Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Do you use your name as part of the title of your blog? Do you use your face as the avatar that shows up when you like a post? How much of yourself do you reveal in your postings?

Recently I have been pondering these types of questions. Ever since I turned 65 this past summer, I have been more reflective and introspective than usual. Retirement has posed some new opportunities and challenges as I seek to redefine myself in a way that does not necessarily include paid work.

As most of you know, my name is part of the title of this blog, “Mike Powell: My journey through photography,” and the URL is simply michaelqpowell.com. The template of the blog and even the “About me” section have not changed much since I set up the blog more than seven years ago. I think it is time to make some changes there and will probably do so over the next few months.

As a first step, I have updated the photo in my avatar. Over the past year or so I have assisted my mentor Cindy Dyer with some portrait sessions and, in addition to helping to set up lights and hold reflectors, I have served as the “model” to test out the lighting set-ups. Earlier this month, Cindy sent me the first photo below from one of those sessions.

Ever since I had cataract removal surgery a couple of years ago, I wear glasses only for reading and sometimes for computer work, so I am happy that my updated photo shows me without glasses. A side benefit is that I now have a much clearer sense of the actual color of my eyes. As you can see in the second photo, my previous avatar image that was also shot by Cindy, my eyes tended to look darker behind the glasses.

To a significant degree, I don’t care what others think about the way I look and act. I don’t think a lot about my appearance and you will rarely find me taking selfies—I feel a little strange posting photos of myself. What I care more about is having a sense of integrity, a sense of consistency in my actions, a feeling of comfort with who I am, and a willingness to do what I think is right. This blog provides a relatively unfiltered view of what I see and often what I feel—I am generally proud with having my name and my face associated with it.

So what about you? Do you ever think about your image? Has your view of yourself changed over time? Do others see you the way you see yourself? Do you care what others think?

Mike Powell

Mike Powell

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was thrilled to capture a shot of a frog on a lily pad, but in her newest posting, fellow blogger Ginny Alfano features a whole variety of frogs, including an amazing shot of five little frogs perched on a single lily pad. Check it out!

Maple Flats

Fourth of July came and went quite uneventfully which is how we like it.  As I was weeding my squash garden, I noticed some little tiny “frogs” that were the size of my pinky finger nail. I had seen them before, but wasn’t really sure what kind they were.  Upon further study on Sunday, I realized that they are not frogs at all, but baby American Toads!!  Just when I think I know so much about nature, I find that I don’t know anything at all.  It’s a continual learning process.  I think that’s why I love nature so much – it always keeps me thinking.  So, following are a small collection of the frogs and toad I have come across in my area.






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On an early morning walk today I saw this old mill, which has been converted to a restaurant. I currently am in Franklin, Massachusetts for a few days for a family wedding and somehow this mill reminds me of historical New England.

Although I have no experience photographing buildings or converting images from color to black and white, I decided to step out of the comfort zone that I have established recently shooting insects, flowers, and wildlife and try something totally different, including using a different camera (a Canon Powershot A620 instead of my usual Canon DSLR).

I am moderately satisfied with the resulting photos. Putting aside the results, though, I am happy that I was willing to risk failure by trying something new. As the old saying goes, the only way for a turtle to make progress is to stick his neck out.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s pretty cool to photograph big, gaudy butterflies but today I photographed the smallest butterfly I’ve ever seen. I was shooting photos with my mentor Cindy D. and her husband when Cindy spotted this little guy. He seemed too small to make a good photo and they needed to leave.

Undeterred I lay on my stomach and got as close as my lens would permit me (I did not have time to switch to my macro lens and had to make do with the 18-55mm kit lens that happened to be on the camera). To give you an idea of his size, note that he is perched on a single clover flower.

I’m pretty happy with the result and hope eventually to figure out what kind of butterfly he is. For now, though, I am content to have gotten this shot.


Tiny butterfly on a clover flower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Stereotypes of a heron’s  appearance

This past weekend I visited a pond at a local garden and encountered this interesting bird. He looked a little like a heron but had a totally different body type—he was shorter and squatter than the herons I was used to seeing. I have photographed blue herons and white herons and have a mental picture of what a heron looks like. They are tall and slender and posses a fashion model’s elegance. Could this really be a heron?

Surveying the situation

Playing and posing like a child

I was alone with the bird for quite some time for the gardens were deserted after a thunderstorm. The beautiful bird, later identified as a juvenile green heron, seemed to be unusually willing to remain as I attempted to photograph him. At times he even seemed to be posing for me. Like a child he was enjoying himself, running around and playing in the water. He definitely was not intent on adult-type tasks such as catching food.

Full body shot. Don’t I have great legs?

Is this enough of a smile for you?

It’s a green heron

I am pretty confident that this bird is a green heron (Butorides virescens). Wikipedia helped me determine that he is a juvenile because of the brown-and-white streaked feathers on his breast and the greenish-yellow webbed feet. (The adult green heron has a darker bill and a more pronounced  chestnut-colored neck and breast.) NatureWorks has some summary information if you want to quickly learn about green herons.

This grass feels really good on my bare feet.

A tool-using bird

My favorite website for information on the green heron, however, belongs to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which includes range maps and audio files. It also noted the following truly amazing fact about green herons, “The Green Heron is one of the few tool-using birds. It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.”

Ready for my close-up

Maybe the green heron should have its own reality television show, “Fishing With a Green Heron-Choosing the Right Bait. You Don’t Even Need a Hook”

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Bees were the very first insects that I tried to photograph close up when I got interested in macro photography a few month ago. (You might say I followed the advice of Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music when she said, “Let’s start at the very bee-ginning, it’s a very good place to start.”) It was a challenge without a macro lens but I managed to get some pretty good results by shooting at the extreme end of the focusing capability of my digital SLR.

Since that time I have “graduated” to a macro lens and to more exotic insects, but from time to time I am drawn back to the bees. Today, for example, as I was reviewing  images from a session that included colorful butterflies and dragonflies, I realized there were also a few images of bees that I wanted to share.

Most of the time I try to feature a single photo in my postings, but tonight I couldn’t make up my mind. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet I was caught up in an internal struggle, “Two bees or not two bees, that is the question.”  I’m including them both—I don’t want to decide which is better.

As I end this post, the words of an old Carly Simon song come to mind, “Nobody does it better…bee-bee you’re the best.”

© 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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Do you find yourself being drawn back inexorably to photographing the same subjects over and over again?

Last month my friend and mentor Cindy D. “outed” me in a wonderful posting on her blog. She confessed that “we’ve become a little obsessed with photographing Red milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus).” (She also published some interesting facts about the beetles in another blog posting.) She’s right, of course, in her assessment of me, but I might quibble with her on one point. Is it possible to be only a “little” obsessed?

What are the symptoms of my obsession? After work today, in between thunder and rain storms, I rushed to Green Spring Gardens to take some photos. I shot a few flowers but I couldn’t resist the pull of the milkweed plants. I know exactly  where they are located in the gardens and I know if I look hard enough on the milkweed plants I will find the cute little beetles.

By the time I found my beloved beetles the light was starting to fade. How bad was the light? Despite shooting at ISO 800, I needed exposures around 1/5 of a second at F11. Fortunately the beetles were willing to pose and I had my tripod with me. I managed to get a few nice shots with beautiful color saturation in the late day, overcast light. Here is one photo (out of many) of the object of my obsession—a red milkweed beetle.

Is there a twelve-step program for people with this problem?

© 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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