Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A sixth installment of icicles

with 22 comments


On December 25th I spent nearly four hours photographing icicles hanging from a cliff in Great Hills Park just half a mile from home. In posts on December 28th, December 31st, January 8th, January 14th, and January 19th you’ve seen how I tried out various approaches, both with and without flash. Now here are some more views of icicles from that productive session.

To take the first picture, I deftly worked my way behind the icicles that were coming down from a limestone overhang. Aiming upward created the seeming convergence of the icicles toward the top.



For the second picture I also used flash.



The warm tones of the rocks and the pale blue of the ice in the picture above went well together.

The thin sheet of ice below was backlit by the sun’s rays. 



Similarly, it was sunlight that illuminated the icicles below.





§        §        §



A hot topic in genetics over the past few years has been what’s known as gain-of-function research. The term refers to manipulating the DNA of a virus to make the virus more potent. On the positive side, researchers might figure out ways to combat the more-potent virus while it’s contained in a lab and before it or a similar naturally mutated strain could infect a population. There’s also potential danger in gain-of-function research: a malevolent organization or government might turn a manipulated virus into a weapon, especially if they could figure out ways to keep themselves exempt from the effects of the more-potent virus. And, despite precautions, there’s always the risk of an accident in which a more-potent virus escapes from a lab, infects the nearby population, and perhaps even spreads much more broadly. Some scientists believe that’s what happened in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Others disagree. We may never know because the Chinese government wasn’t forthcoming with the facts, and key evidence has long since disappeared.

I bring this up now in connection with an organization called Project Veritas (the second word in the name is Latin for ‘truth’). Project Veritas’s typical M.O (modus operandi, or ‘way of working’) is to send a disguised reporter with a hidden video camera to chat with a person who Project Veritas suspects is doing something nefarious. (Americans might be reminded of the long-running television show 60 Minutes, which has employed the same undercover technique on many occasions). The hope is that the interviewee, who doesn’t know the person engaging in a friendly chat is a reporter, will reveal information that would otherwise be kept from the public.

On January 25th Project Veritas released a 10-minute video compilation from its latest undercover investigation. The interviewee is identified as “Jordon Trishton Walker, Pfizer Director of Research and Development, Strategic Operations – mRNA Scientific Planner.” In the video, Walker speaks of “directed evolution,” which he says is different from gain-of-function research, but which the head of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe, believes might be a euphemism for it.

Check out the 10-minute video compilation and accompanying printed discussion about it and draw your own conclusions.

As a reminder, I believe it’s always good to be circumspect about what you read on the internet. I found an article on the substack site “Investigate Everything with Brian O’Shea” in which O’Shea reports the results of his efforts to confirm that the person shown in the video really is the person Project Veritas claims he is. You’re welcome to read that article as well.

And here are Newsweek’s cautions about the Project Veritas story.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 28, 2023 at 4:30 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Loved the icicles, and your attempts at getting close. We never see icicles here in Arizona, but this winter they have had lots of snow and freezing temps in the north, so we went. It was fabulous to see the 5 foot icicles and my favorite, frozen waterfalls. Your photos make me want to return for more experimentation.

    Wind Kisses

    January 28, 2023 at 6:57 AM

    • Go north (again), young man, go north. That chance to see the snow and ice normally denied you where you live is worth another trip. I would if I lived close enough.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2023 at 8:07 AM

      • Yes. We try to get up there as we can. We will spend a week up there in March. I am sure the snow will be gone, but the hiking will be fantastic. We will be on the search for Subway Cave. (Sedona) Look that up. It has been on my list for quite awhile, but didn’t want to do it without my husband. That will be the first thing we do.

        Wind Kisses

        January 28, 2023 at 11:07 AM

  2. While I marvel at the beautiful icicles, I shudder at the implications of the genetic research done by Project Veritas.

    Peter Klopp

    January 28, 2023 at 9:53 AM

    • Marveling at the icicles poses no danger, except maybe if you stand directly beneath them. Gain-of-function research, on the other hand, has its risks. (One clarification: it’s Pfizer that may be doing or contemplating doing the gain-of-function research. Project Veritas is the organization that works to reveal what individuals and companies are doing clandestinely.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2023 at 10:23 AM

  3. I love the third picture and the last one too. The icicles are spectacular! (And the blogs I’m reading today are making me feel cold!)

    Ann Mackay

    January 28, 2023 at 10:26 AM

    • I’m with you in finding the icicles spectacular, which is why I spent close to four hours with them. Austin today accords with the blogs you’ve been reading: cool and gloomy (though no freeze).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2023 at 1:31 PM

  4. Thank you for the clarification!

    Peter Klopp

    January 28, 2023 at 12:04 PM

  5. I love the icicles, Steve. Save some icicle photos for the heat of summer. 🙂

    Lavinia Ross

    January 28, 2023 at 12:40 PM

    • Now that’s an idea. Generally I try not to get too far removed from when a picture was taken. If that happens, I’ve sometimes waited to post the picture on one of its anniversary dates.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2023 at 1:34 PM

  6. I detest icicles. I see lots of them around suburban Boston where I live, and when I circle my house looking for storm damage I am always afraid that one will fall on me. And, they remind me of the dreaded …. ice dams …. lurking on other parts of the roof. But. Your posts are helping me to be less hateful and more imbued with awe of them. So thank you.


    January 28, 2023 at 1:24 PM

    • That’s a new one on me, but there are bound to be people who dislike any given thing. I understand the risk of an icicle falling on you, and I’m sorry you have to deal with damage from ice dams. In February 2021 a huge ice storm hit Texas and did lots of damage: burst pipes, trees that fell on roofs, no electricity or heat for more than a day at time in sub-freezing weather, etc. Even so, I went out multiple times to photograph the rarity of snow and ice here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2023 at 1:41 PM

  7. Nice angle of view in that first frame.

    Steve Gingold

    January 29, 2023 at 3:37 AM

  8. What an interesting variety. Of all the things I’ve seen you display against a blue sky, that first photo may be the most unusual. I’m intrigued by the ‘sheet ice’ hanging from the twig, but my favorite is that gorgeous third photo. The colors are appealing, but I’m equally impressed by the way the texture of the ice and the texture of the rock resemble each other.


    January 29, 2023 at 7:02 AM

    • It’s the gift that keeps on giving: I’ve scheduled a seventh (and last!) installment in about a week with five more ice pictures. I agree with your assessment that the top picture is among the most unusual things I’ve portrayed against a blue sky. As with many other flash pictures that include the sky, the blue is unnaturally dark, but hey, what’s reality, anyhow? As for your preferred middle picture, not till well into my sorting and processing did I notice its virtues

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 29, 2023 at 9:08 AM

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