Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Daffodils have popped up all over my neighborhood the past few days, but none of them says Spring to me as much as this single crocus that I spotted in a neighbor’s yard last week. Backgrounds are always a big problem with flowers this early—it’s hard to avoid having mulch or fallen leaves in a shot. For this shot I used my 180mm macro lens and a really shallow depth of field. I like the softness that the settings gave the edges of the flower, while the center on which I was focusing was pretty sharp.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I look out my window today, piles of snow from the snowstorm earlier this week remind me that winter is not yet over. I discovered, however, that some plants are already in bloom (or almost in bloom) yesterday during a visit to Dumbarton Oaks, a historic museum, research center, and garden in Washington DC.

I am definitely not an expert when it comes to flowers, but if I had to guess, I’d say that the flower in the first image is a crocus, those in the second image are snowdrops, and those in the final image are forsythias. Even in I am incorrect in my identification, it was a real joy to see some colors and signs of life after so many long gray days this winter.

I can’t wait for spring to arrive.




© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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It will be a few more months until dragonflies reappear in our area, so for now I have to content myself with this one in my front yard that I photographed yesterday as the snow was gently falling. This metal dragonfly is part of a raised sprinkler that stands about three feet tall (about a meter).

I really like the way that the dragonfly has weathered and acquired various colors. I suppose I could talk of rust and tarnish, but I prefer to think of it as “patina.”


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The pastor at the Christmas service today reminded us of the theological implications of saying “Merry Christmas.” Every time that we utter those words, he said, we are telling another person that God loves them, that the true message of Christmas is God Incarnate, God taking on a human form to dwell among us.

Earlier this morning I was thinking about what kind of a photo I would post today. I considered selecting a recent wildlife photo, but not of them spoke to me. As I walked the dog while it was still dark, I thought about taking a photo of some of the colorful lights and decorations in my neighborhood, but somehow they didn’t represent Christmas to me at that moment.

I finally went out to my front yard and took this modest photo of one of the bushes there. I think it is called Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) and its simple form and traditional colors seemed an accurate reflection of my inner thoughts and feelings about Christmas this year. Christ came into the world in a humble way and meets us today where we are, no matter what our circumstances may be.

With the angel chorus and the heavenly host, I think about these words of the traditional Christmas story that I learned so long ago in the King James version: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Heavenly Bamboo

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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My dear friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer just created a free mini-magazine on Photography in the Garden. Cindy is the one who helped me get more serious with photography six years ago. Her beautiful work has been featured on US postage stamps and in Nikon publications and exhibitions. In addition to her DSLR work, she has added a selection of amazing images that she shot with her iPhone.

Cindy is a constant source of inspiration for me and I encourage you all to check out her work—this mini-magazine is a great start.

Cindy Dyer's Blog

In this 20-page mini-magazine, I share my tips and tricks for photographing your garden in its best light, whether you’re shooting with a DSLR, point-n-shoot, or smartphone. You’ll learn about composition, harnessing the light, photographic resources, and what’s in my bag. Photographing gardens and the natural world has been enormously rewarding for me. Below are some sample pages from the mini-magazine.

Read your manual, shoot regularly, learn how to process your digital images and above all else, always stay curious!

Click here: Cindy Dyer Garden Photography

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes I don’t have to venture far to capture images. I took this shot recently of a flower growing out of one of the hosta plants in my front yard as the rain was falling.

Simple colors and shapes and the sparkle of raindrops—photography doesn’t always have to be complicated. The challenge is to slow down, to really see the world around us, and to recognize its inherent beauty.

hosta in the rain

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Normally I aim for extreme realism when taking photos. Sometimes, however, I like to try an “artsy” approach, like in this image of a flower (a zinnia, I believe) from this past weekend at Meadlowlark Botanical Gardens.

In this case, I deliberately tried to distort perceptions and make it look like the grass and the sky had switched places. In reality, the blue is not from the sky, but is a gravel path.

I like to try to vary the angle at which I am shooting and the results can often be fun and different. I never know when I will find myself sprawled on the ground or standing in the mud, so I tend to wear clothes that are rugged and often ragged.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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