The Angelfish


Pleased by the vaguely octagonal framing these aquatic plants had provided for themselves — a framing emphasized by some creative cropping — I paused to look more closely at the image.

As so often happens, I’d missed a few things when taking the photo: especially two dragonflies perched on the plants, and a very small, very young alligator cruising through the reflected reeds.

Given to pareidolia — the tendency to recognize familiar images in unfamiliar places, like a man in the moon or a dragon in the clouds — it wasn’t long before I noticed an angelfish cruising through the air, well above more ordinary fish still forced to live in the water. 

Somewhere, an aquarium may be missing a resident.


Comments always are welcome.
(If you can’t see the allligator, try enlarging the image.)

59 thoughts on “The Angelfish

    1. I’ve learned never to delete an image in-camera. There are details that just can’t be seen on the small LDC screen, and this is a great example. (Of course, sometimes I miss things even when they’re life-sized and right in front of me, so there’s that, too.)

  1. I found the dragonflies easily, having been given the clue, but the alligator took a bit longer. A lovely image made special with those extra elements. Oh yes, I think I found the angelfish too.

    1. I’m sure you found the ‘angelfish.’ After all, it is the ‘center’ of interest. I think this may be the smallest alligator I’ve seen, apart from babies still on their mother’s back or hanging out with her. It was great fun to discover it; I would have loved to have seen it out of the water.

    1. It sure does. All of my images can be enlarged, but sometimes people don’t know that, or have forgotten, so I thought a note was warranted — especially since we were playing a version of ‘Where’s Waldo.’

    1. I don’t know if Fra Angelico ever painted fish (somehow I doubt it), but he was pretty good with angels, and was quite a master at portraying fin-like wings. I suspect he’d have fun with this one.

    1. Who knows? Maybe the on-going opportunities to search for Nugget influenced my way of approaching this image. In any event, once I’d seen the ‘angel fish’ it seemed it would be fun to give others an opportunity to search it out, too.

    1. ‘Magical’ is a good word for it, since everything from the tiniest spiders to their nearly invisible webs can seem to appear ‘as if by magic’ in photos of scenes we thought we’d seen clearly. One of the amazements of my macro lens has been its ability to reveal that hidden world; it’s some of the best fun there is.

    1. Thanks, Pit. I’ve seen baby alligators on their mother’s back, and of course it’s impossible to miss the big guys lounging on the bank, but this youngster out exploring the world on its own really made me smile after I found him.

      I suspect he might have been just the right size to keep in a bathtub — the size that occasionally tempts silly people to bring one home for a pet. It’s not only illegal, it’s a terrifically bad idea, since they do grow, and releasing them into the neighborhood drainage ditch is an even worse idea.

    1. You did swimmingly, Maria ~ that’s exactly where the ‘angelfish’ is located. Like you, I enjoy the interplay of color and form in nature, but I really enjoy it when something I see triggers an association. There seems to be no limit to what we can see when we combine reality and imagination.

  2. It’s a great shot! And really fun! playing “I see…” I probably wouldn’t have picked up on the angel fish in a million years, that’s cool.
    That alligator must tiny! Maybe the dragonflies will carry it away.

    1. I suspect the alligator might be a couple of feet long, give or take, so it’s still very young. Hatchlings are about 6″-8″ long, and a Smithsonian site says they’re considered babies until they’re six feet long, which takes years.

      The rule I’ve often heard is that the length of an alligator is proportional to the distance between the tip of its snout and its eyes. With this one, that distance seems less than the wingspan of the dragonflies, so if it’s a couple of inches, that leads to the rough estimate of two feet long, which means it’s clearly safe from the dragonflies.

    1. Pareidolia is a characteristic of your photos blogs, Curt: not always, but often enough to add enjoyment. Tree stumps, mountain peaks, clouds, the gnarled and twisted trees along the summits: your interpretations of them always are fun. The good news is that remembering the word isn’t necessary for experiencing the phenomenon; dare I say remembering the word would be lagniappe?

