My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

  • Great blue heron in flight
  • Iris
  • American pipit
  • Dragonfly in flight
  • Male common yellowthroat
  • Motherwort
  • Great blue heron
  • Buff-breasted sandpiper
  • Spotted sandpiper
  • Black-eyed Susan

Latest

Falling for fall all over again

After a warmer than average summer, we’ve finally had a bit of a cool down here, the temperature yesterday was about average for this time of year, and it was very refreshing for a change. The trees are just beginning to put on their fabulous fall display of color, with just a hint of what’s to come. I do love fall here in west Michigan, it’s a delightful time of the year.

It’s especially delightful when I can shoot a series of images like these!

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

None of these are cropped, I thought that the heron may fly through the windows of my Subaru for a few seconds.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

These were shot with the Image Stabilization on the lens turned off, which I found gives me much sharper images of birds in flight when I can keep the shutter speed fast enough.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

I think that I have the camera settings dialed in pretty well now, from the auto-focus tracking settings, to the exposure settings.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Now that I know what settings to use, I played around learning which angles and distances from the subjects worked the best. I shot over 650 photos on Sunday, and most of them were birds in flight, mostly ducks and geese. The biggest problem that I encountered was finding times when there was enough separation between the birds so that they didn’t end up being a jumbled mess.

Canada geese landing

Canada geese landing

That was true of birds overhead as well.

Canada geese in flight

Canada geese in flight

I found it difficult to fill the frame with birds if they were in flocks, without cutting off parts of several birds.

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

It doesn’t help when a male stands on the shoulders of a female to launch himself out of the frame…

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

…or when birds are going in different directions…

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

…but I persevered and decided that those were good enough to post.

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

It would be better if I could have cropped the partial duck out of the frame of this one, or if I had gotten the third duck’s head in the frame.

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

It would also be better if the ducks were in full breeding plumage as well, as you’ll see later on. But first, this is the way that the day started.

Sunrise over my favorite marsh

Sunrise over my favorite marsh

You can see a flock of ducks frolicking there in the marsh, here’s a closer look at the ducks.

Ducks at dawn

Ducks at dawn

Here’s two more images that I shot just after dawn.

Duck at dawn

Duck at dawn

 

Dawn over the lagoon

Dawn over the lagoon

Snow geese are known for their habit of forming in huge flocks, but I found one lone snow goose hanging out with the Canada geese.

Blue goose morph snow goose

Blue goose morph snow goose

Snow geese have two color variations, this one is known as the blue goose.

Blue goose morph snow goose

Blue goose morph snow goose

I went back later to shoot better photos when there was more light, but the snow goose had moved to places unknown by then.

This next series of photos are the camera torture test, trying to shoot a crow perched almost in front of the rising sun.

American crow at dawn

American crow at dawn

Luck was with me, for some reason the crow allowed me to get very close to it, that image wasn’t cropped at all. I was even luckier, the crow sat there while I circled it to get these next two images as well.

American crow at dawn

American crow at dawn

I learned that not even the 7D Mk II will auto-focus on the chest of an all black bird, so I had to manually focus for these. It may have helped if I had been using more than just the center focusing point so that the camera could have seen more than all black, but I didn’t think of that at the time.

American crow at dawn

American crow at dawn

Getting the exposure correct was also tricky, I was checking to make sure that I had it right when the crow finally decided that it had posed long enough and took off, so I missed those shots.

This next photo is to show the relative sizes of the waterfowl that I see at Muskegon. It’s easy to see the largest, a mute swan. Then, there’s the Canada geese, with a mallard in front of the mute swan. Above the swan, there’s a ruddy duck, which are tiny little things compared to the rest of the waterfowl in this photo.

Mute swan, Canada geese, mallard, and ruddy duck

Mute swan, Canada geese, mallard, and ruddy duck

Once again, I saw all three of the falcons that are common near Muskegon, but I was only able to photograph two again.

Merlin

Merlin

 

American kestrel in flight

American kestrel in flight

I missed the peregrine falcon that I saw, it was too far away to even bother trying to shoot a photo of it. Oh well, one of these days I’ll get all three on the same day.

I went looking for smaller birds that may have been migrating through the woodlots, but all I found were these turkeys.

Turkeys on the run

Turkeys on the run

I saw quite a few sandhill cranes scattered around the grassy cells.

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

I was able to get a little closer to the one with a feather stuck to its beak.

Sandhill crane

Sandhill crane

Those photos look like most of the others that I have shot of the cranes, I just realized how I can change that, hopefully the next time that I see them. I suppose that I could have pushed the cranes until they took flight, but I left them there to feed for their journey south.

Next up, a pair of more artistic photos…

Starling and lesser yellowlegs sharing an island

Starling and lesser yellowlegs sharing an island

…and, here’s the cropped version to show every one the relative sizes of the two species better.

Starling and lesser yellowlegs sharing an island

Starling and lesser yellowlegs sharing an island

Before I run out of room, I had better get these photos in here, they are of northern shovelers in flight. As you can see, they still have their eclipse plumage…

Northern shovelers in flight

Northern shovelers in flight

…I can hardly wait until spring…

Northern shovelers in flight

Northern shovelers in flight

…so that I can get the same quality of photo, but with the shovelers in breeding plumage.

Northern shovelers in flight

Northern shovelers in flight

By spring, I will have worked out the best angles and distances to shoot flocks of waterfowl at to produce better images. In the meantime, for the last photo in this post, a dragonfly that I almost didn’t bother to shoot.

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

I’m a bit surprised that it turned out as well as it did, I thought that the light was wrong, but what do I know?

I know that I may be offline for a while, I have water seeping into the room where I have my computer located. I’ll have to move everything out of this room, and into another part of my apartment until they get the water leak fixed and the carpet cleaned and dried. That’s not going to be an easy task, since I have no room to spare in my apartment, and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to find a spot to get the computer set-up and hooked to the internet while they repair the water leak.

This is the third time that I’ve had water leaking into my apartment, and since there’s no plumbing in the room where I have the computer, I have no idea where the water could be coming from, but the carpet is damp, and getting a little worse every day, so something is leaking.

I’m back after a very busy day. I took my Subaru in for its scheduled maintenance, then it took me to the dentist for mine. I went home and moved everything out of the computer room, then notified maintenance here. I moved everything before calling them, because they weren’t very careful with my things during the previous floods. It looks like there’s a crack in the foundation that’s letting the water seep in, but they want to get the carpet dry before they investigate further. That way, the water that’s still seeping in can get the carpet wet again. Don’t ask, I have no idea why they’d do that.

I jury-rigged an internet connection for the time being, but I’m not sure how well it will work over time. Oh, and by the way, I took delivery of the new 100-400 mm lens today, and even had time to shoot a photo or two around here. I’m dying to really test it on flying birds, but the ducks were all napping this afternoon.

Sleeping male mallard

Sleeping male mallard

All I can say is WOW! The color, clarity, sharpness, and details are as much better than the 300 mm lens and tele-converter as the 300 mm lens is over the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens). I also shot a squirrel, with similar results. Now I’m really looking forward to getting to know that lens!

It will take me a while to get used to zooming in and out again, but I’m already loving the zoom range of the lens. I’m sure that I’ll have a lot more to say about in the future, so I think that it’s time to finish this post and get ready for work.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Serving up some leftovers

I’m still trying to use up photos that I have shot this summer but haven’t gotten around to posting yet. It’s been a very good summer for photography, despite the fact that Saturdays have been the rainiest, cloudiest day of the week this summer. Isn’t that the way that it always goes?

Even though we had a dry spell early in the summer, the drought broke before it affected the flowers to any degree.

Iris

Iris

 

Burdock flower

Burdock flower

 

Solomen seal?

Solomon seal?

Well, I’ve ordered the Canon 100-400 mm L series lens, and it should arrive on Monday. Wouldn’t you know, I have a three-day weekend this week due to the fact that my dedicated run at work is changing, and the new lens will arrive about the time that I have to go to bed on Monday. Oh well.

I have high hopes for this new lens, especially after the tribulations that I went through last weekend trying to photograph smaller birds in the woods. The 300 mm lens with a tele-converter behind it does fine on birds out in the open when they sit still long enough for that combination to focus on the birds.

