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Posts Tagged ‘Canon A620’

As I was walking across the Key Bridge from Georgetown on Wednesday night, I glanced down at the Potomac River and saw that the Kennedy Center was aglow with rainbow colors. I believe that the colors were part of the celebration of the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. Honorees receive a medallion that hangs from a rainbow colored ribbon.

Most of the landmarks shown here will be familiar only to locals, but some of you may recognize the Washington Monument in the middle left in the photo. In case you are curious, I took this shot with a Canon A620 camera, an old 7.1 megapixel point-and-shoot camera that I carry with me sometimes because it fits easily into my pocket. I leaned against the railing of the bridge to take this shot in what turned out to be a one second exposure.

Although I know what the subject matter of the image is, I enjoy it equally as a kind of abstract, man-made landscape, a beautiful combination of lines and shapes and colors, with some of them reflected in the dark waters of the river.

Kennedy Center Honors

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The view from my hotel room in Vienna seems to be mostly of ongoing construction work, but this morning it featured a touch of color as the sun slowly began to rise. A nice highlight was the sliver of a crescent moon still visible in the sky.

Vienna

Vienna

vienna

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A few colored lights still stretch across some of the streets here in Brussels, but the signs of Christmas have gradually disappeared during my short stay here. The massive Christmas tree has disappeared from the Grand-Place—all that is left to remind us of the impressively beautiful tree is a hole in the ground and several sections of the tree’s trunk.
 
Seasons change and life quickly moves on, no matter how much we want to slow it down to better savor its special moments.

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Here’s a photo of another wall mural that I came across here in Brussels. This one I recognizes as a scene from The Adventures of Tintin, a comic book series by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name Hergé. This scene shoes Tintin, his dog Snowy (Milou), and Captain Haddock, his best friend, a seafaring Merchant Marine Captain.

It’s a little sad to see the ugly graffiti that has defaced the bottom part of this beautiful mural, but that is the unfortunate reality in many parts of this city.

Tin-TIn mural

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Every time that I walk through the Grand-Place in Brussels I end up with a sore neck. The ornate architecture of the buildings that surround the square is so amazing that I can’t help but spend an extended period of time with my neck outstretched as I take in the beautiful architectural details. This image shows the view that I had earlier this week as I approached the square from one of the side streets and suddenly was treated to the sight of an overwhelming number of spires and statues on one of the buildings.

Grand-Place

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the cool things about wandering through the narrow winding streets in the center of Brussels is that I will occasionally come upon wall murals that cover the entire side of a narrow building. They most often appear to depict scenes from comic book series like Tin-Tin, but most of them are unfamiliar to me.

This past weekend I stumbled upon this funny little scene on the side of a building. I am clueless about its context, but it made me smile as I stopped to examine it.

UPDATE:  I did a little research and think this may be a depiction of Nero, the title character of a Belgian comic book series The Adventure of Nero.

Brussels mural

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Under any circumstances it is a challenge to remove the ornaments and lights from a Christmas tree, but when the tree is several stories tall, a simple step ladder is not enough. Yesterday, when I arrived at the Grand-Place in the center of Brussels, workers had already removed the large red and gold ornaments from the tree and were working to take off the lights using a “cherry-picker.” They worked methodically to remove strand after strand of lights, carefully coiling them as they went along.

As I watched them work, I noticed the beautiful reflections of the square on the shiny surfaces of the spherical ornaments that reminded me of the images you would get with a fisheye lens. No matter which way I moved, my figure was always in the frame, so I decided to embrace the opportunity and create a kind of self portrait. The other images in this set feature the efforts of the workers from different angles.

It was a lot of fun trying to frame shots with my little Canon A620 point-and-shoot camera. As a result of its limited zoom range, I was forced to move about a lot, causing me realize that a big zoom lens tends to make me a little lazy in considering options for framing shots.

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was happy yesterday to see that the big Christmas tree was still up at the Grand-Place, the historic center of Brussels. It lent some light and color to an otherwise cold, wet day.

I am always disappointed when I see Christmas trees cast aside immediately after Christmas. When I was growing up, it was traditional to wait at least until Epiphany, the celebration of the arrival of the Magi, though I seem to recall some of my neighbors keeping their Christmas tree and lights going for an even longer period of time.

