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Posts Tagged ‘halloween pennant’

I ventured out into the heat for a couple of hours yesterday and was rewarded for my efforts by this beautiful female Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) that I spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

What makes a portrait perfect? For me, an optimal portrait captures an interesting subject in a dynamic pose with good lighting and a complementary background. I think that this images ticks all of those boxes. Why, then, do I call it “almost” perfect in the title? I guess that there is a part of me that is never completely satisfied, that is steadfastly convinced that I can do better. That is why I was out walking the trails yesterday when temperatures soared above 95 degrees (35 degrees C). Don’t worry, I stayed in the shade, carried lots of water, and took it slowly. The good news was that social distancing was a breeze—I saw only one other crazy person walking about in the midday heat.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Eight years ago yesterday my dear friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer sat me down and told me that I was going to start a blog. She is a professional photographer and graphic designer and already had a well-established blog. I had gone shooting with her multiple times and we had spent countless hours together reviewing my photos to improve my skills in capturing images and processing them. She had decided it was time to broaden my audience beyond that of Facebook.

Cindy showed me the basics of WordPress editing and navigation and helped me to set up my initial pages. I do not think that either of us anticipated the degree to which I would grow to love the process of blogging, a process that has allowed me daily to express myself creatively in both words and images.

WordPress data show that I have published 3628 posts, which probably includes the occasional re-blog of a post written by someone else, and have had almost 249 thousand views. Those posts have included over 580 thousand words (about 160 words per posting) and well over 4000 photos.

Although I look at the numbers from time to time, they are not that important to me. It is personally more important to me that the blog has helped me to develop relationships with a lot of different viewers, to share with so many of you my sometimes faltering  steps on my meandering journey into photography.

Thanks to all of you for helping me along the way and sharing your comments, suggestions, and recommendations. I especially owe a debt of gratitude to Cindy Dyer for motivating me throughout this entire period, for pushing me at times when I was hesitant, and for serving as my muse. Many of you probably feel that you already know Cindy, given that I have featured flowers from her garden repeatedly during this year as I have been forced to stay close to home. Thanks, Cindy.

To celebrate this anniversary, I thought I would reprise two of my favorite photos. These are not necessarily my most popular images or my “best” images, but they are ones that are particularly memorable to me. I am also including links to the original postings so you can read the accompanying text and additional commentary about the circumstances under which they were captured. Links to original postings: Visible Song (8 March 2016) and Fox on a frozen pond (31 January 2016).

But wait, there’s more. As a bonus, I am including an image that I captured last week of a spectacular male Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina). Most of you know that I am somewhat obsessed with dragonflies and they have been an almost constant focus of my photography during the warm months over the last eight years. In fact, my very first blog posting featured a dragonfly. So, I feel it is only appropriate to include a dragonfly as I look back at where I have been.

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement over these past eight years. The journey continues onward. I hope to continue to walk side-by-side with so many of you as we support and encourage one another. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” (Gal. 6:10)

Visible song

fox on frozen pond

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I spotted this mating pair of Halloween Pennant dragonflies (Celithemis eponina) last Thursday during a brief visit to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia with my dear friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer. The wing patterns and coloration of Halloween Pennants have always attracted me, making them one of my favorites. As most of you know, however, I tend to have lots of favorites when it comes to dragonflies.

I was in stealth mode as I slowly moved closer to this couple and attempted to frame the image in a way that was interesting and creative, while trying not to feel too much like a voyeur. Yes, I will boldly assert that this is art, and not insect porn.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Perhaps it was a territorial dispute, but whatever the reason, a male Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) came screaming in determined to dislodge a perched male Banded Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis fasciata) on Thursday at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens and achieved his goal. A few moments earlier I had spotted the two dragonflies perched in a moment of peaceful co-existence (with appropriate social distancing), but that moment of tranquility did not last very long.

Can’t we all just get along and live in harmony with one another?

Halloween Pennant and Banded Pennant

Halloween Pennant and Banded Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A week ago I did a retrospective posting on some of my favorite photos from the first half of 2019 and alerted readers that a second posting would appear “in the next few days.” Here at last is part two—click here if you missed the first installment. As was the case in the initial posting, I went through my postings month by month and selected two photos for each month. I have provided a link to the individual postings in the captions of the photos to make it easier for interested readers to see the images in the context of the original postings, which often include additional photos and explanatory information.

If you look carefully at the dates, you may notice that I did not include any photos from November in this posting. As many of you may recall, I was in Paris for three weeks in November. After my first posting, one reader suggested that I do a separate posting for Paris, rather than be forced to select two photos from the many that I posted of my adventures in Paris. I decided to follow that recommendation, so hopefully there will be  a third and final posting of my look back at 2019 sometime “soon.”

 

Sable Clubtail

Sable Clubtail dragonfly, July 6, 2019 Sable Clubtail

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant dragonfly July 31, 2019 Perching Halloween Pennant

Osprey

Osprey, August 3, 2019, No sushi for me

Eastern Ringtail

Eastern Ringtail dragonfly, August 5, 2019 Getting down with an Eastern Ringtail

 

crab spider

Crab spider, September 7, 2019, White-banded Crab Spider

Handsome Meadow Katydid

Handsome Meadow Katydid September 10, 2019 My favorite insect?

 

Blue-faced Meadowhawk

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly, October 2, 2019 Blue-faced Meadowhawk in October

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle October 16, 2019 Bald Eagle Takeoff

Hooded Merganser duck December 7, 2019 Hoodie Season

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe December 24, 2019 Portrait of a Pied-billed Grebe

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Are you always in search of new subjects or are you content to photograph the same subjects over and over again? Several years ago I came across an author who described two different types of people—those who prefer to live “widely” and those who prefer to live “deeply.” Those in the first group are always seeking new experiences and traveling to new places and, as photographers, are constantly looking for new things to photograph. By contrast, those in the second group are looking for a deeper experience and are likely to repeatedly return to the same locations over and over and photograph the same limited set of subjects.

As you might suspect, I see myself primarily as a member of the second group. Many of you have undoubtedly noted that I tend to hang out a lot in the same wildlife refuges throughout the year and often photograph familiar subjects. Why? For me, each encounter is unique—the lighting is different, the poses are different, and the age and genders of my subjects vary. I enjoy documenting the seasonal changes in fora and fauna at these locations. Each time I strive to capture different and, if possible, better images.

So, I am posting another photo of a Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina), even though I posted several images of this species last week. My angle of view for this image from this past weekend was better; the lighting was coming from a better direction; and the slight breeze prompted the dragonfly to move its wings in a way that created a better pose. Consequently, I like this image more than the ones I posted earlier.

My simple approach to blog postings is to present something that is interesting to viewers. The photos may be visually appealing or show details or behavior that you may not have noticed before. You may learn something from my words or may have a better understanding of how the images came into being. Each day we have new opportunities to fill our lives with beauty and meaning. Photography and blogging have become part of my daily journey and I feel blessed to be able to share my experiences with so many of you.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last Thursday I spotted this beautiful Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) perched on a very photogenic plant at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I love the curlicue curves of the plant that remind me of ornamental wrought iron.

The perch in the second and third images is not as interesting, but I thought that I would share those images because of the way that I was able to capture the sky and the clouds in the background. As you can probably tell, the vegetation was really high and I was shooting at an upwards angle.

 

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I never got around to posting a shot of my final Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) of the 2018 season, so today seems an appropriate time to do so. I spotted this tattered beauty on 29 September at Ben Brenman Park, a small suburban park not far from where I live in Alexandria, Virginia.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A breeze was blowing on Saturday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and this male Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) seemed to be struggling to maintain its perch as it was buffeted from side to side.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Some of my readers know that I especially love dragonflies with patterned wings and one of my favorites is the Halloween Pennnant (Celithemis eponina). Despite its name, it is a summertime dragonfly and I was thrilled to spot a beautiful female Halloween Pennant yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The “Halloween” part of its name comes from the orange-brown color of its wings. The “pennant” comes from this predisposition of members of this genus to perch on the very tip of vegetation, which causes them to wave back in forth in even the slightest breeze.

In the photo below, the Halloween Pennant is perched on a stalk of very distinctive Eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides). I have frequently seen this kind of grass with red bits hanging from its stalks, but it was only yesterday that I learned what it was called from fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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The biological clocks of some species seem to be ticking as the summer winds down, compelling them into frantically mating sessions, like this pair of Halloween Pennant dragonflies (Celithemis eponina) that I spotted this past weekend at Lilypons Water Gardens in Adamstown, Maryland. The challenge in photographing this type of activity is to present it in a way that is artistic rather than purely sexual.

halloween pennant

halloween pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Is it possible that I am sharing too many dragonfly images, that I am oversaturating the market and taxing the patience and tolerance of my readers? I realize that not everyone is as drawn as I am to these amazing little creatures and that some folks are repelled by insects of any variety or are simply not interested in them.