Barn swallow

Barn swallow

 

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

However, at both the wastewater facility and the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, the slow focusing of that set-up really hit home, again. If you remember, I got so frustrated with the its slow focusing when I was on vacation this spring that I switched over and used the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) whenever I was walking through heavily wooded areas. That’s one of the reasons that you haven’t seen many shots like this over the summer.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Even though I worked very hard for these photos, they’re not really very good, not up to my current standards for photos. However, they are photos of species of birds that I haven’t posted any photos of lately, so rather than bore you with yet another image of a turkey vulture in flight…

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

…I’ll bore you with poor photos of smaller birds.

Black-capped chickadee waving goodbye

Black-capped chickadee waving goodbye

 

Brown thrasher

Brown thrasher

 

Willow flycatcher

Willow flycatcher

I’ve seen this species of warbler several times now, but it’s always been a female or juvenile male, I’ve never caught a male in breeding plumage yet.

Female or juvenile Blackpoll warbler

Female or juvenile Blackpoll warbler

And, the only way that I could make a positive identification of which species it was is because of this even worse photo, which shows the bird’s wing bars.

Female or juvenile Blackpoll warbler

Female or juvenile Blackpoll warbler

I tried very hard for a better photo of this wren, but it stayed well hidden most of the time. I have several photos of it peering at me through the leaves that I won’t bore you with.

Sedge wren

Sedge wren

It’s so much easier when the birds perch out in the open.

Dickcissel

Dickcissel

Or at least in some better light.

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

This catbird was eating the berries that you can see, but the bird turned its back every single time it plucked one of the berries, as if it didn’t want me to see what it was eating.

Grey catbird

Grey catbird

I’ve heard more of these guys this summer than ever, yet all that I have to show is this very poor photo of one. That’s hardly fitting of the joy that they given me through their almost constant serenades.

Warbling vireo

Warbling vireo

I think that it’s interesting that I find that fast auto-focusing is more important to me while I’m photographing small birds in the woods than I do when photographing large birds in flight.

American crow in flight

American crow in flight

Since I’m serving up leftovers, here’s the rest of the photos from last Sunday.

Northern shovelers in flight

Northern shovelers in flight

The new 100-400 mm lens that I ordered focuses even closer than the 300 mm lens that I used for these next few, so I shouldn’t have to crop as much as I did these images.

Unidentified bug

Unidentified bug

You can see how little depth of field that there is though.

 

Spider

Spider

 

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

 

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

 

Smartweed?

Smartweed?

 

Dog enjoying a boat ride

Dog enjoying a boat ride

I couldn’t resist that last one, the dog was acting as the look out on the bow of the boat and was enjoying the ride on such a fine day.

I have one more from last weekend, I had high hopes for this one as I was setting up to shoot it.

The clay pit

The clay pit

My thinking was that the goldenrod would be the foreground, the trees beginning to turn yellow the middle ground, and the green trees and their reflection, the background. However, once again, the scene ended up being too busy and it’s also lacking any leading lines to draw your eyes through the image. It makes me wonder if I should include wire cutters in my kit to cut through fences like the one that you can see here in order to get a better view of a scene?😉

There are several wetlands owned by the State of Michigan along the route that I’ve been driving for work each day, and they look like great places to shoot photos of birds. I see flocks of egrets hunting in those wetlands almost every day, along with a few great blue herons, and occasionally, green herons. However, all those wetlands are fenced oft prevent people from accessing them. So, it’s become a joke to ask myself if I should include wire cutters in my photo kit. What can I say, it’s very boring driving back and forth across the state every day, you have to amuse yourself some how.

Anyway, I have some more leftovers, this time from back in June.

Unidentified flowering objects

Unidentified flowering objects

 

Unidentified flowering objects

Unidentified flowering objects

I wish that all shorebirds would pose as nicely as the spotted sandpipers do.

Spotted sandpipers

Spotted sandpipers

 

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object

 

Eastern swallowtail butterfly

Eastern swallowtail butterfly

This next one was shot on the same day as the first photo in this post, I was playing with different lighting on the iris.

Iris

Iris

 

Reed burr

Reed burr

 

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object

 

Black hawthorn?

Black hawthorn?

I think that you can see why these didn’t make the original cut when I did the earlier posts from the trips that I took, yet they were too good to be deleted, since they represent the things that I saw. I usually post the images of birds first, then get around to the flowers and insects later, but they’re all part of the experiences that I had this past summer. I suppose that I should be more selective as I go through the images that I save for posts.

Here’s another example of that. I was proud to have shot this photo when I first saw it, but it didn’t wow me as I thought that it should.

Mourning dove in flight

Mourning dove in flight

That was also shot back in June, and I’m just getting around to posting it now. That was probably a mistake, since this one is better than many of the images that I’ve posted earlier this year.

Some of the photos that I have saved are part of a series of photos that I shot, like these next two.

Red-winged blackbird bringing a dragonfly to its young

Red-winged blackbird bringing a dragonfly to its young

You’ve already seen one or two of the images in the series that I shot, yet at the time that I shot them, I had other photos that I wanted to post even more. That’s funny, as I saved this next one to show that the blackbirds can still scold me even while they have a dragonfly in their mouth.

Red-winged blackbird bringing a dragonfly to its young

Red-winged blackbird bringing a dragonfly to its young

I have room for two more, so here they are.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

I think that the photo above shows scrambled egg slime mold, but I’m not positive about that. This next one is definitely a mushroom, but I can’t identify it, even though I should be able to.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Well, I’ve filled another post, albeit with some of the poorer images that I’ve shot this summer. Even though I try, they can’t all be winners, yet the things that I’ve photographed and put into this post are all part of the days that I’ve had when I’ve been able to get outside and enjoy the fine summer that we’ve had here in Michigan.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

The more the merrier

As if getting a good photo of one bird…

American pipit

American pipit

…wasn’t tough enough already, on Saturday, I ended up trying for multiple birds…

American kestrels

American kestrels

…at one time. They’re so cute, they deserve another photo of them.

American kestrels

American kestrels

They’re not only North American’s smallest falcon, they have to be the most camera-shy also.

I was having an uncharacteristically slow day at the Muskegon wastewater facility, so with a flock of kestrels around, I thought that I may as well just sit there for a while and hope that one would come closer, since I can’t sneak up on them. It actually worked, one did catch a large grasshopper and perched close to me while it ate the grasshopper.

American kestrel eating a grasshopper

American kestrel eating a grasshopper

I really lucked out, not only was the kestrel close enough so that I can see the leg of the grasshopper in its talons, but it did so when I had good light and a good background for the photos, unlike when I shot the pair of them earlier. I inched as close as I dared.

American kestrel eating a grasshopper

American kestrel eating a grasshopper

Close enough that I can see the kestrel’s tongue. I don’t know if that means the kestrel liked the taste of the grasshopper, or hated it. Since it was sticking around, I shot a few more images of it.

American kestrel

American kestrel

 

American kestrel

American kestrel

 

American kestrel

American kestrel

It turned out to be a slow weekend, not just slow on Saturday. I’ll have more on that later, but I went to the wastewater facility on Saturday because it was raining when I left home, and since Muskegon is west of Grand Rapids, the weather clears there before it does here. As you can see…

A beautiful early fall day

A beautiful early fall day

…it turned out to be a good day as far as the weather.

I began the day trying to shoot a few shorebirds and their reflections, but something always ruined those images, like the piece of trash floating near the yellowlegs in this one.

Lesser yellowlegs and reflection

Lesser yellowlegs and reflection

A little later, I was trying a similar shot with a couple of the yellowlegs, but as I was shooting, more and more birds entered the frame, so this was the final version.

Lesser yellowlegs

Lesser yellowlegs

My intent was to shoot more flying birds, but you have to see flying birds to shoot them. I saw plenty of birds in flight, but none close enough to bother trying to photograph. This is the exception.

Great egret in flight

Great egret in flight

That was shot with the 300 mm lens alone, no tele-converter, and the Image Stabilization turned off. Since I’ve already eliminated the tele-converter as the reason for the less than sharp images of birds in flight that I get from the 300 mm lens, it must be the IS that is the cause. However, one series of photos isn’t proof positive of that, it will require more testing.

