Thursday, March 29, 2012

A lake or a pond?

click photo to enlarge
There seems to be no universally accepted definitions that allow us to categorically state whether a small body of still, enclosed, inland water should be called a lake or a pond. It is widely held that a lake is larger than a pond. However, exceptions to this rule are not uncommon. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says that "properly" a lake is "sufficiently large to form a geographical feature". However, it then adds, "but in recent use often applied to an ornamental water in a park etc": in other words small stretches of water that do not form geographical features. Biologists have looked at the problem in a different way and proposed that an area of water should be defined as a pond if sufficient light reaches the bottom to allow rooted plants to grow, otherwise it is a lake. Others say that if the effects of wave action can be seen on the shore it is a lake, but if not then it's a pond. No wonder we are so confused on this relatively insignificant matter.

In the UK the small, man-made stretches of water that are created for fresh-water fishing are often called "fishing lakes". Whether this is simply for marketing reasons I don't know, but many of them are what I would call ponds. Of course, the UK also suffers from a plethora of other terms, many of great antiquity, that are used to describe what otherwise might be termed ponds or lakes: loch, Llyn, mere, tarn, pool, water, flash, broad, pit, are a few such words that add a layer of complication to the issue. When I saw the man-made pond in today's photograph I thought that it might be a fishing lake, but I could see no perimeter jetties or other locations where a fisherman might sit. It is also on a farm where the owner has made a conscious effort to maintain areas attractive to wildlife, so perhaps it was designed for the benefit of the moorhens, greylag geese, mallards etc, that scurried for cover or took flight at our approach.

I've noted elsewhere in this blog, that a sunset over water multiplies the effect of the dwindling light in a magical way, so I wasted no time and took a group of shots across the water as the sun sank out of sight. These are the best two photographs.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 75mm
 F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On


Anonymous said...

These are lovely photographs and my preference is for the second image as I like the reeds in the foreground and the more pronounced reflections on the body of the water.  As for deciding which is a pond and which a lake, I stick to my childhood philosophy that ponds have frogs and newts and lakes have swans and coots ( at least they all seemed to way back when).

Tony Boughen said...

Thanks LA.
Sometimes I include a couple of photographs in a post to better illustrate the subject. Other times it's because I can't decide which I prefer. Today it was the latter, so I imagine a few people will share your inclination. I must say I haven't heard of the distinguishing characteristics of pond and lake that you mention, but it does have something to commend it I think, especially from a child's-eye viewpoint.


natural redhead said...

Love the composition and late light, particularly in the more 'open' second photo. Perhaps it's the two birds or waterfowl that made me sigh with pleasure.
Perhaps these ponds/lakes reflect one area where mankind's interference with nature doesn't have negative results—surely look beautiful.

Tony Boughen said...

Thanks Jan.
The two birds - greylag geese - were very obliging. They made a few circuits until they got into just the right position in the big empty space at the top right of my composition to make a balancing detail for the sun, island and its reflection on the left. It's not often you find such co-operative geese :-)