Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘fall’

Most of the trees have given up their colorful leaves by now, but one hardy young tree refused to do so and looked almost like it was on fire in the early morning yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park.

The tree really stood out and grabbed my attention and I wanted somehow to capture its beauty. Many of you know that I have very limited experience with landscape photography and I simply wasn’t sure how to approach this atypical subject.

My first instinct was to zoom in closely and fill as much of the frame with the details of the tree as I could. That’s my favored approach with both my macro and zoom lenses.  I was shooting over a field of cattails and across a pond and my first series of images looked like this one.

fiery tree

I moved further down the boardwalk and decided to try to capture more of the surrounding environment by shooting in landscape mode. I also tried to get a clearer view of the beautiful reflections my moving beyond the cattails.

fiery tree

In order to get a different view, I climbed up the observation deck and took some shots like this one with various objects in the foreground and some reflected sky showing at the bottom of the image.

fiery tree

I presented the images with only a slight amount of cropping to give you an idea of what I was going for as I “worked” this subject. How did I do? In my view, the middle image is by far the best and serves as a reminder to me that stepping back and zooming out can be beneficial. More importantly, perhaps, I can see the benefits of trying out different approaches and different subjects as a way of stretching and learning and, hopefully, growing in my skills as a photographer.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Fall foliage is great at this time of the year, but I am also finding beautiful colors as I walk deeper into the woods. I can’t identify these different fungi, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying their beauty. I especially enjoy the rainbow shapes in the shades of autumn, with such a wide range of oranges and browns.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It won’t be long before my bird photos have the colorless backgrounds characteristic of winter, so I am photographing as many birds as I can find with autumn colors in the background, like this House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) that I observed last Sunday. As I noted in a posting last month, these birds are non-native (introduced from the Old World) and sometimes crowd out native birds. Still, I find them to be beautiful, especially when they pose like this. This pose is one of my favorites, when I get to look down the tail toward the head turned to the side.

house_sparrow_autumn_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The autumn colors may be fading fast, but the remaining leaves still provided a colorful background for this Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) this past weekend.

Normally mockingbirds sing all of the time, but this one was curiously silent the entire time as I moved around at pretty close range, trying to get the best possible background for the shots. From time to time, the mockingbird would turn its head, almost like it was striking new poses for me. This was my favorite pose, a serious portrait in profile in which the mockingbird looks unusually stern.

mockingbird_autumn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

My eyes caught a flash of bright blue yesterday as I was walking through Huntley Meadows Park, my local marsh, and I pointed my telephoto lens at the tree in the distance.

As I composed this shot, I was initially a little confused by what I saw. The reddish-brown color of the breast and the fact that there were some blue feathers made me think that it was an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), but the bird’s body didn’t seem blue enough. After doing a little research when I got home, I realized that most of the bluebirds that I had seen previously must have been adult males—as is the case with many other birds, the female Eastern Bluebird is more subdued in color than the male.

I didn’t have a lot of time to frame this shot, so I was happy that I managed to center the bird on the dark spot in the background and to surround it with some colorful fall foliage. All of the orange color in the image really helps the blue on the wing to pop, which is not too surprising since, if I remember color theory correctly, orange and blue are complementary colors.

bluebird_autumn_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

When a scope-toting birder told me that there was a cuckoo in a tree in the distance, I had not idea what to look for. My parents had a German cuckoo clock when I was growing up and somehow I thought the cuckoo would look like the little bird that popped out of the clock each hour.

I could see the white breast of the bird, so I pointed my telephoto lens at the tree and focused as well as I could. I had to crop quite a bit, but the bird I photographed is definitely identifiable as a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus). What shocked me the most was the length of the bird’s tail. According to my birding guide, this cuckoo is about 12 inches (30 cm) in length.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, these birds like to eat large quantities of hairy caterpillars. Those readers who follow my blog know well that there have been lots of hairy caterpillars recently at my local marsh, so it makes a lot of sense that these birds would be present.

The background in the image is cluttered, but I like the bright colors of the autumn leaves, so I am not bothered by it, particularly because they do not conceal very much of the cuckoo.

cuckoo_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

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.

cardinal_fall_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray as fall arrives in my local marsh, but there are still occasional spots of bright color, like this beetle that I encountered yesterday, crawling down a withered leaf. I have not been able to identify it, but its bold pattern and colors remind me of the art and fashions of the late 1960’s, when no combination was too wild. I graduated from high school in 1972 and still recall wearing some pretty wild-looking clothes.

Somehow I think the pattern on the beetle’s back would work well on a necktie. I guess it’s a commentary on how my life has progressed that I now think more in terms of neckties than tie-dyed t-shirts.

colorful_bug_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I was attempting to get a photo of a bird in the cattails, when suddenly I noticed that a deer had entered into the frame. Deer are pretty common and I have even seen them in my suburban neighborhood, but I have rarely seen them at a moment when I had my camera in my hand, so I was excited.

The lighting was a little uneven and harsh and it was difficult to get a completely unobstructed shot, but the deer cooperated and paused a few times, allowing me take a few relatively clear shots. I grew up in the suburbs of Massachusetts and even though my deer identification skills are not strong, I am pretty confident that this is a buck, probably a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus).

I am not a politician, but I am glad to affirm with great conviction,  “The buck stops here.”

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

It was a beautiful weekend and I did a lot of walking. I came across an assortment of ducks, including some Hooded Merganser ducks (Lophodytes cucullatus). Most of my photos of them were from a good distance away, so I may need to work on them before I post them. This image was in such a beautiful setting that I thought I’d post it first. (It looks better if you click on it and see it in greater resolution.) I took this photo from a little bridge looking down on the ducks, which is why the heads do not have the distinctive look associated with Hooded Merganser ducks. I’m making the call on the identification on basis of the color and markings, but would welcome a correction if I am mistaken.

Hooded Merganser ducks in a stream

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The leaf is back-lit and drops of dew glisten on its surface, a surface that is scarred and torn and unevenly colored with the tints of the fall. In its beautiful imperfection, this autumn leaf speaks to me in the simple, abstract language of lines and shapes, of light and color.

Abstract fall leaf

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I usually think of the robin as a harbinger of spring, but the robin loses that symbolic significance during the waning days of October, or does it? Seeing the first American robin (Turdus migratorius) in the spring is an indication that the long, cold months of winter are finally ending, a sign of hope in the promise of things to come. Irrespective of the season, I need that hope, that joyous expectation in my life and the sight of a robin serves as a visual reminder that spring will come again.

Autumn robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Bees were one of my initial subjects when I started photographing insects six months ago. Even now,  I can’t resist snapping a few shots whenever I see them. I never expected to encounter them in late October, however, so it was a nice surprise yesterday, when I was able to capture these images of bees at work (and a skipper too).

Bee in the fall with a single flower

Bee in the fall with multiple flowers

Skipper in the fall

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The water level in the area of the marsh where I photographed herons and egrets earlier this summer is so low that it is now just a big puddle. Therefore, I was surprised early one morning this past weekend to see a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) wading in the water. The light was not very bright, but the surface of the water had a really beautiful reflection of the orange of the fall foliage. The heron was a pretty good distance away and I was on a boardwalk, so my options were limited for framing my shots. Here are a couple of my favorite shots of the heron, surrounded by the reflection of the fall colors.

Great Blue Heron in the fall at Huntley Meadows Park

Fall reflection of a Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Reflections often look much better than the original objects that are being reflected. The water (and the objects in the water, like the rocks in this photo) can distort the “reality” and add a different tonality and texture to the reflection. As I was walking along the edge of the water, I was happy to finally find a patch of foliage with the fall colors of my childhood, but the beauty was marred by the utility poles and traffic signs of my suburban area. The reflection seems to have cleansed the image of those blemishes and shows a purer, more beautiful view, a view closer to what my heart was seeing.

Fall reflection

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Over the past month I have complained repeatedly about the lack of bright color in the fall foliage here in the Washington, D.C. area. The muted color changes just do not match up to my childhood memories of spectacular displays of red, orange, and yellow leaves in the trees of New England. As a result, I have not felt inspired to take up my camera and capture the changing season.

My attitude changed, though, when I read an article by Sparky Stensaas in The Photonaturalist entitled 10 Reasons NOT to Take Fall Leaf Photos. I encourage you to read the article (by following the link above) if you keep coming up with excuses, as I did, why you cannot photograph the leaves of the fall. The author summarized the article in this concluding paragraph:

“There you have it…A bunch of reasons NOT to shoot this fall’s gorgeous leaves…And a bunch of solutions to these common excuses. Now let’s get out there and shoot like crazy before all the leaves are gone!”

Feeling a bit more motivated, I set out yesterday determined to take some shots, among other things, of the autumn leaves. I tried a number of different approaches and am still sorting through my photos, but thought I’d post this one that caught my attention.

Fall leaves before they fall

I was walking through a path in the woods when I came into a small area where the sunlight was shining directly in my eyes, providing some backlighting for these leaves that were almost at eye-level. The leaves themselves are far from being perfect specimens, speckled as they are with brown spots. For the moment, the leaves remain attached to the tree, but inevitably they will drop to the ground to join the ranks of the fallen.  The colors, shapes, and textures of these leaves, however, serve as visual reminders for me of the beauty of the changing seasons, a beauty that may proclaim itself in bold swaths of spectacular color or speak with a quieter, more intimate voice.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As we move deeper into autumn, I expect to find the colors orange and yellow only in the fall foliage or an occasional sunset. Yesterday, I was surprised to see this orange-and-yellow butterfly flitting from flower to flower, seemingly oblivious to the changing seasons. Doesn’t he know it’s almost October? Is it eternally spring for a butterfly?

Butterfly in late September

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »