Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Potomac River’

Landscape photography has always been problematic for me—it often feel like I am taking a photo without a real subject. I spend most of my time in photography trying to fill the frame with a single subject using telephoto or macro lenses, so it is hard to pull back and see the proverbial “big picture.” Sure, I realize that the actual landscape is the subject, but I have trouble “seeing” wide in my mind as I think composing a shot.

My experience in Paris changed my perspective a bit, because I took a lot of wide and even ultra-wide panoramic shots there. So last week when returned to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which is located less than 20 miles (32 km) from where I live, I consciously thought about capturing some of the different types of environments there.

The first shot shows one of the streams that flows through the refuge. I can often find herons, ducks, and occasionally deer along the edges of the stream. The stream is affected by tidal surges coming from the Potomac River and in this image the water level causes me to think that it was low tide.

My favorite trail runs parallel to the waters of Occoquan Bay. Small birds hang around in the vegetation at water’s edge, water birds congregate in the deeper waters, and Bald Eagles can often be found in the trees overlooking this tails. During warmer weather, this trail is a great location in which to hunt for dragonflies.

Wide trails crisscross the refuge, which used to be a military installation. The trails are off limits to the vehicles except for official ones. I never know what I might see when I walk on these trails. On occasion I will stumble upon groups of wild turkeys, flocks of migrating birds, and turtles crossing the road.

I hope that you have enjoyed this brief overview of the environment in which I have been taking so many of the insect, bird, and animal shots featured on this blog. It is good to remind myself yet again that what is familiar to me is unusual and maybe even exotic to someone in another part of the country or of the world. So periodically I will try to mix in shots like these to make it easier for you as you accompany me on my journey into photography.

 

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

 

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Birds seem to spend a lot of time grooming themselves and this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) was no exception. I spotted it yesterday on a small island in the Potomac River, midway between Riverbend Park and Great Falls Park. I knew that Great Blue Herons had flexible necks, but I must admit that I had never before seen one contort itself into the position shown in the first photo below.

After it had adjusted its feathers, the heron stood for a while with its wings partially opened. The position looks really strange and I have been told that it is a way for herons to dissipate heat when the weather gets hot by allowing greater air circulation. In case you are curious, I took the second and third photos from exactly the same spot—for one of them I was standing and for the other I was crouching.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

One of my faithful viewers, Jet Eliot, commented on a recent posting that she was glad to get some views of the wildlife refuge where I take so many of my photos. (Jet has a wonderful blog that focuses on travel and wildlife adventures that is definitely worth checking out.) The problem is not that I don’t take shots of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it is simply that I get so excited about posting photos of the wildlife that I forget about the more static shots of the land and water.

Here are a few shot of the refuge from this past Monday that help give you a better idea of the environment in which I am operating. The first image shows you what part of the shoreline at the refuge looks like during low tide. The refuge is located where Occoquan Bay meets the Potomac River and during tidal surges, some of the shoreline paths are underwater. Those surges tend to bring lots of debris onto the shore, including trash, like the beer bottle that you can see in the photo.

The second shot gives you an idea of how close some of the trees are to the shore. After big storms, downed trees often block some of the paths. As you probably noticed, there was a full moon visible that morning as the sun was rising and adding a little color in the sky.

The final image shows one of the streams that runs through the refuge. It is not unusual to see herons or ducks in these streams and at certain times, when I am really lucky, I have managed to spot muskrats, beavers, and otters.

So that is a brief introduction to “my” wildlife refuge. I used to most of my shooting at another nearby location, Huntley Meadows Park, but it became really popular and crowded. I prefer the solitude of this location—I am overjoyed sometimes when I arrive at the refuge and find that my car is the only one in parking lot.

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Although I focus mostly on my attention on wildlife in this blog, many of you know that I am likely to take photos of almost anything that catches my eye. Early in the morning this past Saturday as I was scanning the waters off of Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge, I caught sight of some lights in the distance. As they grew larger and larger, I realized that it was some sort of ship and I was happy to get a shot of it as it passed by.

A close examination of the image and a quick search on the internet revealed that this is a twin-screw tugboat named the D. Gray Kimel. It was built in 1982 and has had several different names. When I saw it the tugboat did not appear to be assisting another boat, but I did learn that it is rated at 1350 horsepower, so it seems to be pretty powerful.

tugboat D. Gray Kimel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As I was exploring Riverbend Park yesterday, I looked out into the Potomac River and spotted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) standing on a small, rocky island in the middle of the river. Although I see Great Blue Herons pretty regularly, I invariably stop to observe them. This heron seemed to be particularly cheerful and appeared to have a smile of its face or maybe it was singing to greet the new day.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

When is a cluttered background so distracting that it draws attention away from the primary subject? When I have the luxury of time, I will normally attempt to compose my shots so that the background fades into the background as a creamy blur. As a wildlife photographer, though, I am often photographing live subjects that are likely to flee as soon as they become aware of my presence. Frequently I barely have time to bring the camera up to my eye and am forced to react rapidly and instinctively—I just don’t have time to think about the background.

Yesterday as I was walking along the Mount Vernon Trail in Alexandria, Virginia parallel to the Potomac River, I spotted a bird at the very top of a distant tree. Earlier in the day I had seen an osprey in a similar position, so I initially assumed it was another osprey. I had just zoomed in on the bird when it exploded out of the tree into the air. From the way that it was flying, I realized that it was probably an eagle or a hawk. I tracked the bird, which I believe is a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) as it flew behind some trees and eventually into the clear blue skies.

Here are my three favorite shots of the encounter. Two of them are cluttered and one has a plain blue background. Which one do you like most? I am not bothered by the branches in the first two shots and like the way that they help to give a sense of context to the action that is depicted. The third shot shows some of the wonderful details of the beautiful hawk, but it seems a bit more sterile to me. (For the record, the first shot is probably my favorite of the three images.)

Are cluttered backgrounds ok? Like so many factors in photography, the correct response appears to be that it depends on the specific circumstances.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-taile Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

As I was walking along the Potomac River one day last month, I came upon this large toad, which I think might be a Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri). I was really struck by the way that the light and shadows helped to emphasize the very bumpy texture of the toad’s skin.

Fowler's Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

As I walked along a trail paralleling the Potomac River one morning last week, I noticed some movement near the water’s edge. Moving closer, I spotted some tiny frogs—they seemed to be only about an inch or so in size (25 mm). Many of them hopped away as I continued my approach, but one of them jumped onto a rock and posed for me.

I was able to capture a lot of details of this frog, but am having trouble identifying its species. I have a lot more experience identifying birds and insects—I am not a frogman. Despite my ineptitude at identification, I really like the photo and the way that the background seems to mirror the colors, patterns, and texture of this tiny frog.

frog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

This past week I was excited to see several Eastern Ringtail dragonflies (Erpetogomphus designatus) while exploring Riverbend Park in Great Falls, Virginia. This species is relatively uncommon in our area and I had only encountered one once before at a location in Maryland. Fellow dragonfly enthusiast and photographer Walter Sanford had alerted me to the presence of these dragonflies at the park and their location, so I was fairly confident that I would be able to find some of them. (With wildlife photography there are few guarantees—you can never be sure how long a species will remain at a given location, particularly when it comes to insects like dragonflies that have a limited season.)

Well, I managed to find some Eastern Ringtails and was faced with the challenge of how to photograph them. The bad news was that this species likes to perch on the ground, but the good news was that the ground on which they chose to perch was uncluttered—it was a boat ramp made of some kind of aggregate concrete. The background of these shots is not natural, but it does allow you to see some of the beautiful details of this stunning dragonfly, especially their spectacular blue eyes.

