Posts Tagged ‘Tripsacum dactyloides’

We are definitely in the summer doldrums, with day after day of oppressive heat and humidity. This week has been a bit different only because we have had some violent thunder storms. In terms of dragonflies, the common skimmer species are flying about in great numbers. In my area, that means that on a trip Tuesday to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I saw lots of Common Whitetails, Eastern Pondhawks, Needham’s Skimmers, Blue Dashers, and Great Blue Skimmers.

Although I have photographed these species many times, I still chase after them, trying to capture new behavior or interesting portraits, perches, or backgrounds. That is why I was able to capture this image of this smiling female Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) as she perched on some stalks of Eastern Gammagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides). I do not know vegetation very well, but I remember my friend Walter Sanford identifying this type of grass to me a few years ago and somehow the name has stuck with me.

In many ways, this photograph is indicative of my favorite approach to wildlife photography. Although I will sometimes look for rare species to photograph, I especially enjoy photographing common species and highlighting their uncommon beauty. Beauty is everywhere.

Great Blue Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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Does you mood affect how you react to images? When I am reviewing images that I have captured, most of the time I use an analytical approach. I seek to identify the species of my subject and then look at the technical aspects of the photo, such as the sharpness of the focus. Finally I will see if I can improve the composition by cropping the image.

For some images, though, I respond initially with my heart and not my head. I don’t worry about “what” it is and simply enjoy the beauty of the shapes and colors that make up the image. That was the case with this shot of a male Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) that I captured during a recent visit to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I love the contrast between the orangish-red of the dragonfly’s body and the green background. The shape and texture of the vegetation, which I believe is Eastern Gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), also really grabbed my eye (in part because I missed focus a little and the sharpest part of the image is the grass in front of the dragonfly). The composition is simple and straightforward and is pretty much the way I shot it.

We all like what we like. Most often we don’t even ask ourselves why we like something. I personally find it beneficial to try to articulate why I like something. Words fail me quite often when attempting to describe with words what is primarily an emotional reaction, but I think that the effort itself makes the process worthwhile.

Needham's Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some of my readers know that I especially love dragonflies with patterned wings and one of my favorites is the Halloween Pennnant (Celithemis eponina). Despite its name, it is a summertime dragonfly and I was thrilled to spot a beautiful female Halloween Pennant yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The “Halloween” part of its name comes from the orange-brown color of its wings. The “pennant” comes from this predisposition of members of this genus to perch on the very tip of vegetation, which causes them to wave back in forth in even the slightest breeze.

In the photo below, the Halloween Pennant is perched on a stalk of very distinctive Eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides). I have frequently seen this kind of grass with red bits hanging from its stalks, but it was only yesterday that I learned what it was called from fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.




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