So, a little later, I noticed that there were several egrets working one of the farm fields at the wastewater facility, when a great blue heron decided to join them. For once, I was in a good spot to capture the moment.

Great blue heron and great egrets

Great blue heron and great egrets

But, there was no way that I could get the depth of field required to get all four birds in focus at once. Not so with this family of sandhill cranes.

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

All I had to do then was wait for all three to look in the same direction.

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

I wanted to get closer, but the only way that I could was to circle the cranes, but then, I’d be shooting into the sun. No problem, I waited for a cloud to partially obscure the bright sunshine, and got this close-up with no harsh shadows.

Sandhill crane

Sandhill crane

I have to say that having a few of my images printed 16 X 20 inches has spoiled me in a way, just as viewing my images on a 27 inch iMac has. These images of the cranes just don’t cut it here in their small size and lowered resolution., but I don’t know what the answer is to that. I guess that you’ll have to trust me when I say that these images of the cranes are stunning when viewed as I see them on my computer, some of the best images that I’ve ever shot.

Here’s a couple of the other photos from Saturday at the wastewater facility.

Unidentified moth

Unidentified moth

 

Spiderwebs

spiderweb covered with dew

 

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

 

American pipit preening

American pipit preening

I then drove over to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, but I didn’t have much better luck there. On a very nice day such as it was, there’s always a lot of people there, and that keeps the birds back in the extremely thick brush at the preserve, so here’s the few poor images that I was able to shoot.

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

 

Starling in flight

Starling in flight

 

Starling in flight

Starling in flight

 

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

The Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve has to be the most frustrating place that I go. There’s always plenty of birds there, but getting a clear view of them is close to impossible until the leaves fall from the trees. Of course by then, most of the birds have gone south for the winter.

Sunday dawned bright and almost clear.

Sunday sunrise

Sunday sunrise

But, not long after the sun popped over the horizon, the combination of early morning sunlight, fog, and clouds created some of the most magical light that I’ve ever seen. Of course I wasn’t someplace more suitable for landscapes, so as I’ve learned from the Michael Melford videos that I’ve watched, when I had magic light, I shot whatever it was that I could find.

Magic light

Magic light over the lagoon

I didn’t know how long the light would last, so I shot that one, and this one…

Magic morning

Magic morning

…with the 420 mm set-up that I use for birding on the 7D. Then, I drove like a man possessed to get to where I could shoot about the same scenes with a wide-angle lens.

The magic light begins to fade

The magic light begins to fade

By then, I had lost most of the color from the first rays of sunlight.

Still enough left for one last shot

Still enough left for one last shot

Just my luck, I get some incredible light, and I get to shoot a storage lagoon at a wastewater facility and the county landfill in the great light. There’s no way to predict light like that, and I’m sure that the wastewater facility helped to generate that magic light to some degree. I shot this one looking away from the facility…

Canada geese in flight over foggy hills

Canada geese in flight over foggy hills

…and you can see that the fog wasn’t as thick, nor was there the same color to the sky. Oh well, one of these days I will be in the right place at the right time, I hope.

I suppose that you could say that I had magic light for these as well, although it was more or less just early morning sunlight backlighting the subjects.

Dew covered spider web

Dew covered spider web

 

The spider that built the web

The spider that built the web

 

Dew covered grasses

Dew covered grasses

 

Dew covering everything

Dew covering everything

Going back to the multiple bird theme, I shot a few photos of a flock of sanderlings that couldn’t make up their minds’ where they wanted to land.

Sanderlings in flight

Sanderlings in flight

 

Sanderlings in flight

Sanderlings in flight

 

Sanderlings in flight

Sanderlings in flight

Sanderlings are fun to watch, they seem to do everything as a flock. While many of the shorebirds will join together in a flock while flying, the sanderlings feed together in a flock. They run to and fro to catch their prey as if in unison. I tried to shoot some photos of them in action, but the photos were junk, I couldn’t keep the entire flock in focus as they scurried along the beach. Also, because they stay so close together, I had lumps of birds in my images, you couldn’t make out the individual birds. I’ll have to work on that.

At the same time as I was watching the sanderlings, I shot a few photos of other birds in the area, and here they are.

Mute swan

Mute swan

 

Mute swan

Mute swan

 

Semi-palmated plover

Semi-palmated plover

Well, that wraps up another one. I have many more photos from Sunday, most of them aren’t very good. I tried to shoot some of the small woodland birds, but I could never catch them in good light, no matter what I tried. Either I was in the bright sunshine looking at birds in deep shade, or I was in deep shade looking at birds in bright sunshine. Because it takes my eyes a few seconds to adjust to the changes in light, I had a difficult time getting the birds in the viewfinder. But, I’ll have more on that in my next post.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

This, that, and the other thing

In my last post I said that I had joined the North American Nature Photographers Facebook page as a way to judge my images as compared to the ones shot by other people so that I know what areas of photography I still have to work on. It’s funny, I posted the best photo of the peregrine falcon and the flying dragonfly from the last post to that group’s Facebook page, and the flying dragonfly…

Dragonfly in flight

Dragonfly in flight

…is the one that drew the most responses. By the way, with the 7D Mk II set-up the right way, I can shoot shot after shot…

Dragonfly in flight

Dragonfly in flight

…after shot…

Dragonfly in flight

Dragonfly in flight

…of dragonflies as they fly. It isn’t easy to follow a dragonfly in flight, but it can be done.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised that the dragonfly drew more responses than the falcon, but maybe that’s due to the degree of difficulty involved. I like the way that you can tell from a series of still shots how dragonflies move their wings to hover and to move.

Moving on, as I also said in my last post, I had another long conversation with Brian Johnson, who bands (rings) birds at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve. Yesterday’s conversation centered on two subjects, his work, and birds that are actually quite common, but seldom reported because of how secretive those species are, Oh wait, there was a third topic we discussed, how few birds there are during the migration this fall.

First, Brian’s work, it is a labor of love on his part in the quest for knowledge about bird behavior. He used to apply for grants to fund his work, and he used grant money to purchase the nets and other equipment that he uses in his work, but he found the grants were often too restrictive. Not surprisingly, what ever group that funded the grant expected him to follow their rules as far as the grants, and Brian found that he couldn’t always follow the rules of the grants, as in how many hours or days per week that he was able to do the banding.

These days, since he has the equipment, he does everything mostly on his own, although he and others often share both data and expenses. He bands every bird that ends up in his nets, even the hawks and other large birds, even though he has his nets placed in such a way as to avoid netting many large birds. Each bird is weighed, several measurements for size are taken, and he inspects each bird for parasites and overall health. He then records all that data both on paper and in his computer. By the way, if you’re ever in the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, Brian leaves a simplified paper version of his work under the picnic pavilion for all to see.

As I said in my last post, it’s always a pleasure to talk to Brian as he works, I learn so much more from him than I could ever pick up in books. Yesterday, we talked mostly about thrushes, and how each species reacts differently to humans. I learned that grey-cheeked thrushes are far more common than I thought from the number of times that they are reported to eBird. That’s because grey-cheeked thrushes are very secretive, and good at hiding when humans are around. So, I need to pay more attention when I’m in the woods and be on the look out for those thrushes, in areas where there are very few or no other people around. That led to discussions about other species and their habits also.

The third topic of discussion was how few juvenile birds he was banding this fall, almost all the birds have been adults. Well, it’s not only while he’s banding birds, he also does bird counts at several locations, and from those counts, it was a bad year for bird reproduction. According to Brian, that’s usually what happens during an El Nino year such as we had this year, but no one seems to know why. Although, the populations of insects that feed on plants also falls during El Nino years. That doesn’t account for the drop off in numbers of birds that eat mostly berries and/or seeds though, as those food sources are often more abundant during an El Nino year. What’s even harder to figure out is why bird reproduction falls off all across North America, when the effects of an El Nino are different in different parts of the continent. However, according to the records, every El Nino year seems to affect bird reproduction rates all across North America.