Eastern Ringtail

Eastern Ringtail

Eastern Ringtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

It may appear to be the Loch Ness monster, but I am pretty sure that it is “only” a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon). I stumbled upon it yesterday while exploring Riverbend Park in Great Falls, Virginia just after it had caught a pretty good-sized catfish. It took a while to subdue the fish, but the snake eventually was able to swallow it.

I have seen snakes like this catch small fish before, but I was shocked to see the size of its catch this time. How does a snake subdue and immobilize a fish that big? Northern Water Snakes are not poisonous, though I have been told that their bite can be quite painful and that the snake injects an anti-coagulant into your system, so that you will bleed a lot. The snake swam around with the fish for quite some time, periodically rearing its head and part of its body out of the water. The snake’s mouth seemed to have a literal death grip on the fish.

I watched the action with a mixture of horror and fascination, frozen in place to avoid spooking the snake. The snake seemed to be adjusting the position of the fish, as I had seen herons do, and I wondered how it could possibly swallow the fish. Suddenly there was a lot of movement in the water, the snake’s body started to writhe, and the fish simply disappeared, except for a small piece of the tail still sticking out of the fish’s mouth.

I still don’t know exactly how the snake ingested the fish—one minute it was then and then in a blink of an eye it wasn’t. It seemed like some kind of magical legerdemain (which is probably the wrong term for a limbless creature), though I suspect that the snake has powerful muscles that enabled it to pull in the fish all at once.

There are signs in Riverbend Park warning folks not to swim in the Potomac River, probably because of the current. I think that I have found another reason to stay out of the water.

Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

As they headed out on the Potomac River this past weekend, these fishermen looked like they had decorated their rods with little Christmas ornaments that glimmered in the early morning light as I watched them from the shore at historic Fort Washington Park in Maryland.

Potomac River

The buildings and gun emplacements at the fort are impressive, but more than anything else, I am irresistibly drawn to the little lighthouse there. Even though I was shooting with a long telephoto zoom lens, I tried several landscape-style compositions in an effort to capture a sense of the location.

Potomac River

Potomac River

 

The shoreline on the other side of the river was hazy and indistinct, almost like an impressionist painting, but it proved to be tough to capture that feeling with my camera. This final shot gives you a sense of what I was going for—I think a tripod might help in the future with this kind of a shot.

Potomac River

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I spotted this beautiful Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) in the vegetation along the shore of the Potomac River as I explored Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve in Alexandria, Virginia. Although “heavy-boned” is a euphemism sometimes used for large people, it is literally true for cormorants and is one of the reasons why they ride so low in the water. Additionally, their feathers don’t shed water like those of ducks and can get waterlogged, which makes it easier to dive deeper, but requires them to dry them out periodically.

I hoped to catch a cormorant with its wings extended for drying, but none of the cormorants I saw were accommodating in that regard yesterday. I’m no psychic, but I foresee a return trip to that area in the near future.

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I was on a biking/walking trail that follows Cameron Run, a tributary stream of the Potomac River, when I heard the unmistakable  rattling call of a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). As I moved through the vegetation to investigate, I spotted a kingfisher perched on a rock jutting out of the water. I had my Canon SX50 zoomed out to its maximum length, but it wasn’t enough—I needed to get closer.

As I made my way slowly down a steep slope, my footing gave way and I unceremoniously slid for a short distance on my back side. No surprisingly I spooked the kingfisher. What was surprising was that the kingfisher did not fly up into the trees, but instead he flew to a more distant smaller rock that was barely bigger than he was. (You can tell that it is a male because, unlike the female, he does not have chestnut stripe across his chest.)

The kingfisher soon took to the air and was joined by another one. They proceeded to fly back and forth over a portion of the stream, calling out loudly the entire time. They didn’t actually buzz me, but they did fly in my general direction a couple of times before veering off. What was going on?

I got a somewhat blurry shot of the second kingfisher, a female, that confirmed my suspicion that this was a couple. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, “During breeding season the Belted Kingfisher pair defends a territory against other kingfishers. A territory along a stream includes just the streambed and the vegetation along it, and averages 0.6 mile long. The nest burrow is usually in a dirt bank near water. The tunnel slopes upward from the entrance, perhaps to keep water from entering the nest. Tunnel length ranges from 1 to 8 feet.”

