Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Last Saturday I spotted this Pearl Crescent butterfly (Phyciodes tharos) on what looks to be a Black-eyed Susan flower (Rudbeckia hirta) at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. Initially the butterfly’s wings were open, which made for an ok shot. When the butterfly partially closed its wings, however, the light coming from the back helped to illuminate one wing like a stained glass window.

It is amazing how a slight change in the position of a subject can radically change the feel of an image—that is one of the reason why I like to shoot in short bursts, hoping to capture a variety of poses in a short period of time.

Pearl Crescent

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Normally a dragonfly’s abdomen is straight. Occasionally, though, I encounter one with an abdomen that has a noticeable curve, like this male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) that I spotted yesterday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. (For those of you not familiar with dragonfly anatomy, the upper portion of the body is the thorax and the lower two-thirds is the abdomen.)

I suspect that the curvature was the result of a problem that occurred when the dragonfly was first emerging. It does not seem to have any effect on his ability to fly or to catch prey, but it might pose a problem when he attempts to mate.

Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Should I present a subject in landscape mode or portrait mode? That is a question I face frequently when I am composing photos initially and later when I am processing the images. Some subjects or scenes lend themselves naturally to one of the modes, but often it is not clear which one will be more effective. I remember reading somewhere that it is best to take shots from multiple angles, at varying distances, and using multiple modes and I try to follow that advice whenever I can.

This past week I encountered a large dragonfly as I was exploring a small creek in Prince William County, Virginia. The creek was mostly in the shadows and I was unable to identify the species of the dragonfly until it perched on a sun-lit tree. Then it was easy to determine that it was a Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi).

The dragonfly was pretty cooperative and I was able to take multiple shots, two of which I have included in this posting. From an artistic perspective I particularly like the first image, which gives equal weight to the dragonfly and to the environmental elements. The second image draws your attention more to the details of the dragonfly and give greater emphasis to the texture of the tree.

Are you drawn more to one of the two images? If so, why? I know how I react to my own images and am always curious to hear what you think and/or feel about them.

Gray Petaltail

Gray Petaltail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

A couple of weeks ago I posted a photo of a Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly (Dromogomphus spinosus) that prompted one of my readers, Molly Lin Dutina of Treasures in Plain Sight, to comment, “Spinyleg —sounds like something a child would be afraid of!” That photo, alas, did not give a very good view of the spiny legs.

This week, however, as I was exploring a creek in Prince William County, Virginia, I was fortunate to capture some images of a Black-shouldered Spinyleg that show off those fearsome spines. If you click on the image below and focus your attention on the back legs, you will see the long pointed spines that help the dragonfly hold on to prey.

Ouch! 

Black-shouldered Spinyleg

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday as I was exploring a creek in Prince William County, Virginia I spotted this large damselfly. I marveled at its beautiful coloration and was happy to be able to capture an image that shows it off well. At the time I took the photo I was not certain of the species, but when I returned home and looked in my damselfly book, I learned that it is a male Powdered Dancer damselfly (Argia moesta).

As a Powdered Dancer male gets older, its thorax and the tip of its abdomen become covered with a powdery blue or gray substance in a process known as pruinescence. Eventually the male will look almost white, which makes it even easier to identify. So many damselflies have a lot of blue on their bodies that it is hard for me to be confident in my identification when I see a damselfly with blue coloration.

Powdered Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

During the hot, humid days of mid-summer, I often hear the sounds of birds, but rarely see them. Although I may be out in the blazing sun, most of the birds seem to use common sense and take shelter in the shade of the trees.

Last week as I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I heard the unmistakable call of a kingfisher and caught a glimpse of it skimming across the water of a small pond. I was a bit surprised when it chose briefly to perch in a small tree overhanging the water. I was a long way away, but had a clear line of sight and captured this image of the female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). I can tell that it is a female because I can see a reddish-colored band across its chest that the male lacks.

Many of you know that I photograph birds more frequently during the winter months, when insects disappear and the lack of foliage makes it easier to spot the birds. Throughout the year, however, I try to be ready in case a bird decides to be cooperative and poses for me.

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

One of the real joys of the summer is having the chance to see colorful butterflies, like this Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) that I observed last week at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I am not sure what creature has been munching on the vegetation on which the butterfly is perched, but I really like the way that the holes in leaves mirror the circular shapes of the butterfly’s eye spots.

Common Buckeye

Common Buckeye

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »