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Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Coated in a layer of snow, the landscape yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park was devoid of color, transformed into a study of black and white.

snowscape

Partially hidden behind a branch, this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was almost invisible in a distant snow-covered tree.

Bald Eagle

This was almost a perfect snowfall—the accumulation of an inch or two (2-5 cm) was just enough to create a beautiful snowscape without inhibiting travel on the roads.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As the first one to scale this mountain of snow outside my house, I planted the flag yesterday. I wonder if I get naming rights for the mountain.

Parking is a bit cutthroat in my neighborhood right now as folks put traffic cones and other objects in the spots they have cleared in an effort to “reserve” the open parking space in which they are parked.

I sure hope nobody removes my flag and parks in the mountaintop spot with a great view.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Who is my neighbor? Can you imagine moving into an unoccupied house in a townhouse community this week and being confronted by two foot drifts of snow on your stairs and walkways?

I’ll have new neighbors soon and decided to help them out, even before they have arrived. I don’t know their names and that doesn’t really matter to me—they are already my neighbors. The photo gives you an idea of the amount of snow that fell in our area.

I’ve noticed that this giant snowfall has brought out the worst in a few people, who have done nothing but incessantly complain. It has been gratifying, though, to see that the storm has brought out the best in a much larger group of people, with neighbors helping neighbors as we dig out together.

I hope to return to nature photos soon and hope that readers have not been too disappointed with all of the snow photos.

neighbor_web

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.

soul_25Jan_blog

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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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Through the trees I spotted a small group of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) consisting of a larger doe and some smaller deer—there seemed to be no buck. The deer were foraging for food, picking a few remaining berries from some thorny bushes and poking about on the ground. One of the deer appeared to be keeping watch and periodically would stare right at me. After a few minutes at that one spot, the deer moved on and so did I.

White-tailed DeerWhite-tailed DeerWhite-tailed DeerWhite-tailed Deer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Snow sometimes causes me stress. I worry about the safety of the road conditions and how long it will take for me to get to work. I feel anxious as I shovel out my car and the sidewalk in front of my townhouse.

This statue in the garden of one of my neighbors is a visual reminder that I can adopt a different mindset. I can remain calm on the inside and indifferent to the cares of the world. The snow will melt and spring will come when it is time.

buddha_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Have sparrows become my favorite bird? This winter, I’ve spent more time with them than with any other birds and I’ve featured them repeatedly in my blog postings. I tend to be more at ease with the familiar and the comfortable, rather than the exotic and extreme. and sparrows fit well into my world, like this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) in the snow.

Photographing these small birds is a challenge, though, because it is unusually tough to isolate them from their often cluttered background and they are in constant motion. I like the way that I was able to capture this sparrow, with the small patch of exposed grass amidst the snow. The light was pretty strong and blew out a few details in the chest feathers, but if cast an interesting shadow.

Perhaps sparrows are not my favorite birds, but we are good friends who spend a lot of time together.

sparrow_shadow_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although I rarely see them, the animals in the woods at my local marsh were out and about after our recent snowstorm and their tracks made fascinating patterns in the fresh snow. What animals made the tracks and what were they doing?

I took these photos in a remote area of my local marshland park, near what I believe to be an active beaver lodge, the location at which I have previously spotted a fox, an otter, and a raccoon.

I suspect that there are resources on the internet that would help me identify these tracks, but for the moment I am content with the reminder that I am a visitor in the home of these unseen woodland creatures.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When you see a white, rounded object in a bird’s nest, your minds tends to assume that it is an egg. Of course, when it is the middle of the winter and the temperature is well below the freezing point, you know that it can’t be an egg (unless it’s from a snowbird, but I think they have already migrated south to the beaches of Florida).

I came across this little nest as I was making my way through the thorny vines at the edge of one of the ponds at my local marshland park. I still have trouble identifying many birds and I haven’t the slightest clue about what kind of bird would use a nest like this.

Still, this nest caught my eye as a kind of visual reminder that spring will arrive in just a few months, full of the promise of new life.

nest_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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How do you convey a sense of the winter season? Do you take wide-angle shots of snow-covered mountain peaks? Do you show vast fields or forests or frozen ponds, all blanketed in white?

I didn’t really have a plan when I set out for a walk in my neighborhood after a recent storm that dumped over six inches of snow (about 15 cm) on us. The sun was shining and the snow was beautiful, though it was windy and cold. I walked for a while, taking in this uncommon view of the common scenery (we don’t get snow very often in Northern Virginia), when I caught sight of some motion out of the corner of my eye—an oak leaf was dancing across the surface of the powdery snow.

When the leaf came to rest, I hurried toward it, wanting to capture the simple beauty of this winter still life that conveyed to me a sense of the winter season.

leaf_snow_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Despite the frigid cold and snow, the squirrels in my neighborhood are out and active (and looking surprisingly cute).

squirrel_snow_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Little kids get pretty excited about snow, but it’s hard to match the enthusiasm of a puppy as she propels herself face-first into the freshly fallen snow.

These shots show Freckles, a year-old Cocker Spaniel, a few seconds after she dove into the snow in my backyard. The yard had areas of sunshine and shadows and the snow appears white when Freckles was in the sun, as in the first image. The snow took on a bluish cast  however, when the snow in the background was in the shadows. I liked the effect and cropped the second image to make the background more uniform, causing it to look a bit like a formal studio shot.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am drawn to the colors and shapes and patterns in this image of the roof of the Brussels City Hall, one of the iconic buildings of the central square of this beautiful city.

