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Archive for the ‘Halloween’ Category

I never got around to posting a shot of my final Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) of the 2018 season, so today seems an appropriate time to do so. I spotted this tattered beauty on 29 September at Ben Brenman Park, a small suburban park not far from where I live in Alexandria, Virginia.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some of my readers know that I especially love dragonflies with patterned wings and one of my favorites is the Halloween Pennnant (Celithemis eponina). Despite its name, it is a summertime dragonfly and I was thrilled to spot a beautiful female Halloween Pennant yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The “Halloween” part of its name comes from the orange-brown color of its wings. The “pennant” comes from this predisposition of members of this genus to perch on the very tip of vegetation, which causes them to wave back in forth in even the slightest breeze.

In the photo below, the Halloween Pennant is perched on a stalk of very distinctive Eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides). I have frequently seen this kind of grass with red bits hanging from its stalks, but it was only yesterday that I learned what it was called from fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Like many guys, I have trouble remembering anniversaries, so it came as a surprise a few days ago when WordPress reminded me that it was the fifth anniversary of the launching of my blog. Five years old probably qualifies as middle age or maybe even old age for a blog.

I remember well how my photography mentor Cindy Dyer sat me down and virtually insisted that I start a blog to showcase and share the results of my growing interest in photography. I’ve captured thousands and thousand of images since that time and made close to 2400 postings on this blog. My confidence, awareness, and skills as a photographer have grown significantly. More importantly, though, this blog has helped me to gain a new voice as I have learned to use my words and photographs to express a creative part of myself that has been dormant most of my life.

I am very appreciative of the support, encouragement, and suggestions that so many readers have provided these last five years. Thanks to all of you—you have helped to sustain me during times when my energy and enthusiasm have waned.

My very first posting was an image of a perching dragonfly and was simply titled Blue Dasher dragonfly. If you look at that posting, you can see that my fascination with dragonflies is not a new phenomenon. It is altogether appropriate, therefore, that I “celebrate” with another dragonfly image.

Halloween Pennant dragonflies (Celithemis eponina) generally perch facing away from me. Although it gives me a good view of their spectacular wings, I like it better when I get a frontal view and can look straight into the dragonfly’s eyes. This weekend I found a cooperative subject while exploring Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, and was able to capture this image.

Halloween Pennant

Like this dragonfly, I am ready to spread my wings and fly, resting briefly before taking off again.  It’s a bit of a cliche, but from the blog’s inauguration the sub-title has always been, “My journey through photography.” Where will I go next? I honestly don’t know, but I definitely welcome fellow travelers to accompany me on my continuing journey of exploration.

Perhaps I will set my sights really high and point my camera, to use the famous words of Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond.” Come fly with me.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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I grew up in the suburbs and have never lived in the country, but somehow I love the beauty of old tractors. During my recent visit to a local produce center that I have featured the last few day, my eyes were inexorably drawn to the a green tractor and its ghoulish driver. Oh, Deere. The scene was staged at the edge of the property, so it was hard to get a shot that did not include barbed wire and chain link fence.  Here are a few shots from different angles to give you an overall view (yes, the driver is wearing overalls)  as well as a wide-angle view.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween tractor

 

Halloween tractor

 

Halloween tractor

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some very creative people must work at the local pumpkin patch at Nalls Produce Center in Alexandria, Virginia. As I wandered about, I encountered numerous mini-scenes celebrating farm life and/or Halloween.

One of my favorites featured a crazed–looking cat in overalls conversing with a cow. I also really liked the jack-o-lantern made with all natural materials. I can’t recall ever before seeing a jack-o-lantern with hair.

Halloween

Halloween

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Nothing quite says autumn like a visit to a pumpkin patch. In this case it was a brief excursion to Nalls Produce Center, a nearby establishment that has an amazing assortment of produce and plants. Normally I think of pumpkins as being orange and there are plenty of orange pumpkins there of all shapes and sizes. They also have an incredible variety of pumpkins of different colors, including the multi-colored ones in the final photo. They are known by a number of different names including Turk’s Turban and Mexican Hat.

pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch

pumpkins4_blog

Mexican Hat pumpkin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This spooky spider image that I took late Friday afternoon while hiking along part the Potomac Heritage Trail is probably more suitable for later in the month, but I just couldn’t wait until Halloween to share it.

Normally when I use fill flash I try to be subtle, attempting to add a little pop without making it obvious that I used flash. In this case, you can’t help but notice my use of the popup flash. Normally I would take a shot of a spider like this with my macro lens, but I was travelling light with just my superzoom Canon SX50. The 50x zoom of this camera has helped to bring distant subjects closer, but I had never tried to use the camera’s macro mode. I quickly learned that you have to be really close to your subject, literally only a few inches away. I was pretty happy when I was able to get the second shot below, but wanted to add to the drama of the shot.

I dropped the exposure compensation in the camera down to a minus three stops and got my favorite shot. The darkened sky and the way that the flash illuminates the spider give the image a kind of creepy look that feels appropriate for a spider that was just about at eye level.

spooky spider

spooky spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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