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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

On Wednesday I spotted this colorful Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) perched on some goldenrod at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The fact that the butterfly was facing downward gives this image an abstract feel that I really like. My mind does not immediately register that this is a butterfly and instead focuses on the wonderful shapes and colors.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Dragonfly wings are amazing, but most of the time they are so transparent that it is hard to see all of the tiny little “cells” that make up the wings. Last Friday, though, I captured this shot of an immature male Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge that really highlights the beautiful mosaic-like pattern of its hind wings. Wow!

Calico Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Does you mood affect how you react to images? When I am reviewing images that I have captured, most of the time I use an analytical approach. I seek to identify the species of my subject and then look at the technical aspects of the photo, such as the sharpness of the focus. Finally I will see if I can improve the composition by cropping the image.

For some images, though, I respond initially with my heart and not my head. I don’t worry about “what” it is and simply enjoy the beauty of the shapes and colors that make up the image. That was the case with this shot of a male Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) that I captured during a recent visit to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I love the contrast between the orangish-red of the dragonfly’s body and the green background. The shape and texture of the vegetation, which I believe is Eastern Gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), also really grabbed my eye (in part because I missed focus a little and the sharpest part of the image is the grass in front of the dragonfly). The composition is simple and straightforward and is pretty much the way I shot it.

We all like what we like. Most often we don’t even ask ourselves why we like something. I personally find it beneficial to try to articulate why I like something. Words fail me quite often when attempting to describe with words what is primarily an emotional reaction, but I think that the effort itself makes the process worthwhile.

Needham's Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) are voracious predators and I spotted this female pondhawk munching on another insect this past Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. At this time of the year the vegetation has grown high in many of the locations that I visit and I am now seeing more dragonflies perching at eye level or even higher. This heightened perspective allows me to get some cool, uncluttered backgrounds, like the one in this image that reminds me of a watercolor painting.

Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have always been fascinated by shadows and reflections, which often lend an additional element of interest to a more straightforward shot. When a recently emerged dragonfly, probably a Lancet Clubtail (Gomphus exilis), flew into a nearby tree, I was utterly mesmerized by the shadow that it cast onto the leaves of the tree. The shapes and patterns of the green leaves create an almost abstract backdrop for the scene that really drew me in.

Most of my images are detailed, realistic portraits of my wildlife subjects, but at certain moment I love to attempt to capture more “artsy” images like this one.

Lancet Clubtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During a visit yesterday to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, I was reminded of my favorite artist—Claude Monet. During the last thirty years of his life, water lilies (Nymphéas in French) were the main focus of his artistic production. One of the museums that I most love visiting is the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, because it houses eight massive water lily murals by Monet in two specially-built oval rooms. It is incredibly peaceful to just sit in one of those rooms, surrounded by those amazing paintings.

I was delighted and a little surprised yesterday to see that some water lilies were already in bloom. There was a lot of vegetation surrounding the pond in which the beautiful flowers were floating, so there were some limits to my ability to compose my shots. Still, I am pretty happy with the images that I was able to capture.

Perhaps you will find yourself as captivated by the water lilies as I was.

Water lily

Water lily

water lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I’ve noticed that recently I have been really sensitive to lighting and moods and not just to specific subjects. It’s problematic for me, because it is so difficult to figure out how to capture a feeling.

That is part of what was going through my head when I took this photo early in the morning this past Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The sun had already risen, but it was still low in the sky. I loved the way that shafts of light were visible coming through the trees. It was a cold morning and mist was hanging over the still water of a small pond. Could I possiblycapture the details that took my breath away?

So what do you think, or more importantly, what do you feel?

sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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