Posts Tagged ‘KIA Soul’

Do you shoot selfies? Generally I am not a fan of selfies, at least not in the way that some people use (and overuse) them on social media—I am not that much in love with my own face. Still, I am not totally against them. I remember times in the past, when I was shooting with a film camera, when I would ask someone to take a picture of me in front of some well-known site or monument.

When I do want to insert myself into the frame, I try to do so in a creative way. When I was recently in the badlands of North Dakota, for example, I decided I wanted to try to create a selfie that conveyed a “bad boy” vibe. I really am a nice guy, so I wasn’t sure that I could pull off the look and was pleasantly surprised with the result. Some of my friends say the shot makes me look like I had just stepped off of a Harley.

I love to take photos just after sunrise and just before sunset when the sun is so low that it creates elongated shadows of me that are perhaps my favorite type of selfie, a selfie without a face. They always remind me of the famous sculptures of Alberto Giacometti, like Walking Man. I took the second photo with my iPhone in the early morning of 28 July as I stared out at the vast expanse of North Dakota badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The final photo is an unusual kind of selfie, a selfie without a face or a body. My orange KIA Soul is a representation of me, a kind of symbolic representation of who I am. I sometimes describe my car as practical, economical, and a little quirky, descriptors that apply equally well to me.

bad boy in badlands

elongated shadow

KIA Soul

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It has been several years since we had a substantial snowfall in our area. Last winter we had a total accumulation of 5.4 inches (14 cm) of snow and the year before that we had a total of only 0.6 inches (15 mm). This storm started as rain at night and then turned into a steady snowfall of wet snow throughout the morning and early afternoon. One of my neighbors measured the total amount of snow we received at 10 inches (25 cm).

Not surprisingly, schools were closed for the day as were the federal and local governments—the road crews in this area are simply not equipped to removed this large a quantity of snow. Eventually people emerged from their cozy homes to dig themselves out. I live in densely-packed a townhouse community and one of our biggest challenges when it snows is finding a place to pile the snow.

About half of the cars in the neighborhood are now cleared and the roads have been plowed—the first photo shows my little KIA Soul with its blanket of snow that I have removed. However, temperatures overnight dipped to 19 degrees (minus 7 degrees C) and the roads are an icy mess this morning. Schools have another snow day and recovery will continue.

Unlike in some areas, we were fortunate not to lose power. However, the weight of the heavy snow caused numerous tree branches to fall—several large branches from pine trees fell into my back yard, but did not cause any damage. Additional, a large pine tree toppled over behind my townhouse as shown in the final photo. Luckily it fell away from the houses and managed not to hit any fences or cars, though it is now blocking a sidewalk.

I think I am going to stay put most of today and not venture out on the icy roads with my car. The temperatures are forecast to rise to the freezing point around noon and I may try to venture out with my camera and see if any of the neighborhood wildlife creatures are active. I’m be careful, though, because I am very conscious of the fact that the winter snow can be dangerous as well as being beautiful.




© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes I manage to take capture shots of wild creatures in really unusual locations. I spotted this jumping spider yesterday on the roof of my car when I was reaching inside the car to grab my camera and begin a search for dragonflies. This was a case when I happened to have the right tool in my hand at the right moment—my macro lens helped me to capture some wonderful close-up shots.

The spider was tiny—I’d estimate that it was less than half in inch (12 mm) as I faced it. My body position was awkward as I stood in the door opening and tried to balance my elbows on the roof of the car and look through the viewfinder. Fortunately I was able to place the lens on the roof, which helped me to keep it stable.

The spider did not appear to be at all frightened by my presence and in fact seemed quite curious. These three shots show some of the spider’s poses as we conducted an impromptu portrait session that highlighted the spider’s engaging personality. If you click on the images, you can see reflections of the sky in many of the spider’s eyes and the reflection of the entire spider on the car was a nice bonus.

The spiky tufts on the spider’s head helped me in trying to identify the spider and I am relatively sure that it is a Putnam’s Jumping Spider (Phidippus putnami). However, there are a huge number of species of jumping spiders, so I defer to others who have more expertise with spiders.

