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Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

How long a lens do you need to photograph birds? Conventional wisdom dictates that you need a lens with a focal length of at least 300mm and ideally much longer than that. I generally use my Tamron 150-600mm lens when I anticipate shooting birds, especially small ones. If I want to get even closer, the zoom lens of my Canon SX50 has a field of view equivalent to 1200mm.

On Friday, I traveled into Washington D.C. to visit some friends using the Metro subway. I planned to walk a lot and I didn’t want to weigh myself down with all kinds of gear, so I put a 24-105mm lens on my DSLR. For those of you who are not technically oriented, this lens goes from mildly wide angle to mildly telephoto.

The camera and lens combination is less than ideal for photographing birds. I couldn’t help myself, however, when I spotted some birds in an urban park and decided to attempt to get some shots. My first attempt was with a Carolina Wren and it was a disaster—it was small and fast and so skittish that I could not get a decent shot.

Then I spied a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) perched on a bush in the distance. I took some initial shots and then slowly began to move forward. Eventually I was able to get to within about three feet (one meter) of the mockingbird and captured this image.

This incident served as a reminder not to limit myself to following conventional wisdom. It is definitely possible to take a good bird photo without a long telephoto lens. Why not take landscape photos with a long telephoto lens instead of a wide angle lens?

No matter what lens I have on my camera (or what camera I am using), I try to keep my eyes open for possible subjects. I will then try to capture those subjects as well as I can within whatever equipment I happen to have with me. It turns out that gear is often not the most critical element in making good images—simply being there is half the battle.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I visited Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. for the annual Lotus and Water Lily Festival and I was thrilled to be able to get some of my favorite kind of dragonfly images—dragonflies perched on the buds of colorful flowers. Generally I manage to get shots only of the Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis), but this time I was also able to get a shot of a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) on a lotus flower bud.

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher on purple water lily bud

Slaty Skimmer

Slaty Skimmer on lotus bud

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher on water lily bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday was a beautiful day to cheer on the rowers of the DC Strokes Rowing Club as they competed at the 3.1 mile Occoquan Chase. The weather was pleasant and the leaves were starting to change colors, adding to the natural beauty of the Occoquan River, a tributary of the Potomac River just south of the District of Columbia.

The river was pretty wide and unfamiliar to me, so I hadn’t figured out a good vantage point for capturing the action. Eventually I ended up perching on a rock outcropping near the water’s edge. I was probably about six feet above the level of the river and I had to be careful not to lean too far forward, given that it was a straight drop down into the water.

One of my main goals was to capture some action shots in which each of DC Strokes rowers was recognizable. I am happy that I was able to accomplish that goal and got some shots of the four 8+ boats in action (eight rowers and a coxswain in each boat), although I was not able to capture the action of the boats with four rowers.

Occoquan Chase

DC Strokes Mens Novice 8+

Occoquan Chase

DC Strokes Womens 8+

Occoquan Chase

DC Strokes Mens 8+, Boat #349 (Pride)

DC Strokes Mens 8+, Boat #350

DC Strokes Mens 8+, Boat #350 (Oscar)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This past weekend I traveled to Washington D.C. to cheer on a friend and her team, the DC Strokes Rowing Club, in the 3.1 mile Head of the Anacostia Regatta. I don’t have a lot of experience photographing sports or even people, so it was a challenge for me to capture some images of the event.

The last time that I watched my friend row, she was part of a four-woman boat, but this time she was in a mixed boat, with four female and four male rowers (plus a coxswain). I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to synchronize your efforts with such a large number of others of such varied sizes and strengths. It was fascinating, for example, to see how they carried the boat down the ramp to the water, with the rowers arranged in ascending order by height.

I learned from the last time that I watched a race at this location that the best way to get action shots of the entire boat was to place myself on a bridge that overlooks the finish line. So after I watched the rowers launch their boat, the Stonewall, and head slowly for the start line, I walked quickly to the bridge to await their arrival. As I looked upriver to see when the boats would be coming, it was tough see across several railings and four lanes of traffic.

Eventually their boat arrived and I was happy that I was able to get some action shots from above as they headed for the finish line. Congratulations to all of them!

(Click on any of the photos in the tiled mosaic to see the photos in a larger size.)

The rowers in action

The rowers in action

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Like most people who live in the the Washington, D.C. area, I don’t visit monuments much unless there are visitors. One of my fellow photographers invited me to photograph the Capitol on Friday evening to satisfy the wishes of a visiting photographer.

We were quite a sight as we set up umbrellas and tripods in the rain which fell progressively harder and harder. My favorite shot is the first one, which shows the reflection of the Capitol in one of the wet, slippery stairs leading up to it.  I tried a number of long exposures, varying from about 15 to 30 seconds to get this look.

The second one is a more traditional view, but I think that the lighting was pretty cool at that time of the evening.

capitol2_blogcapitol1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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All of the photos that I have posted this year of the Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) have been of females, which are a beautiful emerald green, but I think that you will agree that the male in this photo is equally stunning. I love the mixture of blue and green on its body and was particularly happy to capture this one perched on a colorful flower.

This is a shot from couple of weeks ago, when I was able to borrow my friend’s Nikon D7000 and Tamron 180mm macro lens for a little while while we were shooting at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in the District of Columbia. Every time that I look over the images that I shot, I am impressed by the results that I was able to achieve with a “foreign” camera—normally I shoot with a Canon.

Pondhawk lorez

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Having spotted some lotus flower buds at the aquatic garden last weekend, I remember thinking how cool it would be to see a dragonfly perching  on a lotus bud and then it happened—a male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) landed on the tip of one of the buds.

When stalking dragonflies, I always hope that they will choose a photogenic perch, but most of the time the perches are nondescript, at best, and the background is often cluttered.

I would like to claim that I have special powers as a dragonfly whisper, but I was unusually fortunate and am happy that I was able to get some good photos when the circumstances presented themselves.

lotus_bud2_blog

lotus_bud_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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