Archive for January, 2014

What’s the coolest thing that could happen to you as a photographer? All of us would like greater exposure and I was thrilled on Monday when I learned that my dear friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer had five of her fern photos issued as stamps by the US Postal Service. They are being issued in coils of 3,000 and 10,000 stamps with a total printing of 95 million stamps. Wow! That’s broad exposure.

Check out her blog to see some of her amazing photos. Her teaching, support, and inspiration have played (and continue to play) a huge role in my evolution and development as a photographer.

Cindy Dyer's Blog

Yesterday, after more than a year in the making, my series of USPS-licensed fern photographs were released as 49 cent stamps in large coil format for business use. Special thanks to art director Phil Jordan for being so great to work with on the series! I’ll be back with more details on how we can POSSIBLY get a smaller amount than the issued 3,000 and 10,000 quantity rolls!

Read more about the stamps here: http://uspsstamps.com/stamps/ferns

Order a first-day-of-issue set within 60 days here:


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Another photo of a chickadee? Chickadees are so common that they fade into the background to the point where we no longer notice them. Nobody would travel a great distance to see a Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinens) like this one and there were no throngs of curious spectators to ask me what I was photographing.

What was the attraction for me? One of my fellow bloggers, Mr. K.A. Brace, a thoughtful and insightful poet who writes in a blog called The Mirror Obscura, posted a poem today entitled “The Brilliance” that really resonated with me. In the poem, he spoke of the “brilliance of the ordinary.” I encourage you to check out this poem and other wonderful poems—one of the cool features of most of the blog postings is that they feature an audio clip of the poet reading the featured poem.

“The brilliance of the ordinary”—I love that combination of words. Children (and pets) approach life with boundless curiosity and endless fascination with the most mundane, ordinary aspects of our everyday world. I want to regain more of that childlike sense of wonder.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although I rarely see them, the animals in the woods at my local marsh were out and about after our recent snowstorm and their tracks made fascinating patterns in the fresh snow. What animals made the tracks and what were they doing?

I took these photos in a remote area of my local marshland park, near what I believe to be an active beaver lodge, the location at which I have previously spotted a fox, an otter, and a raccoon.

I suspect that there are resources on the internet that would help me identify these tracks, but for the moment I am content with the reminder that I am a visitor in the home of these unseen woodland creatures.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I love to watch energetic little Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) at work, like this one that I observed last week in my own neighborhood.

Most of the time these little powerhouses are in constant motion or are obscured by branches, so it’s difficult to get a clear shot of them. This one, however, was in a location where I could get an unobstructed photograph and the woodpecker even cooperated by lifting its head for a moment (though it did appear to be a little irritated at the interruption).

As soon as I was done with the brief photo shoot, the woodpecker went back to work, pounding away at the wood in search of some tasty morsels of food.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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There is something magical about the moon and I have been seeing it more often this month in the frigid early morning hours, as I let the dog out in the backyard or pick up my newspaper from the front stoop. I took this shot of a sliver of the moon a few days ago, when the moon phase was somewhere between the last quarter and the waning crescent. I know I should use my tripod, but that would mean getting dressed warmly—it’s much too tempting to grab a few quick shots and to rush back into the comfort of the heated house.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When you see a white, rounded object in a bird’s nest, your minds tends to assume that it is an egg. Of course, when it is the middle of the winter and the temperature is well below the freezing point, you know that it can’t be an egg (unless it’s from a snowbird, but I think they have already migrated south to the beaches of Florida).

I came across this little nest as I was making my way through the thorny vines at the edge of one of the ponds at my local marshland park. I still have trouble identifying many birds and I haven’t the slightest clue about what kind of bird would use a nest like this.

Still, this nest caught my eye as a kind of visual reminder that spring will arrive in just a few months, full of the promise of new life.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I finally made it out to my local marsh this past weekend to check out the wildlife activity following our recent snowstorm and protracted period of cold weather. The boardwalks are still mostly slippery and covered with packed snow and almost all of the water in the ponds is frozen solid, which means that most of the geese and ducks have relocated. The cold spell is forecast to continue this week, so I don’t expect to see the water fowl returning any time soon.

The sparrows seemed even more active than normal, though, in constant motion as they moved from one set of vegetation to another. Often it seemed that they chose to hop from place to place, rather than fly, and I caught this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) in mid-hop. (It looked like they would extend their wings a bit when they would hop down from a higher point on a plant to a lower spot).


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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