Come to think of it, earlier this spring I began to look for whitetail fawns in April, when the fawns are usually born, but I didn’t see any. Not when I was out in the woods, not when I was driving back and forth across the state for work. I was going to write something about that then, but about that time, I did begin to see a few fawns. However, as I think about it now, I see plenty of adult deer, plenty of yearling deer, but there doesn’t seem to be as many of this year’s fawns as there should be. Because of the El Nino, we had a relatively mild winter, although it did linger on longer than average, it should have been a good year for deer, but it doesn’t seem to have been.

On the other hand, it was a very good year for cottontail rabbits, I saw more young rabbits this year…

Young cottontail rabbit

Young cottontail rabbit

…they were everywhere.

Young cottontail rabbit and mother

Young cottontail rabbit and mother

This one was still following its mother around, which was a little unusual.

Young cottontail rabbit and mother

Young cottontail rabbit and mother

Young rabbits usually go off on their own while still very young.

Young cottontail rabbit

Young cottontail rabbit

But, putting what Brian told me about bird populations, and what I witnessed as far as the deer and the rabbits together, I wonder how much of it was due to the weather. Does an El Nino affect the populations of a wide range of species of both animals and birds? If so, how and why? If El Nino was the reason for fewer fawns, then was it also the reason for more young rabbits, and if so, why? So many questions that I’ll never be able to answer.

Moving on again, I realized today that the bird in flight photos that I shot this Sunday weren’t as sharp as those that I shot last Sunday. At first I thought that it was because I shot everything moving that was even close to being in camera range this Sunday, and also that I didn’t worry as much about light.

Then it dawned on me, last Sunday I used the 70-200 mm lens with the 1.4 X tele-converter, this Sunday I used the 300 mm lens with the same tele-converter. That rules out the tele-converter as the cause of the loss of sharpness, and as I pondered two posts ago, it leaves either the 300 mm lens itself as the reason, or the Image Stabilization as the reason.

The ones that I shot with the 300 mm lens aren’t bad.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

However, they are lacking the fine detail that I was able to get in the bird’s feathers when I used the 70-200 mm lens.

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

You probably can’t see the difference in these lower resolution versions, especially how small they are here, but on my computer, the difference is definitely there.

Maybe these photos will show the difference, first, a hawk from last Sunday…

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

…and now one from this Sunday.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

The 70-200 mm lens and extender outperformed the 300 mm lens and extender by a noticeable margin. That means that I’ll have to do some more testing, turning the IS off for some photos, and leaving it on for others. I should also test the 300 mm lens by itself without the extender as well, although I’m sure that the extender isn’t the problem.

I think that the problem is the performance characteristics of the 300 mm lens. It’s always been extremely sharp when shooting close-ups, as a few more photos of the Phoebe enjoying lunch show.

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

 

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

 

Eastern Phoebe after lunch

Eastern Phoebe after lunch

But, with the exact same set-up, I struggled to get a good shot of any of the many kestrels that I saw, which kept their distance from me as usual.

American kestrel

American kestrel

I was watching 7 of them at one time, and you’d think that I would have been able to come up with a better photo than that, or this one as one of the kestrels flew to another tree.

American kestrel in flight

American kestrel in flight

Anyway, I’m more convinced than ever that the 300 mm lens loses its sharpness as the distance from the subject increases, and that there’s nothing that I can do to overcome that, other than to get closer to my subjects.

On the other hand, from the odd bird behavior files comes this photo.

Great blue heron out for a stroll

Great blue heron out for a stroll

Not once but twice, I saw what I think was the same heron walking down the road that circles the storage lagoons at the wastewater facility. That’s the second time that I saw the heron, I left a lot of distance between us when I pulled over to shoot that photo. This photo is from the first time that I saw the heron in the road, and I tried to get too close.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Maybe the heron was feeding on grasshoppers along the road, but I would have thought that it would have been closer to the weeds rather than right in the middle of the road.  If the heron was eating grasshoppers, it had plenty to choose from.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

I also shot a couple of more artistic photos Sunday, here’s a landscape that I shot to showcase the number of ducks that I saw.

Ducks at dawn

Ducks at dawn

It was a cool morning, and you can see wisps of fog in the air. For the same reason, I also shot this one.

Northern shoveler and feathers at dawn

Northern shoveler and feathers at dawn

The ducks are still molting, as you can tell by all the feathers floating on the water.

My primary goal was to shoot flying birds, and when I saw this northern shoveler stretching, I was hoping that it was in preparation of taking off.

Northern shoveler

Northern shoveler

But, it finished stretching and then simply swam off to join the rest of the flock, darn.

Gulls are always present there, so I did get some practice shooting them…

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

…but when I had a chance to capture one of the gulls picking up something to eat…

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

…of course the gull was heading in the wrong direction, because there was no wind at that time of day to force any of the birds in flight that I tried to shoot to account for the wind…

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

…if there had been a breeze, the gull would have been heading into the wind as it performed this maneuver, and I could have been in a better position, so these are the best that I could do.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

I’m not sure why those didn’t come out better, the lens was wide open, so maybe there wasn’t enough depth of field to get the entire gull in focus. It may have been the lighting, I was shooting toward the sun, or the gull may have been flapping its wing too fast for the shutter speed that I was using at the time to completely freeze the action.

Anyway, I’m hoping that next Thursday that I’ll have enough money saved to order the Canon 100-400 mm lens. What I’m looking for from it is a lens that will focus as closely as the 300 mm lens does…

Dragonflies mating

Dragonflies mating

…does better on birds in flight than either the 300 mm lens or the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens)…

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

…will auto-focus as quickly and accurately as what the Beast does on smaller birds in the brush…

Male Rose-breasted grosbeak

Male Rose-breasted grosbeak

…and has the clarity of a Canon L series lens in low light.

Female Rose-breasted grosbeak

Female Rose-breasted grosbeak

It may sound like I’m asking for a lot, but I don’t think so, I just want a lens that functions as it should in all situations without the weaknesses that my other two long lenses have. The Beast does fine on stationary birds in good light, but has never been very good at birds in flight or in low light. The 300 mm lens does well in low light, if I can get it to focus on smaller birds as they flit around in the brush, and, as long as I’m close to whatever it is that I’m shooting.

The first reviews of the new Canon 5D Mk IV are beginning to appear, but it’s hard to sort them out of the tidal wave of “reviews” where the “reviewer” only reviews the camera’s specifications. Specifications are all well and good, but I want to know what the final image quality is, not the numbers that I can see on Canon’s website. I can read the numbers myself, I don’t need some idiot to read them for me.

I have to take the reviews of the camera with a grain of salt right now anyway, Adobe hasn’t had time to upgrade either Lightroom or Photoshop to handle the RAW files produced by the 5D Mk IV yet, so the few images that I’ve seen from that camera were edited in Canon’s software, which isn’t very good.

From the few people who have actually used the new 5D, it looks as if it produces better images than what was expected, especially given the number of people absolutely bashing the camera before they had even laid a hand on it. From the one scientific review of the 5D Mk IV that I’ve seen, it looks like Canon has made a leap in the quality of the sensor in the new 5D.  While it doesn’t quite match the sensor that Nikon has in the D810, or the ones Sony has in its top of the line cameras, both the dynamic range and low light capabilities of the new 5D are much improved, and come close to the competition’s sensors. It is telling though that Canon’s latest and greatest only comes close to matching its competitor’s sensors, which have been on the market for a while now.

Since increased dynamic range and improved low light performance are what I’m looking for, it sounds good to me.

I don’t want to bore every one more than I have already, but there’s one more thing that I have to say about cameras, at least the way that I see things evolving. I said some time ago that it looked like Canon was moving towards producing niche cameras, that is, cameras that are designed to be used for specific types of photography. If you shoot sports and wildlife, you should have the 7D Mk II. If you shoot landscapes, then you should be using the 5DS R. If you shoot weddings and/or portraits, then you need the new 5D Mk IV. If you shoot video, then you should purchase one of Canon’s video cameras.

Personally, I can’t afford to purchase such specific purpose cameras, nor do I want to lug them and all the gear associated with each one around to shoot the variety of subjects that I do. I would like a camera that does reasonably well on all subjects.

Anyway, I’m going to empty out another folder of photos that I have from earlier this summer that I shot around home.

