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Posts Tagged ‘Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens’

I just love the vibrant colors of the tropical water lilies at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, like this one that I photographed on Sunday during a brief trip there. These gardens, located in a part of Washington D.C.,  are run by the National Park Service and have acres of ponds with all kinds of lotuses and water lilies. The tropical water lilies are in small cement ponds behind the visitor center and are one of my favorite spots to visit.

tropical water lily

tropical water lily

tropical water lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The last few years it has been pretty rare for me to see a Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Most of the time when I thought I had spotted one, it turned out to be a similar-looking Viceroy Butterfly.

I was therefore really excited when I spotted a Monarch Butterfly fluttering about in a clump of what I think is some kind of milkweed during a brief trip to Kenilworth Aquatic Garden this past weekend. The butterfly seemed to be unusually skittish—it would perch for only a split second and then take off again. When it would decide to perch for a slightly longer period of time, inevitably it would bury itself among the vegetation, making a clear shot almost impossible.

I waited and waited and finally was able to get this almost unobstructed shot of the spectacular butterfly. Even in America we celebrate this kind of Monarch.

Monarch Butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Safe inside the confines of an enormous lily pad, this little frog calmly watched the crowds of people last weekend in Washington D.C. at the Lotus and Water Lily Festival at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.

frog on a lily pad

You can’t help but noticed that this is not your average lily pad. I believe that it is a tropical variety that comes from the Amazon River basin of the genus Victoria, possibly Amazonica victoria. According to Wikipedia, the leaves of this species can grow as large as 10 feet in diameter (3 meters), although this one was probably less than three feet (one meter) in size. Clearly it had no problem supporting the weight of the little frog.

Readers who follow my photography know that I love to try to get in close to my subjects, irrespective of whether I am shooting with a telephoto lens or a macro lens, and this was no exception. There was a waist-high wire fence around the cement pond in which the water lilies were growing, so I had some limitations in framing my shots, but did manage to get this shot of the frog looking over the edge of lily pad.

frog on a lily pad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Lotuses are gorgeous flowers when they are in bloom, but the lotus that really drew my attention was this bud that is just starting to open, full of hope and promise, clothed in a sense of mystery and expectation.

lotus bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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While I was at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. on Monday, it was easy to understand Monet’s endless fascination with water lilies. My opening image of a small wooden bridge brings to mind several of Monet’s paintings of the Japanese Bridge in his water garden at Giverny.

bridge at Kenilworth

Water lilies seem to draw me in and surround me with an overwhelming sense of beauty and tranquility. How can I possibly capture that feeling in a photo? Here are a few images to show you some of the different approaches that I used in attempting to show the irresistible attraction of water lilies.

water lily at Kenilworth

water lilies at Kenilworth

pink water lilies at Kenilworth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday morning I made a quick trip to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. with fellow photographer Cindy Dyer to check out the water lilies and lotuses. Many of the pathways in the park are flooded or muddy, thanks to a significant amount of recent rain. Wet feet, however, were a small price to pay to see so many beautiful flowers, including the two spectacular pink water lilies that I am featuring today.

Stay tuned for more water lily and lotus images later this week.

pink water lily

pink water lily

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Two years ago today, my photography mentor and dear friend Cindy Dyer sat me down at her computer and told me that I was going to start a blog. We had just returned from a photo shoot at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. and had taken lots of shots of waterlilies, lotus flowers, and dragonflies.

Cindy is a professional photographer and web designer and I had previously looked at her blog (which currently has had over 560,000 views), but I had never really thought about starting a blog myself. Inside I had all kinds of concerns about my inadequacies as a photographer and about not being ready to share my images with an audience broader than, but Cindy was undeterred and helped me choose a theme and a banner and set up my basic page.

My first posting was short, only 14 words and included a shot of a Blue Dasher dragonfly. I have reposted it below for your convenience or you can use the link in the first sentence of this paragraph.

