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Archive for the ‘Macro Photography’ Category

Need a blast of bright color? Here you go, a shot I took of the inside of a gorgeous red tulip blooming this morning in the garden of my neighbor and photography mentor Cindy Dyer.  This view straight down into the tulip reminds me of the kaleidoscopes that fascinated me endlessly when I was a youth. I managed to frame this shot almost exactly as I had envisioned, so I decided not to crop it at all, which is pretty unusual for me.

tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the highlights of my visit on Monday to Green Spring Gardens was photographing a blossoming Japanese Apricot tree (Prunus mume). It was a little strange to see a tree with blossoms during the winter, but apparently it is normal for this species to blossom in mid-winter and late winter. The flowers are commonly known as plum blossoms and are a frequent theme in traditional painting in China and in other East Asian countries—the blossoms were also a favorite with the honey bees.

According to Wikipedia, the plum blossom is “one of the most beloved flowers in China and has been frequently depicted in Chinese art and poetry for centuries. The plum blossom is seen as a symbol of winter and a harbinger of spring. The blossoms are so beloved because they are viewed as blooming most vibrantly amidst the winter snow, exuding an ethereal elegance, while their fragrance is noticed to still subtly pervade the air at even the coldest times of the year. Therefore, the plum blossom came to symbolize perseverance and hope, as well as beauty, purity, and the transitoriness of life.”

I do not use my macro lens very much during the winter months and usually leave it at home. However, the mild weather that we have been having made me suspect that some flowers would be in bloom, so I put the macro lens on my camera—the busy bees turned out to be a big bonus.

I especially admired the efforts of the bee in the first photo. This bee did not want to wait for the bud to open, but instead burrowed its way to the pollen-filled center of the blossom-to-be.

Japanese Apricot tree

Japanese Apricot tree

Japanese Apricot tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This winter has been usually mild and spring color is already starting to appear in our area. During a visit yesterday to Green Spring Gardens, a local county-run historical garden, I spotted crocuses in bloom at several locations. Finding crocuses was not too much of a surprise, since they are usually among the first flowers to appear each spring.  However, it was an unexpected bonus to be able to photograph a honey bee collecting pollen inside of one of the crocuses.

In many ways yesterday’s photography was a return to my roots. When I started getting more serious about photography seven years ago, I did a lot of shooting with my friend and mentor, Cindy Dyer. One of her many areas of specialization is macro photography of flowers and some of her flower images have even appeared on US postage stamps. From her I learned a lot about the technical aspects of photography, like composition and depth of field, but more importantly she encouraged and inspired me back then and continues to do so to this day. Thanks, Cindy.

I started off photographing flowers with a few insects, but gradually realized that I was more interested in shooting insects with a few flowers. I can appreciate the beauty of the crocuses in the second and third images below, but the first shot is more representative of my desired shooting style.

crocus

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I see an Ailanthus Webworm moth (Atteva aurea), I assume that it is some kind of beetle. It is hard to believe that the colorful patterns are actually part of the wings and not a hard exterior shell. I spotted this beautiful little moth on some goldenrod last week while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The pattern on this insect’s body reminds me of an animal print. Wouldn’t it be cool to have fabric printed with this bold pattern? I can imagine throw pillows and even fashion accessories. From a marketing perspective, though, I think we would have to come up with a new name for the insect—a name like “webworm” probably would not attract many customers.

Ailanthus Webworm moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Do you ever stop to look at grasshoppers? A lot of them are really cool, like this giant one that I spotted on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I love how it looks like the grasshopper is wearing a helmet on its head and a suit of armor on its torso.

I am not very good in identifying grasshopper species, but after looking through various internet sites, I wonder if this might be an Eastern Lubber grasshopper (Romalea guttata). This species is found only in the southeastern part of the United States. Virginia, where I live, is not within its listed range, so it is possible that this is a related species. Whatever the case, I definitely love the bold coloration of this giant grasshopper.

yellow grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As many of you know, I love to photograph dragonflies and will often try to get close-up shots of them. Initially I captured a head-on shot of a female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) that I spotted on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

As I was observing this dragonfly at close range, she began to groom herself. I am not sure if she was cleaning her eyes or merely scratching an itch, but it was a bit eerie when she rotated her head more than 90 degrees to do so, as you can see in the second image. It brought back memories from my youth of Linda Blair’s spinning head in the original version of The Exorcist, though fortunately the dragonfly’s head did not rotate 360 degrees.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you have a favorite insect? Although I like dragonflies a lot, my favorite insect is probably the rainbow-colored Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum). I was thrilled to spot this beauty on some colorful vegetation last Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I remember well the sense of incredulity that I felt when I saw one of these insects for the very first time—I simply could not believe that the bright colors were real. The beautiful curling leaves hide the details of the katydid’s body a little, but add a wonderful artistic element to this image. If want to see the brilliant colors of a Handsome Meadow Katydid on full display, check out this link to a 2013 posting that I entitled Rainbow Grasshopper—it is one of my most popular posts to date with over 315 views.

The vivid colors of this katydid are sure to grab your attention, but you should also be sure to check out its eyes. I am still blown away every time that I see those amazing eyes that seem to be looking deeply into me.  Here’s looking at you, kid.

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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