Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge and Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area Farm

Today was a very special day having spent the morning at the Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge (325 acres along the Potomac River) and the afternoon at the Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area (302 acres of floodplain wetlands, fields and hardwood forest)  both located in Prince William County in Virginia and both within 15 minutes of home.  At Featherstone, I “participated” in a plant survey.  Unfortunately, I cannot recognize and name very many plants (I can barely tell a tree from a bush) and, therefore, was of little help to the four other people participating in the survey.  I did bring along some camera gear and was able to capture some of what Featherstone looks like in very early spring.

The following three images are from Featherstone.  As you can see, I was not the only person with camera gear. The second photo is a four image panoramic taken with a 24-70mm lens on a Nikon D700.  The third is an HDR image, comprised of five images of different exposures.

At Merrimac Farm, Kim Hosen, Executive Director for the Prince William Conservation Alliance (PWCA), and Ernie Sears took Angela and me on a trail that eventually worked its way along a creek named Cedar Run to an area that has one of the largest patches of Virginia Bluebells in the Northern Virginia. The bluebell plants were in large patches and covered in flower buds.  They only bloom for about a week or two depending on the conditions, and when they do, the forest floor is covered in blue flowers.

The purpose of the tour today was to familiarize me with the trail, because next Sunday I will assist the PWCA during their annual Bluebell Festival at the farm by taking groups on tours to see the bluebells.  Of course, while there today, I shot a few photos, but not of the bluebell plants.  That I will do in about a week when they in full bloom. Check back in about a week and half.  The following two photos were taken while on the trail.  The sky was dark blue from an approaching thunderstorm.  After taking these photos, I put the camera away because of the rain.   However, we were lucky because we only got a few drops, while in other nearby areas it hailed.

More photos are available on my website at:  http://stabone.com/p536693922

About Stephen L Tabone

Retired Executive Consultant and Nature Photographer
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7 Responses to Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge and Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area Farm

  1. Anne says:

    My favorite is the third image, the HDR. Do I understand you correctly in that this image is a composite of 5 images, meaning “layers” of the same shot? What ever you did, it doesn’t matter as the sky is incredible. I know someone who will want to use it for inspiration when she paints skies. Would like to take the hike with you as the tour guide, too. Can’t wait to see all the Bluebells next week.

  2. Typically, HDR (High Dynamic Range) images are done with software such as Photomatix Pro or Nik’s HDR Efx Pro, both of which are plugins used with Lightroom, Aperture, and/or Photoshop. I have both and use one or the other based on the images. Both programs merge the files into one image, and then support tone mapping to bring out details in the shadows and structure in the light areas. An HDR image also can be achieved with layers and masks in Photoshop, which I also do at times, again depending on the image. You should check out Trey Ratcliff’s HDR images at: http://www.stuckincustoms.com

    • Anne says:

      I think you should consider a career in teaching photography next … you’d have great images to show your students/class and your knowledge about creating even better images should be shared with others.

      • Interesting recommendation, but when I really retire (soon), I do not want another career. Instead, I want more time to be outdoors, shoot nature photographs and travel (and shoot more photographs). I have a VERY long list of places to visit.

  3. Anne says:

    Just wait until you go to Italy! The light … the scenery … the food … the wine … I’m so jealous but then we are planning to go when I retire, too. I can not wait to see those pictures!

  4. Anne says:

    PS … like your gravatar. Very cool.

    • That photo was taken during my 3.5 hour chartered helicopter flight over northwest Florida to shoot Paynes Prairie State Preserve and the Gulf coast. I need to do that again!

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