Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My eyes were attracted to the pinkish-colored asters when I spotted them last Friday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge and I moved closer to investigate them more closely. I was delighted to see several green metallic sweat bees (g. Agapostemon) busily gathering pollen. I have always loved the coloration of these sweat bees that are so much smaller than the bumblebees and carpenter bees that I am more used to seeing.

The sweat bees were in almost constant motion and I got a little dizzy as I tried to track their circular movement around the center of the little flowers. I was happy that I was able to get a few shots in which the speckled eyes of the bees are visible—you may want to double-click on the images to enlarge them and see this cool little detail.

Asters generally appear in my area in late summer and early fall, another sign that the seasons are starting to change. I am not ready to let go of summer, though I must confess that I enjoy the somewhat cooler weather that we have been experiencing, especially during the nighttime hours.

sweat bee

sweat bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

This beautiful dwarf bearded iris was almost hidden by the weeds and the undergrowth when I first discovered it early in April. Cindy, my neighbor in whose garden I have been taking flower photos this spring, recalls planting it a couple of years ago, but was a little surprised when I alerted her to it—she does nor remember seeing it bloom last year. The iris never grew very tall and was repeatedly been beaten down by the rain, but it was still strikingly beautiful.

There are so many different irises that specific cultivars are hard to identify. I looked through a lot of photos on-line, though, and think that I have identified it as a variety called “Love Bites.” Stout Gardens at Dancingtree described its characteristics in these words, “Rosy red standards over rich, dark carmine red falls with lavender beards” and added “Velvety carmine red falls with big lavender beards make this one a standout.”

I am curious about the name of the iris, because in my mind it can be interpreted in at least two different ways. Perhaps it refers to romantic little nibbles between lovers.  Maybe, though, it is a bitter commentary on love, an homage to the song by the same name by Def Leppard that ends with the words, “If you’ve got love in your sights, watch out, love bites. Yes it does, it will be hell.”

dwarf iris

dwarf iris

dwarf iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Yesterday morning I was delighted to spot this immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It takes approximately five years for a Bald Eagle to gets its classic white head and I estimate this one to be about three years old, judging from its coloration.

Initially I spotted the eagle when it flew into the midst of a group of trees. I moved around only a little, fearful of spooking the bird, and captured the second shot below when the eagle leaned forward a little and exposed its head. Moving as stealthily as I could, I maneuvered to a position from which I had a somewhat clearer shot and captured the third shot below. I noted that the eagle was crouching, which is often a prelude to taking off, but the eagle remained in place.

Eventually I reached a little opening and was able to capture the first image, which I think is the best of the group. The tree in which the eagle is perched is, I believe, a sycamore. Unlike the sweet gum trees with spiky seed balls that have appeared in many of my perched eagle shots, the seed balls of this tree appear to be much smoother.

If you are interested in the developmental stages of a Bald Eagle and how its appearance changes over time, I recommend that you check out a posting from onthewingphotography.com entitled “Bald Eagles – Age Progression from one to five years old” that features wonderful photographs of each stage.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Two different colored dragonflies, a Needham’s Skimmer (Libellula needhami) and a Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans), were peacefully sharing a prime perch on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Why is it so hard for us to peacefully coexist with one another?

peaceful co-existence

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Sometimes photography seems so complicated with a myriad of competing factors in play as I search for interesting subjects and seek to capture their beauty. There is a kind of pull to travel to ever more exotic locales and to constantly think of upgrading my gear.

Sometimes my favorite images, however, are my simplest ones, like these shots of a Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) that I spotted last week in the midst of the cattails of Huntley Meadows Park. The subject is commonplace, the setting is ordinary, the composition is uncomplicated, and even the color palette is restricted.

I find a real beauty in this kind of minimalism. At its heart, photography is simple, although it requires a lot of effort.

chickadee

chickadee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Blue-tailed skink

I especially love seeing skinks when they are juveniles and their tails are blue. I spotted this Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) last week at Huntley Meadows Park.

Common Five-lined Skinks are a variety of small lizards that I see from time to time in my local area. According to the Virginia Herpetological Society, the average length of these skinks is from 5 to 8 and a half inches (12.5 to 21.5 cm).

This skink was on the trunk of a rotten tree when I encountered it. It was quickly clear that I was going to have to switch my camera from landscape orientation, which is how I take most of my shots, to portrait orientation, because of the length of the skink’s body.

I like both of these shots for different reasons. I find the curve in the body in the first shot to be more interesting, but the second shot is much sharper and shows greater detail. Which shot is “better?’ You have to make that call—I keep going back and forth in attempting to decide.