Honey bee and crown vetch

Honey bee and crown vetch

I shot this next one for the color contrast more than anything else, as I couldn’t get closer to the cardinal, and the light was very poor.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

I saw a few indigo buntings this summer, but I never was able to get close to any of them for reasons that remain a mystery to me.

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

 

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

When I did get close to the kingbirds around here, there was usually brush in the way.

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird

I did find a “tunnel” through the vegetation to shoot this next series though.

Male American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

 

Male American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

 

Male American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

On a grey day, a grey catbird.

Grey catbird

Grey catbird

Before the robins left, I managed this shot of one of the young ones.

Juvenile American robin

Juvenile American robin

This next photo is the way that I shot it, I think that I should have rotated it 90 degrees, as it looks odd to me.

Unidentified fly

Unidentified fly

And finally, a bull thistle that I shot while waiting for a butterfly to return that never did.

Bull thistle

Bull thistle

Well, that puts me up to my self-imposed limit for photos in a post. I’ve also babbled on more than long enough already, so this is where I’m going to end this one.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

That was nice of them

I suppose that I will purchase a Canon 5D Mk IV, eventually. It may not be exactly the camera that I hoped that it would be, but it’s the best that Canon has to offer for what I intend to use it for. Since I’ll have to purchase one or two wide-angle lenses for it, I even considered the Nikon D810 since whatever full frame sensor camera that I end up with will be primarily for landscapes and still life photos. But, the full frame camera will also be used for bird portraits, which means that it has to be able to use my existing long lenses. That leaves the Nikon out.

I’m very impressed with the 16 X 20 inch prints made from images shot with both the 60D and 7D bodies, which are crop sensor bodies, but a full frame sensor will produce even better prints. That’s because the image produced by the sensor doesn’t have to be stretched as much to create large prints. It’s the same as back in the days of film.

Ansel Adams didn’t lug an extremely heavy 8 X 10 camera and everything required for a camera that size through mountainous terrain because he wanted the exercise.😉 It was because he was all about quality, which is why he remains the legend that he is today. When you think about it, in most other human endeavors, the pioneers are often forgotten as technology advances, but when it comes to photography, particularly landscapes, most photographers are still trying to catch up to Ansel Adam’s work, some of which is almost 100 years old now.

However, it isn’t just when printing images that a full frame sensor has an advantage, it is also in low light situations, something that I face often when photographing birds, especially small ones that I find in deep shade.

Male common yellowthroat

Male common yellowthroat

In the smaller size that the image is presented here in my blog, the noise in that image isn’t as noticeable as it is when I view the same image on my computer. By the way, that image was shot some time ago, along the trail to Lost Lake in Muskegon State Park.

Little did I know that I was going to run into a couple of squirrels that would help me illustrate why low light performance is so important.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

 

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

Those were shot just before it began to rain here again, so there was no light to work with at the time. The noise that’s present in both of those images isn’t noticeable in this small size. There was so little light at the time that I couldn’t get a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the red squirrel once it had decided to take its lunch elsewhere to eat where he wouldn’t be bothered by a photographer.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

I should say that I’m not unhappy with the photos in this post so far, I’ve gotten much better at shooting in very low light and getting good images while I’m at it. All my images have improved a lot over the past few years, but I still have some way to go yet. I know this because I’ve joined the North American Nature Photography Association Facebook page so that I can compare my photos to those shot by a wide range of other photographers.

I don’t want to brag (too much😉 ), but my photos come close to matching the best that I’ve seen there, other than the exotic critters and locations that others in the group are able to get. At least technically that is, I still need to work on the artistic side of my photos, but I’m improving there as well, as some of the flower photos that you’ll see soon show.

Earlier in my walk today, there was a little better light for these photos of a turkey checking out its reflection in the shiny bumper of a big truck parked down the street.

Turkey admiring his reflection

Turkey admiring his reflection

I tried to get a better angle, to show both the turkey and its reflection in profile at the same time.

Turkey admiring his reflection

Turkey admiring his reflection

But, I wasn’t able to get exactly the shot that I wanted. I was wondering if the turkey realized how ugly it is, but then I remembered, they see other turkeys all the time, they know exactly what they look like.

Turkey admiring his reflection

Turkey admiring his reflection

However, the turkey was completely mesmerized by its reflection, as many birds are.

It was a slow day for photos, there was little light, lots of wind, and very few birds. I did shoot a few flowers during the times when the wind would slack off.

Petunia

Petunia

 

Asiatic dayflower

Asiatic dayflower

 

Unidentified sunflowers

Unidentified sunflowers

 

Pink chicory (for Allen)

Pink chicory (for Allen)

 

Unidentified sunflower

Unidentified sunflower

It was so slow that when I got to the picnic pavilion, and it began to sprinkle a little, I sat down and figured out how to save the bird in flight settings that seem to work very well for me. I had just finished saving the settings that I wanted, when not only did the rain let up, but there were a few holes in the clouds. To make things even better, a flock of crows decided to fly past me  so I could test to see if I had saved things properly.

American crow in flight

American crow in flight

Not only do the settings work for one crow…

American crows in flight

American crows in flight

…if they’re close enough together, the settings work for two crows.

American crows in flight

American crows in flight

Now, I need even better weather and a few more cooperative subjects so that I can finalize everything. I think that it’s a good thing that the 7D has three customizable modes, I can see using one for most birds in flight, another for white birds in flight, and the third for very dark birds in flight because of the exposure settings needed to get good images of the spectrum of birds that there is. I’ll wait and see about that, I can change any of the settings from the default if I need to, so I can add exposure when shooting darker birds, or subtract for white birds like egrets and gulls.

My default exposure settings are a bit dark for the crows, but once again, the settings I used produced some very sharp photos of the crows, I can’t wait to try the settings on other birds.

Here are the rest of the photos that I shot this Saturday.

Lacey leaf

Lacey leaf

I wished that I had taken the macro lens along with me for that one, but with rain a very real possibility, I had left it at home.

Seal all?

Seal all?

It’s the same for that one as well.

Grapes ripening

Grapes ripening

The grapes are ripening, which means that fall is coming.

Since I’m at it, here’s the photos that I shot last Saturday around home.

Aphids on a milkweed leaf

Aphids on a milkweed leaf

 

Great lobelia

Great lobelia

 

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

 

Unidentified fly

Unidentified fly

 

Evening primrose

Evening primrose

 

Red osier dogwood

Red osier dogwood

 

Bindweed

Bindweed

 

Dew on a leaf

Dew on a leaf

As you can see, they were all macros or near macro photos, as I’m having a difficult time finding many birds in the local park this year. It’s only September, and the robins have already left the park. I don’t know what has changed, but something sure has. The number of birds that I see in that park has been going down the last two years, and from what I can tell, even the pair of resident red-tailed hawks have moved away, because I never see them any longer.

Well, I went to the Muskegon Wastewater facility today to test out the bird in flight settings that I’ve come up with for the 7D Mk II. They worked out pretty well, but I learned that the auto-focus of the 300 mm lens and 1.4 X tele-converter have a hard time staying ahead of a peregrine falcon when the falcon comes screaming past my car after an aborted attack on a duck.

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

That was the last shot where I was able to keep the falcon in the frame, I can’t keep up with those speed demons either. My best shot was a few frames earlier, so I had to crop this one a little.

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

Still, I was amazed at how well both the camera and I were able to track the falcon while it was at speed.

I started out on a few ducks, that is, the few that would cooperate. Most of them took flight well out of range of the camera, the rest wouldn’t fly at all.

Northern shoveler in flight

Northern shoveler in flight

 

Female mallard in flight

Female mallard in flight

 

Northern shoveler landing

Northern shoveler landing

Shooting the ducks, I quickly learned that using all the auto-focus points was a mistake, the camera tended to focus on the background instead of the ducks, unless the ducks were very close. So, I used one of the other custom mode settings with all the other settings the same, but for the second mode, I’m using just twelve focus points in the middle of the frame, although I can shift them off-center if I have the time. That came in handy when this northern harrier snuck past me.

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Fortunately, the harrier turned back towards me a little, although it was really out of range by then.

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Oh, by the way, I got another lifer today, a broad-winged hawk.

