Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2012

This butterfly looks so drab until he opens his wings and reveals his hidden beauty. It was there all the time but we couldn’t see it.

I haven’t been able to identify this butterfly that I photographed this past weekend in a meadow in Massachusetts but like the way the shot turned out.

UPDATE: I am now pretty sure this butterfly is a Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala).  Check out the Butterflies and Moths of North America website for additional details.

How much beauty do we miss each day because we fail to see past the ordinary exteriors of things (and people) in our lives and neglect to look more deeply?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

My eyes were so attuned to dragonflies yesterday that my first thought when I stumbled upon this insect perched at the top of a plant was that it was a tiny dragonfly. The pose especially looked familiar.

The more I looked at it, however, the more I realized that the legs and winds were all wrong and the head, which in this profile shot looks a bit like a dragonfly’s, was really different. From another angle it sort of looked like a fly, but not any fly that I had ever seen. What is it?

I think that what I have here is a robber fly (from the insect family Asilidae). So far I have not been able to get any more precise in identifying this guy’s species. The description of robber flies in Wikipedia, however, is pretty. scarey.

“The short, strong proboscis is used to stab and inject victims with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes which paralyze and digest the insides; the fly then sucks the liquefied meal through the proboscis.”

Yikes! That description alone is enough to bring back flashbacks of alien movies and zombie thrillers.

I may not sleep well tonight.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I know that this sounds like a trick question but I asked myself this very question when I encountered the dragonfly pictured below this afternoon.  I have had lots of practice observing and photographing Blue Dasher dragonflies (Pachydiplax longipennis) and they have always been blue.

From the “waist” up this looks like a typical Blue Dasher with the distinctive chest markings. (I realize that I am not using the anatomically correct language so I apologize if anyone is offended by my ignorance.) The tail, though, is completely different in color—it is not blue.

A little research on the internet reveals that the female Blue Dasher, as shown above, is not blue. She (and juvenile males) have the yellow stripes on the tail as shown.

I am still left wondering, though, about the male-female ratio for Blue Dashers and have no explanation why until now I have seen only males.

I will leave you to ponder that mystery as you look at one of my favorite photo from yesterday of a male Blue Dasher.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

A flash of emerald green whizzed past my eyes as I was walking in a meadow near my hotel in Massachusetts. What could it be? I waited a few minutes and recognized the familiar flight patterns of a dragonfly.

Most of the dragonflies that I see are drab by comparison with this one that is almost tropical in the brightness of its color. I am pretty sure this is a female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis). For more details about this dragonfly check out BugGuide.

Female Eastern Pondhawk

I stayed for a while longer in the meadow to see what else might appear and was pleased when a pretty bluish-green dragonfly flew into view. At first I thought it was a Blue Dasher but after examining him more closely I realized he was a different type.  I think he is a male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis).

Male Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

On an early morning walk today I saw this old mill, which has been converted to a restaurant. I currently am in Franklin, Massachusetts for a few days for a family wedding and somehow this mill reminds me of historical New England.

Although I have no experience photographing buildings or converting images from color to black and white, I decided to step out of the comfort zone that I have established recently shooting insects, flowers, and wildlife and try something totally different, including using a different camera (a Canon Powershot A620 instead of my usual Canon DSLR).

I am moderately satisfied with the resulting photos. Putting aside the results, though, I am happy that I was willing to risk failure by trying something new. As the old saying goes, the only way for a turtle to make progress is to stick his neck out.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Perhaps I am going through a blue period for my favorite members of the Odonata family this weekend (one damselfly and two dragonflies) all turned out to be different shades of blue. I photographed the dragonflies in a marshy area where I expected to find them. I didn’t at all expect to see the damselfly in a garden setting but was able to get a shot when my friend Cindy Dyer pointed her out to me. (I’m calling the damselfly a “her” because it seems strange for me to refer to anything with “damsel” in its name as a “him.”)

It’s easy for me to identify the dragonfly in the middle as a Blue Dasher but I have not yet been able to identify the other two insects by name.

For now they will have to remain strangers, nameless but beautiful.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

What do you want to emphasize in a photograph that you display to others? It is a creative choice that each of us faces every time we take a photo or manipulate an image.