An old adage asserts that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and to a certain extent I agree with that statement. However, I would counterargue that beauty is not entirely subjective, that there are cases in which the majority of people would agree that something is beautiful.

I somehow think that this might be the case for an image I captured this past Friday of a spectacular female Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) at Huntley Meadows Park. Most of the Halloween Pennants that I have photographed this year have been males, which tend to be more visible, since they are trying to attract females, so it was a treat to spot a female. In the dragonfly world, females usually are the ones that choose the partner for mating and they frequently remain in the treeline or in open fields until they are ready.

I had my 150-600mm lens mounted on my camera, because I was hoping that I might see a bald eagle or a hawk, so I was able to shoot this dragonfly from a distance without disturbing her. I focused manually and was able to capture some beautiful details of the dragonfly, such as the two-toned eyes and the long, two-toned legs. I love the organic shape and feel of the cool-looking perch that the dragonfly had chosen. The background dropped out of focus so much that it almost looks like a studio shot and draws the eyes of viewers to the subject.

When you first read the title, you might have scratched your head in puzzlement, because the color palette is more subdued than oversaturated. By now, it should be clear that I was not referring to the colors, but to the question of whether or not I am posting too many images of dragonflies. Fear not, not all of my postings will be about dragonflies, but we are in the prime period for dragonflies, so stay tuned for more images of these amazing aerial acrobats. When it comes to the quantity of my dragonfly images, I feel like some Southerners do about sugar in their sweet tea—you can never have too much of a good thing.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Like many guys, I have trouble remembering anniversaries, so it came as a surprise a few days ago when WordPress reminded me that it was the fifth anniversary of the launching of my blog. Five years old probably qualifies as middle age or maybe even old age for a blog.

I remember well how my photography mentor Cindy Dyer sat me down and virtually insisted that I start a blog to showcase and share the results of my growing interest in photography. I’ve captured thousands and thousand of images since that time and made close to 2400 postings on this blog. My confidence, awareness, and skills as a photographer have grown significantly. More importantly, though, this blog has helped me to gain a new voice as I have learned to use my words and photographs to express a creative part of myself that has been dormant most of my life.

I am very appreciative of the support, encouragement, and suggestions that so many readers have provided these last five years. Thanks to all of you—you have helped to sustain me during times when my energy and enthusiasm have waned.

My very first posting was an image of a perching dragonfly and was simply titled Blue Dasher dragonfly. If you look at that posting, you can see that my fascination with dragonflies is not a new phenomenon. It is altogether appropriate, therefore, that I “celebrate” with another dragonfly image.

Halloween Pennant dragonflies (Celithemis eponina) generally perch facing away from me. Although it gives me a good view of their spectacular wings, I like it better when I get a frontal view and can look straight into the dragonfly’s eyes. This weekend I found a cooperative subject while exploring Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, and was able to capture this image.

Halloween Pennant

Like this dragonfly, I am ready to spread my wings and fly, resting briefly before taking off again.  It’s a bit of a cliche, but from the blog’s inauguration the sub-title has always been, “My journey through photography.” Where will I go next? I honestly don’t know, but I definitely welcome fellow travelers to accompany me on my continuing journey of exploration.

Perhaps I will set my sights really high and point my camera, to use the famous words of Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond.” Come fly with me.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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As the breeze kicked up yesterday at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, this male Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) hung on tightly to his perch. From the angle at which I was shooting, though, it looked like he was participating in a pole vault competition.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Halloween in June? I spotted a beautiful female Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) this past Saturday in one of the back areas of Huntley Meadows Park.

Although it is now summer, the colors of this beautifully-patterned dragonfly bring to mind those of the autumn, which thankfully is still a long way off.

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the colorful patterns on the wings of a Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina), but rarely have the chance to see one. Therefore, I was pretty excited when I spotted one from a distance last week at Huntley Meadows Park, my favorite marshland location for nature photography.

I moved a little closer to get some initial shots with my Tamron 150-600mm lens fully extended. Generally I use my long zoom for birds more often than for dragonflies.  In this case, however, the lens turned out to be a better choice than my macro lens, because the dragonfly flew away when I took a couple of steps toward it and I never saw it again.

Most of the Halloween Pennant dragonflies that I have observed in the past have had wings that were more amber-colored than those of this individual, but the wing pattern is so distinctive that I am pretty sure about my identification. In addition to the wonderful wings, I was really struck by the length and two-toned color of this dragonfly’s legs.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Summer days are drifting away and the biological clocks are almost certainly ticking loudly for some dragonflies. This past weekend at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna Virginia, I spotted these two Halloween Pennant dragonflies (Celithemis eponina) engaged in a little summer loving.

