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Posts Tagged ‘lotus’

This bee seemed to be having a great time inside of a lotus flower when I spotted it last Tuesday during a brief visit to Green Spring Gardens with my friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer. This county-run historical garden has only a relatively limited number of lotuses and waterlilies at a small pond, but it is much more accessible and less crowded that Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, an amazing facility in Washington D.C. operated by the National Park Service that has multiple acres of cultivated ponds with a wide array of water lilies and lotuses.

lotus

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There were only a few lotuses in bloom on Thursday at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, but they were more than sufficient to sate my senses. How much beauty is “enough?”

Increasingly I am finding that I enjoy beauty in small doses. So many voices in our society try to convince us that we need “more,” when perhaps “less” is even better, especially when we slow down and take the time to explore and appreciate that beauty.

I love the layers of  petals of the lotus flower; the details of the center of the lotus, revealed when the petals open up and begin to shrivel; and the promise of future beauty in the lotus bud on which the Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) had chosen to perch.

Sometimes when searching for beauty, it is more beneficial to search deeply, focusing on a few things, than to search widely, always looking for something newer and better.

lotus

lotus

slaty skimmer on lotus bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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I thought it was too late in the season for lotuses, so I was thrilled to see them at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens earlier this week in bloom, as seed pods. and most surprisingly as buds.

I am fascinated by lotuses in all of their stages. I love the three-dimensional quality of the flowers and the way that you can look into the center of them. Lotus seed pods are a little creepy—from certain angles they look like a cluster of eyeballs that follow you around. By contrast, I always feel a sense of calm when I am enjoying the simple beauty of the lotus buds.

lotus

lotus seed pods

lotus buds

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The leaves of the lotuses at Green Spring Gardens were well past their prime, but they turned out to be fascinating subjects for a series of abstract images.

lotus leaf

lotus leaf

lotus leaf

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This weekend when I visited Green Spring Gardens I was shocked to see that not a single lotus flower was blooming, given that so many were blooming recently at nearby Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. As I looked in vain for a flower, I somehow became fascinated with the shapes of the leaves of the lotus plants and their interplay with the light and captured these almost abstract images.

These images are definitely different from the ones that I normally post, but I thought I would share them to show you what unexpectedly caught my eye that day.

lotus leaf

 

lotus leaf

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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.

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The lotuses were a bit faded and past their prime last weekend at Lilypons Water Gardens, but the beauty and elegance of the lotus flowers was undiminished in my eyes.

I love the look of the lotus throughout its life cycle—from the elegant simplicity of the bud to the showy outburst of petals to the alien-looking seedpods.

The beauty of the lotus never fades, though it is transformed and changes as the flower grows and matures.

Lotus

Lotus

Lotus

© 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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Even before they have bloomed, the buds of the Lotus flower (Nelumbo nucifera) can be spectacularly beautiful, like this one I photographed this past Monday at Green Spring Gardens, just a few miles from where I live in Northern Virginia.

lotus bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I simply love the exquisite beauty of lotus flowers.  A sense of tranquility seems to fill me during those moments when I am able to drink in their beauty, especially when I am alone.

I took these shots in mid-morning at Green Spring Gardens, a county-run facility that has two small, man-made ponds, in addition to the extensive gardens. The ponds are one of my favorite places to shoot when my time is limited and in the past I have captured some wonderful images of turtles, frogs, birds, and dragonflies. What makes the ponds really special for me, though, is that there are water lilies and lotuses at this time of the year.

I am experimenting with presenting my photos in the Gallery format. If you click on any one of the images, you can scroll through each of them in succession in full size. Let me know if  you think it works better than presenting each shot individually.

lotus3_blogWhen the lotus flowers are completely open, it is a real joy to be able to look inside the flower and glimpse the cylindrical seed pod, which contrasts wonderfully with the delicate pink petals in color as well as texture. I took these shots in the middle of the morning, which is usually a less than optimal time of day for lighting. In this case, though, the light, which was often coming from behind the flowers, helped to highlight the flowers and created some interesting shadows.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love to shoot photos after the rain (and sometimes even during the rain). The rain somehow transforms the world, adding drops of water to some surfaces when the water beads up and darkening others when the water is absorbed. Sometimes the weight of the accumulated water even causes shapes to change. That seems to have been the case with this lotus flower. The petals now hang down to the side, revealing the beautiful green seed pod. The glistening raindrops add to the distinctive look as does the yellow fringe hanging from the center.

I like the new-look lotus flower—it’s almost like it has had an extreme make-over, flower-style.

Lotus flower after the rain

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I finally managed to get a shot of a Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) on a lotus flower bud this past weekend. Previously I had photographed Blue Dashers on various plants and stalks and other things, but I have always thought that it would be especially cool to get on perched on the tip of a lotus bud.

It’s nice sometimes to have your wishes fulfilled and, yes, I think the photo met my expectations.

Blue Dasher dragonfly on lotus bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes when I open my images on my computer I am pleasantly surprised. I was going through my images from yesterday afternoon and came upon this one.

Click on the image for greater resolution and details

I had been focusing on shooting dragonflies that had stopped to pose on various objects. In this case I am certain that I was looking at the Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) perched on the rolled-up leaf of a lotus plant and never noticed the damselfly in the photo. The damselfly appears to be scaling the leaf, ready to do battle with the dragonfly. The dragonfly seems to be looking down with a little concern, wondering who is trying to challenge his position. When I compare the relative sizes of the two insects, I can’t help but think of the Biblical story of the boy David taking on the giant Goliath. In this case it would essentially be a family feud, since both dragonflies and damselflies are part of the Odonata family.

It’s a lesson to me to check my images carefully when I process them—there may be all kinds of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.

© 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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One evening this past week I was photographing lotus flowers at a local pond in a quasi-meditative state, enjoying the calm after a thunderstorm had passed.

The life cycle of the lotus, from bud to flower to seed pod

Suddenly a woman screamed out in my direction, “Snake, there’s a snake right behind you.” My first reaction was one of disbelief, because I was standing on a flat rock partially surrounded by water that was flowing rapidly between two man-made ponds. All at once I saw the submerged snake swimming strongly against the current. Then to my surprise the snake lifted his head out of the water.

My next reaction was to spring into action to take his picture. My camera was already on my tripod and I swung it around and snapped a couple of shots without having time to adjust my exposure or shutter speed. The image below is far from perfect but it gives you an idea of the cascading water and the snake poking his head above the surface.

Swimming snake lifts its head above water

After that brief photographic opportunity I returned to my peaceful pursuit of the lotus flower.

Sidewards-facing lotus (a variation of the lotus position)

It was only much later that I wondered whether I had encountered a poisonous snake. An article entitled “Snake Mistake” by Christine Ennulat in Virginia Living helps readers distinguish between the harmless brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilata) and the venomous water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus). I am pretty confident the snake I saw was “only” a brown water snake.

Maybe I will react more quickly the next time someone tells me there is a snake right behind me. I might even get a better photograph!

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The world seems changed after the rain. The falling rain stripped some of the delicate petals from this lotus flower but left behind a glistening trail of water.

From the perspective of beauty it seems like an equitable trade—the transformed flower still takes my breath away.

© 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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