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Posts Tagged ‘sunrise’

July is World Watercolor Month. I was inspired by that celebration two years ago and, after gathering a bunch of supplies, I finally put brush to paper and made my first little watercolor paintings. They were not very good, but the experience was a lot of fun and I documented it in a posting called Jumping into Watercolor. I produced a few more small paintings during the summer of 2018, but somehow my interest waned.

I spent three weeks last November in Paris and brought along some art materials. Paris reignited my desire to play with watercolor and I was inspired enough to produce some more little paintings that you can see in the posting Playing with watercolor in Paris. My skill level had improved marginally and I eventually painted a few more times before I left Paris.

Alas, I did not continue with watercolors, although I kept buying supplies and watching lots of YouTube videos. A few days ago, I downloaded the list of daily prompts for World Watercolor Month and decided I would try to paint something on as many days as I could this July. I chose to paint in a relatively small watercolor journal that is 5.5 x 8 inches (14 X 20 cm) so I would not feel intimidated by a big sheet of blank paper.

So here are my paintings for the first four days of July in reverse order. The prompt for 4 July was “Quiet” and as I though about it, my mind transported me back to an early morning last November when I watched the sun rise slowly over the Seine River.

The prompt for 3 July was “Playful” and I chose to reprise a painting style and subject that I had used once before. I used a style based on Chinese ink painting (sumi-e) that emphasizes using a minimum number of strokes to capture the essence of the subject, in this cases some frogs and dragonflies.

The prompt for 2 July was “Texture” and I decided to try to paint a wart-covered toad that I had photographed earlier this year. The prompt for 1 July was “Rejoice” and I painted a chubby little bird that was singing.

It is both rewarding and humbling to post these paintings. I feel like a little kid who is excited about producing something with his own hands and this posting serves as a virtual refrigerator door on which I can display my art. Of course I realize that my current skill level is pretty low, but was one video that I watched recently emphasized, “there is no shame in being a beginner.”

I am confident that if I can carve out some time each day to paint this month, I am sure to improve. Most importantly, I am having fun. I was chatting recently with a friend who is an accomplished watercolor artist. She confessed it is a little tougher for her to have fun, because she is a perfectionist. As our skill levels increase in any area, I think there is a danger that we may lose our initial sense of joy and wonder. I consciously try to remain on guard against that danger when it comes to my photography.

If you want to learn more about World Watercolor Month, click on this link or go directly to doodlewash.com. In addition to raising awareness and interest about watercolor painting, World Watercolor Month raises support for The Dreaming Zebra Foundation, a charity providing support so that children and young adults are given an equal opportunity to explore and develop their creativity in the arts.

 

Quiet

Playful

Texture

Rejoice

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The sun had just risen when I arrived last Thursday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. How, I wondered could I possibly capture my impressions of those wonderful moments as the new day was dawning?

I hastened to capture an image while the sun was still low on the horizon and grabbed the first photo below while standing at the edge of the parking lot. There was a soft mist lingering over the fields and in my second shot, I worked to capture the stillness and serenity that I was feeling.

When I finally arrived at the shore, the sky and the water seemed to be almost the same color with a narrow, darker strip of land separating the too. I immediately thought of the moody, minimalist landscape shots that Michael Scandling regularly features in AMAGA Photography Blog. Michael likes to coax each pixel into submission and I confess that I did not work on my final image as much as he would have, but it is a kind of homage to his wonderful work.

So there you have it, three distinctive images that together give you a sense of what I was seeing and feeling in the early morning hours, a time of day that is perfect for introspection and reflection.

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Last Monday I was thrilled to spot this North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) slowly swimming by me in the early morning light at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was able to follow the beaver along the shore for several minutes before it disappeared with a big splash, as you can see in the final photo that show the beaver’s distinctive tail, the last part of the beaver to enter the water.

The limited light caused me to shoot at slower shutter speeds than the situation actually demanded, but the slight blurriness somehow enhances the dreamlike feeling of the time around sunrise. I checked the data on the final shot and was a little shocked to see that I took it with a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second. Somehow I was able to capture a decent composition and an almost abstract-style image—the image that you see is also uncropped.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those of you who are celebrating the holiday. I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal, including a large parade that, alas, had to be canceled this year.

beaver

beaver

beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Even though I arrived at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge last Thursday morning as the electric gate was opening at 7 o’clock, I was a little too late to photograph the the sun rising over the water. However, I did manage to capture some shots of the early morning color through the trees.

It is always tough for me to take landscape-type shots, especially when there is not an obvious subject. In this case, I was content to capture the colors and the patterns in images that feel almost abstract to me.

winter sunrise

winter sunrise

winter sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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How much gear do you carry with you when you go out to take photographs? Each time that I get ready, it is like planning for a trip. More gear means that I will be more ready for the full range of situations that I may encounter, but more gear means more weight. So what do I do? I compromise. During the winter, I tend to have my 150-600mm zoom lens on my DSLR and during the summer I use a 180mm macro lens as my primary lens. I will usually have a second lens in my camera bag, often a 24-105mm lens, but often it goes unused.