I enjoy shooting subjects with friends and comparing our results. Earlier in the week I was with Cindy Dyer, my photography mentor, and spotted an interesting looking little beetle on a plant in her garden. I did not have my macro lens on my camera and suggested that she photograph the little striped beetle, a type she had never previously encountered. She later identified the beetle as a Striped Cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittata).

Cindy took a wonderful photo of the beetle staring over the edge of a leaf and entitled her posting “The Abyss.” Her photo is graphic and colorful and full of a sense of mystery and contemplation. I took some photos this evening of what is possibly the same beetle. I tried to convey the same impression that Cindy did in my second photo below, but that was not really what I wanted to stress. This first photo shows my “take” on the subject.

I decided that I wanted to contrast the beauty of the beetle with its destructiveness and chose to include the damaged leaf in the initial photo that is most prominently featured on the blog. The rest of the photos are variations of the themes of beauty and destruction, sometimes depicting only one of the two themes or juxtaposing them both in a single frame.

Our choices influence how our viewers are likely to react to our photos.  It is liberating to have that kind of creative freedom. It is who we are and what we do.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Here are a couple of shots of a Pearl Crescent butterfly (Phyciodes tharos) that I took yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia. The Gardens With Wings website cautions that the Pearl Crescent resembles several other butterflies and the patterns of Pearl Crescent butterflies are variable, according to Wikipedia. I apologize in advance, therefore, if I have misidentified this butterfly, but I think we can all agree that he is amazingly beautiful.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday’s blog entry featured the adventures of a young green heron catching and swallowing a frog. After the snack was consumed, though, the heron moved from the boardwalk into the marshy area. There he perched on a branch and seemed to pose for me, maybe figuring that his exploits were worthy of a magazine feature.

The resulting photograph is one of my favorite shots of the whole day, because I think it captures well the rugged beauty of this young bird. The background is a little distracting but I like the reflections in the water and the angle of the ranch.

I decided to include two additional action shots from yesterday. The photos seem to show that I probably was incorrect when I stated that the heron had speared the frog when he initially caught it. It looks like the heron was merely holding the frog with his beak as he adjusted its position. Now that I think about it, the process of swallowing the frog would have been complicated if the frog had been speared.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

One can only imagine what is going through the frog’s mind as he looks into the crazed eyes of the green heron who has just speared him. Is he looking for mercy? Is he resigned to his fate?

I watched the prelude to this moment unfold this afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park, a marshland park here in Virginia. The green heron was intently scanning the water from the edge of a boardwalk that runs through the march. Periodically he would extend his neck down toward the water.

Several times we heard an excited “eeep” sound followed by a splash, indicating another frog had escaped. After a few more minutes, however, the heron dived into the water and reappeared on the boardwalk with the speared frog you see in the first photo.

When you look at the comparative size of the heron’s mouth and the frog, it hardly seems possible that the green heron could swallow the entire frog. The heron took his time shifting the position of the frog and then all at once he turned his head, bent his neck back a little, and down went the frog. It happened so quickly that I was able to snap only a single photo that shows the frog’s webbed feet as the only remaining parts that have not yet been swallowed.

In this final photo the heron no longer has a slim neck. I have no idea how long it will take for the frog to reach the heron’s stomach but I am pretty sure he was not yet there when I took this photo.

And don’t try to talk with the heron during this period. Why not? Read the caption of the last photo!

I can’t talk now. I have a frog in my throat.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Let me begin with a disclaimer—no actual stabbing of bugs took place in the making of this posting. Believe it or not, this bug really is called the Twice-stabbed Stink Bug (Cosmopepla lintneriana). Why? The namer of bugs (whoever that is) decided the two red spots on the bug’s back look like stab wounds.

Yesterday I spotted this little bug while photographing with my friend and photo mentor Cindy Dyer. Cindy has a wonderful posting with a sharper photo of this specific bug and some fun information about him, including the fact that he is also known as the Wee Harlequin Bug. For additional information on the bug, check out his page at Bugguide.

