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Posts Tagged ‘Tamron 150-600mm telephoto’

Peering through the vegetation at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this past Monday, I spotted several large birds at the edge of the water. I thought they might be eagles or ospreys, but they turned out to be Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) that appeared to be foraging as the tide was going out.

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you relax by hanging from a bar in the pull-up position? No, I don’t either, but this Mocha Emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora linearis) chose to do so on Monday when I spotted it at Huntley Meadows Park.

A couple of things really stand out whenever I am lucky enough to spot one of these beautiful dragonflies. Unlike many dragonflies, Mocha Emeralds don’t appear to like direct sunlight—they seem to hang out at small shaded streams, where the shadows and shade make photography difficult. Secondly, they often seem to hang vertically, which emphasizes their extraordinarily long slender bodies. Somehow they remind me of the super skinny young male models that many designers seem to favor, clothing them in garments that those of us with more normal physiques would never ever fit into—unlike those models, we have waists and hips.

Mocha Emerald

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am not completely certain what these two muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) were doing on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. It may have been only grooming, but to me it looks like muskrat love.

muskrat love

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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On the same day that I saw the Common Whitetail dragonfly that I featured yesterday in my blog posting, I was thrilled to have the chance to photograph an uncommon dragonfly, a male Stream Cruiser (Didymops transversa). I had never before seen a Stream Cruiser, but local dragonfly expert and fellow photographer Walter Sanford had observed them in the past at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge and offered to guide me.

It’s somewhat of an understatement to say that Stream Cruisers are hard to spot. The are not very big (about 2.2 inches (56-60mm) in length), they are skittish, and they often perch on the stems of low vegetation. During the hours that we searched for them, I observed a couple of probable Stream Cruisers in the air, but lost them in the blur of the vegetation and never saw a single one land. Walter saw the first one of the day, a female, and posted an awesome photograph of the beautiful dragonfly in a blog posting yesterday. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to make it to the dragonfly’s location before she flew away. Walter spotted a few more Stream Cruisers during the day, but each time I couldn’t get there quickly enough to see one.

I was beginning to think that I was going to end up empty-handed for the day when Walter called out that he had spotted a male perched in the underbrush. This Stream Cruiser was cooperative enough to stay perched as I rushed to try to get a shot. I had my Tamron 180mm macro lens on my camera at that moment. The dragonfly and the stem on which it was perched were so small in the viewfinder that my camera’s autofocus would not lock on my subject, so I had to resort to focusing manually. Dragonflies have so many fine details that it is really hard to tell when they are in focus. This image was the best I could get after cropping the initial shot quite a bit.

Stream Cruiser

I decided to push my luck and see if I could get a better shot with my Tamron 150-600mm lens that I use primarily to photograph birds. Amazingly the dragonfly stayed put while I changed lenses. Once again I had to focus manually, which is an even bigger problem with this lens, because the focus ring is located really close to the lens mount. It’s hard to hold the camera steady and focus manually at the same time.

Here’s an image that I shot at 600mm. I managed to get the eye pretty sharp and to capture some of the details of the dragonfly’s incredibly long legs, but the depth of field was so shallow that the abdomen is out of focus. Normally I will try to move around the subject to be as parallel as I can be, but in this case I stayed fixed at one spot and remained as immobile as I could.

Stream Cruiser

It is really nice to start off this dragonfly season with a new species. If you want to learn more about the Stream Cruiser dragonfly, check out this page from the Dragonflies of Northern Virginia website (and stay tuned for Walter’s shots of this dragonfly that should appear tomorrow morning in his blog).

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It was below freezing and windy yesterday morning when I headed out with my camera. I didn’t expect to see many birds and was a little surprised when I kept running across Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos). They are pretty common where I live, but I just have not seen very many of them this winter.

The first one that I spotted was huddled inside a bush with its feathers all puffed up, probably in an effort to keep warm.

Northern Mockingbird

Another one seemed to be trying to warm up by facing the sun.

Northern Mockingbird

A final mockingbird seemed undeterred by the wind that was ruffling its feathers and boldly sang out a happy song, greeting the arrival of the new day.

Northern Mockingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A new alcoholic beverage? No, in this case, the title of my blog posting is literal.

When I first spotted this Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) on Monday, I thought it was wading in the water. Looking more closely, I realized it was standing on the rocks, giving us a really good view of its dark, webbed feet.

Double-crested Cormorant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Recently I posted an image of a Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) that prompted one reader to comment that the grebe looked like a “poorly drawn duck.” Now I’ll admit that the shape and proportions of a grebe are a bit unusual, but I was sure that with the right angle and lighting I could manage to take a beauty portrait of this little bird. I’m not sure that I succeeded fully, but I don’t feel at all uncomfortable characterizing the bird in this image as a “pretty grebe.”

Pied-billed Grebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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