Common Five-lined Skink

Common Five-lined Skink

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Turkey Vulture takeoff

Generally when I see Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura), they are soaring through the air, using their incredible sense of smell to find something dead on which to feed. This past week, though, I watched as this vulture landed on a dead tree in the middle of a marshy field and groomed itself for a little while. I guess even vultures need to rest from time to time.

I took this shot just as the vulture was taking off to resume its search for a “tasty” meal.

Turkey Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I never realized that I was surrounded by cannibals. No, I did not discover a pile of skulls or a string of shrunken heads, but almost every time recently that I have gone out into my local marsh, I have spotted Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes).

These insects are big and they buzz as they fly by me, so they are hard to miss. I have read that they are vicious predators, but I had never caught one red-handed with prey (or perhaps I should say red-footed) until yesterday. I can’t quite identify the prey, but it looks like it might be some kind of small bee. If so, it wouldn’t bee too surprising, given that one of the nicknames for this species in the “Bee Panther.”

I know that I shouldn’t be worried about these cannibals, but a slight chill went through me yesterday when one of these insects landed on the lenshood of my camera and looked up at me, looking very much like he was sizing me up

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It’s not hard to figure out the source of its name when you spot a colorful Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) waving in the breeze. These dragonflies also remind me of pole vaulters, attempting to thrust their bodies over a crossbar while holding on to the very end of a long pole.

I have not seen one yet at Huntley Meadows Park, the place where I take the majority of my photos, though earlier this summer one of my fellow photographers, Walter Sanford, spotted one in the park for the first time in years. I shot this image at edge of a small pond during a recent trip to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.

pennant1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) at my local marsh seem to have grown accustomed to the presence of people and some of them like to fish near the boardwalk. This one was so close that I had to lean backwards over the edge of the edge of the boardwalk to fit the entire heron into these shots—zooming was not an option, given that I was using a lens of a fixed focal length, a 180mm macro lens.

While I was observing the heron, it concentrated its activity around a rock that stuck out of the water, sometimes perching on it and sometimes circling around it. I hope the heron had better luck during the rest of the day, because it did not have any luck at all as I watched and waited in vain to capture a big catch.

Great Blue Heron Huntley Meadows Parkheron3_rocks_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I know that damselflies come in many colors, but my brain wanted to cramp up when I was told that this stunning orange damselfly was a bluet. An orange bluet? Aren’t bluets blue?

Apparently that is not always the case, and this little beauty is in fact a male Orange Bluet damselfly (Enallagma signatum). This shot looks like it was done with flash, but I double checked the EXIF data and confirmed that it was simply an effect caused simply by using exposure compensation and metering carefully on the subject. Normally, I am not a big fan of a black background, which can be caused when the light from the flash overpowers the ambient light, but I think that it works well in this shot, which looks almost like it was shot in a studio.

In the second shot, the brown color of the muddy water shows through in a way that is a little more natural. I took this shot when the damselfly was farther away than in the first shot and I like the way that it shows a bit more of the environment than in the first image.

One of the advantages of shooting in bright light and on a tripod was that I was able to shoot at ISO 100 and at f/11, which gave me images that were a lot cleaner than I often get.

orange1_blogorange2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Last week I encountered Canada geese twice. The first time was when a few migrating ones made a brief stop at a local marsh. The second time was at a suburban pond where the geese seem to be semi-permanent residents. I had a great time observing and photographing the geese in the latter venue and have a couple of photos this morning of geese dipping their heads into the water. I couldn’t tell for sure if they were grabbing for  plants underwater, drinking, or doing something else. Often they would submerge just their heads and blow bubbles in the water and then, as in the second photo, just let the water dribble out of their mouths.

Synchronized swimming geese

Dripping, dipping goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It’s fun to share photos and thoughts with my fellow bloggers. Here’s is a posting that one of them, Another Perspective Photography, did in response to my recent creepy bug photos. She specializes in babies and weddings. The kind of pressure that comes with those subjects and the accompanying high expectations would terrify me.

Another Perspective Photography

So many other bloggers inspire me…. I LOVE looking at other peoples pictures, wondering how they got that light, or that angle, what lens they used, and then sometimes trying something new myself.  In this case, I went back through my archives to find some of my favourite bug pictures, inspired by fellow photog blogger Mike Powell – especially by his amazing pictures of the scary creepy creature on his lavendar plant.  Mine are not NEARLY as technically perfect- some of them were just spontaneous- “quick get that picture”, others were planned….and in the interest of time, I pulled a few from my personal facebook albums- which are in low resolution.  (who knows which hard drive I’ve got some of them on!!!)  Next time I’m feeling like a photo adventure, I might just go in search of BUGS in a more serious fashion.

Also, feel free to correct me…

View original post 41 more words

Read Full Post »