Posts Tagged ‘early morning light’

I live in a suburban townhouse community, which means that the scenery is not particularly photogenic if I walk around at dawn. This weekend, however, I attended a church retreat at Shrine Mont, a facility owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Shrine Mont is located in the Shenandoah Valley near the border with West Virginia, in the tiny village of Orkney Springs.

I stayed in a small cottage with some other members of my church and when I woke up in the pre-dawn hours, I was able to grab some coffee and begin to walk down the road. One of my favorite buildings in the area is the post office for the village. I love the quaintness of the structure, with the chairs on the covered porch and the Coca-Cola signs. I was happy that I was able to capture the lighting provided by various sources inside and outside the building.

There was not very much color in the sky, but I was able to capture a bit of it in the sky and its reflection in the waters of a small pond that I passed. The final shot shows several of the main buildings of Shrine Mont. The large building, now called Virginia House, used to be the Orkney Spring Hotel and was privately owned until it was purchased by the Diocese of Virginia in 1979. According to Wikipedia, the Virginia House is believed to be the largest wooden structure in Virginia—it dates to the 1870s and is on the National Historical Register.

I love to capture the moments when the sky is beginning to lighten, but the electric lights are still on. It is a beautiful and peaceful period and a wonderful way to start the day.

Orkney Springs Post Office

Shrine Mont Pond

Virginia House, Shrine Mont

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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The Hooded Merganser ducks (Lophodytes cucullatus) were already paddling into deeper water when I spotted them on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The small ducks were swimming slowly, creating beautiful wakes in the still waters that were tinged in pink by the early morning light. Although you cannot see most of the details of the ducks, the image gives you a sense of the tranquility of the moment.

Hooded Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I am out in the wild with my camera, my eyes are almost always in constant motion, scanning the skies and the ground, the trees and the fields, searching for subjects to photograph. Sometimes, though, I’ll stop, overwhelmed by the natural beauty of my surroundings, and may remain stationary for an extended period of time.

I had such an experience earlier this week when I was checking out a small pond at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The early morning light was just beginning to illuminate the tops of the trees. Although most of the leaves on the trees have turned brown, the sunlight caused them to glow a little, restoring them for a few precious moments to their former glory.

It may not be traditional to shoot a landscape photo with a telephoto lens, but that is what I had on my camera that moment. I zoomed out my 150-600mm lens to its widest position and tried to compose an image that captured the feeling of the moment.

I don’t shoot landscape images very often and probably violated some of the normal guidelines, but I am pretty happy with this image. Although generally I crop an image to focus a viewer’s attention on my primary subject, that did not seem necessary in this case.


morning light

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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All wild creatures seem especially beautiful in the early morning light, like this cute little muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) that I spotted last week in one of the small ponds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.


© 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


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Early morning sunlight illuminates the cattails (and the webs in between them) in the marsh at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA. Low hanging mist/fog that morning added a special beauty and mystery to the quietness of that fall morning.

(click on photo to see a higher resolution view)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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