      1. Dare you indeed, Linda. :) My laptop decided to go on the blink. Went back to an old one and it crashed. Now have a new Apple with the latest in bells and whistles. I’ll soon be back up and running, but this is the first message!

        1. Oh, my gosh. My computer’s fine, but my old Canon printer died on the very day that I had to have it to do some scanning, printing, and copying! When I replaced it, I realized it was all metal, like my Mom’s Oldsmobile. I had to have help carrying the thing down the stairs to get it to the recycling place. Sigh.
          But now I have a new Canon all-in-one that’s half as heavy and twice as fast. I can’t get it to explain all its bells and whistles to me, but that will come. (Or not.)

          Glad to see you’re alive and well!

          1. Good luck on the printer, Linda. I am now figuring out the bells and whistles on my new MacBook Pro. It’s always exciting to get a new computer. This one is quite an upgrade, which also means more than I am used to paying. But if it works as fast as I hope, it will be well-worth the money. To encourage it, I’ve named it Jack, as in jackrabbit.

            1. A fine name. Just be absolutely certain it understands “Jack” relates to rabbit, and not to “jacked up.” We wouldn’t want you to have any more computer problems!

  3. I saw the angelfish right away, probably because I used to have them in my aquarium. The dragonflies were a bit harder to spot, but blowing up the image helped. Hmm, don’t think I’ve ever heard the word “pareidolia.” That’s a new one, Linda!

    1. I’d only seen angelfish in the Virgin Islands and Bahamas, so I associated them solely with salt water, and didn’t realize that there are fresh water species, too — like those in your aquarium. After I spotted the angelfish in this image, I did a little reading about them; that’s how I learned about the ones used in aquariums.

      You wouldn’t have had any trouble spotting dragonflies here this weekend. Conditions seem to have been perfect for more species to hatch, and they were everywhere: blue ones, and green, and red. They really are like flying jewels.

      1. We had them swarming in the backyard recently — such a beautiful sight! I tried to capture them with my phone, but no luck there. I’ve satisfied myself with the realization that some things are meant to be enjoyed, rather than photographed!

    1. I do remember! Highlights always was a highlight of my life in those years — along with Weekly Reader. I wondered if that one still was around, and found it merged with Scholastic News in 2012, bowing to market pressure to create a digital edition (and reduce costs). I was pleased to find that Highlights still offers print editions. Apart from the occasional birthday card and letters received at camp, that was my first experience of getting something just for me in the mail, and it was high excitement when it arrived.

      Glad you like the image. Who knew that a few angles could create an angel(fish)?

    1. That’s funny. I suspect your fish still are at home. If I lived in one of your aquariums, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to leave, but you never know when the impulse to wander will hit. I didn’t know until I wrote this post that there are freshwater and saltwater angel fish. That led to a realization that there are freshwater and saltwater aquariums in homes. That should have been obvious, but it wasn’t. There’s always something new to learn.

  4. Pareidolia, is a totally new word for me. It surely does sound like a fancy term. I often pick out images in clouds, floor tile patterns and many other things as well. I just never knew that there was a name for it.

    I see the angel fish but I do not see the dragon flies or an alligator. Also I could not enlarge the photo but that is okay since I enjoyed the angel fish were an exciting find.

    1. The dragonflies are to the right and just above the angelfish, fairly close to one another. Both are perched at the very tips of a couple of broken reeds. The alligators harder to see. If you look at the reflections of the three bunches of reeds just left of center, and look at the reflection of the largest clump (the one at the right), the alligator will look like a blue horizontal line through the reflection.

      I only learned ‘pareidolia’ a few years ago. Like you, I’ve spent my life seeing patterns everywhere, but didn’t know there was a word for the phenomenon. I looked for ‘pareidoliac’ in the online dictionaries, since that’s what both you and I seem to be, but I haven’t found that coinage yet. It does seem as though someone who sees such images should be called a pareidoliac.

