Posts Tagged ‘juxtaposition’

I love the juxtaposition of natural and man-made elements in this shot of a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) perched recently on a piece of rebar sticking out of the water at Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge.

The colors and shape enhance the visual contrast between the two primary elements in this very graphic and simple composition. Photography doesn’t always have to be complicated to be effective—I need that reminder from time to time.

Slaty Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Normally I like to photograph dragonflies in their natural environment, but when an Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) chose to perch on a curved piece of rebar recently, the juxtaposition of the natural and man-made elements seemed to create a sense of harmony rather than one of dissonance.

I took this photo at a small man-made pond at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. Later in the summer I hope to see water lilies and lotus blossoms at the pond, but it is mostly devoid of vegetation right now, which many be why the dragonfly chose this unusual perch.

I have no idea why this piece of reinforcing steel is sticking out of the water, but its reddish-brown color and curved shape made it a good match for this tiny dragonfly.

Eastern Amberwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am looking for some background information—do you generally prefer creamy smooth backgrounds in your photos or do like there to have some elements of texture?  This is a ridiculous question, of course, and it’s a bit like asking me if I like chocolate or strawberry ice cream. I like them both, but in certain situations I may prefer one over the other.

These musings came to mind when I was reviewing the some photos I took this past week of Autumn Meadownhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum). These little red dragonflies are perennially the last species to disappear in our area and I am likely to see them well into November and sometimes into early December.

The first image below shows a male Autumn Meadowhawk with the kind of background that I usually try to shoot, blurred and uncluttered. The thorn on the green stem adds an unexpected bit of additional interest for me.

The background of the second image with a female Autumn Meadowhawk is completely different—the lines and texture of the decaying log are very evident. Sometimes when I look at the image I think that the background is too distracting, because I have to look hard to see the details of the dragonfly. At other times, I am drawn in by the organic feel of the wood in the background and I really like the diagonal lines and rough texture.

These two images work well for me in tandem, juxtaposing as they do different genders, very different backgrounds, and radically different angles of view. These kinds of sharp contrasts often prompt me to stop and think as I consider the images—and that is generally a good thing.


male Autumn Meadowhawkfemale Autumn Meadowhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Generally I prefer to have a natural background for wildlife shots, but when a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) that I was observing this past Friday at my local marsh took off, I ended up shooting it against the backdrop of the boardwalk. I really like the look of the resulting shot, which juxtaposes those natural and industrial elements in an unusual way.

If you enjoy photos with this type of contrast of the natural and the man-made, check out my posting from this past week of an “industrial” dragonfly.

Green Heron Huntley Meadows

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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