This behavior suggests to me that there could be baby kingfishers in the area. I certainly didn’t see any babies and suspect that a nest would probably be on the opposite side of the stream from where I took these photos, an area that is more remote and inacessible.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

When photographing a subject, how important are the surroundings to you? Most of you know that I like close-up shots and often I zoom in or crop to the point where you don’t have a good sense of the environment.

This past weekend, I went for a walk along the Potomac River (on the Virginia side) and observed a lot of damselflies. I had my Tamron 150-600mm lens on my camera and soon realized that I had a problem—even at the minimum focusing distance (approximately 9 feet/2.7 meters), there was no way that I could fill the frame with a damselfly.

Still, I was drawn to the beauty of the damselflies, which I believe are Blue-tipped Dancers (Argia tibialis), and I took quite a few shots of them.

As I reviewed the images on my computer, I realized how much I liked the organic feel of the natural surroundings. In the first shot, there are lots of vines on the surface of the rock on which the damselfly is perched that add texture and visual interest. In the second shot, I love the twist in the vine and the single leaf hanging down.

All in all, the surroundings on these two shots were so interesting that I didn’t feel any desire to crop the images more severely, and the environment has become just as much the subject as the damselfly. It’s probably worth remembering this the next time when I am tempted to move in really close to a subject—I should at least attempt to get some environmental shots too.

UPDATE:  It looks like my initial identification was off—there are lots of blue damselflies and this one more probably is a Big Bluet (Enallagma durum). Thanks to my local odonata expert, Walter Sanford, for the assist.

Blue-tipped Dancer

Blue-tipped Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

What is the most beautiful bird that you can see in the wild in your area? We have lots of pretty birds here in Northern Virginia, but I could make a really strong case for the male Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) as the most stunning bird.

Alas, wood ducks are also amazingly elusive and it is rare that I get a glimpse of one of them. Toward the end of November, however, I was thrilled when I caught sight of one in Holmes Run, a tributary stream of the Potomac River. I was on a bridge pretty high above the stream and the duck did not seem to sense my presence, so I was able to get some decent shots as he swam in and out of the light.

The water in which the duck was swimming looks amazing, with swirls and colors that complement the Wood Duck’s bright colors and striking patterns.  I am not sure what caused the effect, but I really like it.

This was the only Wood Duck that I spotted all autumn, but it sure was worth waiting for. I’ll be keeping an eye out for these beauties as we move deeper into winter.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

American Coots (Fulica americana) have strange-looking feet. I mistakenly assumed that coots had webbed feet, like ducks, and was shocked recently when I saw one out of the water to see that is definitely not the case.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website had this description of their feet ”

“Although it swims like a duck, the American Coot does not have webbed feet like a duck. Instead, each one of the coot’s long toes has broad lobes of skin that help it kick through the water. The broad lobes fold back each time the bird lifts its foot, so it doesn’t impede walking on dry land, though it supports the bird’s weight on mucky ground.”

Recently at the edge of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, I came upon this coot that seemed to be grooming itself. After a short time, it assumed a pose that reminded me of the crane kick position that featured so prominently in the movie The Karate Kid. Perhaps the coots have their own martial art.

Eventually the coot became aware of my presence and stopped what it was doing and looked in my direction. There was a disapproving look in its intense stare and it almost looked like it was giving me the evil eye.

American Coot

Practicing martial arts

American Coot

Giving me the evil eye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I decided to take a break from insects and went walking along the biking trail at Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, where I encountered this Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). As its name suggests, this species is usually most active at night or at dusk, so I was surprised to see one in the middle of the day.

As I was headed down to the water’s edge, I flushed the bird, which took off for some nearby rocks and perched on one of them. I got a couple of shots of the initial action, which gives you an idea of my initial view of the night heron.

