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Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

How do you grow a lot of plants in a small space? My amazingly creative friend, neighbor, and photography mentor Cindy Dyer decided to take advantage of vertical space and created this incredible wall of flowers and plants on the interior portion of the fence that encloses her back yard. Wow!

I do not know all of the details about how she set it up, but I think that the material, which Cindy describes as “felt-like,” has sewn-in pouches into which she inserted all of the plants and flowers. She mentioned to me that she had mixed some water-storing crystals in with the potting soil to reduce water stress and plans to water the wall regularly.

flower wall

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s been gray and rainy almost all this week in Brussels, so many of these shots feature raindrops. When I am away on a trip for business, I generally carry only my point-and-shoot camera, an old Canon A620.

This trip I decided to experiment with the macro mode and see what kind of shots I could get. I was pleasantly surprised with the results and even managed to get some insect shots, despite the fact that I had to get really close to them, compared with the macro lens that I normally use. I never had to worry about harsh sunlight—I never saw any the entire trip—and mostly had to shoot a a high ISO and an almost wide-open aperture.

I did get some shots of the buildings in Brussels, which looked almost monochromatic in the gray light, but will post some of those images when I return home from the trip.

beepink1dropsflyleaf_dropspink2

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Feeling almost compelled to post a photo about love on Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d post some photos from last May (before I started this blog) of a really cool flower called Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). It is extraordinarily beautiful both as a flower and as a seed pod, although the seed pod looks a bit like an alien life form. Special thanks to Cindy Dyer, my photography mentor and fellow blogger, for introducing me to Love-in-a-mist—you should check out her blog photos of this amazing flower by clicking on her name.

Love1Love2love3

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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We have had a strange winter here in Northern Virginia, with some unseasonably warm days. Today, for example, it was over 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius). As a result, some flowers may be starting to bloom earlier than normal. My neighbor and photography mentor Cindy Dyer has a wonderful garden and I noticed today that she has a whole lot of little blue flowers that are in the process of blooming.

I can’t identify what kind of flowers they are, but they are really pretty. I put my macro lens on my camera, put the camera on a tripod, and attempted to use the techniques that Cindy taught me for photographing flowers. I shot the first photo with an aperture setting of f20 in an attempt to capture the details of the flowers. The second and third images were shot at about f9, which let me blur the background a little. I like the way in which the buds look like little roses.

Temperatures are supposed to drop way below freezing during this coming week and I hope these little flowers are hardy enough to endure the cold.

flowers1_blogflowers2_blogflowers3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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My neighbor, noted blogger and photographer Cindy Dyer, has a really cool garden on the side of her townhouse. Earlier this year I took a lot of photos of flowers and insects there, including one of my most popular postings on a mysterious creature on the lavender plant.

I hadn’t checked out the garden in a month or so and was surprised to see that some of the flowers were still blooming yesterday. I was especially drawn to a flower that looks a little bit like a sunflower—I am not sure exactly what it is. I tried to shoot different blooms from different angles to capture a sense of the depth of the flower. I don’t usually use flash with flowers, but I made some attempts with my built-in flash cranked down low,which I think accounts for the black background in some images.

Here are some of my favorite images of these flowers. They look like they might have been shot with a macro lens, but I was actually using a telephoto lens.

flower6_blogflower3_blog flower5_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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During a walk this past weekend through a local garden, I was surprised at how many flowers were still blooming (or were newly blooming). Here is a somewhat random assortment of photos of those flowers, some of which I can identify such as a zinnia and a pansy, but others are nameless beauties to me.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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.

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Wait a minute, that’s not a rose! You got me there, but raindrops on flowers are still one of my favorite things. Can I help it if I love “The Sound of Music?” The word “raindrops” immediately conjures up visions of Julie Andrews singing “My Favorite Things,” including “raindrops on roses.”

This photo is a couple of months old but is intended to be a response to the rainy weather we are finally having.  It is also a response to Another Perspective Photography’s posting asserting that she is not a bug photographer.

