Archive for June, 2013

Have you ever tried to take photos of a bee in flight? In the past, I have managed to get a few such shots accidentally, when a bee took off as I was shooting.

However, a few days ago when the light was fading in the early evening, I decided to try to photograph a bee in flight using my pop-up flash. I knew that timing would be critical, because the time required for the flash to recycle meant that I would get only one shot each attempt, and not a burst. It was a fun little challenge, even though most of my shots were out of focus.

I especially like the first image, in which the bee appears to be attempting to hover in mid-air. The second shot makes it look like the bee was free-falling, waiting for the optimal moment to deploy his tiny parachute.

It’s easy to get ultra-serious about photography and get bogged down thinking of settings and exposures and composition—it’s nice sometimes to just have fun and then share the results of the fun time.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As the summer temperatures have soared, I have been seeing fewer birds and therefore I was surprised when a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) flew in and perched on a log in the middle of a small pond where I was photographing dragonflies.

I saw his arrival from a distance and at first thought it was a duck, but as I crept closer, it became clear that it was a Green Heron. Most of the times when I have observed Green Herons, they have been intently focused on catching prey. This heron, however, seemed to be content to check out the area and apparently didn’t like what he saw, because he did not stay very long.

I really like the contemplative look of the heron in both of the images here. Something must have caught its attention in the second shot that caused the heron to extend its neck and look upward—Green Herons almost always look down toward the water. I like the way that the heron has cocked its head.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When I get the urge to take some photos and don’t have much time, I like to walk over to a neighbor’s house and take photos of the bees that are usually buzzing around the lavender plants there.

A little over a week ago, I did a posting that had a super close-up shot of a bee. Today’s shot was taken from farther away and has the blurry background that I really like, with the bee still in pretty sharp focus in the foreground.  I like the way that the image shows the way the lavender droops a little from the weight of the bee and I also like the the second stalk of lavender standing tall in the mid-range area of the shot.

It’s a pretty simple composition, but the result is a pleasing image of a bee happily at work.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I couldn’t believe my luck when this male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) perched on one of the orange lilies at the edge of the pond.

The lily had not yet bloomed, making it a perfect place for the dragonfly to land, and I had positioned myself to take this shot, but I was a little doubtful that a dragonfly would cooperate.

The green of the background complements the blues of the dragonfly, but it is the orange that makes this image pop for me.

I am happy with the image.

lily1_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The last time I posed a question about using flash to photograph a spider, the majority of readers said that the spider looked much better in natural light, but the case is not so clear for this Barn Spider (Araneus cavaticus) that I spotted in the garden yesterday.

The spider was in a web that stretched across the path in the garden, about chest-high, and was in subdued light. I really wanted to shoot at an angle to give the spider some dimensionality, but it was tough to do so, because of the web, and depth of field was an issue. To make matters worse, a breeze would kick up periodically, making slow shutter speeds a bit problematic.

There was no question about whether to use a tripod or not—it was obvious that I needed it. Initially, I shot at f/10 in aperture priority, with a shutter speed of 1/13 of a second, resulting in the second image. Although parts of the spider are blurry, the head and eyes are pretty sharp. I then raised the shutter speed to 1/200 and used my pop-up flash and got the first image. The background turned almost totally black, but I was happy that it did not blow out the details in lighter areas of the spider and the eyes remain pretty sharp.

I like the image with the black background better this time and like the look of the background. Which one do you prefer? (Clink on this link to see the posting from March when I initially posed a similar question.)


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last summer I confessed to being obsessed with Red Milkweed Beetles (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) in one of my postings and initial signs this summer suggest that the fascination remains strong.

This past weekend, I spotted several of my little red friends when visiting Green Spring Gardens, a local county-run historical garden, and I stalked them like a paparazzo, trying to get a good shot. I particularly like this image, in which the beetle is staring down at me from a partially eaten leaf. (I don’t know if it was the one that chewed up the leaf.)

The colors of the photo may suggest Christmas, but I am not sure that there would be much of a market for this as a Christmas card image.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Do you ever have days when you crave solitude, but others just won’t stop bothering you? That may be how this male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) felt today, when other dragonflies harassed him from the back and from the front.

behind_blogsuspended_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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