It’s hard not to feel a little bit like a voyeur as I move in closer to photograph the acrobatic intertwining of the tiny dragonfly bodies. Summer loving happens so fast and soon my colorful little friends will be gone for the season,

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the highlights for me of a short visit yesterday to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia was spotting this spectacular dragonfly, which I think is a female Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata).

Earlier this summer, I spotted a male Banded Pennant, whose body was blue, but the coloration of this one suggests to me that it is a female. The dragonfly was perched on the highest branches of a small tree, which allowed me to isolate it against the beautiful blue sky. You may notice that the branches are different in the two photos—the dragonfly flew away a few times, but returned to the same tree a short time later.

CORRECTION: My initial identification was incorrect. My local dragonfly expert, Walter Sanford, with whom I neglected to consult in advance, provided a correct identification. This is a female Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina), not a Banded Pennant.

 

Banded Pennant

Banded Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This young male Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) let me get close enough to use my macro lens to good effect, but an intermittent light breeze caused him to sway back and forth, greatly increasing the challenge of getting sharp shots.

Halloween Pennants are spectacular dragonflies with their two-toned eyes and patterned wings. They almost always choose to perch at the very tip of flimsy branches and blades of grass and often do look like pennant blowing in the wind.

I included a shot of the entire body of this dragonfly to give you a full appreciation of its wildly wonderful wings.

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday, the last full day of spring, I spotted a Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina), one of my favorite dragonflies, at Huntley Meadows Park, a place where I had previously never seen one. It was an auspicious end to spring, even if it seems a bit strange to speak of spring and Halloween in the same posting.

As you can see, these dragonflies like to perch on the very top of the vegetation in the fields. That’s an advantage in isolating the subject, but the slightest breeze causes them to wave back and forth like a pennant.

I snapped away when I spotted the Halloween Pennants and have not yet gone through all of my images, but I am so excited that I can’t help but share a couple with you now. There may be a few more to come later.

Halloween Pennant

Halloween Pennant

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s not hard to figure out the source of its name when you spot a colorful Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) waving in the breeze. These dragonflies also remind me of pole vaulters, attempting to thrust their bodies over a crossbar while holding on to the very end of a long pole.

I have not seen one yet at Huntley Meadows Park, the place where I take the majority of my photos, though earlier this summer one of my fellow photographers, Walter Sanford, spotted one in the park for the first time in years. I shot this image at edge of a small pond during a recent trip to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.

pennant1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I was happy to get some shots of my favorite dragonfly, the Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina), at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia.

I don’t see this dragonfly at all at most of the usual places where I take photographs, so I was really excited when I caught sight of a couple of them yesterday. I chased them around for well over an hour and attempted to take a couple of hundred shots using a wide range of camera settings.

Why did I take so many photos? The dragonfly gets the “pennant”  part of its name because it likes to perch on the very tip of a weed stalk and waves in the breeze like a pennant. Yesterday, in fact, was breezy and it was quite an adventure trying to keep the dragonfly in focus, particularly because I was trying to fill the frame with the dragonfly.

The dragonflies that I photographed were reasonably cooperative and I was able to attempt shots from the side, from above, and even from below (fortunately the insects in the grass did not bite very often).

I have not been able to go through the shot to pick the best ones, but thought it would be nice to post one now, especially for those readers who may not be familiar with this beautiful dragonfly. I suspect that I will eventually post at least a couple more images in future postings.

Halloween1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have always admired my friend Cindy D’s photos of an unusual dragonfly that she has featured in her postings.  He is called a Halloween Pennant dragonfly (celithemis eponina).

Wikipedia has some interesting information about this dragonfly including the fact that, “Sexual activity normally occurs between 8 and 10:30 am.” Who knew? I imagine there are scientists somewhere keeping track of the mating habits of the different species of dragonflies using stopwatches.

Today I was happy finally to see a Halloween Pennant dragonfly at Brookside Gardens and take some photographs of him. I love this shot but his wingspan was really wide. I decided to crop out part of the wings so that you can see the details of his face and his wings. I find that dragonflies have wonderfully expressive faces and didn’t want you to miss this face. How can you not love such a face?

I’ll soon be on the lookout for new dragonflies to photograph. Do they have one named for all of the American holidays?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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