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Posts Tagged ‘abstract’

What does a wildlife photographer photograph when there is no wildlife to be seen? That was my dilemma, yesterday when we finally had some sunshine after a series of dreary days. I wanted to be out in nature with my camera, but I also wanted to avoid people as much as possible. Weekends are particularly problematic as crowds of people flock to popular areas, so I deliberately chose a remote trail at Huntley Meadows Park that took me past a partially-frozen pond.

There were no ducks or other birds at the pond. Instead I encountered a series of wonderfully abstract patterns in the thin ice atop the pond. A long telephoto zoom lens might not have been my first choice for these kinds of shots, but it worked remarkably well in capturing some of these patterns.

Initially my favorite image was the star-like pattern in the first photo below. Increasingly, though, I am drawn to the final photo that brings to mind a satellite or drone photo of a frozen mountain range at the edge of a sea.

ice

ice

ice

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Often I am mesmerized by light and shadows and reflections. It doesn’t take much to capture and hold my attention, like these pieces of wood that I spotted in the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

reflection

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Beauty is everywhere, including in the abstract patterns of nature. Last week my eyes were drawn to the interplay of light and shadows in the leaves of some iris plants that have not yet bloomed in the garden of my neighbor Cindy Dyer. I love the series of triangles and straight lines in the resulting image and there is something soothing and peaceful about the various shades of green.

When I posted this image in Facebook, my pastor noted that these leaves reminded her of the palms that we would normally be waving in a procession to begin the celebration of Palm Sunday. In a few hours we will be celebrating in a different way, via Zoom teleconferencing software, but we have been asked to gather some branches or colorful pieces of cloth to wave in front of our cameras as we say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” This pandemic has changed some of the outward aspects of our worship, but we continue on.

Whether you are Christian or not, my prayer is that this Sunday finds you feeling thankfulness in the midst of this crisis for what you still have and not merely lamenting that which you have lost. I also pray that you are filled with the joyful hope that we will eventually make it through this difficult time. If there is one thing we have certainly learned, it is that we are truly all in this together.

leaves

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This weekend when I visited Green Spring Gardens I was shocked to see that not a single lotus flower was blooming, given that so many were blooming recently at nearby Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. As I looked in vain for a flower, I somehow became fascinated with the shapes of the leaves of the lotus plants and their interplay with the light and captured these almost abstract images.

These images are definitely different from the ones that I normally post, but I thought I would share them to show you what unexpectedly caught my eye that day.

lotus leaf

 

lotus leaf

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In its simplest form, photography is about light and darkness, about lines and shapes. That was what I was seeking to capture when I took some shots in a Metro station in Rosslyn, Virginia earlier this week.

I took this week off from work and have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about photography, watching lots of videos, and shooting different subjects in different ways. I have even shot and developed some black and white film—I’ll do a separate posting on that soon.

This first shot highlights the distinctive ceilings that are present in many of the stations in the D.C. Metrorail system. I love the geometric patterns and the interplay of light and shadows in this image. I took this 1/3 second exposure by leaning my camera on a railing.

metro ceiling

The Rosslyn station is at a point in the Metro system where the trains pass under the Potomac River. Consequently, the escalators are extremely long. As I rode the escalator up, I was fascinated by the different lights and captured this image when I was approximately at the mid-point between the level of the tracks and the above-ground station.

It was midday on a weekday, which is why you don’t see more people in this shot. Things get really crowded during rush hour and woe to those who do not follow the Metro etiquette of staying to the right on the escalator steps unless passing.

metro escalator

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I tend to focus on the realism of close-up details in most of my dragonfly shots, but sometimes the dragonfly seems almost abstract, a mix of colors, shapes, and patterns, like this male Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) that I encountered the past Friday.

For those readers who may not be familiar with this boldly-patterned dragonfly species, I am also including a more “traditional” shot of the same Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When drops of rain bead up on the surface of a leaf, the effect is magical—a world of crystal orbs is created. Most of the time the drops appear almost solid, reflecting back the light.

From certain angles, though, the raindrops serve as lenses, offering us a miniature view of the world. Within the drops, the inner world and the world beyond come together and create a beautiful effect.

drops_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have no idea what caused this abstract pattern to form in one of the watery areas of my local marsh, but it really caught my eye when I was looking down, searching for frogs. Maybe it was caused by mineral seepage or plants or some strange combination of the two. Who knows?

In any case, I really like the richness and variety of the colors in the curving patterns.

pattern_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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What is this thing? If I squint my eyes a little, it looks like a weathered sandstone formation on the side of a steep mountain, with beautiful colors and textures.

When reality intervenes, I have to acknowledge that this is only a tree with some kind of growth on its side. I suspect that it’s a mushroom or some other kind of fungus, but I am not sure. Maybe it’s the tree version of a tumor.

Mostly, though, I don’t worry about answering my initial question—it’s not that important for me to identify what this is. I can enjoy its beauty in an abstract way by focusing on its shape and color and texture, by looking at the highlights and the shadows.

growth_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I love the way that a small amount of snow brings out geometric shapes that might otherwise be hidden from view, like these sinuous curves at the edge of the marsh. The iced-over water has a darker tone that contrasts with the white of the snow and gives this photo an abstract quality that I really like. The texture of the wood in the foreground and its angular line add another element of contrast.

This shot is somewhat atypical for me in that it does not contain living creatures and is not a close-up—some days shapes and patterns and light and geometry are sufficient to attract my attention.

geometry_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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One early morning recently I was walking through the marsh, lamenting that spectacular spider webs of the summer and early fall had disappeared. Suddenly I noticed that some of the plants were covered in a silky, web-like material. It was almost abstract in its construction and I wondered (and still wonder) about its purpose. This photo captures pretty well—in a minimalist set of colors and tone—the mysterious moodiness of that morning moment.

Natural abstract

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes my eye is drawn to the shapes and colors and textures of objects more than to the objects themselves. The result can be a somewhat abstract looking photo, which is very different from what I usually shot. Here are couple of photos of that ilk from a trip last week to a local garden.

The first was taken looking through a ground-level weathered weathervane and the framing of the shot is just as it came out of the camera. I like the contrast between the light and the shadows and between the rust and the blurry natural colors in the background.

The second is a shot of a feathery looking yellow plant in which I narrowed the depth of field to isolated a few of the yellow needles and the reddish branch. I like the variations of color in the photo and the blurry repetitions of the foreground shapes and colors that can be found in the background.

Weathered weathervane

Abstract yellow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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