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Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

The lighting was so beautiful last week when I spotted this White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) that I did not mind that there was a branch partially blocking my view of the bird. I especially love the way that the lighting highlights the bright yellow markings in the area between the eye and the bill known technically as the lores.

White-throated Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most of the times when I see Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, they are foraging in the open along one of the trails. As I approach, they usually disappear deep into the vegetation.

At this time of the year, though, I can see a lot farther into the woods than when there are leaves on the trees. Occasionally now I can get a glimpse of the turkeys moving about in the distance. I was happy to capture these head shots last week of one of the local turkeys as it popped in and out of view.

wild turkey

wild turkey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was gray and overcast early last Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge when I captured this shot of a small flock of Bufflehead ducks (Bucephala albeola) flying away from me. Normally “butt shots” are undesirable, but in this case I like the almost abstract patterns of the birds’ wings and their reflections in the water.

Although this looks like I converted the image to black and white, this is more or less what it looked like color-wise straight out of the camera. No matter how I played with saturation, I could not bring out any colors in the shot. I think, though, that the monochromatic look of the final image is a pretty good match for the mood of that moment.

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Ever since I was a kid, I have always enjoyed the game “one of these things is not like the others.” Can you spot the juvenile Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens) in this photo of geese that I observed last Thursday at Occoquan Regional Park?

Generally the only geese that I ever see in my area are Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). They are so numerous that many people consider them to be a nuisance. I have learned from experience that birds intermingle when floating on the water, so I was carefully scanning the flock of Canada Geese when I spotted this anomaly. At first I thought it might be some kind of duck, because it seemed so much smaller than the other birds. After some research and  assistance from more experienced birdwatchers, however, I have determined that it is a Snow Goose, a species that I have never photographed before.

The song “One of these things is not like the others” used to pop up regularly on the Sesame Street television program with all kinds of different items. When I looked on YouTube, I came across a delightful video with the song that features with food items and a mitten and dates back to 1969. Click on this link to watch the short video that concludes with the provocative question, “Did you ever try eating a mitten?”

Snow Goose

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) was backlit on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, so I had to overexpose the image, which made the cloudy sky turn almost pure white. I really like the effect, which is reminiscent of a high-key portrait taken in a studio setting. One of my Facebook friends commented that the shot looked to him “like an old time copper image.”

My initial thought was to crop the image in a landscape format, as in the second image below, because I liked the graceful curve of the main branch. Upon further reflection, I decided that maybe there was literally too much white space in the image and opted for the square format in the first shot below, which gives a bit more attention to the main subject. What do you think? Do you have a preference for one version over the other?

red-winged blackbird

red-winged blackbird

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I never get tired of photographing Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Here is a shot of one taking off from a tree last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. My view was partially obscured by branches, but I somehow managed to keep the eagle’s eye in focus.

I never got a fully clear shot of the eagle when it was perched, so it was a happy surprise that I was able to capture this image when it started to take off. I think the eagle’s pose here is more dynamic than any shot I could have taken when it was in a static position, so it is not a huge loss that I have no perched pose.

bald eagle takeoff

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last month I received a curious question from Cindy Dyer, my good friend and photography mentor—she asked me if I had any good winter images. In addition to being an amazing photographer, Cindy works as a graphic designer. The editor with whom she works on Hearing Life Magazine, the official magazine of the Hearing Loss Association of America, wanted a winter-related full-page original image for the January/February 2020 issue.

She knew that she did not have many snow images, but figured that I would. I gave her some options, and she chose this shot of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I photographed in my neighborhood after a snowstorm last January. The editor loved this image as cardinals hold special significance to her—her late sister loved them—and added the quotation from Vincent Van Gogh, one of my favorite artists.

I was curious about the context of the quotation and learned from vangoghletters.org that it was from a letter that Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo from London in January 1874. Here is the paragraph of that letter than contains the quotation, “Things are going well for me here, I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is?” As I read the letter in its entirety, I was equally struck by Van Gogh’s commentary about nature and art, “Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see.”

I am always thrilled to see one of my images in print and I was excited yesterday when I finally received a printed copy of the magazine. One of my goals this year is to have more of my photos printed—I have a few of my favorites hanging on the wall already, but still have room for more of them. If you are interested in seeing the original posting in which this image appeared, click on this link to Cardinal in the snow.

 

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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