Jumping spiders are amazing. They do not use webs but instead rely on their speed and agility—they can reportedly jump over 50 times their own body length. A number of years ago I shot a series of photos of a Bold Jumping Spider that had captured a much larger dragonfly. I encourage you to check out that 2014 posting called Spider captures dragonfly—the story to see some images that are both startling and fascinating and to learn more details of that encounter.

In case you are curious, I drive a coppery-colored KIA Soul that is technically “Ignition Orange.” This distinctive color made a wonderful background for this beautiful spider. Apparently, spiders like my car. As I researched my own blog, I came across a posting from March 2014 entitled Spider on my car that also featured a jumping spider and one from September 2017 entitled Tiny Hitchhiker that featured a small crab spider.

Putnam's Jumping Spider

Putnam's Jumping Spider

Putnam's Jumping Spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was loading camera gear into my car on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed that I had a tiny hitchhiker—a crab spider that looked ready to embrace me with open arms. After photographing the cute little spider, I released it into a grassy area, where it seemed more likely to catch something to eat than on the roof of the car.

I do not have much experience with crab spiders, but think this one might be a Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia). As always, I would welcome a correction or confirmation if you are knowledgeable about spiders.

crab spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning, I finally finished digging out my car. It was quite enjoyable shoveling in the moonlight. When the sun finally rose, here’s what my car looked like, followed by a shot of one of the main streets in the neighborhood.



It’s now 4:00 p.m. and I have finally given up shoveling for the day. I’ve been at it off and on for almost 10 hours and my body is starting to protest a bit.

One of the nicest things about snowfalls like this one is that it gives me a chance to meet the people who live around me. Most of us are so busy with our individual lives that we don’t even know our neighbors. Today was especially gratifying as I witnessed so many of them working together to help dig out from the storm.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.



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At 6:00 this morning in the neighborhood, it was clear and cold and the moon was shining brightly. Thank God we made it through the blizzard without losing power and for the fact that the snow is powdery and relatively light, even if there is lots of it to clear away.

norning after

All told, I think we had somewhere between 24 and 30 inches of snow (61 to 76 cm), with drifts much higher. It snowed almost continuously for almost 30 hours, sometimes accompanied by howling winds that blew the snow sidewards.

In some areas of North America, that amount of snow might be a normal occurrence, but here in Northern Virginia, it is almost a record-breaking amount for the area. I live in a townhouse area, and there is simply nowhere to put all of this snow. Already I have a pile of snow almost as tall as I am.

The sun is shining now and it will soon be time to return to digging out. Normally I would be getting ready for church now, but there’s no way I can make it through the neighborhood streets that are covered still with well over a foot of snow.

My car’s license plate, however, is a constant reminder for me and a continuous prayer—I drive a KIA Soul.

Bless My Soul

Here’s what the entire car looked like yesterday during a period when the snow was falling slowly. We got another foot or so after I took this photo. It will be dug out in a short while, but I don’t think I will be driving anywhere for at least a couple more days.

Kia Soul

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to get good nature photos. I noticed this colorful little jumping spider on my car yesterday when I was loading my camera gear, getting ready to go out shooting. spider4_car_blog

It was a fun challenge trying to get shots of the spider as it moved to various parts of the trim surrounding the windshield, many of which were reflective. I wasn’t sure how long the spider would hang around, so I didn’t set up my tripod and I think it would have been pretty awkward to do so.


I am hoping that nobody snapped pictures of me as I sprawled my body across the hood of the car, trying to find a way to brace my body and get a decent shooting position. My Tamron 180mm macro lens lets me get in close, but it does not have image stabilization.

spider3_car_blogOne of the first things that I noticed when I reviewed my images was that my car is dirty. In this area, they use a lot of salt on the roads when it snows and I suspect that those little white spots are salt residue. I thought about removing them in post-processing, but decided that I like the more urban, gritty feel that they give the images (and besides, it would have been a lot of work to get rid of all of them).


I am always thrilled when I find a jumping spider. There is something special about all of those eyes that simply fascinates me and I am particularly happy when I manage to get reflections in the eyes.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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