Brad-winged hawk in flight

Brad-winged hawk in flight

Not the greatest photo, by a long shot, but from the markings, especially the banded tail, it can’t be anything other than a broad-winged hawk. That puts me up to 227 species of birds, not counting the sharp-tailed sandpiper.

I have more photos from the wastewater facility, but switching gears, I ran into Brian Johnson at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, where he was banding birds and working on his fall bird count. I love bumping into Brian, it’s a real pleasure to talk to an expert on birds. He was getting ready to release a Swainson’s thrush. I snapped this photo…

Swainson's thrush

Swainson’s thrush

…for a number of reasons. One was to compare it to the saved photos of what I believed was a Swainson’s thrush that I have saved for the My Photo Life List project, and this photo confirms it. I also wanted to see how sharp my photos were in a controlled situation, it’s very sharp. Lastly, I think that seeing the thrush between Brian’s fingers show you how small they, and many of the other birds that I photograph are.

Speaking of small birds, an eastern Phoebe was very cooperative for me today. Not only did it sit and wait while I switched extenders to get a real close-up, but it also caught a butterfly…

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

…and landed even closer to me after it had captured the butterfly. But then, it even turned around so that I could watch it eat the butterfly.

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

The Phoebe told me that the butterfly was yummy!

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

Eastern Phoebe with lunch

Switching gears once again, I learned that my settings for birds in flight are also very close to what I need to get good shots of a dragonfly in flight.

Dragonfly in flight

Dragonfly in flight

All in all, it was a very good day today. I say that even though this great blue heron wouldn’t wait for me to switch tele-converters so that I could get a good close-up of it, so I had to settle for this.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

A few seconds longer and I’d have been at 600 mm rather than 420 mm, and I could have gotten really close to the heron.😉

I shouldn’t complain about the heron too much, I had plenty of cooperative subjects the past two weeks, as these photos have shown. It was very nice of them to pose so well for me, I hope that they tell all the rest of the critters that all I’m trying to do is to make them look as good as possible for the world to see how pretty they are. Well, except for the turkeys, there’s no denying that they have ugly faces.😉

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

More wishing, more older photos

For more time that is. As of when I’m beginning this post, I haven’t had a chance to get outside at all, let alone test any of the theories that I developed about my camera gear from my last post. I still have photos of motherwort flowers that I shot back in July to post, even though they are fairly good photos.

Motherwort

Motherwort

If I had shot that photo two years ago, I would have been in a rush to get it posted, but this year, it’s just another good photo of a flower that I saw. I also have this photo of a buttonbush flower from the same time frame…

Buttonbush flowers

Buttonbush flowers

…as well as this photo of what’s left when the individual tiny flowers die, shot more recently.

Buttonbush going to seed

Buttonbush going to seed

I have butterflies…

Unidentified butterfly

Unidentified butterfly

…damselflies…

Damselfly

Damselfly

…and dragonflies also.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

And of course, I have lots of bird photos left over.

An unidentified gull chick not long after it hatched

An unidentified gull chick a few weeks after it hatched

 

Juvenile eastern Phoebe

Juvenile eastern Phoebe

 

Juvenile eastern Phoebe

Juvenile eastern Phoebe

 

Northern flicker 1

Northern flicker 1

 

Northern flicker 2

Northern flicker 2

 

Grey catbird singing

Grey catbird singing

I remember that catbird very well, he was an expert when it came to mimicking other birds. He could even do the “laugh” or whinny of a sora, not an easy task.

I’m going to empty out a folder of saved photos all shot back in July, so that I have room for new photos when I do get a chance to shoot more.

Sumac flowers

Sumac flowers

 

Soapwort?

Soapwort?

 

Soapwort?

Soapwort?

 

Pink

Pink

 

I forgot, again

I forgot, again

 

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

 

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

 

Young cottontail rabbit

Young cottontail rabbit

While I’m at it, here’s some more photos that didn’t make into posts earlier this summer.

Evening primrose

Evening primrose

 

Ducklings at dawn

Ducklings at dawn

 

Female dickcissel

Female dickcissel

 

Juvenile male dickcissel

Juvenile male dickcissel

 

Grey coneflower

Grey coneflower

 

Grey coneflower

Grey coneflower

What I should do is to take the manual for my 7D Mk II with me while I’m working. I’d have time to read it while I’m sitting at the loading dock each afternoon as I’m waiting for the trailer to be unloaded, then reloaded. Now that I’ve come very close to good settings for birds in flight, I should save them to one of the three customizable modes available to me in that camera. I’ve been holding off from doing that until I knew for sure what worked, unlike when I got the 60D body when I saved poor settings before I was ready, then had to go back and tweak them all the time. The process of actually saving the settings isn’t difficult, but I have to remember to set each and every setting that I want to have saved before I save it. With all the settings that I have to change, that’s not an easy task.

I’d also like to learn how to shoot better videos, so reading the manual would be a good idea, so that I could learn the proper settings for what I want to achieve. I shot this video of the sandhill cranes thinking that they were either about to take flight, or that the one was going to do one of their dances, but it turned out that the crane was just limbering up its wings.

However, I’d almost have to have the camera with me as I read the manual, or I’d forget things by the time that I had the camera in my hand and was trying to save all those settings. I’d rather not have my camera bouncing around in the truck with me as I cross the state each day. It would also be a wise idea to wait until I’ve used the 100-400 mm lens that I plan on purchasing in the next month or two, to be sure of the correct settings for that lens before I program the camera. I may find that I have to tweak the settings that I’ve come up with for action photos slightly for that new lens.

I was going to wait until December to purchase the 100-400 mm lens, as a Christmas present to myself, but I’ve moved the timetable up for it. Everything that I’ve added to my kit has come with a learning curve, and I doubt if this lens will be any different, as it has some features that I’ve never used before. I want to have a solid handle on using it before next spring, and as slow as winter here can be for photography, getting a jump on learning the lens is a good idea.

I know that a new lens isn’t going to guarantee great photos, but the 100-400 mm lens will be a great addition to my kit. The ability to pick-up a bird in flight at 100 mm then zoom in on it as far as is required will be much easier than trying to get the bird in the viewfinder at the 420 mm fixed focal length as I do now. The same applies to small birds in thick vegetation, the ability to zoom in after getting the bird in the viewfinder is one of the things that makes the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) so effective for small birds. I’m also hoping that like the Beast, the auto-focus of the 100 -400 mm lens will be faster than the 300 mm lens and 1.4 X tele-converter, since Canon programs their lenses to slow down the auto-focus when an extender is used behind them.

That zoom lens should also be just the ticket for times when I find a large bird perched somewhere, such as the eagle in my last post. I could zoom in for good portraits, then zoom back out when the bird takes flight. That’s also where having the bird in flight settings saved in the camera and ready to use with a quick turn of a dial will come in handy. Most large birds let you know before they take flight, so I should be able to shoot portraits using the best settings for them, then once the bird alerts me that it’s going to take off, I can quickly turn the mode dial to action settings, and shoot the bird in flight with the best settings for those photos.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

The 100-400 mm lens is smaller, lighter, and more compact than the Beast is, so it should be easier to keep up with birds in flight than I found the Beast to be. However, I have to say that using the 70-200 mm lens and 1.4 X extender was a joy to use for the flying birds in my last post. If only I hadn’t had to crop as much as I did for the hawk in the image above, that 100 mm extra of focal length means that I wouldn’t have to crop as much if at all.

Before I forget, there were kestrels everywhere at the wastewater facility this past weekend, there were times when I was watching three, four, or five of them at a time. However, all I was able to get was this poor photo when one landed in a farm field.

Female or juvenile American kestrel

Female or juvenile American kestrel

The thing that I wanted to remember to pass along is that I watched as a crow harassed one of the kestrels for quite a while, chasing the kestrel all the way across one of the large fields. The crow that chased the kestrel was one of a small flock, but none of the other crows joined the chase, which I found odd. The crow made several passes at the kestrel, but as small and quick as they are, the kestrel was able to easily avoid the crow’s attacks. A couple of times the kestrel attempted to turn the tables on the crow, and attack it, but as well as crows can fly, the crow was able to assume a defensive position, ward off the kestrel’s attack, and turn the moment into an attack on the kestrel. Since most of the action took place approximately 400 yards (400 meters), I didn’t bother trying to shoot any photos, I just watched the action play out.

