Posts Tagged ‘water’

There is a spot in a back corner of my marshland park that I love to visit in the early morning, when the light produces beautiful reflections in the still waters of a small pond.

It’s accessible only by an informal muddy trail, so I don’t have to share the moments of tranquility with the baby strollers and power walkers that interrupt my conversations with nature when I am on the boardwalk. Sometimes I will see ducks and geese here and I have even spotted a bald eagle perching in a tall tree, but the main draw for me is not the wildlife—it’s the sense of peace that envelopes me when I am here.

Sometimes I like reflections in which you can easily identify the objects being reflected, like the two trees in the first image. Other times, I get lost in the reflections themselves, which can result in a Monet-like abstract image like the second image below.

All of us are looking for an inner peace—this is one place in which I am able to experience a few moments of that peace.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I came upon a rock last weekend and my eyes were drawn to its shape and texture and the way that it seemed to be floating in the sky. Normally I don’t shoot abstract shots, but I somehow felt compelled to take this photo. I like the way it turned out—it’s simple and graphic.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Birds seemed to be everywhere yesterday, foraging for food in the water, on dry land, 0r sometimes in between the. The latter was the case for two little brown birds, pecking for food in the still-green vegetation in the shallow marsh. Sometimes it seemed like they would stop and drink the water or gaze intently into the water, as though fascinated by their own reflection.

I am still not very good at identifying most birds on the spot, but my research skills are improving and I am pretty confident that these birds are Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia). Gradually I am starting to see the distinguishing characteristics, like the color on the top of the head, the markings on the breast, and the shape and size of the beak.

This growing sense of the broad diversity among birds serves to magnify their beauty, as I see them as individuals, not merely as nameless little brown birds. Who knows, maybe birds appreciate it if you can call them by their names.



© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During the last few months I have tried to get more serious about expressing myself in photos. I started out by photographing small things like insects and flowers and eventually got a macro lens. More recently I have been taking photos of larger things, like turtles, frogs, and wading birds. Yesterday I decided to try a landscape picture, without really knowing how to do it.

I’ve read enough to know that I wanted maximum depth of field and saturated colors. So I set my camera up on my tripod with these settings, f22, 1/50 sec, ISO 100, and 21mm on my 18-55mm zoom lens. I also used exposure compensation to underexpose by one f stop, figuring that reflections off the water might cause the image to be overexposed.

My subject was Cameron Run, a stream that runs into the Potomac River. There are concrete slabs at intervals that run across the stream, presumably to help the water flow as it moves downstream. I was standing on one of them with my camera on my tripod when I took this shot, looking east toward Old Town Alexandria, VA.

I’m pretty happy with the result. What you see if pretty much what came out of the camera—I am not sure what adjustments I should do in Photoshop. Perhaps I’ll try more like this, especially if I travel outside of the suburban area where I do most of my shooting.

Cameron Run looking east toward Old Town Alexandria, VA

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One evening this past week I was photographing lotus flowers at a local pond in a quasi-meditative state, enjoying the calm after a thunderstorm had passed.

The life cycle of the lotus, from bud to flower to seed pod

Suddenly a woman screamed out in my direction, “Snake, there’s a snake right behind you.” My first reaction was one of disbelief, because I was standing on a flat rock partially surrounded by water that was flowing rapidly between two man-made ponds. All at once I saw the submerged snake swimming strongly against the current. Then to my surprise the snake lifted his head out of the water.

My next reaction was to spring into action to take his picture. My camera was already on my tripod and I swung it around and snapped a couple of shots without having time to adjust my exposure or shutter speed. The image below is far from perfect but it gives you an idea of the cascading water and the snake poking his head above the surface.

Swimming snake lifts its head above water

After that brief photographic opportunity I returned to my peaceful pursuit of the lotus flower.

Sidewards-facing lotus (a variation of the lotus position)

It was only much later that I wondered whether I had encountered a poisonous snake. An article entitled “Snake Mistake” by Christine Ennulat in Virginia Living helps readers distinguish between the harmless brown water snake (Nerodia taxispilata) and the venomous water moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus). I am pretty confident the snake I saw was “only” a brown water snake.

Maybe I will react more quickly the next time someone tells me there is a snake right behind me. I might even get a better photograph!

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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