For greater flexibility I usually carry my trusty Canon SX50 super zoom camera. It is lightweight and versatile, with an equivalent field of view of 24-1200mm, a 50X zoom. Like me, it is a bit old and slow and has some limitations, but it lets me capture wide-angle shots in the winter and distance shots in the summer without having to change lenses on my primary camera in the field. It also lets me shoot in RAW,  my preferred format for capturing images.

On the 2nd of January, I was chasing the sunrise. I knew that sunrise was scheduled for around seven o’clock, which is the time when the electrically-controlled gates of my favorite wildlife refuge slide open. I was a little late leaving home and as I drove south on the interstate, I could see the sky turning a beautiful shade of red. As I entered the refuge, I could see that the colors were starting to fade. As soon as I got to the parking lot, I grabbed my SX50 and captured the second shot below with the engine still running and the car door open.

I turned off the engine, grabbed my gear, and headed for the water. Along the way I stopped to capture the third shot below, a view across a frosty field. When I finally got to the water, I could see that the sun had already risen. However, the clouds reflected some of the brightness of the sun and added drama to the scene and I was able to capture the wide view that you see in the first photo below with the SX50.

In case you wonder why I did not post these photos earlier, I simply forgot to upload them immediately from my “second” camera. It was a nice surprise for me when I looked at them on my computer screen for the first time yesterday. The images validated for me the value of carrying this camera with me for its multi-purpose capability, a kind of photographic Swiss Army knife.

 

sunrise

sunrise

sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The colors in the sky were soft and beautiful early last Thursday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The reflections in the water were equally beautiful. What a wonderful way to start the day.

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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After I did the posting called Sunrise on the Seine earlier today, I realized that it did not truly give readers a sense of location. Yes, it was in Paris, and yes, it was on the Seine River. The image was pretty, but it didn’t really speak “Paris.”

I shot a lot of photos this morning as I walked and stopped on the paved pathway down near the water level of the river. I was hoping to be able to capture an image of Notre Dame at sunrise. The angles and timing did not quite work out as I expected. By the time Notre Dame came into view, the sun had already risen a little too high and was directly in front of me.

When sorting through my photos, I initially rejected this image because the bright sun created a hot spot in the image. Later today, I decided to revisit the image and decided I liked it. Why? It has Notre Dame in the frame, of course, but it also shows the effects of the early morning sun as the rays illuminate the boat on the right and the concrete barrier along the pathway.

So, I decided to break my normal pattern and post multiple images today. It’s Paris, after all—I am sure I will be forgiven if I feel extra inspired here.

 

Notre Dame at sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Saturday morning sunrise on the Seine River. What a great way to start today in Paris.

Sunrise on the Seine

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I’ve noticed that recently I have been really sensitive to lighting and moods and not just to specific subjects. It’s problematic for me, because it is so difficult to figure out how to capture a feeling.

That is part of what was going through my head when I took this photo early in the morning this past Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The sun had already risen, but it was still low in the sky. I loved the way that shafts of light were visible coming through the trees. It was a cold morning and mist was hanging over the still water of a small pond. Could I possiblycapture the details that took my breath away?

So what do you think, or more importantly, what do you feel?

sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the feeling of the early morning, when the sun is just beginning to rise. Some mornings begin with fog hanging over the fields, giving the scene an eerie feeling. On other mornings, the sun adds color to the sky and produces beautiful reflected light in the clouds. I never know what the sunrise will bring when I set out in the dark, but I love to start the way watching darkness give way to light.

I captured these images on separate mornings during this past week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.


early morning

sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the early morning hours and enjoy watching the darkness give way to the light. This morning I was pleased to be able to capture the predawn colors and then the actual sunrise at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

It was a wonderful way to start the new day.

dawn's early light

sunrise at Occoquan Bay

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Normally I plan my photo expeditions so that I arrive after the sun has already risen. After all, if I want to photograph wildlife subjects, I need to have enough light to be able to see them. Recently, however, I have been trying to get there before sunrise in order to capture images of the color in the sky. This is becoming a problem for me, because the gates of the wildlife refuge where I like to explore do not open until 7:00 in the morning and we have almost reached the point in the year where the sun rises even earlier than that.

On Tuesday, I arrived at Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge at about 7:05 and the color in the sky was amazing, a beautiful red color tinged the clouds. My view of the most colorful parts of the sky was blocked by trees, so I did my best to frame the sky with those trees. My the time I reached the water, the most saturated colors had disappeared, but in some directions I could still see some glorious pastel colors and I captured the second image. I love the abstract quality of that image, a depiction of nature at its simplest, a series of wonderful shapes and colors.

colorful dawn

colorful dawn

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sun had risen before I reached the water at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past Saturday morning, but there still was some color in the sky that was reflected by the ice along the shoreline, imparting blue and orange tinges to the ice.