I am proud to state that I am a bug photographer who often shoots other elements of nature and only occasionally photographs people. That may change, but for the moment it’s where my interests lead me. This photo, however, is intended to be evidence that I am not “just”a bug photographer.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) photographed today at Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, Virginia.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) photographed today at Green Spring Gardens, Alexandria, Virginia.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you ever get in the mood for a single color? This evening I am in an orange mood. (As a disclaimer I should mention that I drive an orange car, so orange plays a larger role in my daily life than it probably does for most others.) To scratch that itch, I decided to post some photos from late May of an orange poppy and some of the insects that visited it.

May was the month when I first started getting more serious about photography and these photos were an early indication to me that I was improving. I still enjoy looking at them, remembering some of the early twists and turns of the photography journey on which I have embarked.

As I think back, I feel like I was just learning to walk. Now I can walk with much greater confidence. I look forward to being able to run.

Visiting bee

Visiting hoverfly (flower fly)

Visiting ant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This evening I spotted something unusual hanging from a lavender plant in my neighbor’s garden. I like to visit her garden when I come home from work in the evening because there are always flowers and insects to photograph, many of which she photographs and features in her blog.

The strange object looked a little like a misshapen pine cone and seemed to be covered in pine needles and little twigs. It was hanging from the lavender plant, swinging in the gentle breeze.

Suddenly in front of my eyes the “pine cone” thing began to shake a little, an opening appeared in the top, and a caterpillar (I think that’s what it is) began to emerge. Fortunately I had my camera in my hand because I had been taking some shots of bees.

The caterpillar emerged only partially and then returned to the homemade structure. The opening closed shut, leaving no evidence that there was a living creature inside.

My preliminary research suggests this is a kind of bagworm, although it seems a little unusual for it to make its home on a lavender plant. Wikipedia indicates that there are many species of bagworms, including one whose pupae are collected as a protein-rich food.

I don’t know if you noticed the claws on this caterpillar in the close-up photograph, but I may now have nightmares about giant clawed caterpillars (to go along with the soul-sucking robber flies of a few days ago).

Close-up of bagworm caterpillar emerging

Stepping back to see the whole “bag”

Caterpillar has gone back inside

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s pretty cool to photograph big, gaudy butterflies but today I photographed the smallest butterfly I’ve ever seen. I was shooting photos with my mentor Cindy D. and her husband when Cindy spotted this little guy. He seemed too small to make a good photo and they needed to leave.

Undeterred I lay on my stomach and got as close as my lens would permit me (I did not have time to switch to my macro lens and had to make do with the 18-55mm kit lens that happened to be on the camera). To give you an idea of his size, note that he is perched on a single clover flower.

I’m pretty happy with the result and hope eventually to figure out what kind of butterfly he is. For now, though, I am content to have gotten this shot.

Image

Tiny butterfly on a clover flower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It rained for most of today and was overcast the entire day. Late in the afternoon I decided to go out to a local garden to see what I could shoot. The light was less than optimal but I managed to photograph some flowers.

My favorite ones are of the red speckled lily (I don’t know its real name). I got really low and shot it against the backdrop of sky (which was white). The other flowers included two hibiscuses, another kind of lily, and two unidentified little purple flowers. I love the effect of raindrops on flowers and most of the shots I took include them.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The petals of the lotus flower are delicately beautiful and I love to drink in their beauty. What I enjoy the most, though, is peeking past the petals of the open lotus flower into its very center, the home of its seed pod.

The solid, cylindrical shape and the contrasting color of the seed pod—sometimes green and sometimes yellow— provide for me a nice contrast to the texture and coloration of the petals. These is something intriguing to me about the protruding pod parts that gradually dry out and sink into the pod itself. (I’ll probably do another posting that focuses exclusively on the pods themselves, as they appear after the petals have fallen.)

I took these photos a little over a week ago at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington DC, a wonderful setting run by the National Park Service.