  5. So lovely.
    Is there ‘something’ sitting vertically, as it were, on the leftmost group of reeds? ‘It’ is very symmetrical, which is probably what drew my eye…
    Such words, such a language.

    1. It took me a minute, but sure enough — it looks rather like an insect of some sort perched sideways on the reeds. I see you’ve already figured out that it’s a combination of the reeds and their reflection, just as the ‘angelfish’ is. You’re right that we do seek patterns and familiarity, and our seach often leads us to see things that aren’t there. Funny, how that applies in other areas of life, as well.

  6. Oh for heaven’s sake!! It’s just a reflection of ‘something’. Good grief, fooled again. How we seek out patterns, some sort of familiarity. What a strange business.

    1. I knew the phenomenon long before I knew the word. Part of that has to do with the history of the word itself; it seems to have arisen in 1962, at least according to the Merriam Webster site. For some reason, it amuses me to think that my childhood cloud-gazing came a decade-and-a-half before the word was coined.

    1. The dragonflies still are thick here, and a little patience usually can bring the reward of a photo, but these escaped my notice until I was home and at the computer. I do get a kick of that sort of discovery.

  7. I think I’ve spotted the dragon flies and the gator, but I’ll be durned if I can see that fish. But I do like the rhythm of the reeds and their rippling reflection, and the sweeping arch on the left between reed and reflection.

    1. I can help you find that fish — I circled both the fish and the alligator. (Wasn’t that clever?) I do enjoy reflections of every sort; this one turned out to be even more interesting than I originally assumed — including that arc that you mentioned.

      The best news is that my windchimes are beginning to stir on a north wind, and at about 2 p.m., when the wind first began to rise, I started to sneeze. It’s ragweed time! It’s irritating in several ways, but it’s also a sign that real autumn is beginning — thank goodness.

  8. I don’t always see things in photographs other than the original intended subject, but I do see the angel fish as the whole and a smaller fish within, maybe the angelfish had a small bite before setting out. I like the entire reflection image but especially the nice ripples on the left.

    1. Until I read your comment and had another look, I’d only seen the angel fish right in the center. Now I see a larger one on the left; it reminds me of those cartoons that have differently sized fish following one another. I’ve started to realize that (following Rod Stewart) every ripple tells a story. They not only show the effects of wind, they can differ depending on which creature caused them. They’re not only attractive, they’re interesting.

        1. I think these fish are multiplying behind our backs. Now I see two very abstract angel fish on the right side, heading toward the center. I’ll confess I never saw the whole image as a fish, though. It really is fascinating how much variety there is in our perceptions.

  9. I don’t see them. Or do you mean see metaphorically? It’s a fabulous image but I’m not finding the dragon flies and no way seeing an alligator. Did you crop them out? I do love the composition, though!

    1. We aim to please, so here’s another version of the photo for you. The dragonflies are the small circles on the right, and the alligator’s the circle beneath the angelfish. I’m not surprised you didn’t find the alligator. I see many more now than I used to. They so often cruise around with just the tip of their snout and their eyes above water, they’re easily confused with lumps of mud or even frogs, especially when they decide to just stop and watch. They can sink beneath the surface without a ripple, too: amazing creatures, for sure.

    1. Here you go: this photo has the dragonflies, alligator, and abstract angel fish all circled. You weren’t the only one who couldn’t find all of them! I often have that problem when someone points out a bird in nature. Everyone else can be staring at it with great excitement, and I only see leaves!

  10. What an amazing image! I spotted the angel fish instantly, the other three took a while. I agree about never deleting an image on the camera, treasures often appear on the

    1. I had to blow up the image to confirm the alligator. Those little guys were thick at the refuge this year, and it was great fun to see “the kids” out roaming around. We’re in the midst of our first real cold front of the year, so it won’t be long until the alligators start digging into the mud and basking in the sun. Walking the trails is safer in winter — they’re like us on cold mornings, when we don’t want to get out of our cozy beds.

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