I like the overall effect of this photo, acknowledging that it is far from perfect technically. I’m looking forward to improving my skills as I practice and learn new techniques.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It’s pretty cool to photograph big, gaudy butterflies but today I photographed the smallest butterfly I’ve ever seen. I was shooting photos with my mentor Cindy D. and her husband when Cindy spotted this little guy. He seemed too small to make a good photo and they needed to leave.

Undeterred I lay on my stomach and got as close as my lens would permit me (I did not have time to switch to my macro lens and had to make do with the 18-55mm kit lens that happened to be on the camera). To give you an idea of his size, note that he is perched on a single clover flower.

I’m pretty happy with the result and hope eventually to figure out what kind of butterfly he is. For now, though, I am content to have gotten this shot.

Image

Tiny butterfly on a clover flower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It rained for most of today and was overcast the entire day. Late in the afternoon I decided to go out to a local garden to see what I could shoot. The light was less than optimal but I managed to photograph some flowers.

My favorite ones are of the red speckled lily (I don’t know its real name). I got really low and shot it against the backdrop of sky (which was white). The other flowers included two hibiscuses, another kind of lily, and two unidentified little purple flowers. I love the effect of raindrops on flowers and most of the shots I took include them.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I haven’t seen too many butterflies yet this season so I was happy yesterday to encounter several Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterflies at a local garden. The few that I have seen during the past few weeks have been pretty damaged but the male I photographed was in great condition. The female had some damage to one of her “tails” but otherwise was almost perfect.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail male in perfect condition

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail female with damaged tail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

What do bees do when it’s raining? I never really gave the question much thought until this morning when I saw a really cool photo by the unUrban Studio showing a bee seeking shelter in an orchid in an early morning rain. In an earlier post today I showed a bee clinging to the underside of a leaf for protection from the rain.

During a walk in the light rain this afternoon I was pleased to also discover the bee shown below, sheltered inside of a red hibiscus flower. He appeared to be completely protected and may have been napping. As you can probably tell, I had to lighten the image a little to reveal the bee more clearly. This caused the sky, which was light already, to go totally white and produced an effect that I really like.

I enjoy walking in the rain and sometimes carry my camera under an umbrella if it is not raining too hard. From now on I’ll make a point of peeking into flowers and under leaves to discover more secret hiding places of the bees.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

What do bees do when it’s raining? I never really gave the question much thought until this morning when I saw a really cool photo by the unUrban Studio showing a bee seeking shelter in an orchid in an early morning rain.

When I took a walk in the light rain earlier this afternoon I decided to look carefully to see if I too could find bees hiding from the rain. Much to my surprise I found the bee shown below, clinging to the underside of a leaf. Apparently it protects him pretty well, though you can see a couple of drops of water on his lower body. The moisture also seems to have caused his hair to frizz a little.

I remember when I too had hair that frizzed when it was humid but those days, alas, are long gone (as is my hair).

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

One of my earlier post identified my obsession with the red milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus). As I hang around the milkweed plants, it’s hard not to notice another really colorful creature, especially because this seems to be its prime mating season. After a little research I’ve started to become better acquainted with the large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus). Wikipedia provided me with some good information to start and BugGuide added some additional details. I am still getting used to shooting with my macro lens so I apologize in advance that not all of the photos are super sharp. I think they help, though, in explaining some of the traits of these fascinating bugs.

It has been relatively easy to get shots of the mating milkweed bugs and my research identified why. Milkweed bugs while mating can remain connected for up to 10 hours, according to Wikipedia. Yikes! I guess those television commercials about seeing your doctor after four hours don’t apply to these bugs.

What happens after mating? An article from the Life Sciences Depart at the University of Illinois at Urbana noted that a female lays about 30 eggs a day and 2,000 during her lifetime. Egg-laying begins 1 to 15 days after mating and peaks at about 20 days.

A few days ago I came across this group of milkweed bugs. The photo is technically lacking (it was hard to get the needed depth of field) but it gives you an idea of what the large milkweed bug looks like in various stages of development. As a “true” bug, milkweed bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis. They go through a series of nymph stages, known as instars. For the large milkweed bug there are five instars. Buzzle has an article that explains the bug’s life cycle.

At each stage the bug is covered by an inflexible exoskeleton that constrains its growth. Periodically he bursts out of the exoskeleton and can grow to twice his size in minutes as the new exoskeleton develops and hardens, according to the Buzzle article. Here’s a shot of a bug in one of the earlier nymph stages.

As the milkweed bugs get older the wing pads increase in size in each molt. In the next three photos the wing pads are visible but not yet really prominent.

The wings on this nymph are much more prominent, leading me to think he might almost be an adult. The Buzzle article noted that the entire process of metamorphosis, from egg to adult takes 4-8 weeks, depending on the temperature of the habitat.

Once the large milkweed bug has become and adult (as shown in the last couple of photos) mating begins 5 to 12 days after the last molt for females and two to three days for males, according to the University of Illinois article. And the circle of life continues.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The petals of the lotus flower are delicately beautiful and I love to drink in their beauty. What I enjoy the most, though, is peeking past the petals of the open lotus flower into its very center, the home of its seed pod.

The solid, cylindrical shape and the contrasting color of the seed pod—sometimes green and sometimes yellow— provide for me a nice contrast to the texture and coloration of the petals. These is something intriguing to me about the protruding pod parts that gradually dry out and sink into the pod itself. (I’ll probably do another posting that focuses exclusively on the pods themselves, as they appear after the petals have fallen.)

I took these photos a little over a week ago at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington DC, a wonderful setting run by the National Park Service.

That same day I ran into my friend Cindy D. and her husband Michael at Kenilworth and they too were shooting photos.  Cindy later posted a gorgeous lotus photo on her blog and she also included amazing information about the lotuses at this garden, some of which are descended from ancient plants whose seeds were recovered in 1951 from a dry Manchurian lake bed. Check out her blog for the rest of the story.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I took this shot of a bee on a purple cone flower.

The subject matter is pretty ordinary; everyone with a camera has probably taken a similar shot. Somehow, though, the different elements of the photo—the colors, the shapes, the background, and even the bee—worked together to create an image that I really like.

What it beauty? In this case, I find beauty in the simplicity of a photo like this one. The photo is not perfect. That does not bother me, however, for my experience has shown me beauty too is rarely flawless.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

One evening this past week I was photographing lotus flowers at a local pond in a quasi-meditative state, enjoying the calm after a thunderstorm had passed.

The life cycle of the lotus, from bud to flower to seed pod

Suddenly a woman screamed out in my direction, “Snake, there’s a snake right behind you.” My first reaction was one of disbelief, because I was standing on a flat rock partially surrounded by water that was flowing rapidly between two man-made ponds. All at once I saw the submerged snake swimming strongly against the current. Then to my surprise the snake lifted his head out of the water.

My next reaction was to spring into action to take his picture. My camera was already on my tripod and I swung it around and snapped a couple of shots without having time to adjust my exposure or shutter speed. The image below is far from perfect but it gives you an idea of the cascading water and the snake poking his head above the surface.

Swimming snake lifts its head above water

After that brief photographic opportunity I returned to my peaceful pursuit of the lotus flower.

Sidewards-facing lotus (a variation of the lotus position)

It was only much later that I wondered whether I had encountered a poisonous snake. An article entitled “Snake Mistake” by Christine Ennulat in Virginia Living helps readers distinguish between the harmless brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilata) and the venomous water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus). I am pretty confident the snake I saw was “only” a brown water snake.

Maybe I will react more quickly the next time someone tells me there is a snake right behind me. I might even get a better photograph!

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Stereotypes of a heron’s  appearance

This past weekend I visited a pond at a local garden and encountered this interesting bird. He looked a little like a heron but had a totally different body type—he was shorter and squatter than the herons I was used to seeing. I have photographed blue herons and white herons and have a mental picture of what a heron looks like. They are tall and slender and posses a fashion model’s elegance. Could this really be a heron?

Surveying the situation

Playing and posing like a child

I was alone with the bird for quite some time for the gardens were deserted after a thunderstorm. The beautiful bird, later identified as a juvenile green heron, seemed to be unusually willing to remain as I attempted to photograph him. At times he even seemed to be posing for me. Like a child he was enjoying himself, running around and playing in the water. He definitely was not intent on adult-type tasks such as catching food.

Full body shot. Don’t I have great legs?

Is this enough of a smile for you?

It’s a green heron

I am pretty confident that this bird is a green heron (Butorides virescens). Wikipedia helped me determine that he is a juvenile because of the brown-and-white streaked feathers on his breast and the greenish-yellow webbed feet. (The adult green heron has a darker bill and a more pronounced  chestnut-colored neck and breast.) NatureWorks has some summary information if you want to quickly learn about green herons.

This grass feels really good on my bare feet.

A tool-using bird

My favorite website for information on the green heron, however, belongs to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which includes range maps and audio files. It also noted the following truly amazing fact about green herons, “The Green Heron is one of the few tool-using birds. It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.”

Ready for my close-up

Maybe the green heron should have its own reality television show, “Fishing With a Green Heron-Choosing the Right Bait. You Don’t Even Need a Hook”

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The world seems changed after the rain. The falling rain stripped some of the delicate petals from this lotus flower but left behind a glistening trail of water.

From the perspective of beauty it seems like an equitable trade—the transformed flower still takes my breath away.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

After some thunderstorms yesterday evening I went a local garden with a pond (Green Spring Gardens) and encountered this very large snapping turtle (at least that is what I think he is). He was just lying there on the grass.

I started creeping up on him with one eye in the viewfinder and the other on him. I was pretty cautious because previously I had read what Wikipedia says about snapping turtles, “Common snappers are noted for their belligerent disposition when out of the water, their powerful beak-like jaws, and their highly mobile head and neck.” There were a few blades of grass in front of part of his face and I would have liked to remove them to improve the shot, but there was no way I was going to risk my fingers for a mere photo.

I decided to share this medium range shot because it shows the mud and dried grass that made up his “camouflage.” It reminds me a little of the ghillie suits that snipers wear to blend in with nature. Eventually I hope to do another blog posting showing the progression of my shots as I got closer and closer to him, ending up with shots in which his face alone fills the frame.

Stay tuned for coming attractions!

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I simply love the beauty of the lotus flower.  I feel a sense of tranquility when I look at this image showing the lotus flower in dramatic lighting with a fully exposed seed pod.

I shot this image last weekend at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington DC, a wonderful location of the National Park Service.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Bees were the very first insects that I tried to photograph close up when I got interested in macro photography a few month ago. (You might say I followed the advice of Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music when she said, “Let’s start at the very bee-ginning, it’s a very good place to start.”) It was a challenge without a macro lens but I managed to get some pretty good results by shooting at the extreme end of the focusing capability of my digital SLR.

Since that time I have “graduated” to a macro lens and to more exotic insects, but from time to time I am drawn back to the bees. Today, for example, as I was reviewing  images from a session that included colorful butterflies and dragonflies, I realized there were also a few images of bees that I wanted to share.

Most of the time I try to feature a single photo in my postings, but tonight I couldn’t make up my mind. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet I was caught up in an internal struggle, “Two bees or not two bees, that is the question.”  I’m including them both—I don’t want to decide which is better.

As I end this post, the words of an old Carly Simon song come to mind, “Nobody does it better…bee-bee you’re the best.”

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

I have always admired my friend Cindy D’s photos of an unusual dragonfly that she has featured in her postings.  He is called a Halloween Pennant dragonfly (celithemis eponina).

Wikipedia has some interesting information about this dragonfly including the fact that, “Sexual activity normally occurs between 8 and 10:30 am.” Who knew? I imagine there are scientists somewhere keeping track of the mating habits of the different species of dragonflies using stopwatches.

Today I was happy finally to see a Halloween Pennant dragonfly at Brookside Gardens and take some photographs of him. I love this shot but his wingspan was really wide. I decided to crop out part of the wings so that you can see the details of his face and his wings. I find that dragonflies have wonderfully expressive faces and didn’t want you to miss this face. How can you not love such a face?