That same day I ran into my friend Cindy D. and her husband Michael at Kenilworth and they too were shooting photos.  Cindy later posted a gorgeous lotus photo on her blog and she also included amazing information about the lotuses at this garden, some of which are descended from ancient plants whose seeds were recovered in 1951 from a dry Manchurian lake bed. Check out her blog for the rest of the story.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I took this shot of a bee on a purple cone flower.

The subject matter is pretty ordinary; everyone with a camera has probably taken a similar shot. Somehow, though, the different elements of the photo—the colors, the shapes, the background, and even the bee—worked together to create an image that I really like.

What it beauty? In this case, I find beauty in the simplicity of a photo like this one. The photo is not perfect. That does not bother me, however, for my experience has shown me beauty too is rarely flawless.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The world seems changed after the rain. The falling rain stripped some of the delicate petals from this lotus flower but left behind a glistening trail of water.

From the perspective of beauty it seems like an equitable trade—the transformed flower still takes my breath away.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Bees were the very first insects that I tried to photograph close up when I got interested in macro photography a few month ago. (You might say I followed the advice of Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music when she said, “Let’s start at the very bee-ginning, it’s a very good place to start.”) It was a challenge without a macro lens but I managed to get some pretty good results by shooting at the extreme end of the focusing capability of my digital SLR.

Since that time I have “graduated” to a macro lens and to more exotic insects, but from time to time I am drawn back to the bees. Today, for example, as I was reviewing  images from a session that included colorful butterflies and dragonflies, I realized there were also a few images of bees that I wanted to share.

Most of the time I try to feature a single photo in my postings, but tonight I couldn’t make up my mind. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet I was caught up in an internal struggle, “Two bees or not two bees, that is the question.”  I’m including them both—I don’t want to decide which is better.

As I end this post, the words of an old Carly Simon song come to mind, “Nobody does it better…bee-bee you’re the best.”

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The heat wave in the Washington DC area has finally broken. Many of us last night were awakened by the loud, cannon-like sound of thunder and the softer, more gentle sound of falling rain. This morning the skies were overcast and the ground was still wet, a likely source of frustration for commuters but a blessing for photographers.

I set off in the morning with a couple of friends for Green Spring Gardens, a county-run historic park in Alexandria, Virginia. The colors of the flowers today seemed to be extraordinarily vivid and saturated. There also were beads of water on many of the plants and flowers, creating wonderful reflections and adding additional interest.

I do not know for sure what kind of flower I captured in this photo, perhaps a hibiscus. Its color and texture caught my eye today. I probably would have passed by it yesterday without stopping. Today, however, its beauty was enhanced, enhanced by the effects of the storm.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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For much of my life I have loved impressionist paintings and especially those of Monet. Monet painted a series of approximately 250 paintings of Water Lilies (or Nymphéas) and they were the main focus of his artistic work for the last thirty years of his life, according to Wikipedia .

Last November I spent countless hours at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris visually exploring eight massive paintings of water lilies by Monet that covered the walls of two large oval rooms. The painting were all different and covered the themes of morning, clouds, green reflections, sunset, reflections of trees, clear morning in the willows, morning in the willows, and two willows.

The Musée de l’Orangerie allows you to see each of the paintings in high definition on the internet but navigation is not exactly direct. Click first in the left column of the main page on “Les Nymphéas” and then on “L’ensemble de l’Orangerie”  which brings you to a page with all of the paintings. You click on the painting you want to examine and click again on the box that says “explorez le tableau” (“explore the painting”). You then can drag your mouse to see each part of the painting or zoom in at 2x or 4x. There also are detailed explanations of the paintings in French that are fascinating, as is a history of Monet and these paintings. You get to that part of the website by following the previous directions and selecting “De Giverny à l’Orangerie” instead of L’ensemble de l’Orangerie.” I should warn you that it is very easy to lose track of time as you take in the beauty of these paintings.

I love photographing water lilies surrounded by green lily pads, with reflections of their beauty in the dark water, the same flowers featured in Monet’s paintings. Until this past weekend, however, all the water lilies that I had seen had been pure white in color. At Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens I encountered and managed to photograph some water lilies that were a beautiful pink in color.  They made quite an impression on me.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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