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Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

Many butterflies are looking a little tattered this late in the season, like this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) that I spotted on Tuesday at Green Spring Gardens, but I still find their beauty to be breathtaking. True beauty, I would argue, is often to be found in imperfection, not in some superficial notion of perfection.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

 

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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There were only a few lotuses in bloom on Thursday at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, but they were more than sufficient to sate my senses. How much beauty is “enough?”

Increasingly I am finding that I enjoy beauty in small doses. So many voices in our society try to convince us that we need “more,” when perhaps “less” is even better, especially when we slow down and take the time to explore and appreciate that beauty.

I love the layers of  petals of the lotus flower; the details of the center of the lotus, revealed when the petals open up and begin to shrivel; and the promise of future beauty in the lotus bud on which the Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) had chosen to perch.

Sometimes when searching for beauty, it is more beneficial to search deeply, focusing on a few things, than to search widely, always looking for something newer and better.

lotus

lotus

slaty skimmer on lotus bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Though their petals may shrivel and fall away, these tulips remain beautiful and elegant in my eyes. Is beauty eternal?

I am convinced that, despite the popular adage that “beauty fades,” beauty is in fact eternal when we broaden our perceptions and allow ourselves to look more deeply. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) says, “On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (It is only with the heart that you can see well. That which is essential is invisible to the eyes).

Perhaps we need to change the familiar saying that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” to “beauty is in the heart of the beholder.”

tulip

Lady Jane tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this beautiful butterfly this past weekend at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I am pretty sure that it is a Question Mark butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis), judging from the pattern of its wing spots.

While I may not be absolutely certain that it is a Question Mark butterfly, its beauty is unquestionable.

Question Mark butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you pass by flowers that are past their prime? Their beauty is still visible in the fragments of their former glory.

tulip_memory2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Do you aspire to photograph extraordinary subjects in exotic locations or are you content to shoot ordinary subjects in nearby locales?

This past winter (well, it’s almost past), I have really enjoyed photographing birds. At times, I have longed to be able to capture awe-inspiring images of hawks and eagles, of ospreys and owls and have thought about the travel and equipment that might be required to do so. Does that make me an adrenaline junkie, always searching for more, someone who requires increasing amounts of excitement to be content?

For the moment at least, I know that the answer is “no.” My pulse still quickens when I see a robin or a cardinal. I will take shot after shot of geese and ducks flying and landing. I am willing to kneel in the mud to try to get yet another shot of a sparrow. Here is one such shot of a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) from earlier this week that I really like.

sparrow_blog

I am content with the ordinary and strive to capture and display its beauty. Cristian Mihai, a wonderful, easy-t0-read blogger, wrote a posting yesterday on beauty, entitled Beauty will save the world that I really recommend. It caused me to think more deeply about my photography, about my goals and motivations. What is is about beauty that prompts a desire to respond, to share it with others?

I started this posting with a false dichotomy, with alternatives that are not mutually exclusive to stimulate thought, the kind of inner examination that I have been conducting. There is no simple answer—sometimes it is sufficient to simply think about the question.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I’ve already posted some photos of spider webs from last Friday morning when I visited Huntley Meadows Park. When I looked over the photos again today, however, I realized I have some more pretty good ones. Once again I am struck by the complexity and the diversity of the webs. Some have primarily straight lines and others have mostly curves. Some are large and intricate, others are smaller and simpler.

All of them are breathtakingly beautiful to me.

A view from a jail cell (not really, but it almost looks like that)

An unusually-shaped spider web

An incomplete spider web

Scallop-curved web

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Grand-Place in Brussels, the central square of the city, is a wonderful location, full of ornate buildings and teeming with people at almost all hours of the day. UNESCO considers it a World Heritage Site and it was voted the most beautiful square in Europe in one survey, according to Wikipedia.

I find the buildings in the Grand-Place, though, to be a little too ornate and overly decorated. As I stood in the center of the square and looked diagonally toward one of the side streets, though, I caught a glimpse of this building. It is simple and elegant and much more to my taste.

Building in Brussels

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The world seems changed after the rain. The falling rain stripped some of the delicate petals from this lotus flower but left behind a glistening trail of water.

From the perspective of beauty it seems like an equitable trade—the transformed flower still takes my breath away.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I simply love the beauty of the lotus flower.  I feel a sense of tranquility when I look at this image showing the lotus flower in dramatic lighting with a fully exposed seed pod.

I shot this image last weekend at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington DC, a wonderful location of the National Park Service.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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