I’ll soon be on the lookout for new dragonflies to photograph. Do they have one named for all of the American holidays?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Focus on the eyes! That’s one of the first tips that I was given to improve my shots and I tried to follow that advice when photographing this red milkweed beetle. (One of my earlier blogs chronicled my obsession with these little creatures.)

I like the way the antennae turned out in this photo. They remind me of a Texas longhorn steer’s horns which, according to Wikipedia, can extend to 7 feet (2.1 meters) tip to tip.

Can you imagine a red milkweed beetle with an equivalent antenna span?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

What’s a harvestman?

a. A man who harvests. like a farmer or a migrant worker;

b. A pocket electronic device made by International Harvester (like a Walkman or Discman);

c. An insect related to a spider; or

d. Spiderman’s adversary in the new Spiderman movie

Until earlier this week I might have responded with selection  “a” if  I had been posed this question—it is the most obvious answer. I would have been wrong. The correct answer is “c.”

As I was finishing up a photo shoot in a local garden one of my friends excitedly pointed to a bush and exclaimed, “There’s your first harvestman.” I did not have a clue what she was talking about. All I could really see in the bush was a bunch of long legs connected to a body. (My friend Cindy D. has some photos of the entire body of a harvestman in one of her blog postings in case you are not familiar with this insect.)

I shot some photos anyways and when I looked at them on my computer I was shocked. There appeared to be two eyes on a stalk in the middle of the insect’s back, with the eyes looking sidewards in completely opposite directions. Could they really be eyes?

Here is one of my photos of the harvestman. It is not a technically perfect photo but it gives you a pretty clear view of the unusual eyes of this strange insect.  If you want to learn more, check out this page, which is full of fascination factoids and photos.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

“You’re not seeing the big picture.”

Has anyone ever spoken those words to you? They are often used as a tacit (or explicit) criticism of your supposed lack of perspective. The person speaking those words usually has an air of superiority, asserting that they have a better view of some figurative “big picture.”

You literally are not seeing the big picture when it comes to the banner of this blog. I was forced into a box of a specified size by the requirements of the theme I chose. It’s time now to think (and to see) outside of the box.

So, I am posting the “big picture” that you see partially in my banner. Why? One of my friends told me it is her favorite image out of the dozens I have shown her the past few months (and it is one of my favorites). You might like it too!

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Do you find yourself being drawn back inexorably to photographing the same subjects over and over again?

Last month my friend and mentor Cindy D. “outed” me in a wonderful posting on her blog. She confessed that “we’ve become a little obsessed with photographing Red milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus).” (She also published some interesting facts about the beetles in another blog posting.) She’s right, of course, in her assessment of me, but I might quibble with her on one point. Is it possible to be only a “little” obsessed?

What are the symptoms of my obsession? After work today, in between thunder and rain storms, I rushed to Green Spring Gardens to take some photos. I shot a few flowers but I couldn’t resist the pull of the milkweed plants. I know exactly  where they are located in the gardens and I know if I look hard enough on the milkweed plants I will find the cute little beetles.

By the time I found my beloved beetles the light was starting to fade. How bad was the light? Despite shooting at ISO 800, I needed exposures around 1/5 of a second at F11. Fortunately the beetles were willing to pose and I had my tripod with me. I managed to get a few nice shots with beautiful color saturation in the late day, overcast light. Here is one photo (out of many) of the object of my obsession—a red milkweed beetle.

Is there a twelve-step program for people with this problem?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

The heat wave in the Washington DC area has finally broken. Many of us last night were awakened by the loud, cannon-like sound of thunder and the softer, more gentle sound of falling rain. This morning the skies were overcast and the ground was still wet, a likely source of frustration for commuters but a blessing for photographers.

I set off in the morning with a couple of friends for Green Spring Gardens, a county-run historic park in Alexandria, Virginia. The colors of the flowers today seemed to be extraordinarily vivid and saturated. There also were beads of water on many of the plants and flowers, creating wonderful reflections and adding additional interest.

I do not know for sure what kind of flower I captured in this photo, perhaps a hibiscus. Its color and texture caught my eye today. I probably would have passed by it yesterday without stopping. Today, however, its beauty was enhanced, enhanced by the effects of the storm.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »