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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

There were lots of flowers in bloom yesterday at Green Spring Gardens, a historic county-run garden not far from where I live. One of my favorites was the Zowie Zinnia and a Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) seemed to like it a lot too.

I was at the garden with my dear friend and photography mentor, Cindy Dyer, and her husband. We were all taking a break at one point and I told CIndy that I was going to return to a patch of Zowie Zinnias to see if I could get a shot of a butterfly landing on one. We both recalled a photo that she took in 2010 (check out her blog posting) when an Easter Tiger Swallowtail butterfly appeared out of nowhere and landed on one of the two Zowie Zinnias that she was focusing on with her camera on a tripod.

Imagine her surprise when a couple of minutes later I returned with this photo. She grabbed her camera and went to the patch of zinnia, but, alas, the butterflies were not as cooperative for her as they had been for me.

Monarch butterfly and Zowie Zinnia

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many of us are old enough to remember when wall phones had long coiled cords that usually ended up stretched out and elongated. That’s exactly what I was thinking of when I spotted these coiled tendrils of some kind of flower yesterday when I was exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I wasn’t sure how to capture them in an image and tried a couple of different approaches. The image below was my favorite. It is kind of a natural abstract image, but I included the flower in the corner of it to give the image a sense of context.

Those who read my postings regularly know that this is not the usual kind of photo that I post—sometimes it is fun to venture outside of my normal box.

coil

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I suppose that I should call this a royal posting for it features both a viceroy and a queen. Of course, here in the USA we don’t have a monarchy, but that doesn’t keep us from having Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus) and Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota). I spotted this royal pair on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge where the Viceroy repeated probed the clusters of Queen Anne’s Lace.

You probably have noticed that the coloration of the Viceroy butterfly matches that of the Monarch butterfly. One of the easiest ways to tell them apart is the black line across the hind wings which is present with Viceroys but not with Monarchs.

Viceroy butterfly

Viceroy butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Unlike those that construct elaborate webs, some spiders instead perch at the shore with extended legs and sense prey through vibrations on the surface of the water. When the prey is detected, the spider runs across the top of the water, prompting some to call it the “Jesus spider.”

I spotted this cool-looking Six-spotted Fishing Spider (Dolomedes triton) in the shallow water of a pond this past Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Six-spotted Fishing Spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I can’t identify this flower and I am not certain what kind of skipper butterfly this is, but the two of them sure did combine well in this image that I captured this past weekend at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. (I’m leaning towards this being a Peck’s Skipper (Polites peckius), but there are so many different kinds of skippers that it’s hard to be sure.)

In many ways this is the kind of image that I aspire to capture. The subject is active, engaged in probing the flower with its extended proboscis, rather than in a static pose. Of equal importance, the image has an artistic feel, a kind of beauty in its composition and colors. There are so many uncontrollable elements in nature that there is no way to guarantee results like this, but it is sure is nice when it happens.

UPDATE: Helpful folks on Facebook and readers of this blog have helped to identify the butterfly as a Zabulon Skipper (Poanes zabulon) and the flower as an Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana). Thanks, Drew and Molly.

skipper and flower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I love the stunning red-orange coloration of a male Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami), especially when the sunlight dances across its gold-tinged wings, as it did on Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Generally I prefer an uncluttered background for my subjects, but in this case I think the soft patterns of the grasses in the background enhance the image more than would have been the case with a uniform single color.

Needham's Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Normally I aim for extreme realism when taking photos. Sometimes, however, I like to try an “artsy” approach, like in this image of a flower (a zinnia, I believe) from this past weekend at Meadlowlark Botanical Gardens.

In this case, I deliberately tried to distort perceptions and make it look like the grass and the sky had switched places. In reality, the blue is not from the sky, but is a gravel path.

I like to try to vary the angle at which I am shooting and the results can often be fun and different. I never know when I will find myself sprawled on the ground or standing in the mud, so I tend to wear clothes that are rugged and often ragged.

zinnia

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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