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Archive for the ‘Landscape’ Category

As I drove through the gates at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past Friday, a thick fog (or mist) was hanging low over the fields. The sun was just beginning to rise and it was still pretty dark. Although my goal for the day was to photograph birds, I decided to make an attempt at capturing the feeling of the moment and quickly realized the difficulty of that task—it’s a real challenge to capture the delicate nuances of light and shadows and the subtle shades of the rising sun when there is so little available light.

I felt a bit uncomfortable as I was shooting these images, a clear indication that I was way outside of my comfort zone, but I think it is good to try new approaches and subjects in order for me to keep on growing and learning as a photographer.

 

misty morning

autumn mist

autumn path

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I was facing almost directly east in the early morning hours at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the colors of the rising sun filtering through the trees made it look like the woods were ablaze. Fortunately, they were not.

sunlight

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As the early morning light began to filter through the trees and the mist was rising, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of tranquility last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Was there any way that I could possibly capture that feeling in an image?

Many of you know that I rarely shoot landscape photos. I normally do not carry with me the kind of wide angle lens that is traditionally associated with landscape photography and instead carry a long telephoto zoom lens and a macro lens almost all of the time. The first two photos below were not cropped and were shot with the telephoto zoom lens set at 150mm, its widest setting. I have started carrying my Canon SX50 with me most of the time and this super zoom camera allowed me to get a much wider view and a greater depth of field.

I am not sure that any of these images adequately capture the feeling of the moment, but I wanted to share some of my different approaches in trying to capture the light, shadows, shapes, and colors of one early morning in the autumn.

early autumn morning

early autumn morning

early autumn morning

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Last weekend when I was staying outside of Roanoke for a wedding, I had the chance to walk a few miles of the Appalachian Trail. It was pretty awesome—now I have only about 2178 more miles to go to complete it.

Like most people, I had heard about the Appalachian Trail, but didn’t know much about it. Somehow I imagined that it was about as wide as a jeep and relatively smooth. My brief hike on the trail dispelled those notions. The trail is narrow, muddy, and steep, at least in those parts where I was walking.

I encountered the trail in Troutville, Virginia, a small town that is designated as an Appalachian Trail Community, where hikers can resupply along the way. Troutville marks a point on the trail where thru-hikers, those trying to complete the entire trail in a single year, will have completed about a third of the trail, assuming they started in Georgia.

It’s pretty exciting to think about hiking a 2200 mile trail, but it requires a lot of planning, training, and commitment. Generally thru-hikers spent five to seven months hiking on the trail, and quite a few people drop out along the way for many different reasons.

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

As I climbed a hill and came to a meadow, I noticed this small tent. Apparently a hiker decided this was a good spot to spend the night. You can see part of the trail, which is marked with white “blazes,” like the one on the wooden post.

Appalachian Trail
This was the scenic view from the top of one of several hills that I climbed during my short stint on the trail.
Appalachian Trail
 © Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge last weekend, I spotted some Eastern Amberwing dragonflies (Perithemis tenera) flying low above the surface of the pond. One of them, a female, kept returning to a particular spot and would dip down and touch the water to deposit eggs. A male would periodically make an appearance and I couldn’t tell for sure if he was guarding the female or was trying to put the moves on her.

This is my favorite shot of the encounter. The dragonfly on the left is a male Eastern Amberwing and the one coming in from the right is a female. I thought about cropping the image in closer, but decided to keep it like this in order to retain the ripples and the reflection, elements that I really like.

 

Eastern Amberwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I’d never before seen river barges, so it was pretty cool to watch these ones moving along the Ohio River in Wheeling, West Virginia during my brief trip there last month. I never realized that barges are pushed from behind rather than pulled from the front. How in the world are they able to steer?

barges

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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From a distance, it looks almost like they are drilling for oil in the center of Fort Benning, Georgia. Those towers, however, are not oil derricks, but are used for training soldiers who will become airborne-qualified. There are a series of towers of varying heights and as soldiers master their equipment and techniques, they are literally taken to greater heights.

In 1980 I was at Fort Benning for US Army Officer Candidate School (OCS), and I remember running on a track around those towers. During my Army career, I did not go through airborne training and I am happy to say that I have a perfect record—I have landed safely aboard every aircraft on which I have taken off.

I am currently at Fort Benning to celebrate my son’s graduation from OCS. Yesterday I had a chance to walk around the field on which the towers are located and to capture a variety of shots. Here are some of my favorites.

jump towers

jump tower

tower3_blog

jump tower

jump tower

jump tower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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