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Posts Tagged ‘Canon 50D’

Nature is full of wonderful shapes, like the spiral of this curled-up fern—at this stage it is know as a fiddlehead—that I spotted on Monday while exploring in Prince William County. A few days afterwards, Gary Bolstad published a photo of a fiddlehead in New Zealand in his blog krikitarts.wordpress.com. Gary is an amazing photographer and you should really check out his wonderful blog.

In replying to a comment I made about his posting, Gary explained that “The Māori name for a fiddlehead is Koru, and the spiral shape is an essential part of their culture and probably the most common shape used in the design of their carved greenstone (jade) jewelry. It can represent creation, perpetual movement, return to a point of origin, equilibrium/harmony in life, and new life.”

I think we could all use more equilibrium and harmony in our lives during these unsettling times.

fiddlehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Beauty is everywhere. A few minutes ago I walked over to the garden of my friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer and captured this modest image of a little grape hyacinth (g. Muscari). I just love that vibrant violet color.
So often, taking photos is a multi-hour endeavor for me. Normally I pack my gear and head off to remote locations and walk and walk, watching and waiting for opportunities to arise. It definitely is not normal now, so I am relearning the joy of taking photos in small doses, a few minutes here and a few minutes there. Perhaps I won’t capture stunning action shots, but I am convinced that the words with which I began this posting are true—beauty is everywhere.
grape hyacinth
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sun had just risen when I arrived last Thursday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. How, I wondered could I possibly capture my impressions of those wonderful moments as the new day was dawning?

I hastened to capture an image while the sun was still low on the horizon and grabbed the first photo below while standing at the edge of the parking lot. There was a soft mist lingering over the fields and in my second shot, I worked to capture the stillness and serenity that I was feeling.

When I finally arrived at the shore, the sky and the water seemed to be almost the same color with a narrow, darker strip of land separating the too. I immediately thought of the moody, minimalist landscape shots that Michael Scandling regularly features in AMAGA Photography Blog. Michael likes to coax each pixel into submission and I confess that I did not work on my final image as much as he would have, but it is a kind of homage to his wonderful work.

So there you have it, three distinctive images that together give you a sense of what I was seeing and feeling in the early morning hours, a time of day that is perfect for introspection and reflection.

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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From a distance, I noticed yesterday that some yellow tulips were getting ready to bloom in the garden of my neighbor and photography mentor Cindy Dyer. Cindy deliberately chooses colorful, photogenic flowers for her garden, so I love visiting it frequently. As I got close, I noted the spectacular two-color patterns of these tulips. When I sent a photo to Cindy, she informed me that they are known as “broken tulips.”

Perhaps she told me some time in the past what “broken tulips” are, but I rushed to Google to find out why they are considered to be “broken.” This term refers to the dramatic color-breaking of these flowers, an effect highly sought after during the 17th-century Dutch “tulip mania,” according to Wikipedia. Historically, these changes are caused by a virus infects the tulip bulb and causes the cultivar to “break” its lock on a single color, resulting in intricate bars, stripes, streaks, featherings or flame-like effects of different colors on the petals.

Unfortunately, the virus weakens the bulbs and as a result some famous color-broken varieties no long exist. Today’s “broken tulips” are no longer caused by a viral infection, but are stable variants produced through breeding. Cindy noted to me that her tulips have been going strong for at least five years.

I was feeling creative yesterday when I took these photos and tried a lot of different angles and settings to get some unusual looks. I decided mainly to feature the areas with the different colors and deliberately shot with a shallow depth of field that causes the edges that are away from the center to be soft and out of focus. I think it worked out pretty well.

I decided to post these images today as a counterbalance to the photograph of a wolf spider that I posted earlier, a kind of “beauty and the beast” set of postings. I am guessing that almost everyone will like at least one of the two postings.

broken tulip

broken tulip

broken tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Whenever I have my macro lens on my camera, I tend to scan small areas very carefully, looking for variations of color and patterns or signs of movement. The colorful markings permitted me to spot the tiny cricket frog that I featured in yesterday’s posting. Not far from the frog’s habitat, it was movement that allowed me to spot this cool-looking wolf spider (Tigrosa georgicola) on Monday. The spider was slowly crawling through some leaf litter and I was able to grab this shot when it paused for a second in an open area.

I believe that this is the first wolf spider that I have ever photographed. Fortunately I was able to get help in identifying it in a Facebook group devoted to spider identification. I know that some people are totally creeped out by spiders, while others are fascinated by them. I apologize to those in the former group, but hope that exposure to these spiders through my photos will help you appreciate their beauty—they truly are amazing creatures.

If you are at all interested in or curious about wolf spiders (and there are a lot of different species), you should check out Pete Hillman’s blog that just yesterday featured a photo of a wolf spider basking in the sun. Those who really like spiders will love a posting that Pete did earlier in the month entitled Not One For The Squeamish that shows a female wolf spider with a group of little spiderlings on her back—be sure to double-click on that image.

 

wolf spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I captured this shot of an Eastern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) while exploring a seepy area in Prince William County, Virginia. The frog was tiny, only an inch or so (25 mm) in length. I was thankful for the green markings or I might otherwise have missed seeing the frog. The markings look very much like an arrow point towards the frog’s head. They also gave me something on which to focus since the rest of the frog’s body was pretty well camouflaged.

Eastern Cricket Frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is easy for me to be delighted and entranced by simple things in nature, like this dandelion seed head that I spotted last week in my neighborhood. I remember the joy of blowing on these balls of fluff when I was a child and watching the little seeds sail through the air.

Yesterday the Governor of Virginia, the state in which I live, issued an executive order directing us all to stay at home except for a limited number of excepted essential tasks, including things like getting groceries and seeking medical care. One of the exceptions is “Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements.” I am not yet sure if my forays into the wild with my camera would still be permitted as “engaging in outdoor.” If not, the content of my blog postings might change a little, but I plan to continue to post.

Whatever the case, I think this is a good time for us to be mindful of and thankful for the simple delights that can be found all around us.

dandelion

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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