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Posts Tagged ‘Canon 24-105mm’

When you are confronted with a field of sunflowers, what’s the best way to photograph them? That was my challenge this past weekend at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland. Before I arrived, I though I would get a wide-angle view, filled with the bright yellows of the tall sunflowers. The reality was a little underwhelming, because the sunflowers had not grown very tall this year and many of them were past their prime.

So instead of going wide, I decided to move in closer and try to capture some of the details of the sunflowers. Here are a few images of single sunflowers in different stages of development. Some of the images are a little abstract and hopefully challenge readers to think beyond the normal shapes and colors that they associate with sunflowers.

 

sunflower

sunflower

sunflower

sunflower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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In the first sunflower field that we visited yesterday morning at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, many of the sunflowers were drooping because of the weight of their seeds. They may not have been very photogenic, but the birds and butterflies seemed to love them, like this Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) and this Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) that I spotted among the sunflowers.

Several photographer friends and I made the trip to the sunflower fields in Poolesville, Maryland, hoping to see endless rows of tall sunflowers. According to its website, McKee-Beshers has 30 acres of sunflowers planted in nine different fields. I think that the sunflowers may have been a little past their prime and appeared to be a little stunted in size, compared to some past years.

It was tricky to figure out what kind of gear to bring on a trek like this. I ended up using my super zoom Canon SX50 to photograph the Indigo Bunting, which was a first sighting for me of this beautiful bird, and my Canon 24-105mm lens on my normal Canon 50D DSLR for the butterfly. I had both of the cameras with me at all times, which gave me a pretty good amount of flexibility. I’ve seen some photographers walk around with two DSLR bodies, but that seems like a lot of weight to carry around, especially when you are moving through vegetation as I was doing as I waded through the rows of sunflowers.

I did take shot shots of the sunflowers  and I’ll post some of them eventually. Folks who know me, though, are probably not surprised that my first instinct was to post images of birds and butterflies, rather than ones of the flowers alone.

Indigo Bunting

Monarch butterfly

© 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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It is already June, but today I thought I would post an image of a striking May flower that I photographed late last month. Some of you know that I don’t have my own garden, though I am trying to grow some flowers in my yard this year. I generally have to rely on the garden of one of my neighbors, my photography mentor Cindy Dyer, for beautiful flowers to shoot.

I stopped by her house on the day when her first red day lily opened up. More of them are blooming now, but there is always something special about the first one. I love the rich red color of this particular variety of lily.  When I was growing up in Massachusetts. my Mom had some orange tiger lilies that appeared each year that she especially loved. This lily, of course, is a different color, but somehow it brought back memories of my departed Mom.

 

lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

 

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Most of us have probably tried to frame a shot by using an archway, foliage, or other natural or man-made object to draw the attention of our viewers to our main subject. Yesterday I decided to try something a little more elaborate  during a visit to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia.

The Korean Bell Pavilion at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna,VA is an amazing structure. It was made by hand using traditional methods and houses an enormous bell. How could I highlight its beauty? I started off by taking some conventional shots of the structure and they were ok, but probably the same as hundreds of other visitors have taken.

Korean Bell Pavilion

As I was exploring some of the other buildings in the Korean Bell Garden, I noticed some beautiful carved wooden openings that faced the bell pavilion. By half-kneeling and half-standing, I realized that I could frame a view of the pavilion through the opening.

Korean Bell Pavilion

I liked the shots that I was getting, but the “frame” seemed to be a bit too dark, so I decided to see what would happen if I used my pop-up flash. As I expected, the flash helped to reveal some of the beautiful grain and color of the wood without affecting the rest of the image.

Korean Bell Pavilion

As I stood up, I saw another wooden opening and tried a similar approach, resulting is a panoramic-style shot.

Korean Bell Pavilion

Of course, it is always possible to add a frame to a shot after it has been taken, but for me it’s a lot more fun to try to frame the image while I am taking it. At a minimum, it’s worth the extra effort to try to find new angles and perspectives for a shot.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Best wishes for a blessed and happy Easter to all who are celebrating this day. Earlier this morning I went to an outdoor sunrise service at my church at 6:30 a.m. and I am not getting ready for our normal morning service in a couple of hours. Easter is a bit later this year than in some years in the past and it was already light and pleasantly warm when we began our service—in past years we were often bundled up and needed flashlights to read the programs.

I chose two images to celebrate Easter. The first is a macro shot of a flower from a recent trip to Green Spring Gardens and it speaks to me of the growth and renewal of this season. The second is a shot of my PR (Prime Rib), my very own Easter bunny, who greets me each morning.

Happy Easter to all of you.

Easter

Prime Rib

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Whenever I walk the two year old German Shepherd who belongs to my son and daughter-in-law,  one of the highlights for Katie is stopping by my house so that she can visit with Prime Rib (PR), my adopted rabbit.

The two of them seem to enjoy staring at each other and sniffing. Katie has never displayed any hostility towards PR and PR is not intimidated by her presence and often just ignores her.

It was an interesting challenge trying to get this shot using available light. Katie kept moving and PR often stayed in a position in which his eyes were not visible. Beautiful morning light was coming in from the right through the sliding glass doors, but it was not exactly where I would have liked it. I ended up using my Canon 24-105mm lens, a lens that I don’t use that often. I particularly like the way that I was able capture Katie’s intense focus and utter fascination with the little rabbit.

PR and Katie

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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