In this the first and last shots, I think the heron was scratching an itch, which is a little tough when you are perched one-legged on a pointed rock. Eventually the itch was satisfied and the night heron flew off into the cooler confines of a leafy tree, probably to take a siesta until it was time to fish for dinner.

heron4_night_blogheron1_night_blogheron2_night_blogheron3_night_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As I was observing the osprey couple on the Potomac River this past weekend, I spotted an unusual-looking duck of a species that I had never seen before. One of my fellow photographers said that he was pretty sure that it was a Canvasback duck (Aythya valisineria) and I couldn’t disagree, having no idea what a Canvasback duck looked like.

The duck was a pretty good distance away and I was looking through my telephoto lens when it decided to take off from the water. I don’t think that the duck was aware of our presence, for it initially flew toward us and parallel to the shore before veering off into the center of the river. I was able to track the duck pretty well and got some in-flight shots, including my two favorites that I am posting.

I am not one hundred percent sure of the identification and would welcome a confirmation or correction, as appropriate, from someone with more experience in identifying bird species.

canvasback_flight_blog canvasback_flight2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Do seagulls hunt ducks? That’s a crazy question, but that was the first thing that came to mind when a Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) started aggressively chasing a Hooded Merganser duck (Lophodytes cucullatus) with what appeared to be hostile intent.

I was walking along Cameron Run, a tributary of the Potomac River, when the scene started to unfold in front of me. The gull flew toward the dusk with its legs extended, like it was trying to snatch the duck out of the water. The duck immediately started bounding across the water (as you can see in the third photos) in an effort to escape the gull, but did not take to the air. When the duck got close to the bank of the stream, the gull turned away and left the duck in peace.

Was this merely a cranky gull or maybe a bully? Was it a territoriality thing? All I know is that it provided me a fascinating moment as I treated to a brief interaction between these two very different species of birds.

gull_chasing_duck3_bloggull_chasing_duck1_bloggull_chasing_duck2_bloggull_chasing_duck4_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Two weeks ago I didn’t even realize that we had Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) in this area and now I can find quite a number of them on the Potomac River. It’s a little difficult to tell from the range maps in my bird guide if the cormorants are migrating through this area of if they may choose to winter here.

The more I observe these birds, the stranger they appear. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology described them this way—”The gangly Double-crested Cormorant is a prehistoric-looking, matte-black fishing bird with yellow-orange facial skin. Though they look like a combination of a goose and a loon, they are relatives of frigatebirds and boobies and are a common sight around fresh and salt water across North America.”

I am still working on getting some shots of the cormorants in the water, but as a start, here are a couple of images of a cormorant in the air. I took the first one before I knew that it was a cormorant—I have a habit of trying to capture anything in flight that is remotely in range. The second one shows a cormorant as he is taking off from the water after some bounding steps across the surface as he gained speed. The location of the light caused much of the cormorant’s body to be in the shadows, but did illuminate the details of some of its feathers.

cormorant_flying1_blogcormorant_liftoff_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

The wind was kicking up yesterday on the Potomac River, making it difficult for the ducks there, like this Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis). I watched as the small ducks got drenched repeatedly as they sought to ride the waves.

At least it wasn’t raining and the temperatures have not yet dropped below the freezing levels, even at night.

ruddy_waves_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I haven’t seen many migrating ducks yet at my local marsh, so I traveled to the Potomac River this weekend, because I had heard from a birder that there were numerous ducks there. There were lots of Mallards, some Northern Shovelers (I think), and this cool-looking duck with a distinctive white patch on its cheek that I could not identify initially. After I returned home, it didn’t take long to figure out that this as a Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), a species that I had never seen before.

ruddy_duck1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I went shooting on Theodore Roosevelt Island, a small nature preserve in the Potomac River, just opposite Washington D.C.  that is accessible by a small bridge from the Virginia side and got this shot of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). The heron took off when I got a little too close to it.