The Grand-Place is always so much fun to visit. The buildings on each side of the square are all different and different elements attract my attention each time that I visit. In the first photo below, you can see the tall town hall in the background. The second image shows the building directly opposite the square from the town hall.

Brussels Christmas tree

Brussels Christmas tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Freezing rain has blanketed Brussels today, making footing treacherous, especially on the cobblestones in the center of the city. Needless to say, the outdoor cafes are not doing much business on a day like today.

I am in Brussels this week for work, so the photos that I post on this blog will be a bit different from my typical wildlife shots.

Brussels panorama

cafe in Brussels

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As the first one to scale this mountain of snow outside my house, I planted the flag yesterday. I wonder if I get naming rights for the mountain.

Parking is a bit cutthroat in my neighborhood right now as folks put traffic cones and other objects in the spots they have cleared in an effort to “reserve” the open parking space in which they are parked.

I sure hope nobody removes my flag and parks in the mountaintop spot with a great view.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Who is my neighbor? Can you imagine moving into an unoccupied house in a townhouse community this week and being confronted by two foot drifts of snow on your stairs and walkways?

I’ll have new neighbors soon and decided to help them out, even before they have arrived. I don’t know their names and that doesn’t really matter to me—they are already my neighbors. The photo gives you an idea of the amount of snow that fell in our area.

I’ve noticed that this giant snowfall has brought out the worst in a few people, who have done nothing but incessantly complain. It has been gratifying, though, to see that the storm has brought out the best in a much larger group of people, with neighbors helping neighbors as we dig out together.

I hope to return to nature photos soon and hope that readers have not been too disappointed with all of the snow photos.

neighbor_web

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning, I finally finished digging out my car. It was quite enjoyable shoveling in the moonlight. When the sun finally rose, here’s what my car looked like, followed by a shot of one of the main streets in the neighborhood.

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It’s now 4:00 p.m. and I have finally given up shoveling for the day. I’ve been at it off and on for almost 10 hours and my body is starting to protest a bit.

One of the nicest things about snowfalls like this one is that it gives me a chance to meet the people who live around me. Most of us are so busy with our individual lives that we don’t even know our neighbors. Today was especially gratifying as I witnessed so many of them working together to help dig out from the storm.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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At 6:00 this morning in the neighborhood, it was clear and cold and the moon was shining brightly. Thank God we made it through the blizzard without losing power and for the fact that the snow is powdery and relatively light, even if there is lots of it to clear away.

norning after

All told, I think we had somewhere between 24 and 30 inches of snow (61 to 76 cm), with drifts much higher. It snowed almost continuously for almost 30 hours, sometimes accompanied by howling winds that blew the snow sidewards.

In some areas of North America, that amount of snow might be a normal occurrence, but here in Northern Virginia, it is almost a record-breaking amount for the area. I live in a townhouse area, and there is simply nowhere to put all of this snow. Already I have a pile of snow almost as tall as I am.

The sun is shining now and it will soon be time to return to digging out. Normally I would be getting ready for church now, but there’s no way I can make it through the neighborhood streets that are covered still with well over a foot of snow.

My car’s license plate, however, is a constant reminder for me and a continuous prayer—I drive a KIA Soul.

Bless My Soul

Here’s what the entire car looked like yesterday during a period when the snow was falling slowly. We got another foot or so after I took this photo. It will be dug out in a short while, but I don’t think I will be driving anywhere for at least a couple more days.

Kia Soul

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Brussels, Belgium at least twice a year in recent years. I’ve seen many of the primary tourist attractions, but what I enjoy most is wandering through the narrow, cobblestoned streets in the center of the city, where the details of the human and architectural landscape endlessly fascinate me.

One of my favorite elements is a storm drain cover on a side street near the Grand-Place. All of the other drain covers are simple metal grates, but this one is more elaborate and beautiful, depicting a man and a woman in mid-embrace.

