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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I was thrilled last Friday to spot this Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) at Horn Pond in Woburn, Massachusetts. Growing up in a suburb of Boston, I remember visiting the Boston Public Garden and riding in the famous pedal-powered Swan Boats there. As a result, the mere sighting of a swan is enough to trigger fond memories of my childhood.

Readers of my generation (and maybe even younger folks) may recall that the Swan Boats were featured prominently in the beloved book “Make Way for Ducklings.” I was a little surprised to learn from Wikipedia that the Swan Boats have been in operation since 1877.

“Robert Paget first created the Swan Boats in the Public Garden in 1877, after seeing the opera Lohengrin with his wife Julia Paget. Inspired by the knight’s gallant rescue of the damsel by riding a swan across the lake, Paget decided to capitalize on the recent popularity of the bicycle and combine the two, designing a two-pontooned boat with two wooden benches and a brass seat on top of a paddlebox concealed by a swan. The driver would sit inside the swan and pedal passengers around the pond.”

One of the amazing things is that the Swan Boats have remained virtually unchanged since that time.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During a brief trip to Massachusetts last weekend, I photographed this beautiful damselfly, which I believe is an immature female Eastern Forktail damselfly (Ischnura verticalis), while exploring Horn Pond in Woburn.

When I looked at the range map for this species, it looked like it is not present in my home area of Northern Virginia. However, when I did a search of my blog postings, I was surprised to discover that I had previously photographed an orange Eastern Forktail at one of my favorite local spots. Obviously I am not someone who keeps a “life list” of all the species that I have seen and photographed. 🙂

Eastern Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How do you capture the beauty of a landscape in a single shot? I shoot landscape shots so infrequently that I feel somewhat helpless when trying to do so. Normally they are kind of an afterthought, a second option when there is no wildlife around.

Last week in Germany, however, I was surrounded by mountains. I knew I had to get some shots of the mountains and I took a lot of them. As I reviewed them, though, not very many stood out. I decided to play around a bit and eventually came up with a couple of images that I really like. Both of them were taken from the destination point of the little cable car that I featured in an early posting.

The first image is one that I converted to black and white using an old version of Nik Silver Efex Pro software.  The second shot is a panorama image that was stitched together from three separate handheld images using PhotoMerge in Photoshop Elements. The third image is the color version of the first image prior to using the conversion software.

It was a challenge for me to step out of my comfort zone and try a different kind of photography. In my experience, feeling uncomfortable is part of the learning process. This year I am going to consciously look for more opportunities to take landscape photos and see where that takes me.

mountains in Germany

mountains in Germany

mountains in Germany

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am glad that I have neither a fear of heights (acrophobia) nor of closed-in spaces (claustrophobia) or I might not have enjoyed my ride last week on the Laben Bergbahn, a small cable car in Oberammergau, Germany.  The little  gondola cars (I think that is what they are called) took us up a steep slope that rose from 900m to 1684 meters (2952 feet to 5525 ft). A plaque in the car says it holds 11 people, but they would have to be really little people for that to be true.

Halfway up the mountain, there was a stop, leaving the car swinging a little in the breeze. The sign in the second image below was of only minor comfort as we waited and waited to start moving again—it seemed like we were hanging there for a really long time.

Laben Bergbahn

Laben Bergbahn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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There were several groves of trees near the Munich airport hotel that I stayed in prior to my return flight to the United States. I figured there might be some birds to photograph and was happy when I spotted birds flitting about. They reminded me of chickadees, but were much more colorful.

I did a little research on-line and think that the bird in the first photo is a Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) and the one in the second image looks to be a Great Tit (Parus major).  Apparently they are both pretty common, but they seem rare and exotic to me because they are not to be found in the area in which I live.

Eurasian Blue Tit

Great Tit

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I bought a round trip ticket on the Laben Bergbahn, a small mountain cable car in Oberammergau, Germany that took us quickly from 900m to 1684 meters. Some folks, however, bought a one-way ticket up the mountain and used an alternative mode of transportation to come down.

I am not sure if I am courageous or crazy enough to jump off a mountain like that and paraglide to the bottom.

parasailing

paragliding

paragliding

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I couldn’t see the sun actually setting on Wednesday in Oberammergau, Germany, but there was a glow in the sky and behind the mountains that was particularly beautiful.

As I rushed around in the fading light, trying to get some shots, I decided to include the Parish Church St. Peter and Paul, one of the most prominent buildings in this small Bavarian village. A few hours later, I captured the second image with a long exposure made by leaning my camera on a parked car. I love the architectural style of the church and included a third image to give you a better sense of the entire church structure.

Parish Church Oberammergau

Parish Church Oberammergau

Parish Church Oberammergau

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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