One of the interesting problems of shooting in an urban environment is that it is hard to control the background. The long shape behind the heron is a one-man crew scull. If I hadn’t cropped the image, you would have been able to see the brightly clothed rower.

heron_potomac1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

No matter how quickly I try to focus on a bird, they often are quicker than I am. Often I am left with merely an image of an empty branch, but every now and then I’ll get a cool image of the bird taking off.

That was the case yesterday, when I tried to get a shot of this small, dark-colored bird. I really like the position of the tail and the detail of the wings, which help to form an almost abstract portrait of the unidentified bird.

unknown_takeoff_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Last weekend as I was hiking along the Potomac River in Virgina, following the narrow, rocky Potomac Heritage Trail, I came several large metal objects that appear to have been abandoned. They are shaped like some kind of water or fuel tanks and have lots of bolts and/or rivets. To me, they look very industrial. There also was a large wheel-like object. Although I was only a few miles from Washington D.C., the area where I saw these items was very isolated.

Does anyone have any idea about what these objects were used for and why they might have been abandoned?

tank1_blogtank2_blogtank3_blogtank4_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

The familiar often looks new when perceived from a different angle, as I found out last weekend when I hiked along the Potomac River and looked across the river toward Georgetown University.

Although I have lived in this are for almost 20 years, I had never heard of the Potomac Heritage Trail, a narrow trail that begins in Washington D.C. and continues upstream, mostly at at river-level. I have driven past this scene many times and the buildings of Georgetown really stand out, but I never really saw the green boathouse tucked in at the base of Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crosses from Virginia into the District of Columbia.

The first shot shows a view from the Virginia side of the Potomac River, looking directly toward Georgetown University, and the second one shows the Key Bridge. I love the arches of the bridge, which I have crossed many times.

My little hike was a good way to force me to look at the familiar in a different way—I hope to be able to do the same with some of my other subjects too.

Georgetown1_blogGeorgetown2_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

This past weekend I hiked on the Potomac Heritage Trail, a trail that follows the Potomac River beginning near Washington D.C. on the Virginia side of the river,  and is very narrow and rocky. In several places, I passed waterfalls as various streams fed into the river, including this one that was partially frozen that really caught my eye. Given that we don’t generally get much snow, this is about all I can muster for a wintery photo.

waterfall_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

I have returned from Brussels and thought I’d share a photo that I took earlier this month of a kayaker paddling on the Potomac River. In the background you can see the beauty of the obelisk of the Washington Monument and the dome of the Jefferson Memorial. If you look closely at the Washington Monument, you can see the color change part way up the monument that was the result of a 23 year hiatus in construction and difficulty getting matching marble when construction resumed.

Unfortunately, you can also see the rusty railroad bridge that serves as the only rail link between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia. It serves a necessary function, but it does little to enhance the beauty of the scenery.

kayak_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

I don’t usually take photos of buildings, but the unusual blue color of this roof of this building and its beautiful reflection in the water prompted me to take this shot. The building, is a boathouse, I believe, and it is located along the Potomac River, just north of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. In addition to its colors, I really like the angled lines of the tin roof and the lines and geometric shapes in the rest of the image.

Blue_roof_Blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

On an overcast day last week, I came across this Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), silhouetted against an almost white sky. As I was focusing on him, he hopped to a slightly higher branch. He didn’t flap his wings at all, and I managed to catch him in mid-air.

hopping_blog

The image was underexposed and as I played with it to bring back some of the details, I realized it was already almost black and white. It was not a far stretch to desaturate the photo and play around in black and white. In fact, it was so much fun that I decided to work on a second photo of the same mockingbird.

mocking2_blog

I think I need to work on my techniques a little more, but I like the initial results of my dabbling in black and white.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Earlier this week I managed to photograph this male Mallard Duck as he secretly practiced the ancient art of Zen levitation. Note his closed eyes and relaxed concentration as his body is gently lifted out of the water. With sufficient practice, Zen master ducks can take off and land in this position,  like a helicopter or a Harrier jet.

Zen levitation

Zen levitation

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »