Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria’

It is really nice when I am petsitting to have new subjects to photograph. Katie, a beautiful young German Shepherd, stayed with me last night and I took this shot as she was sitting on my couch, keeping a close eye on P.R., my rabbit.

Katie seemed utterly fascinated by the rabbit and intently watched him as he moved about his cage. P.R. (which is short for “Prime Rib”was more or less oblivious to Katie, even when they were only inches apart. I suspect that P.R. does not view dogs as predators, probably because she grew up with with a dog in the household.

The challenges of photographing a pet indoors are different from photographing wildlife outdoors, but so many of the basic principles carry over. This image looks a bit like a studio shot, because I was able to direct the light of a desk lamp so that it fell on one side of Katie’s face (and amazingly she sat still for a moment).

German Shepherd

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday afternoon I had a little photo shoot with Freckles, a two year old Cocker Spaniel who is one of my favorite subjects. Freckles belongs to a friend who has been staying with me and I have the pleasure of spending a lot of time with this beautiful little dog.

Freckles was more cooperative than usual, though I still had to chase her around a lot to try to get some shots. The small size of the backyard of my townhouse and the 180mm focal length of my lens guaranteed that all the shots would be close-ups, which means you can easily see her beautiful coloration and expressive eyes.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spend a lot of time chasing dragonflies and damselflies, but my efforts pale in comparison with those of fellow blogger and photographer Walter Sanford. He has so much experience with them that he focuses much of his attention on photographing females and mating pairs. This posting contains some amazing shots of mating damselflies in a mating position that looks like a heart, a position that I doubt exists in the Kama Sutra.

walter sanford's photoblog

I was looking for mating pairs of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 10 August 2014. Meanwhile my friend Mark Jette spotted a mating pair of damselflies.

The Orange Bluet damselflies (Enallagma signatum) shown in the following photographs are “in wheel,” in which the male uses “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of his abdomen to hold the female by her neck/thorax while they are joined at their abdomens. The male, orange and black in color, is on top; the female, green and black in color, is on the bottom.

The copulatory, or wheel, position is unique to the Odonata, as is the distant separation of the male’s genital opening and copulatory organs. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 377-378). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The wheel position is…

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I’m always thrilled to see Great Egrets (Ardea alba), like this one that I photographed on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. Unlike Great Blue Herons, which often are willing to tolerate my presence, egrets seem to fly away as soon as they detect my presence. When egrets are flying, I never fail to be impressed by their beauty and grace, looking like ballerinas in an aerial performance.

As has frequently been the case recently, I ended up photographing a bird with a macro lens, in this case it was my Tamron 180mm. The image with the standing egret was cropped a little, but it gives you an idea of my field of view. I had crept through some chest-high vegetation in order to get near the edge of the pond for these shots.

I suspected the egret would take off and I think I had the presence of mind to switch to Servo mode on my camera, which allowed me to get some in-flight shots that are pretty much in focus. I was shooting in burst mode and captured other images as well, but the egret’s head was hid in those shots.

Great EgretGreat EgretGreat Egret

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do your mix humor with your photography? I enjoy playing with words (and especially puns) and love looking for opportunities  to inject humor into my blog postings. One of my favorite bloggers, Lyle Krahn at Krahnpix, is a real master at mixing his incredible wildlife shots with a kindred kind of humor (or perhaps he might say “humour.)

This past Monday was my blog’s second anniversary and I am taking a brief pause from posting new photos to think about the blog and my photographic journey over the last two years. During this period I am re-posting some of my favorite postings.

The re-posting today of an encounter between a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) and a frog was one of my earliest attempts to add humor, from the title all the way down to the last line of the posting, and is one of my favorites over the past two years. Here’s a link to the original posting or you can read it in its entirety below.

Full text of blog posting on 24 July 2012 that I entitled “Not Seeing Eye to Eye”:

One can only imagine what is going through the frog’s mind as he looks into the crazed eyes of the green heron who has just speared him. Is he looking for mercy? Is he resigned to his fate?

I watched the prelude to this moment unfold this afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park, a marshland park here in Virginia. The green heron was intently scanning the water from the edge of a boardwalk that runs through the march. Periodically he would extend his neck down toward the water.

Several times we heard an excited “eeep” sound followed by a splash, indicating another frog had escaped. After a few more minutes, however, the heron dived into the water and reappeared on the boardwalk with the speared frog you see in the first photo.

When you look at the comparative size of the heron’s mouth and the frog, it hardly seems possible that the green heron could swallow the entire frog. The heron took his time shifting the position of the frog and then all at once he turned his head, bent his neck back a little, and down went the frog. It happened so quickly that I was able to snap only a single photo that shows the frog’s webbed feet as the only remaining parts that have not yet been swallowed.

In this final photo the heron no longer has a slim neck. I have no idea how long it will take for the frog to reach the heron’s stomach but I am pretty sure he was not yet there when I took this photo.

And don’t try to talk with the heron during this period. Why not? Read the caption of the last photo!

I can’t talk now. I have a frog in my throat.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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The early morning light from the side illuminated the bright fall leaves and the equally bright red male Northern Cardinal at my local marsh this past weekend.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Coming in for a landing, this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) stretched out his wings to their full extent and the sight was mighty impressive. The wings stretched out so wide, in fact, that I couldn’t fit them entirely into the frame. As he reached the ground, the heron gradually pulled in his wings and I was able to get a couple of additional shots of the impressive wingspan.


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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I probably should have come up with a more creative title for this posting than the name of the featured insect. I mean, really, how many readers will be enticed to read a posting about a Dusky Stink Bug (Euschistus tristigmus)?  I word “stink” is enough to turn off some people.

Stink bugs are pretty much all shaped the same, but they come in different colors and patterns, many of which are similar, so identification is not always easy. In this case, for example, I had to determine if the shoulders were rounded or pointed to distinguish between two brown stink bugs—they look pointed to me.

The stink bug was hanging upside down, feeding on a plant that I can’t identify, when I encountered him. He seemed to be feeding, although I never did get a look at his face in order to verify my assumption. The upside down perspective is a little odd and I thought about rotating the image, but ultimately decided to leave it with its original orientation.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The length and small size of damselflies make then a challenge for me to photograph clearly. Moreover, it is my experience that they rarely choose to land in places where I can isolate them against an uncluttered background. Yesterday I was fortunate when this Bluet damselfly perched near the end of an interesting budded branch overhanging the water and I managed to get a shot that I like.

Bluets are a whole group of damselflies of the genus Enallagma that often are very difficult to identify down to the species level, so I don’t feel back that I can’t decide whether or not this is an Atlantic bluet or an American bluet or some other kind. Apparently the only way to tell them apart is to capture them and examine them with a magnifying glass. In my case, I am not sure a magnifying glass would help.

I am thinking of buying a guide to dragonflies and damselflies that I can study during the winter so that I’ll be better prepared next year to identify more correctly some of the subjects that I shoot (and I love to photograph dragonflies and damselflies, challenges notwithstanding.

Bluet damselfly in mid-September

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I took this shot of a Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA on 17 August 2012. It was a little surprising to me that the butterfly chose such a shriveled up, dead leaf as the place to stop, rather than a flower or bush. In a lot of ways, though, I like the simpler setting. It allows me to focus on the beauty of the butterfly without any competing attention from a colorful flower.

The colors and patterns of the Red Admiral butterfly would look good on a necktie. The colors are bright, but not gaudy, and the abstract patterns convey a sense of sophistication.

Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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