In the second shot, I used the wide-angle capabilities of my Canon SX50 superzoom camera to give you an overall feel for the moment. As you can see, the sun was not yet very high in the sky and the clouds helped to direct the sun’s rays directly down onto the distant water, giving it a kind of shimmer. I am now accustomed to carrying both my DSLR and the SX50 to give me greater flexibility in capturing different situations.

winter sunrise

winter sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sun was rising as I pulled into Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge early yesterday morning. My view to the east was obstructed, but I did manage to capture this image of the fiery sun through the trees.

It was a fun challenge trying to choose settings for the camera that let me capture both the sun and the shapes of some of the individual trees. In some of my images, the trees became one dark indistinct mass, so I kept making adjustments as quickly as I could, because the sun seemed to be moving amazingly fast.

winter sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was 24 degrees (minus 4 C) this morning when I first got into my car and I had to take time to clear away the frost. Nevertheless I managed to make it to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in time to catch the sunrise over the water.

sunrise

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How did you spend your New Year’s Day? When I arrived yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the sun had just risen. I was a bit shocked to see four other cars in the parking lot, given that it was only 7:30 in the morning. I trudged about the refuge all day (and have a bunch of photos to sort through) and as I departed at 6:00 pm, the full moon was rising.

It was a long, tiring day, but I can’t think of anything I would rather have been doing to start off the new year.  Just for fun, I’m also including the view from inside my car as I got ready to step out into the crisp morning air. I am not sure it was actually 5 degrees outside ( minus 15 degrees C), but that was what my car showed as the outside temperature. Eventually it “warmed up” to about 24 degrees (minus 5 C) during the day, though the occasional gusts of wind made it feel colder.

sunrise

moonrise

cold

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The view from my hotel room in Vienna seems to be mostly of ongoing construction work, but this morning it featured a touch of color as the sun slowly began to rise. A nice highlight was the sliver of a crescent moon still visible in the sky.

Vienna

Vienna

vienna

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was facing almost directly east in the early morning hours at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the colors of the rising sun filtering through the trees made it look like the woods were ablaze. Fortunately, they were not.

sunlight

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The sky was mostly clouded over as I made my way toward the beach in the early morning, but the dawn’s early light helped me to see the wooden pathway through the dune grass at Old Orchard Beach in Maine. Although I couldn’t see the sun itself, a reddish glow was reflected on the clouds and sometimes onto the water.

It was a fun challenge to try to capture the beautiful light in different ways, from the very realistic to the almost abstract.

dawn's early light

dawn's early light

dawn;s early light

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A few hours after my return from Brussels yesterday, I got in my car and drove for a bit over three hours to Norfolk, Virginia for a wedding. Even though I was up until almost 3:00 in the morning chatting with the groom (my stepson) and his best man, I woke up a few hours later and decided to walk along the waterfront.

The sun rose with some beautiful colors, a kind of a symbol of the new life just beginning for the happy couple. In a few more hours the ceremony will take place and we will all be celebrating their love for one another.

I couldn’t be happier.

sunrise_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the joys of arriving early at the marsh at this time of the year is having the chance to see spiders’ handiwork, backlit by the rising sun.

web2_blog web3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It rained all day yesterday, so it was especially nice to see the sun rise this morning. I didn’t get a photo of today’s sunrise, but thought I would share this shot from two week’s ago.

I was sitting at my computer in my bedroom in the top floor of my townhouse, early in the morning, when I happened to glance out the window. The colors of the sunrise were spectacular in the distance. Although the temperature was close to freezing, I ran out of the house with flipflops on my feet to try to capture the fleeting effects of the rising sun. I searched for a gap in the trees and the townhouses and managed to get this image at a moment after the sun had risen (I missed the peak moment), when the sunlight was reflecting off of the clouds.

suburban_sunrise_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At this time of the year the sun rises pretty early in Vienna, Austria, but I was able to capture a few shots this morning from my hotel window. In the distance you can see one of the spires of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom), one of the major landmarks of the city.

My little Canon A620 seems to have a maximum shutter duration of one second, so I had to play around a little with aperture and f-stop to try to get a decent exposure. I used a little tripod on the window sill to steady the camera for these shots.

Sunrise1aSunrise2a

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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In many ways this is a companion piece to my last posting that showed early-morning moonlight reflected in my local marsh. Less than an hour after I took that shot yesterday morning. the sun began to rise. As I looked to the east, I watched in wonder as the skies behind the trees were transformed into a beautiful mixture of pink, orange, and purple. Eventually the sun rose high enough to bring light into my world and I tried to capture the rays of the sun just starting to pierce the darkness.

Colorful skies as the sun rises

Colorful skies as the sun rises

Rays of sunshine penetrate the darkness

Rays of sunshine pierce the darkness

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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