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Archive for December, 2012

In many ways this is a companion piece to my last posting that showed early-morning moonlight reflected in my local marsh. Less than an hour after I took that shot yesterday morning. the sun began to rise. As I looked to the east, I watched in wonder as the skies behind the trees were transformed into a beautiful mixture of pink, orange, and purple. Eventually the sun rose high enough to bring light into my world and I tried to capture the rays of the sun just starting to pierce the darkness.

Colorful skies as the sun rises

Colorful skies as the sun rises

Rays of sunshine penetrate the darkness

Rays of sunshine pierce the darkness

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last night I saw a beautiful almost-full moon as I was driving home from work, so I got up early this morning with hopes of seeing the moon setting before sunrise.

The moon was bright in the cold pre-dawn sky.  Although it was partially obscured by clouds, the moon illuminated my way along the darkened path to the boardwalk of my local marsh. There were geese sleeping in the fields just off the boardwalk and I attempted to photograph them (I’ll post a photo or two of them later). I tried photographing the moon itself, but the overcast sky prevented me from getting any details of the moon, which looks like a blob of light in all of my photos. I had somewhat greater success in taking photos of the moonlight reflecting off the water. I had my camera on a tripod for extra stability, but focusing in the dark was difficult and I couldn’t see the dials of the camera, so my settings were not always right.

Here is my favorite image that shows a pathway of reflected light from the moon. The subject that I photographed is pretty mundane, but I really like the overall atmosphere of the photo.

Moonlight

Moonlight in the marsh

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I haven’t been out shooting in nature for almost a week, so I ventured out into my marshland park early this morning. I have not yet had a chance to go through all of my shots, but I knew I really liked this one as soon as I took it and did a quick review on the LCD of my camera.

I found myself in a good position when several Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) were coming in for a water landing and was able to track them and get a good focus. The buffer of my camera fills up pretty fast, so I didn’t want to start shooting too early. Just before they hit the water, I snapped off a few exposures and managed to get this shot in which one of the geese has landed and created a splash.  A goose in the foreground is landing in the midst of the splashing water. My shutter speed (1/320 sec) was fast enough to freeze most of the motion, with the exception of a slightly blurred wing. I like the blurry wing and thing it helps give the sense of motion, as do the droplets of water.

I have been trying to shoot a scene like this for quite some time and think that this is my best result to date. (I recommend clicking on the image to get a higher resolution view.)

Splashdown

Splashdown

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I have mentioned in some other posts, the local gardens are looking awfully bleak and colorless. I did manage to find some new growth and posted some photos of blooming snowdrop flowers yesterday morning.  I had to search even harder, though, to find some small splashes of color in the midst of all of the brown, shriveled vegetation.

I found two plants that still had some color, though I have no idea what kind they are. One is pink and has some kind of berries and the other is red and has small spikey flowers on it.

The plants are modest and the colors muted, but they will help to tide me over as I await the return of the glorious colors of spring.

pink_blogred_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A few days ago I featured a photo of a mockingbird in a posting entitled Song of Hope. That photo was unusual for me, because the bird was perched on the top of the bushes and not buried inside.

My goal, of course, is to show the beauty of the birds as clearly as possibly, ideally with an unobstructed view. Sometimes, though, you can catch a glimpse of a bird’s unique characteristics even when the view is partly blocked.

That was the case in these photos of a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). I took the shots on the same day in the same general location as the photo I mentioned earlier, so it may have been the same mockingbird, but he looks a little different in a different setting.

My favorite parts of these images are the wispy, downy feathers on the bird’s stomach. In some places, they stick out like a sidewards cowlick (back in the days when I had hair, it would stand out at odd angles like that if it grew too long). The bird was accommodating enough in posing for me that I have included both left and right profiles.

I have been told that most people have asymmetrical faces and have a preference for one profile over the other. Which profile would this mockingbird choose?

fuzzy_blog

fuzzy2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As of last week, Canada Geese continued to populate the pond and fields of my local marshland pond in great numbers. Many were engaged in foraging for food, but some look like they have been assigned sentinel duty. The photos are pretty self-explanatory—I’ll let them speak for themselves and make this posting short.

Goose in waterSentinel goosegoose_grass_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When I visited a county-run garden last week, the last thing that I expected to find was new growth. As I described in an earlier posting about a mockingbird, the landscape was bleak and desolate, largely bereft of color. From a distance I spotted a small patch of green. Moving closer to investigate, I discovered several small groupings of small white flowers that were starting to bloom.

A sign near one of the groupings indicated that the flower is a Giant Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii), native to Turkey and from Greece to Ukraine. I don’t know flowers very well, but the information that I find on-line suggests that these little beauties are blooming several months earlier than usual.

My skills at taking flower photos have gotten a little rusty from disuse these last few months.  Following some early advice of my photography mentor, Cindy Dyer, an expert in photographing flowers, I got down down in the dirt to try to shoot these little flowers from a low angle. Cindy usually strives to have a beautiful green background for flowers, but that was largely impossible at this time of the year, with dominant shades of gray and brown. It was also a real challenge to get any kind of depth and definition with the pure white flowers.

Typically we have to wait until spring for signs of new growth and renewal—this winter I got an early reminder and an advance preview.

drops2_blog

drops3_blogdrops4_blogtiny_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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