Today’s posting is posting number 1,224. I never imagined that I would enjoy this blog as much as I have or that I would continue so faithfully to document my journey into photography. Thanks to so many of you readers who have encouraged and supported me along the way.

I may take a pause this week to reflect on that journey and possibly re-post some of my favorites from the last two years. Don’t worry, though, I be back to posting new images before long.

My first WordPress posting on 7 July 2012:

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

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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All of the photos that I have posted this year of the Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) have been of females, which are a beautiful emerald green, but I think that you will agree that the male in this photo is equally stunning. I love the mixture of blue and green on its body and was particularly happy to capture this one perched on a colorful flower.

This is a shot from couple of weeks ago, when I was able to borrow my friend’s Nikon D7000 and Tamron 180mm macro lens for a little while while we were shooting at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in the District of Columbia. Every time that I look over the images that I shot, I am impressed by the results that I was able to achieve with a “foreign” camera—normally I shoot with a Canon.

Pondhawk lorez

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Having spotted some lotus flower buds at the aquatic garden last weekend, I remember thinking how cool it would be to see a dragonfly perching  on a lotus bud and then it happened—a male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) landed on the tip of one of the buds.

When stalking dragonflies, I always hope that they will choose a photogenic perch, but most of the time the perches are nondescript, at best, and the background is often cluttered.

I would like to claim that I have special powers as a dragonfly whisper, but I was unusually fortunate and am happy that I was able to get some good photos when the circumstances presented themselves.

lotus_bud2_blog

lotus_bud_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I love the coloration of this male Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) that I photographed last weekend at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in the District of Columbia.  Somehow I was able to get both an interesting perch and a blurred background—all too often I get one or the other.

Black Dragonfly lorezB

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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During my trip last weekend to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, I used a Nikon D7000 with a Tamron 180mm macro lens to take some shots while my fellow photographer, Cindy Dyer, relaxed in the shade on a hot, steamy day.

I use a Canon, so it was not immediately obvious to me where the controls were for various functions on the Nikon.  I didn’t really have much time to poke around in the menus, so I just shot. I knew that the camera was set for aperture priority, but I didn’t realize until later that it was set at f/20.  What that meant was that the two shots that I am posting here were shot at 1/100 and 1/80 of a second respectively. I am a little surprised that they came out relatively sharp, because the Tamron lens is pretty heavy and is not a VR lens.

The subject matter is pretty familiar for folks who follow my blog—a Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris rapae) and a Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis). I like the way that both images turned out, with beautiful backgrounds.

Did the Nikon set-up make a difference? It was nice shooting with a camera with a bigger and brighter viewfinder than my Canon Rebel XT, but that is more a function of shooting with a much newer camera. What was especially nice, though, was shooting with a 180mm macro lens. The lens felt comfortable and gave sharp results, even if focusing was a bit slow when it had to move through the full range in autofocus mode.

I probably am not ready to go over to the dark side and embrace a Nikon—in my experience it seemed that the Nikon was different from my Canon, but not necessarily better. I may consider, however, the Tamron 180mm macro lens. I love my Canon 100mm macro lens, but sometimes it would be nice to have that little extra reach and still be able to get true macro results.

Cabbage White lorezBlue Dasher lorez

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have not yet seen many colorful butterflies this summer, so I was thrilled this past weekend when I observed a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) feeding on a Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and managed to get a couple of good shots.

The first image has a dreamy quality and a softness that I like, with a background that is almost pastel. The body of the butterfly is clearly visible, with its proboscis fully extended.

In the second shot, the colors are more vivid and the butterfly’s head is obscured. However, the wings are open wide and in a beautiful position.

My favorite is the first one. Is there one that you prefer?

swallowtail_blogswallowtail2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I love all water lilies, but somehow the pink ones had a special attraction for me this past weekend, when I visited Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a wonderful treasure in the District of Columbia administered by the National Park Service. The surrounding lily pads and the duckweed in the foreground really help to showcase the delicate beauty of this flower.

pink_lily_crop_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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One year ago today I made my first posting on this blog, an image of a Blue Dasher dragonfly in a pose that I later learned was called the obelisk pose, and it seems appropriate on this anniversary to post a similar shot that I took yesterday.