How did this grate come to be placed here? Is it merely art or is it an extravagant expression of love? I’m romantic by nature and like to imagine that it is a public proclamation of the eternal love of this couple, a visual invitation to stop for a moment and celebrate the power of that love.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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I had some free time today and hoped to spend some time wandering in Brussels, but it rained all day, occasionally changing to freezing rain, so I didn’t take any photos. As I get ready to conclude this brief trip to Brussels, I thought I’d include a few photos of some of the beautiful buildings that I have seen here in the center of the city.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We finally had a clear night here in Brussels and I had a chance to walk around a bit and capture some shots of the Town Hall in the Grand-Place, the historical central square of the city.

I love the look of nighttime shots, find it a bit of a challenge to take them handheld with a point-and-shoot camera. I braced my camera against a variety of objects and even used my stocking hat as a cushion in trying to gain a more stable shooting position.

Grand-Place

Grand-Place

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Christmas season is gradually coming to an end in Brussels. Yesterday, for example, I noted that they had removed the large Christmas tree from the central city square, leaving a large hole in the cobblestones and a pile of discarded debris.

Beautiful decorations, however, still remain in a covered shopping arcade and in some of the streets.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I visit Brussels, I always visit the statue of the Mannekin Pis, the little boy who is one of the best known symbols of the city. On holidays and on some special days, the statue is dressed in various costumes and I am always curious to see if there is a new outfit. On this occasion, there was no costume, only a bouquet of flowers.

Mannekin Pis

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I arrived in Brussels early in the morning, when it was still dark. After checking into my hotel, I decided to take a short stroll to the Grand-Place, the wonderful historical square in the center of the city.

The sunlight was just starting to penetrate into one end of the square, which itself is a rarity in the winter, when, judging from my own experience, the skies are normally gray and the sun disappears for days at a time. I love the way that the light made the gold decorations on the buildings simply sparkle.

It was a beautiful way to start this short business trip

Grand-Place

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was walking along the Danube Canal in Vienna, a small yellow boat caught my eye. Bright colors, of course, almost always attract our attention, but there is something that I really like about the way that this boat fits into its surroundings.

You can see some of the graffiti that I have featured in recent postings, as well as some undecorated areas of the walls that separate the higher street level from the much lower canal. I am not sure what that yellow structure is used for, but it is an almost perfect color match for the boat. Initially I was disappointed when I saw that there was a cyclist entering into the frame in the upper left, but I changed my mind and now think it adds some additional interest to the shot.

This is not an image that would be easily associated with Vienna, but I like the “artsy” feel of the urban landscape that I was able to capture.

yellow boat

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Quirky Vienna

Vienna, Austria is a traditional old world city in many ways, but it has its quirky elements too. Here are a few of them that I spotted during my most recent trip.

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wild8_blog
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The lights at the Christmas Market at the Rathaus (City Hall) in Vienna, Austria really put me in the mood for Christmas. I’m finishing up my work in Vienna and will be back in Northern Virginia in a couple of days.

Merry Christmas (in German)

Merry Christmas (in German)

Vienna Christmas Market

Vienna Christmas Market

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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At this time of the year there are Christmas markets all over Vienna. One of the largest and busiest is located in the square in front of the Rathhaus (City Hall), an elaborate building in the center of the city.

Most of the times that I have visited this market in the past have been at night. Each time I had to fight my way through jostling crowds of people as I was overwhelmed by the sights and smells of the market.

Last week, I had the chance to walk through the market early in the day before it had opened. I noticed there there were statues overlooking the market booths. The statues, which I suspect are historical figures, are probably permanently in place. I’m sure that it was my imagination, but the statues seemed to be making an assessment of activity that was taking place below their feet.

I love the look of the Rathaus and am also including a few views of this wonderful piece of architecture.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Where do you find wildlife when you are in an urban area like Vienna, Austria, which I am visiting for work this week? I had some free time this past weekend and I took a long walk along the Donaukanal (Danube Canal). The natural landscape along the canal was not very inspiring, but I couldn’t help but notice the colorful graffiti everywhere. Much of this “art” was poorly done and consisted on tags that had been crudely executed by some individual or group, sometimes defacing a much more beautiful piece.

I came across several wildlife-themed pieces that were really well done that I wanted to share. Some of the wildlife depicted is realistic, while other creatures are more fanciful.

