One of my fellow photographers pointed out this cool little crab spider on some Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) during a photo jaunt to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in nearby Vienna, Virginia this past Saturday.

In this first shot, my favorite, the spider seemed to be expressing frustration that his prey had escaped his grasp (or simply wanted to show me his awesome biceps pose). Who knew that spiders have biceps?

crab spider

Initially I tried to photograph the spider looking down at it, but I had trouble maintaining a steady pose and my shots were blurry. I decided to kneel down and get at eye level with the spider, looking across the plane of the flower, and that seemed to work a bit better. These shots look like they were done with flash, but the EXIF data shows a shutter speed of 1/320, which is higher than the synch speed of my flash, so these were actually done with natural light, with some exposure compensation dialed in.

The second shot, which preceded the first one in time, shows the spider trying to capture a small insect (I think).


The little insect starts to run away.


In vain, the spider crawled after the small insect, but it was too late. When I left the spider, it was at the edge of the flower, looking off into the distance, pondering perhaps what might have been, thinking about the one that got away.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Disco dragonfly

The light reflecting off the water in the background was really bright, creating these disco ball highlights when I took these shots of a male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) recently at Green Spring Gardens. Normally I try to avoid distinctive specular highlights, but in this case I decided to embrace them.

Why do I suddenly feel an irresistible urge to watch Saturday Night Fever?


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Thorny situation

Have you ever found yourself in a thorny predicament? Last weekend, I came upon this female Spangled Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula cyanea) that had literally placed herself in such a situation.

Fortunately, dragonflies are so small, lightweight, and agile that she was able to place herself in between the thorns, out of harm’s way. If you look closely at her wings in the second image, however, you’ll see that they are tattered, suggesting that it’s been a tough season for her, probably as a result of predators, including overly aggressive male dragonflies.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

As I search in vain for larger, colorful butterflies, I continue to be amazed by the beauty of the smaller ones, like this Clouded Sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice) that I observed last week at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia.

Generally I like my closest shots the best when I am shooting with my macro lens, but in this case, I think I prefer the first shot below, that I took from a bit farther back. I like the way in which you can see the shadowy representations in the background of the stalks of the same kind of floweras the one one which the butterfly is feeding.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Flowers in July

When I started shooting regularly two years ago, I followed the lead of my mentor, Cindy Dyer, who specializes in flower photography, and spent a lot of time in gardens. (She photographs a wide range of  subjects, though, and I encourage readers to click on her name and check out the photos on her blog from a recent trip to Iceland.)

Last weekend I went back to my roots and visited a local garden with Cindy, where I spent some time with flowers and was only occasionally distracted by insects. Cindy helped me identify a toad lily and some zinnias, but we think the yellow flower is some kind of rudbeckia.

As I was shooting, I was particularly fascinated by the structure and patterns of the petals and by the amazing colors. The colors proved to be a challenge to render correctly and I am not entirely certain that I got the pinkish color of the zinnias true to life.

If you are viewing the original posting (and not it the Reader), click on any one of the thumbnail images to see the images in succession in larger size in slide show format. (I am still experimenting with using the Gallery options for displaying multiple images.)


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved


Red Milkweed Beetle

Two years ago in a posting, I confessed to being obsessed with photographing Red milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetraophthalmus). Inexorably I kept finding myself being drawn back to these bright red beetles.

I thought I had outgrown my obsession, until I encountered several of my little red friend this past weekend at Green Spring Gardens. I immediately reverted to my old behavior and began to stalk them like a paparazzo, trying to get a good shot or any shot at all.

My obsession continues.

Red Milkweed BeetleRed Milkweed BeetleRed Milkweed Beetle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved



Three bees

Whenever I have my macro lens on my camera I seem to be irresistibly drawn to bees, like bees to honey. No matter what else I am shooting during the summer, I always seem to have some images of bees interspersed among my other photos. Here are some of my recent favorite bee shots.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved


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