Blue Dasher Undulate

I remember well that first day, when my photography mentor and good friend, Cindy Dyer, sat me down at her computer and helped me set up my account. She was pushing me to get more serious with my photography and she somehow sensed that a blog would be a good creative outlet. Given the fact that this is my 723rd posting on this blog, it turns out that she was amazingly prescient. I could not have done it without here constant support, encouragement, and inspiration. Thanks, Cindy.

I have learned a lot about photography this past year, but more significantly I have learned a lot about myself through all of these postings. I have also had the wonderful experience of being part of an incredibly supportive community of fellow bloggers, who have been extravagantly free in providing encouragement and assistance. I look forward to my daily interaction with so many of my readers.

Statistically speaking, I’ve had over 23,00o views of my previous 722 posts from readers in 85 countries. I am honored that 479 of them have chosen to follow my blog.

My audience is a diverse one—some of you take photos of the same subjects as I do, but many of you express yourselves in words and photos of different themes. I looked over some of the statistical formation that WordPress provides to see if I could determine what type of postings were the most popular, based on the number of views, and realized that there is no magic formula. Some photos with single posts worked well, but sometimes ones with multiple photos and a lot of text were equally popular. Creepy bugs and beautiful flowers—there seems to be an audience for all kinds of images.

I continue to follow the approach that I started with a year ag0, to post photos that I personally find interesting or beautiful and share some of my thoughts about the subject or the situation in which I took the photo.

Some of you may be curious about the posting that had the most hits this past year. I though about reprising the photos themselves, but I decided that it was better to include links instead, so that you could read the text that surrounded the images, in order to understand better the context.

Here are the ten most popular postings this past year on my blog, starting from the one with the most views:

The dominant theme that connects these diverse subjects my insatiable curiosity to know more about the world around me and to capture some of nature’s beauty in my photography. Somehow in the process of this ongoing journey of discovery, I have come to finally consider myself to be a photographer, and not just someone who takes pictures.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although it was hot and steamy this morning when I traveled to Kenilworh Aquatic Gardens in the District of Columbia with some friends, the gorgeous lotuses and water lilies in bloom made the trip worthwhile.

Most of the water lilies were white or pink, but in one area they had these especially beautiful purple water lilies. This photo is the first installment of several postings that I plan to do of the dragonflies and flowers that I managed to photograph today.

purple_lily1_crop_blog

© 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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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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“You’re not seeing the big picture.”

Has anyone ever spoken those words to you? They are often used as a tacit (or explicit) criticism of your supposed lack of perspective. The person speaking those words usually has an air of superiority, asserting that they have a better view of some figurative “big picture.”

You literally are not seeing the big picture when it comes to the banner of this blog. I was forced into a box of a specified size by the requirements of the theme I chose. It’s time now to think (and to see) outside of the box.

So, I am posting the “big picture” that you see partially in my banner. Why? One of my friends told me it is her favorite image out of the dozens I have shown her the past few months (and it is one of my favorites). You might like it too!

© 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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Red and green—they are colors that I usually associate with Christmas. As the temperature climbed to 105 degrees yesterday in the Washington DC area I could easily be forgiven for letting my thoughts drift to a cooler season. While I was photographing lotus flowers and waterlilies in the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, though,  I encountered these colors in an unexpected place—in dragonflies. Over the last few months I have taken lots of photos of dragonflies, mostly blue ones (especially the blue dasher) and an occasional, brown, white, or amber one. One time I saw—but was unable to photograph—a green one but until yesterday I had never even seen a red dragonfly. My photos of these two dragonflies are not technically perfect but they show the vivid colors of these two types of dragonflies. I think the red one is a Ruby Meadowhawk and the green one an Eastern Pondhawk. As we enter into our 11th consecutive day with high temperatures over 95 degrees, we all could use a little Christmas, in both the air temperature as well as in our hearts.

© 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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