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Archive for the ‘Macro Photography’ Category

While they have been out of town, I have been watering the flowers in my neighbors’ garden and watching (and feeding) their three cats. The garden was planted by my photography mentor, Cindy Dyer, who always selects particularly photogenic species. She asked me document some of the flowers as they bloomed in case she does not return in time to see them herself.

Yesterday I was particularly struck by the beauty of the different lilies that are now blooming. Some of them probably qualify as day lilies, but there is another cool variety that has blooms that face downward. The big star of the show, though, is undoubtedly an enormous cream-colored lily that just opened and is the one that is featured in the first photo.

Many of you know that I am generally in ceaseless pursuit of animate subjects, but it is good to periodically stop and take the time to smell the lilies.

lily

lily

lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Whenever I see a patch of milkweed I will usually stop and and watch and wait. Milkweed attracts such a colorful cast of insect characters that it reminds me a little of the Mos Eisley Cantina in the original Star Wars movie.

My patience was rewarded this past Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge when a Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) stopped by for a visit and I was able to capture this image.

Monarch butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Even if you find spiders a bit creepy (which I don’t), you can’t help but admire the beauty and artistry of their webs. This spider, which I think is a Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia), went a little crazy with its zigzag pattern this past weekend at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Most of the time the webs of these spiders have a single zigzag pattern that leads to the center of the web. This spider, which seemed smaller than many of the others of this species that I have seen, for some unknown reason decided to repeat the pattern multiple times, which helped me to spot the web more easily.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Insect identification is really tough for me. When I saw this insect crawling about on the top of what I believe is a Shasta daisy, I was pretty sure that it was a beetle. Beyond that, I really had no idea what it was. A quick search on the internet made me conclude that it was a kind of scarab beetle.

I posted a photo on the website bugguide.net and asked for help. Responders provided a couple of possibilities and it looks most likely that this is an Oriental Beetle (Exomala orientalis) or (Anomala orientalis). In some ways it’s not that important to identify my subject, but it is something that I strive to do as much as I can and I usually end up learning a lot in the process of figuring out what I have shot.

I took quite a few shots of this beetle and especially like this one, because the beetle raised its head momentarily and I was able to get a look at its cool forked antennae. I also like the way I was able to capture some of the drops of water on the petals of the daisy.

In case any viewer is worried that I have given up on dragonflies, I can reassure you that I still have shots of lots of beautiful dragonflies to be posted and am always seeking more. I just figured that I would mix things up a little and provide a little glimpse at the world through my macro lens.

Oriental Beetle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A macro lens helps to open up a whole new tiny world that is often beautiful and occasionally a little scary. I think that a tiny insect that fellow photographer Cindy Dyer pointed out to me in her garden yesterday fits into the latter category. The insect in question was moving about on an orange cone flower and at first we thought it might be a spider. When we counted the legs and looked a little closer, we realized it was probably a bug, a bug with massive spiked front legs and additional spikes on its body. It was a bit chilling to learn that this was the nymph of an assassin bug, a Spiny Assassin bug in the genus Sinea.

As I was taking this photo, I was reminded once again now much I enjoy macro photography. It has its own set of challenges, but it is rewarding to be able to get shots like this. In this image I particularly like the way that the spikes in the center of the cone flower mirror those of the fearsome little insect, which would be a real monster if it were larger.

Spiny Assassin Bug nymph

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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This shot from Monday is for Cindy Dyer, my photography mentor, who used to refer to me as her “grasshopper” and taught me some important lessons when I was just starting to get serious about my photography six years ago.

Folks of a certain age may recall that “grasshopper” was the nickname used by Master Po for his young student Kwai Chang Caine in the western martial arts television series Kung Fu in the 1970’s. The name is a reference to a wonderful scene in the pilot episode for the series in which the blind teacher helps to teach his new student that “seeing” requires more than the simple use of your eyes.

Here, from Wikipedia, is a snippet of dialogue with some of the wisdom of Master Po:

Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Caine: No.
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

In case you have never heard of the Kung Fu television series or want to relive a moment from your past, here is a link to a short YouTube video of the above-referenced scene.

As a nature photographer, I think a lot about “seeing” as I seek a closer connection with the natural world and so many of its inhabitants. My observations have caused me to conclude that the pace of the natural world is different from that of my everyday life and that I consequently have to slow down in order to be in synch with it.

grasshopper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At this time of the year I generally exchange my long telephoto zoom lens for my macro lens as my primary lens. Macro photography was my first love when I started getting more serious about my  photography and it still has a special attraction for me. Besides, birds are mostly hidden by the foliage and, as you probably have noticed, dragonflies have resumed their place as my favorite subject.

A macro lens helps me capture the world in a different way, revealing details that we don’t normally see. I think that was the case yesterday when I encountered a small brown butterfly while I was walking alongside a stream. I think that it is a Northern Pearly-eye butterfly (Enodia anthedon), though there is a chance that it is an Appalachian Brown butterfly or some other species. I didn’t get a really good look at the markings of butterfly and instead concentrated on trying to get as parallel as I could to the butterfly so the eyes would be in focus.

I like the low angle shot that I was able to get, which makes the butterfly look a little bit like a bat.

Northern Pearly-eye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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