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey close-up

Osprey close-up

Owl

Owl

Graceful bird

Graceful bird

Fox

Fox

Tiger

Tiger

Imaginary bird

Imaginary bird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I conclude another brief trip to Brussels, I thought I’d include a number of the photos that I managed to snap while walking in the streets of the central part of the city. As is typical of this time of the year, the weather was often gray with intermittent light rain, but I did manage to see some interesting sights.

balloons_blog

bums_blog

buns_blog

tower_blog

towers_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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While briefly in Brussels on business, I was able to take advantage of a beer festival held at the Grand-Place, the historical central square of the city. Booths were set up in the center of the square and there was an extensive variety of beers to taste. I initially visited the square in the post dawn hours, when workers were cleaning up the area after Saturday night’s festivities and then returned with friends on Sunday afternoon to sample some of the beers.

View of the Grand-Place and some of the booths

View of the Grand-Place and some of the booths

Beer weekend

Beer weekend

“Proud of our beers”

Troll beer

Troll beer

“The Beer of Bravery” Previously  “Beer of Victory,” but sales in France were low.

it's a family affair...

It’s a family affair…

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have heard references to the color “battleship gray” many times, but until yesterday I had never seen an actual battleship. The USS Wisconsin is now berthed in Norfolk, Virginia as a museum ship and I observed it the last two mornings as I made a predawn walk along the waterfront, unable to sleep thanks to jet lag.

This morning started out pretty gray and the ship almost blended into the grayish sky and water, which, I suppose, is why ships are painted that color.

Today I will drive back to Northern Virginia and my blog will soon return to its more typical wildlife photos—I have no trips on the horizon for at least a few months.

wisconsin_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A few hours after my return from Brussels yesterday, I got in my car and drove for a bit over three hours to Norfolk, Virginia for a wedding. Even though I was up until almost 3:00 in the morning chatting with the groom (my stepson) and his best man, I woke up a few hours later and decided to walk along the waterfront.

The sun rose with some beautiful colors, a kind of a symbol of the new life just beginning for the happy couple. In a few more hours the ceremony will take place and we will all be celebrating their love for one another.

I couldn’t be happier.

sunrise_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I am walking through beautiful cities in Europe, I spend a lot of time with my eyes pointed upward, marveling at the amazing architecture. I’ve learned the hard way, though, that it is also important to look downward in order to avoid potentially unpleasant situations.

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Dogs seem to be welcomed in many places in Europe and it is not rare for me to see them on public transportation and even in restaurants. Unfortunately, the dogs have to periodically answer the call of nature and not all owners seem to fulfill their civic responsibility to clean up after their dogs.

I ran across this sign in one section of pavement here in Brussels near the Bourse (Stock Exchange). I am sometimes confused by signs without words and often hesitate when confronted by symbols on public bathroom doors representing genders. In this case, I think it means that dogs should do their business elsewhere, though I suppose it could also be a warning that there are guard dogs present or that dogs should not even be in that area.

One other reason to look down from time to time is that there are sometimes beautiful things to be seen, like this artistic grate in one of the streets near the Grand-Place, the main square of Brussels. I don’t know the background of this little piece of art, but I am always happy to rediscover it each time that I return to Brussels.

down2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The skies finally cleared a little and yesterday evening I had a chance to take a walk in the Grand-Place, Brussel’s central square, one of my favorite locations in this city. The cobblestone pavement was still wet, helping to create nice reflections in some of the shots and the crowds were somewhat sparse, so I was able to get relatively unobstructed shots of some of the buildings that surround the square..

As is usually the case when I am traveling for work, I used my old Canon A620 point-and-shoot camera and used a variety of railings, posts, and other objects to steady myself for these nighttime photos.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am back in the beautiful city Brussels, Belgium for a short work trip and so far my opportunities to take photos have been limited. I am struck by the limited number of daylight hours and it’s been cloudy, windy, and occasionally rainy.

I hope to get some new images, but in the mean time decided to post one from my trip here almost exactly a year ago. It is a night shot of the main tower of the Town Hall, the tallest building in the famous Grand-Place, the central square of Brussels. If you are interested in the history of the Grand-Place, check out this Wikipedia article.

The weather may not improve much—this is what I consider to be typical European winter weather, but I’ll be out and about a bit later today trying to capture some of the sights of Brussels.

Brussels Town Hall

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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