Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Kenilworth Park and 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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

With most of my dragonfly shots, I try to get as close as I can to the dragonfly, either my moving or by zooming, in order to highlight my subject. If I am not able to do so, I will often crop the image during post-processing.

Sometimes, though, I will intentionally keep my distance and will carefully compose the image to include more environmental elements. That was the case yesterday during a quick trip to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens with my photography mentor Cindy Dyer. Cindy needed to drop off some prints at the gift shop and I had a few minutes to grab a few shots.

Dragonfly perches generally are not very interesting, often just dried-out branches sticking out of the water. I was excited, therefore, when I spotted a male Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) perching on a purple Pickerelweed plant (Pontederia cordata).  I positioned myself to capture an additional pickerelweed plant in the background, pretty sure that it would be out of focus and not be too distracting. The cool colors and the sinuous curves of the plants in the background combine to create an “artsy” image that I really like.

 

Slaty Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

There is something really special about water lilies (g. Nymphaea)—it’s easy for me to understand why impressionist painter Claude Monet was obsessed with them. During my recent visit to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. many of the water lilies were closed up, probably because of the extreme heat of the midday sun, but I did manage to get some shots.

The traditional white water lilies tend to have a calming effect on me. For those folks looking for a bit more passion, there were also some fiery red water lilies.

Water lily

water lily

water lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Normally I try to move in really close to my subjects using a telephoto or macro lens. Yesterday, however, I decided to try to “see” the world differently by using a wider lens (24-105mm) during a quick trip with my photography mentor Cindy Dyer to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in the Anacostia area of Washington D.C. to check out the water lilies and lotus flowers.

The trip was a spur-of-the-moment decision while we were eating lunch, so we knew that we would miss out on the soft early morning light that we both prefer. However, the weather was beautiful, with the temperatures and humidity less oppressive than in recent weeks, so we decided to brave the Washington D.C. area traffic to check out the park.

Cindy is no stranger to the park. Last year four of her images of water lilies from the park appeared on US postage stamps, which were so popular that half a billion were printed. Check out this link to see information about these stamps. Earlier this year, one of Cindy’s images of Sacred Lotuses at the park was on one of the 16 postage stamps issued to commemorate the centennial of the National Park Service. Check out this link for more information about that stamp.

Here are some of my images of Sacred Lotuses (Nelumbo nucifera) from yesterday as I tried to step back a bit and see the flowers as part of a larger landscape. Initially I struggled a bit as I kept focusing on details, but my mind and my eye grew accustomed to the idea that the lens was not going to let me get in close. Gradually I started to see things differently and to frame my photos accordingly.

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Acres and acres of lotuses

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Lotuses fading into the distance

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Lotus and seed pod

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I should probably be able to remember my own anniversary, but I am a guy. Therefore I was caught a bit by surprise yesterday evening when WordPress notified me that it was the fourth anniversary of the start of my blog. Where has the time gone?

Blogging has become part of my daily life since I first started. I never suspected that I would get such joy and satisfaction from exploring my creativity in words and in photos and from sharing that journey with the wonderful folks that I have encountered through the blog. Thanks to all of you for your support, encouragement, and helpful tips. I sometimes like to say that I write this blog primarily for me, but I know that is not entirely true—I write it for all of you too. My photography mentor, Cindy Dyer, deserves special thanks. She helped me to start the blog and has been a continuous source of inspiration for me.

WordPress statistics indicate that I have made 2030 postings (which includes a dozen or more repostings of  posts written by friends) and have had 110749 views from well over 100 countries. Statistics are only a relative measure of success and I know that my best postings and my best photos are not necessarily the ones that have had the most views.

Over the past four years my skill and my confidence with my camera have grown. I now consider myself a photographer, albeit not a professional. My interests have expanded and my winters are now spent chasing birds, something I never imagined that I would find interesting. My fascination with dragonflies has remained constant and I have learned a lot about them. I think it is altogether appropriate to reprise today the short text and photo from my first posting

Text of my first posting in WordPress on July 7, 2012:

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

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Blue Dasher

Read Full Post »

As I was preparing to leave work yesterday, one of my co-workers reminded me to wear something green today to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Some people go a little crazy on this day, drinking green beer and consuming food that has been dyed to an unnaturally bright shade of green.

To celebrate the day, I thought I’d reprise a few photos of some of my favorite green creatures, including the Common Green Darner (Anax junius), the Green Heron (Butorides virescens), a green metallic bee, and little green frogs. If you are viewing the images in the blog itself (and not the Reader), click on any one of the photos to see a larger image in slide-show mode.

For those of you also celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, be safe and have fun.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

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

 

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I visited Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. for the annual Lotus and Water Lily Festival and I was thrilled to be able to get some of my favorite kind of dragonfly images—dragonflies perched on the buds of colorful flowers. Generally I manage to get shots only of the Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis), but this time I was also able to get a shot of a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) on a lotus flower bud.

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher on purple water lily bud

Slaty Skimmer

Slaty Skimmer on lotus bud

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher on water lily bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Dragonflies are colorful and flowers are colorful too, but it’s rare that I get to see the two of them together. I was thus thrilled when fellow photographer Cindy Dyer spotted a colorful Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) perching on a beautiful purple water lily during our recent trip to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in the District of Columbia.

I took some initial shots with the 180mm macro lens that I had on my camera at that moment, but wasn’t really able to fill the frame with my subject and the background was a little distracting. (The second photo below was one of those first shots and it does a pretty good job of highlighting the water lily, but the dragonfly is merely an added bonus.) I couldn’t physically move any closer, because the water lilies were in a cement pond, surrounded by a three foot high wire fence.

I decided to change to a longer lens, though I sincerely doubted that the dragonfly would stay in place. Almost all of the times that I have done a rapid lens change in the field, the subject has departed before I was ready to shot. In this case, however, I got lucky and the Blue Dasher held his perch long enough for me to get a few shots with my 70-300mm lens.

I simply love the color combination of the different shades of blue of the dragonfly and the purple and yellow of the water lily.

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

Read Full Post »

Like most guys, I have trouble remembering anniversaries, so it is a good thing that WordPress sent me a reminder that three years ago today I started my blog. I still recall my feelings of doubt and uncertainty when my mentor and muse Cindy Dyer sat me down in front of a computer and told me that I was starting a blog. We had just finished reviewing and editing some shots that I had taken earlier in the day at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. Cindy helped me through the mechanics of setting up the blog and shortly thereafter I made my first posting, Blue Dasher dragonfly.

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I grew to look forward to writing the postings and taking photos to feature. As of right now, I’ve made 1638 postings and had 78743 views—that’s a lot of words and a lot of photos.

I was struck from the outset by the sense of community and mutual support that exists in the blogging world and there is a small group of fellow photographers with whom I feel a particular affinity, including Sue, Gary, Leanne, Ed, Lyle, Emily, Allen, and Chris. The amount of encouragement that I receive from them and countless others is overwhelming. Closer to home, Cindy continues to be a constant source of inspiration and instruction and Walter and I help to push each other as we explore remote areas of our favorite marshland park.

When I started this blog, I didn’t really think of myself as a photographer. I was taking a lot of photos and knew that I was improving, but there was a kind of psychological barrier that kept me from thinking in those terms. Now, I can confidently say that I am a photographer.

My journey into photography has been full of highlights, but two moments from 2014 really stand out. In November, I witnessed the rescue of a bald eagle at my local marsh and my photos and links to my blog posting were featured on the websites of several Washington D.C. media outlets, resulting in a total of 3344 views of my posting Rescue of an injured Bald Eagle. A short time before that incident, I was really honored when I was featured in an Introductions post by noted Australian photographer Leanne Cole.

If you have read this far, you may be wondering about my reference to “cannibals” in the title of this posting. What do cannibals have to do with my blog? Well, if I set aside the abnormally high number of views of my eagle rescue post, for the longest time my most popular post was one with the innocuous title of Fuzzy white caterpillar. There is not a whole lot special about the prose or the photos, but it has had 489 views to date.

Earlier this week the caterpillar was passed in the stats by my post Red-footed Cannibalfly, with 492 views to date—the cannibals have taken over the lead. As a guy, I feel happier that a more macho sounding insect is now leading the field of “normal” posts. As far as I can tell, the post’s popularity is a function of the search engines. The post was not particularly popular when it first appeared and has only 36 likes. Now, though, it even shows up on the first page of Google results if you type in “Red-footed Cannibalfly.”

So what’s ahead? I hope to be able to keep improving my writing and my photography. I have certain aspirational shots in my mind of different subjects or different locations.

Yesterday, when I was taking photos of water lilies with Cindy Dyer, I mentioned that I had always imagined taking a shot a frog on a lily pad, but had never even seen a frog perching on one. A short time later, Cindy excitedly pointed out a partially submerged frog on a lily pad and I managed to snap a couple of shots before he dove into the water. (Check out Cindy’s blog posting to see her beautiful shot of this frog.) Dreams do come true.

Thanks again to all my readers and supporters, whose encouragement has helped motivate and sustain me this past three years. I look forward to sharing my journey with my fellow travelers.

 

Frog on a lily pad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »