Gault Lane in the Domain, and another on Howard Lane at The Lakes Blvd. I’ve taken pictures of all three.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2021 at 10:39 AM

  5. Imagining myself standing under the fountain I feel mistified. I had quite a struggle with the built-in spellcheck program to accept the new word created by Steve Schwartzman. Haha!

    Peter Klopp

    August 19, 2021 at 9:14 AM

    • I don’t think you’ll ever convince your spellcheck to accept mistified. If the spellcheck had feelings, it would be mystified by mistified.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2021 at 10:41 AM

      • Once we start mistifying our burning forests your word may become acceptable. If we start using the Schwatzmanian term more often, it will find entry into our major dictionaries.

        Peter Klopp

        August 20, 2021 at 11:02 PM

        • I certainly wouldn’t mind. I’ve coined plenty of words in my time but so far not a single one has caught on.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 21, 2021 at 3:45 AM

  6. I love the second one. The textures, and colors are lovely.


    August 19, 2021 at 11:13 AM

  7. That second image has therapeutic qualities. The moment I laid eyes on that image, I felt calm and noticed my breathing slowing down. The varied colors seemed to relax me greatly. I promise I have had nothing to drink or smoke!!


    August 19, 2021 at 1:10 PM

    • You can tell people you were in at the beginning of the new treatment sensation that’s sweeping the nation: fountain rainbow therapy (or FoRTh for short). And we’ll take your word for it that nothing liquid or smoky had anything to do with it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2021 at 1:15 PM

  8. I am definitely mystified by the mistified water. And by the stark differences in the photos, taken of the same fountain and with only minor changes to the technical camera setting.


    August 19, 2021 at 7:08 PM

    • A main difference was that in the top photo I was aiming partly upward into a bright blue sky. The rainbow shown in the second picture was distinctly visible only from a certain vantage point, and I had to aim somewhat downward toward the water. And the water at the peak of the jet was pretty coherent because its velocity was zero or close to zero, while the water that made it back to pond was largely mistified.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 19, 2021 at 11:29 PM

  9. Gilbert and Sullivan are great, but my first thought was that, over time, you’ve been on a magical, mist-ery tour of the fountains. As it happened, I saw a natural version of your rainbow yesterday morning. A very small one appeared in the virga between two clouds, with a Schwartzman-like blue sky as its background.


    August 20, 2021 at 7:02 AM

    • Your mist-ery tour sent me on a little tour to remind myself which songs were included in the Magical Mystery Tour album:
      From that article I learned that “McCartney wrote the melody for ‘The Fool on the Hill’ during the Sgt. Pepper sessions but the lyrics remained incomplete until September.” (And now we’re closing in on September.)

      I also reminded myself at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virga of the kinds of clouds that qualify as a virga.

      One photographic reputation that seems to have attached to me is that of a blue-sky guy. I guess I’ve always assumed all nature photographers do their share of blue-sky pictures; apparently my share is bigger than average.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 20, 2021 at 7:35 AM

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