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Early yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park this Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) seemed to be sending me a definite “Don’t mess with me” message. Fortunately the grackle eventually loosened up a bit and I was able to capture some additional images in a mini portrait session.

I captured these images around 6:30 on a misty, overcast morning. There was some light, but not a whole lot, so I was forced to set my ISO relatively high at ISO 1600. I was shooting in aperture priority mode and I didn’t realize until later that the shutter speeds for these shots was between 1/15 and 1/30 of a second. Considering that I was shooting with my lens zoomed out to 600mm, it’s surprising that these shots are not completely blurry (though they are a bit grainy). I am convinced that the built-in image stabilization of the lens really helps in situations like this.

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

I love trying to capture unusual reflections, like this cityscape of Vienna that was reflected last week in the tuba of a band that was playing in the center of the city.

Reflection of Vienna

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Imitating Mom

I am now home from Vienna and as I was reviewing my photos from the trip I came across this image. What could be more adorable than a baby duckling trying to imitate its mother, especially with Mother’s Day only a week away?

I took this shot last week in Vienna, Austria at the Volksgarten, where a family of Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) had taken up residence in a fountain.

Mallard Mom and duckling

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

I am usually averse to photographing unknown people in public, but the drivers of the fiakers, the two-horse carriages that offer short tours in Vienna, are such a colorful group of characters that I couldn’t resist grabbing a few shots from a distance.

fiaker driver

fiaker driver

fiaker driver

driver4_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

During my two walks through the Donau-Auen National Park in Vienna, Austria I encountered Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) in several locations swimming about and foraging for food. Their beauty and grace was remarkable and their white feathers were dazzling—it is easy to see why they have inspired music and ballet. Through the reeds I also spotted a female swan sitting on a nest. I would love to have seen baby swans, but I guess it’s still a bit too early.

As I was doing a little research, I was a bit surprised to learn that Mute Swans are not native to North America—they are an introduced species. I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts and my earliest memories of swans are the pedal-powered swan boats in the Boston Public Garden. According to Wikipedia, those swan boats have been in operation since 1877.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Mute Swan

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

At this time of the year I love to try to photograph insects, but during my brief visit to Vienna, Austria the weather has been cool, windy, and sometimes rainy. The only insect that I was able to capture was this green-eyed moth that I spotted at the Donau-Auen National Park. I did a quick internet search,so far but have not been able to identify this insect.

When I am on business trips, I generally don’t travel with my Canon 50D DSLR and multiple lenses. I had been using a Canon PowerShot A620, a 2005 vintage 7.1 megapixel point-and-shoot camera. However, a while back I purchased a Canon SX50, a super zoom camera, to use as my new travel camera and I have used this trip to Vienna to test it out. I knew that it would be pretty good for long range shots, and have featured some images of birds this week that I photographed with the SX50.

What would it do, though, with smaller subjects? Would it be able to capture details? When I examined this image of the small green-eyed moth, I was pleased to see that the camera did a pretty good job in rendering details, such as the antennae and the eye.

I am still playing around with the different settings of the camera in an attempt to maximize the quality of the images it delivers, but my initial impressions are quite favorable.

Green-eyed moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

The locals must have thought I was a bit crazy as I maneuvered about taking photos of some House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) in the Volksgarten, one of the many beautiful public parks in Vienna, Austria. After all, House Sparrows are among the most ordinary-looking and common birds in the city.

Most of the time the sparrows were in constant motion, but a couple of them perched for short periods of time and I was able to capture a few images of the female and male House Sparrows that highlight their beauty.

sparrow5_blog

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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