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Archive for the ‘Landscape’ Category

Sometimes the most mundane scenes capture my eye and prompt me to photograph them. On Monday morning, I looked out of my hotel window and was captivated by the way that the early sunlight was falling on the dome of a building in the distance. As I started exploring the scene I saw lots of wonderful details, a wonderful juxtaposition of elements of the old and the new, of historical buildings and new construction.

This is not my normal style of photography, but I thought it would be fun to share with you a couple of images that give you a sense of the feel of that early morning in Vienna, Austria. I had hoped to take some additional photos of the city, but the last couple of days have been cold, wet, and windy. With a little luck I will be able to take a few photos of the Christmas markets to share with you before I depart this beautiful old city.

Vienna Austria

Vienna Austria

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When I am out in the wild with my camera, my eyes are almost always in constant motion, scanning the skies and the ground, the trees and the fields, searching for subjects to photograph. Sometimes, though, I’ll stop, overwhelmed by the natural beauty of my surroundings, and may remain stationary for an extended period of time.

I had such an experience earlier this week when I was checking out a small pond at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The early morning light was just beginning to illuminate the tops of the trees. Although most of the leaves on the trees have turned brown, the sunlight caused them to glow a little, restoring them for a few precious moments to their former glory.

It may not be traditional to shoot a landscape photo with a telephoto lens, but that is what I had on my camera that moment. I zoomed out my 150-600mm lens to its widest position and tried to compose an image that captured the feeling of the moment.

I don’t shoot landscape images very often and probably violated some of the normal guidelines, but I am pretty happy with this image. Although generally I crop an image to focus a viewer’s attention on my primary subject, that did not seem necessary in this case.

 

morning light

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As the early sunlight pierced the foliage at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it created a magical world, filled with visible rays of light in the misty morning air.

The word “breathtaking” is perhaps overused, but it perfectly describes my physical reaction when I came upon this scene as I was walking a path that runs parallel to the water of Occoquan Bay. I knew that the light was coming from in front of me, so I wasn’t really expecting to take any photos until the path curved a bit and the sun was in a better position.

I marveled at the visible rays of sunlight and wondered if there was any way that I would be able to capture the incredible scene in front of me. My 150-600mm lens was affixed to my DSLR and even at 150mm, there was no way I could use it to capture the “big picture.”

Fortunately I have taken to carrying my Canon SX50 camera that has a zoom lens that goes all the way from wide angle to super zoom (an equivalent angle of view of 24-1200mm). I was able to frame the image as you see in the image below and the camera did a decent job in rendering the scene.

It is moments like this that keep me going out in the early morning, traipsing the trails at a time of the day when many folks would prefer to be sleeping.

rays of sunlight

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The spiderweb was tattered and the spider was absent, but the globular drops of dew gave the scene a magical feel as the early morning light turned them into transparent pearls. As I looked more closely, I saw there was a miniature upside down version of the landscape in many of the drops.

For the ease of the viewer, I flipped a cropped version of part of the scene 180 degrees in the first photo below to give a better sense of the “landscapes” that are shown right side up. The second image shows a wider view of the strings of glistening drops. The final image is the same as the first one, but rotated back to its original orientation, so that the normal rules of gravity apply and the dew drops are hanging down from the silken strands of the spider web.

 

tiny landscapes

tiny landscapes

tiny landscapes

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There are often a few moments in the early morning when the world seems completely at peace. The waters are calm and reflections are almost perfectly mirror-like. Sometimes there is enough light to take photographs, but even when there is not, I enjoy getting up early simply to savor those moments.

This past Monday morning, when I arrived at a small pond at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed the beautiful reflections and my attention was drawn to a stick protruding out of the water. As I zoomed in on the stick, I noticed a damselfly perched on it. Damselflies belong to the same order of Odonata as dragonflies, but usually are smaller in size, often 1 to 1.5 inches in length (25–38 mm).

I decided to take some shots of the stick and the perching damselfly and as I was doing so, the damselfly flew away. I managed to capture the image below as the dragonfly was returning to its perch.

An expert on a Facebook forum identified the damselfly for me as an Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum). Most members of the bluet family of damselflies are colored with various combinations of blue (as the name suggests) and black, but some family members are also orange or red. I shake my head and smile every time that I use the curious word combination “orange bluet.”

This image is somewhat atypical for me in the sense that it is not a close-up portrait. Most of the time I try to use my telephoto zoom or macro lens to capture as many details of my subject as I can. In cases like this, though, I am content to capture an image that evokes the mood of the moment. There is a kind of minimalist simplicity in this photo that really appeals to me.

Orange Bluet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We don’t often have daytime fog where I live—most of the time it burns off shortly after sunrise. Yesterday, however, it hung around all morning and visibility was very limited at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Except for a lot of gulls and a few geese, the birds seemed to have decided to stay sheltered until the fog dissipated.

It was a nice challenge for me to try to capture a sense of the moment in the indistinct shapes that were visible as I looked out into the water of the bay. Here are a couple of images that have a kind of abstract, impressionist feel that I really like.

foggy impressions

foggy impressions

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The early morning sunlight was spectacular yesterday as it streamed through the trees at Huntley Meadows Park. I tried to capture this phenomenon as a kind of mini-landscape by using my telephoto lens and framing it just as you see in this image. It is a little unusual for me not to crop an image at all, but by composing it this way, I was able to include those elements that I found the most interesting, the light and shadows of the trees, and left out the things that I found less interesting such as the sky. I did include a little strip of grass in the foreground so that the image is not completely abstract.

early morning trees

When I first arrived at the park, the sun had barely risen and there was a lot of ground fog, which made the woods look really mysterious and a little spooky. One of my viewers on Facebook said the image looked like it could be the setting for the witches in Macbeth. The second image was a lot tougher to capture, because of the lack of light and my desire to capture a sense of the fog that was clinging to the ground. There is a slight blur to the image, which would normally be a shortcoming in a photo, but I think it works ok with an image like this one.

early morning trees

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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