I am back in Brussels for a brief business trip and have not yet had a chance to shoot any new photos. I took this shot last year in mid-January, when the city was covered with a light coating of snow. This year, it looks like it’s a bit warmed and I was shocked to see some sunshine yesterday, the day of our arrival. In my experience, the skies are usually gray and cloud-covered and it is unusual to see the sun at this time of the year.

I hope to have some new photos of Brussels soon, work permitting, which you should be seeing for the next few days.

roof_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I’m not sure if and when we will see more snow in Northern Virginia this winter, so I am posting a couple of shots as an homage to the departed snow.

As you can tell, I was looking up a lot when I walked through my neighborhood and captured somewhat similar images of the snow that had accumulated on a pine tree and an oak tree.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although I already posted a photo earlier today of a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) in the snow, I came across one I liked even more as I was going through yesterday’s images. This sparrow (and I am never certain of my sparrow identifications) seemed to be posing for me. Somehow I was able to capture details in its eyes that I have never seen before.

After our brief portrait session, the sparrow hurried back to work.

sparrow_snow2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A flock of robins was really active in my neighborhood this morning, busily pecking the ground as the freezing rain gradually turned into snow. This American Robin (Turdus migratorius) didn’t even have time to clean up before I took his portrait.

robin_blog

Click on the photo to see a higher-resolution view

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I love the way that a small amount of snow brings out geometric shapes that might otherwise be hidden from view, like these sinuous curves at the edge of the marsh. The iced-over water has a darker tone that contrasts with the white of the snow and gives this photo an abstract quality that I really like. The texture of the wood in the foreground and its angular line add another element of contrast.

This shot is somewhat atypical for me in that it does not contain living creatures and is not a close-up—some days shapes and patterns and light and geometry are sufficient to attract my attention.

geometry_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Most of the time I like to focus on individual birds, but in this case I think I prefer this panoramic-style shot of Canada Geese coming in for a landing on a snow-covered field. The expansive white backdrop allows us to see better the different body and wing positions of the geese (and I recommend clicking on the photo to see the details).

The snow is now gone from Northern Virginia, a victim of warmer temperatures and heavy rains. For many readers, snow is much more an everyday reality of the winter, but it’s rare enough here that it has a special beauty (as long as I don’t have to drive to work in it, in which case I tend to forget its beauty and view more as a nuisance).

landing_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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What do you do when you wake up early in the morning in a hotel in a foreign country and have the desire to take some photos? If the weather were a bit nicer, I might have gone for a walk in the city, but it was bitter cold last night and snow has fallen, so instead I took a few shots looking out my window.

My room overlooks one of the entrances to the Central Train Station in Brussels and there are interesting lights and colors. The fresh snow is already covered in footprints, although not many pedestrians were yet visible when I took my photos. I particularly liked one sidewalk area that goes off to the side of the station and the two shots I’m posting show pedestrians walking in this area. The photos have kind of an urban vibe that is new to me. I’m starting to understand a bit what attracts some photographers to taking photos in the city.

Who are these people? Why are they up and about at a time when most others are still sleeping? I’ll never know their stories, but I have captured their images on this frigid Brussels morning.

Early morning pedestrian in Brussels

Early morning pedestrian in Brussels

Brussels pedestrians

Brussels pedestrians

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have been photographing so many birds recently that one of my first thoughts upon arrival in Brussels yesterday was to look for birds. I did manage to get a few shots of some sparrows in a small park near the Central Train Station, the neighborhood in which my hotel is located. However, I quickly realized that the 4X zoom of my little Canon A620 is a limiting factor in getting close enough for a decent shot. I also know that at 7.1 megapixxels, I can’t afford to dramatically crop the photos.

I’m happy with these two images. I captured the first sparrow on a snowy evergreen bush. Snow may not be special to many, but my part of the USA has seen only a very small amount of snow this year. The second sparrow is perched on the railing surrounding the plants and is looking into them. I think he was singing so much that the bottom part of his beak is blurred.

I haven’t yet been able to identify these sparrows, but I wonder if they are different from the ones that I typically see in suburban Virginia.

Sparrow in Brussels

Sparrow in Brussels

Sparrow on a fence

Sparrow on a fence

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The skies turned dark and gray this morning and rain gradually turned into snow, a wet snow with large flakes that quickly covered the ground. It snowed hard for an hour or so, but the snow clouds eventually blew away and sunshine arrived to destroy all of evidence of the snowfall.

As the snow was falling, however, I went walking through the neighborhood with an umbrella in one hand and my camera in the other. Wondering if I would see any birds (I had visions of brightly-colored cardinals on pine branches against a backdrop of snow), I heard the unmistakable sound of a crow. It wasn’t hard to locate him and as I was focusing on him he took off. Mainly on instinct, I snapped a photo and got an interesting photo.

It’s a moody, dark photo that is perhaps a little ominous.  The crow seems to be a perfect match for the rest of the elements of the scene.

I’ll have to wait for another time for photos of beautiful birds in the sunshine with glistening snow.

Crow in the snow

Crow in the snow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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