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Posts Tagged ‘flower’

Many Easter traditions will be put to the side this year. No boisterous crowds filling the churches, no special clothes or big hats, no joyful greeting of  “Alleluia. Christ is risen” to all we meet and the equally joyful response of “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.” A good number of us instead will celebrate alone in front of a computer screen.

Yes, Easter will be celebrated differently this year, but for many of us there will be even greater beauty and meaning in our more simple celebrations. At a time when most of the world news is full of doom and despair, today is a joyful reminder that God loves us and will have the final victory.

So what do we do? I recall some words from a sermon that I heard on Good Friday—the priest cited the opening line of a prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.” It will take time for things to return to any sense of normalcy, but we should never give up hope.

My hope and prayer for all today, whether you celebrate Easter or not, is that you can put aside at least some of your incessant worries and seek to find joy in whatever way you can. For me, joy and beauty can be found in small things, like this tiny flower that I photographed recently in the garden of my neighbor. I have no idea what it is, but I know that it sparked joy in me the moment I spotted it.

Happy Easter.

flower

flower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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With all of the hot weather we have been having recently, I have absolutely no desire to be as busy as a bee. I spotted this bee busily at work this past Tuesday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Temperatures in our area are forecast to rise to 100 degrees (38 degrees C) today and the high humidity will make it feel even more intolerable. I will probably spend most of the days indoors, but fortunately I have plenty of recent photos in reserve that I can process and post.

This image is the kind of simple shot that I really like. I remember my sense of wonder the first time I used a macro lens and I still feel excitement when I immerse myself in the details that a macro lens reveals.

bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Many of us are old enough to remember when wall phones had long coiled cords that usually ended up stretched out and elongated. That’s exactly what I was thinking of when I spotted these coiled tendrils of some kind of flower yesterday when I was exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I wasn’t sure how to capture them in an image and tried a couple of different approaches. The image below was my favorite. It is kind of a natural abstract image, but I included the flower in the corner of it to give the image a sense of context.

Those who read my postings regularly know that this is not the usual kind of photo that I post—sometimes it is fun to venture outside of my normal box.

coil

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During the spring our eyes are naturally drawn to signs of new life, but somehow yesterday it was the signs of the past that caught my attention. I was fascinated by the structure of the skeletonized remains of an unknown flower, whose beauty has long ago faded into a lace-like form that reminded me of a butterfly.

Beauty and fragility—an appropriate metaphor for our lives.

skeletonized flower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I can’t identify this tiny flowering plant, but it is blooming now in the garden of one of my neighbors. Despite the large mounds of snow throughout my townhouse neighborhood, I can’t help but hope and believe that spring is not far away.

flower1a_blog

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was on my hands and knees last Friday, trying to get a shot of a small wildflower growing on the forest floor, when a bee landed on the very flower on which I was focusing. What are the odds of that happening at the moment when my eye was glued to the viewfinder and I was focusing manually?

The flower was only about four inches (10 cm) tall, which gives you an idea of the low angle from which I was shooting. After a second or two on the first flower (shown in the second shot), the bee moved to an adjacent flower, and I took the image I presented first. It’s interesting to note the narrowness of the depth of field—in the first shot below, I managed to focus on the bee’s head, whereas in the second shot, the focus point was more on the center of its body. I like each of the images for somewhat different reasons, but I am still shocked that I managed to get them.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than skilled.

bee2_flower_blogbee_flower_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am always happy to visit the garden of one of my neighbors, Cindy Dyer, a fellow photographer and blogger, at this time of the year, because there is always something new in bloom. Yesterday’s treat was this simple little purple flower. I have no idea what it is, but I love its shape and colors.

flower_tiny_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Looking at this plant from the side, all you notice are the tall, straw-like spikes that radiate from the center, but from above, it’s like looking into a kaleidoscope. I love the repetition of the colors and patterns in a wide circle around the center blossom.

I don’t have any idea what kind of flower this is, so I’ll make up my own name for it and call it the Kaleidoscope flower.

circle_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This is another close-up, pseudo-macro image that I shot with my telephoto zoom lens and I really like the way that the yellow in the center of the white flower seems to glow. Controlling depth of field was especially challenging when shooting something like this with my lens set a little over 300mm. I wanted the background to be as green as I could get it, which is tough at this time of year, so I had to bend low to get this angle. I achieved that goal partially,  though I was not able to blur out the background very well.

I guess it’s finally time to pull out the macro lens.

glow_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When I first saw this insect, my initial thought was to wonder about its identification—I still don’t have an answer to that quandary. My second thought was that it would be cool to try to take a photo looking into the flower from just over the edge of one row of  petals, which were standing almost straight up. I’m still a relative neophyte with my macro lens, and depth of field and critical focus are sometimes real problems.

I am pretty happy with the results I achieved in capturing images consistent with my mental picture.  The first photo is the closest to what I had in mind, but I also like the position of the insect in the second photo.

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This unidentified little purple flower attracted my eye when I was shooting at a local garden with some friends. I had my macro lens on my camera and I had my tripod with me, so I carefully set up the shot the way my mentor, Cindy Dyer, has taught me to do. I tried to isolate my subject and keep a relatively unobstructed background. I shot at f16 to have a decent depth of field.

The final image is simple, modest, and pleasant, like the flower itself.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I am shooting flowers of any sort I am inevitably drawn to bees. I love watching them flying and hovering, back and forth and in and out of the flowers.  Sometimes a bee seems to be systematically covering a group of flowers and other times he seems to be choosing randomly where to touch down before moving on, relentlessly in motion.

Here are a couple of recent shots of carpenter bees on a plant that I have been told is called salvia. I love its deep purple color and simple flowers. The first shot is a closeup of a bee. The second one gives you a better idea of the shape of the flower. Note that in both cases the bee is getting the nectar from the side of the flower and is therefore not pollinating it.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was after 7:00 pm yesterday evening and my urge to take photos was still not satisfied. I had wandered through the garden of my neighbor, Cindy Dyer,  whose photographs and flowers are a constant source of inspiration, but had come up empty, except for some shots of a striped cucumber beetle.

I decided to check out her front porch herb garden to see if there were any interesting bugs to shoot, but there were none. My hope was fading along with the day’s light when I glanced down at a container next to her front door and saw some tiny pink and white flowers growing against a backdrop of darker leaves. I had a subject, though I was clueless about its identity.

I doubted that I would be able to capture the beauty of the little flower, but my tripod and macro lens came to my rescue. I was so excited when I pulled up the images on my computer that I immediately called Cindy to ask her what kind of pink flower she was growing on her porch. She seemed a bit confused by my question, because she couldn’t recall any flowers growing on her porch.

Open laptop in hand, I walked over to her house to show her the image and pointed out where I had shot it. All at once her eyes lit up as she realized what I had photographed. It was basil that had started to flower. I was a little incredulous, because I didn’t know that basil had flowers. Cindy then crushed a leaf and held it to my nose.

My nose revealed what my eyes and my mind had not—it was unmistakably basil.

Tiny basil flower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The subject is simple and familiar, a bee and a flower. My eye was drawn, however, to the way this bee had latched on to the entire center of this flower in a full-bodied bee hug. The X-shape of the splayed legs and the radiating petals combine to produce a graphic effect that goes beyond the literal subject matter.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was wandering this past weekend through the local garden where I take a lot of my photos, I came across an enchanting scene. A child-sized wrought iron table and chairs were set in the shade, with a multi-colored teapot in center of the table. In the spout of the teapot was a single red, trumpet-shaped flower.

Had a child placed the flower there earlier in the day while serving tea to real or even imaginary friends? I like to think so. For a brief moment I was transported back to the days of my youth, carefree days when summers were full of dreams and exploration.

I captured this image as a reminder of the feeling of that moment, as a reminder not to let the “serious” cares of my adult life extinguish that child-like spark of innocence, sensitivity, and creativity. It is still very much a part of me, even if it struggles to find a way to express itself.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some bees are hairy and some bees are really hairy.

Seriously, this bee looks like he could use a beauty makeover. At a minimum he needs a trip to a barber or hair stylist to trim away some of that excess hair. Look at his legs, his forehead, and his neckline. Yikes! The worst area may be the swirly hair on his back. I haven’t seen anything that bad since the days when the comb-over was a popular hair style.

Maybe he is wearing his hair long to conceal the fact that he is going thin on his back. If that’s the case, I have news for you, Mr. Bee. “You’re not fooling anyone.”  It’s time to get with modern styles, perhaps, and shave it all off.

What would a bald bee look like?

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bee…

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Does a bee ever get stuck when he flies (or climbs) into a flower with a narrow opening?

This question arose this afternoon when I watched a bee enter a flower so deeply that only his legs were visible. He remained in that position for some time and then he somehow was able to get back out of the flower. I am still not sure if he was stuck or how he was able to extricate himself. From my perspective, it was a feat worthy of an insect Houdini.

I shot a series of photos that illustrate the whole process. In this case the old adage is true about a picture being worth a thousand words. You will notice that I changed my vantage point part way through the shoot. (I had plenty of time while the bee was inside the flower.) I would also draw your special attention to the details of the last photo in which the bee has to act like a contortionist to get his legs out of the tight spot.

Who knew that bees were so flexible?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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You might think that I am going to talk philosophically about a bee, but my title is meant to be taken literally. If you click on the photo, you can actually see reflections of the sky and bushes on the shiny surface of the abdomen end of this bee.

I am pretty sure that this is a carpenter bee for two main reasons. First, the abdomen area is shiny and hairless, unlike a bumblebee who is more hairy. Secondly, the bee is sucking nectar out of the side of the flower rather than going in from the front, a process sometimes referred to as “nectar robbing.” Carpenter bees are notorious for circumventing pollination in certain plants by slitting open the side of the flower.

Perhaps others can see more reflections on the bee. It’s like looking at clouds and trying to see shapes—it’s a lot of fun and everyone sees something different. Life is like that sometimes.

Click the photo to see more details

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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What do bees do when it’s raining? I never really gave the question much thought until this morning when I saw a really cool photo by the unUrban Studio showing a bee seeking shelter in an orchid in an early morning rain. In an earlier post today I showed a bee clinging to the underside of a leaf for protection from the rain.

During a walk in the light rain this afternoon I was pleased to also discover the bee shown below, sheltered inside of a red hibiscus flower. He appeared to be completely protected and may have been napping. As you can probably tell, I had to lighten the image a little to reveal the bee more clearly. This caused the sky, which was light already, to go totally white and produced an effect that I really like.

I enjoy walking in the rain and sometimes carry my camera under an umbrella if it is not raining too hard. From now on I’ll make a point of peeking into flowers and under leaves to discover more secret hiding places of the bees.

© 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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Indian lotus (also known as Sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera), photographed at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I photographed this Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this morning.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher

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