Speaking of crows, I have a photo of one left over from this past weekend…

American crow

American crow

…along with three more photos of other birds.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

 

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

 

Eastern wood pewee

Eastern wood pewee

I also have a few photos from a recent walk around the park near where I live. After a dry first half of the summer, the recent heavy rains have brought a few fungi.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

And, after rain earlier in the morning, I found this spider had found a place to take cover from the rain.

Unidentified spider

Unidentified spider

The flowers have loved the rain as well.

Great lobelia

Great lobelia

But, I’m seeing more signs of autumn’s approach all the time.

Signs of autumn

Signs of autumn

I was missing a toad for this shot of a toadstool.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Another sign of autumn, goldenrod and goldenrod soldier beetles.

Goldenrod soldier beetle

Goldenrod soldier beetle

Along with grapes that are ripening.

Another sign of autumn

Another sign of autumn

As I was walking along, I noticed these flowers, but they were all hanging facing down.

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object

So, I did something unusual for me, I twisted one of the flowers around so that I could see its face, I’m glad that I did.

Unidentified flowering object 2

Unidentified flowering object 2

Well, that not only emptied out one of the folders of images that I shot around home, but it also put me over my self-imposed limit on photos in one post, so I don’t have room for this one.

Grasshopper on boneset flowers

Grasshopper on boneset flowers

That was shot last Saturday, but I still have more from around home shot earlier in the year. Hopefully, I’ll get to those soon, before the snow starts flying around here. But, if I don’t, at least I’ll have the memories of one of our fleeting summers to share while it’s cold and cloudy here.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Now I know, now I wish

Well, I picked up the very large prints that I had made of a few of my photos. The first thing that I noticed is that the photos that I had shot with the 60D body were the equal to those shot with the 7D Mk II. Of course for most of them shot with the 60D, the camera was mounted on a tripod, with the ISO set to its lowest setting, 100. Those are all landscapes that I shot as HDR images, processed with Photomatix and Lightroom.

However, even the extreme close-up of the dragonfly that I shot recently is a fantastic print in 16 X 20 inch size. The head of the dragonfly is close to 6 inches across on the print, and you can make out every tiny hair and each of the individual compound eyes of the dragonfly. That image was shot handheld with the 100 mm macro lens, the best lens that I own.

I also did two of the very long exposure images that I shot at night with the 7D on the tripod, one was processed as a HDR, the other one wasn’t. The reason that I chose those two was because I had trouble with noise due to the very long exposure times required to shoot at night. I’m happy to say that there’s no sign of the noise in the prints, after I removed the noise in Lightroom.

Another image that I chose to print was one of the images of the Virginia rail that I shot using the 2 X tele-converter behind the 300 mm lens. It came out very, very good, but I detect a little softening, probably due to the 2 X extender. Knowing that I had used the extender wouldn’t stop me from printing an image to that same large size if the image looked good on the computer. The softening is noticeable when I look at the print very close, but it looks very sharp when seen from a normal viewing distance.

I also printed the flying dragonfly from this spring, shot with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens), and it also came out very, very good. I can tell though that it was shot with the Beast, as the resolution isn’t quite as good as what I get with my better lenses, close, but not quite equal.

I also printed an image of a marsh wren that I had cropped quite a bit. The system that they use at the place where I had the prints made warned me that the image size of that one was too small when I chose the size print that I did. However, it came out just fine, you can see every fiber that makes up the wren’s feathers.

Were there disappointments, just two really. I chose an images of a water-lily that I thought was excellent, but the print is slightly over-exposed, easily corrected if I were to have it printed again. The other disappointment was one of the images of the lesser yellowlegs fighting. I knew that there was some motion blur, and that the camera had focused on the bird in front in the frame, so the bird behind it is a bit too blurry for that image to be a great one. Still, it wasn’t bad, just not good enough. Because of their positions, it would have been a great print if I had focused on the bird in back, rather than the one in front. That was a matter of luck, not anything that I did. As quick as the action was, there was no time to analyze how a print would turn out.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased, I know that I can go to at least a 16 X 20 print, and that the print will be sharp enough for any one, even me.😉 I’ll tell you, a 16 X 20 inch print is huge!

Anyway, after seeing how well that the prints had turned out, I wish that I had printed more images that may possibly sell, but I tested most of my gear, and it all passed, with flying colors in most cases. I know that I can use either of my camera bodies, and any of my lenses and accessories, and produce a very good, very large print. In a way, that’s kind of awesome.

I know that the critics are ripping the new Canon 5D Mk IV, even though they haven’t even touched one yet. Most of the criticism is over the video capabilities, and the to some degree, the fact that Canon carried over their same old controls on this new model. Not a single one of the critics has shot a still image with that model camera yet, which is what I’m most interested in.

There was one thoughtful preview of that camera though, that had to do with the low pass optical filter, which the 5D Mk IV still has.

For those of you who don’t know, the only purpose of a low pass optical filter is to soften the image produced by the lens slightly as the image is transmitted to the camera’s sensor to eliminate any possible moire. I know, it sounds silly that they added a filter that softens the image that a camera can produce, but in the early age of digital photography, moire was a serious problem. As digital camera sensors improved, that has become less of a problem.

Nikon broke new ground when they introduced the D800, which had a high-resolution, high dynamic range sensor, with the effects of the low pass optical filter turned off. The images produced by that camera blew almost every one away with how sharp the images were and how much more detail there was in the images. Other manufacturers followed suit, and most of the recent digital cameras have the low pass optical filter turned off to produce higher resolution images.

My brother’s Pentax K1 doesn’t have the low pass optical filter, and the sharpness and the detail that he gets in his images are amazing. They’re much better than what I can get with my Canon cameras.

So, what does all this mean to me?

It doesn’t make my decision as to whether or not to upgrade to a full frame sensor camera any easier, that’s for sure.

I can’t help but wonder what this image would have looked like if I had shot it with a full frame camera.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I think that it’s the most artistic photo of a great blue heron that I’ve ever shot. I love the scene almost as much as I love the heron.

I know that I do need a high-quality long zoom lens so that when I stick my head up above the vegetation, and the bird that I’d like to get a portrait of spooks before I get the portrait…

Great egret in flight

Great egret in flight

…I could get the entire bird in the frame, rather than chopping off its wings.

Then, I could zoom back in as the bird continues to fly.

Great egret in flight

Great egret in flight

Although, 400 mm isn’t a long enough focal length for when the bird lands in the closest tree.

Great egret landing

Great egret landing

The egrets, and there were several of them on Sunday at the wastewater facility, were all very wary, another photographer told me that he witnessed a young bald eagle swooping down on the egrets when they were all together. That would make any critter wary.

By the time that I got around to trying to photograph the egrets, they were extremely wary…

Great egret in flight

Great egret in flight

…and I never did get a portrait of one, just a few poor photos of them in flight, as you can see. The other photographer was chasing the eagle around, so I never got a photo of it either.

I did get a slightly better photo of a peregrine falcon though.

Peregrine falcon after it finished its breakfast

Peregrine falcon after it finished its breakfast

From the blood on its beak, it must have just finished eating breakfast.

I had gotten to the wastewater facility before dawn, but the sunrise was a bust as far as any photos. I did shoot a few photos of a pair of sandhill cranes and their colt. (A juvenile sandhill crane is called a colt)

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

I switched over to shoot a video…

…for those people who have never heard the calls of a sandhill crane. But, as I was switching back to shoot stills, the cranes took off, so I missed that. I had to settle for this flock of Canada geese flying into the morning sun.

Canada geese in flight

Canada geese in flight

Once again, there’s the one oddball, three have their wings up, the oddball has its wings halfway down.

I also shot a portion of a huge flock of starlings.

Starlings at dawn

Starlings at dawn

However, I should have gone to a wider lens to get more of the flock in the frame. Another time when having a long zoom lens would have been nice.

Even though the sunrise itself was a bust, a short time later, I shot these.

Wisps of fog

Wisps of fog

I tried to eliminate the lens flare, but I failed.

Wisps of fog 2

Wisps of fog 2

I also failed to get a good capture of how many dew covered spider webs that there are to choose from when I decide to shoot one of them.

Spider webs after dawn

Spider webs after dawn

I was having a bad day, because this was another failure.

Dew covered wildflowers

Dew covered wildflowers

I should have chosen one or two of the flowers and gotten closer, rather than trying to get them all in the frame.

I know that since I don’t get out to shoot photos every day that I get rusty during the week. I spotted a mixed flock of small birds feeding in one of the woodlots at the wastewater facility…

Blue-grey gnatcatcher

Blue-grey gnatcatcher

…but that’s the only photo that I managed of a perched bird that I can identify from the photos that I shot. I did manage to keep the gnatcatcher in the frame as it flew to its next perch though.

Blue-grey gnatcatcher in flight

Blue-grey gnatcatcher in flight

If it hadn’t flown behind other branches, these may have been good photos.

Blue-grey gnatcatcher in flight

Blue-grey gnatcatcher in flight

My timing was off, and I could not get good photos of any of the other small birds that I saw there. So, I went back to shooting larger birds.

Mute swan

Mute swan

 

Juvenile Bonaparte's gull

Juvenile Bonaparte’s gull

I know that I have to never stop learning, and trying different things. The photos that you’ve seen so far were shot on Sunday at the Muskegon County wastewater facility. I returned again today, Monday, and almost all the birds were very wary. I had been about ready to give up, but then I considered that as slow as the previous day had been also, that it may be a good day to do some testing.

The photo of the egret where I couldn’t get the entire bird in the frame bothered me. Well, maybe bothered isn’t the right word for it, that photo presented a problem that I could attempt to solve. I do have a long zoom lens, the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens), but it has never been good at producing sharp photos of birds in flight, no matter what I’ve tried. It would be okay if I used it to shoot portraits of birds, but as soon as they begin flying, the Beast is a bust.

So, I sat there watching some egrets a good way down one of the drainage ditches at the wastewater facility, wondering what I could try. I have a 70-200 mm f/4 lens, but that’s not long enough, especially when I’m having trouble getting close to birds in the first place. I also have the tele-converters, but the 2 X extender turns the lens into a f/8 lens, which means I lose some of the auto-focusing features of the 7D camera. I thought to myself, “what the heck, I have nothing to lose, I may as well give that lens a try with the 1.4 X extender”.  Then, I remembered what I had learned while shooting the lesser yellowlegs fighting, so I dialed in about the same settings in the camera, and I took off walking, trying to stalk the egret closest to me.

I was bent over as I worked my way through the tall weeds on top of the drainage ditch, but I never saw the egret before it saw me, so I wasn’t able to try for a portrait. The egret took off, I zoomed in to get this shot.

Great egret in flight

Great egret in flight

I continued to zoom and shoot for these.

Great egret in flight

Great egret in flight

This is one of those times that I wish that you could see these images full screen on my 27 inch iMac as I do, they’re much better than what they appear to be in this small size.

Great egret in flight

Great egret in flight

I walked back to my car and reviewed the images, and buoyed by what I saw, I went searching for another test subject. This time, it wasn’t an egret, it was a red-tailed hawk.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

It may sound funny, but I know that hawk, and I know that it won’t let me get very close to it. I had to crop that image a lot more than what I would have liked, or the hawk wouldn’t have been much more than a dark lump on the pole. However, if you notice which way the hawk’s feathers are blowing in the wind, I had both the wind and the light on it right. Sure enough, as I walked closer, the hawk dove down and towards me to build up speed.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

I still had to crop that one, but it’s good enough that you can tell that the hawk was blinking when the shutter went off. To my surprise, the hawk didn’t turn immediately, it continued quartering towards me.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

I went back to my car and reviewed those images, and while they looked great on the back of the camera, I’ve been fooled by that in the past, thinking that I had sharp images when they weren’t so sharp seen on my computer.

Still, they looked extremely sharp, so then I began thinking about reason that they were so sharp. Maybe it has to do with the Image Stabilization of the 300 mm lens I thought to myself. The 70-200 mm lens doesn’t have IS, maybe that was the difference I reasoned. I know that I have to turn the IS off on the Beast to get anywhere near a sharp photo of a bird in flight with that lens, so I went looking for something to test that theory out on. I put the 300 mm lens back on the camera to do some testing. I didn’t find a large bird, just a barn swallow, but I used the same camera settings, and shot a series of photos with the IS on, and another with it off. I couldn’t see any difference then, nor can I see any now that I’ve viewed both sets of images on my computer. Here’s one of the images shot with the IS off.

Barn swallow

Barn swallow

Okay, so maybe the IS has nothing to do with what I was seeing, maybe it was all due to the camera settings, I thought. Still not convinced by what I saw on the back of the camera, I went looking for more test subjects. I found these mute swans…

Mute swaans

Mute swans

…but they wouldn’t fly. Neither would this goose that I found.

Canada goose

Canada goose

Then, I found the almost perfect subject, a juvenile bald eagle.

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Even with the 1.4 X extender behind the 70-200 mm lens, the eagle looks small in that image, which I didn’t crop at all. I so wanted my longer set-up at that point, so that I could shoot a few portraits of the eagle, but I had testing to do. You can tell by the way the eagle’s feathers are being blown by the wind, that once again, I had both the wind and the light on the eagle if it took flight, which it soon did.

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

That image wasn’t cropped at all, you can see how much more of the frame that the eagle fills when it has its wings spread than what it had filled while perched. These next two weren’t cropped either.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

The eagle was trying to avoid diving towards me as the hawk had done, so it sort of hung there in mid-air flapping, but these are the best photos, since the eagle had its wings almost fully spread.

JVIS3806

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Also, the eagle doesn’t come close to filling the frame when it had its wings down, so I cropped this next one a little.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Once the eagle started making headway, I shot this last photo of it as it turned away from me.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

That one is cropped also, but I had to include it, since the eagle had its talons hanging as it flew away from me.

Now then, without a doubt, the flying bird images that I shot today are among the sharpest that I’ve ever gotten. So, the question is why? The camera settings have a lot to do with it, but I think that there’s more to it than that. I think that part of it is because the 70-200 mm lens doesn’t have IS, which tries to freeze the image in place as a bird in flight is moving. The barn swallow wasn’t a good test, as it wasn’t moving. I’ll have to test that theory out more at a later date.

If only I could get a bird to start from the same point and take the exact same path every time repeatedly so that I could try different things each time it took flight.😉 Barring that, I’ll have to shoot some bird in flight photos with the IS turned off on the 300 mm lens.

I think that another part of why these are so sharp goes back to the performance characteristics of the 300 mm lens itself. It’s at its sharpest at less than ten feet, beyond that, it’s a little soft. I’ve been able to make that lens work for me, but it took a lot of work to get to the point that I’m at now. The reason that I suspect that the lens has been part of the problem is that the images that I shot of the swans and the goose look a tick sharper to me than my images shot with the 300 mm lens usually do.

I’ve been saying that the 70-200 mm lens is the second best that I own, almost as good as the 100 mm macro lens is, for some time now. It’s a shame that I don’t have any reasons to use that lens more often.

On one hand, it was a poor weekend for me as far as photography is concerned. I don’t know why, but I found very few birds to photograph, which is unusual. On the other hand, I learned that the camera gear that I have now can produce some excellent very large prints. I’ve also been able to put a few more pieces of the puzzle together when it comes to shooting very sharp bird in flight photos. I’m really geeked about both, even though it may not seem like it right now. That’s because I still have some more testing to do with the lenses that I have now. Overall, my images continue to improve, and every time that I think that I’ve reached the limit of what I can do, I surpass that limit. Maybe not with every image, but in terms of shooting more very good ones more often.

Eastern wood pewee

Eastern wood pewee

 

Eastern wood pewee

Eastern wood pewee

 

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

 

Green heron 1

Green heron 1

 

Green heron 2

Green heron 2

 

Smartweed?

Smartweed?

All this gives me a lot more to think about, so I’ll leave you with one of the eagle in flight images that I cropped, because I just couldn’t resist doing it.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

No doubt

Can you guess what the first photo in this post will be of? If you guessed the Buff-breasted sandpiper, then you were correct.

Buff-breasted sandpiper

Buff-breasted sandpiper

In a way, I’m surprised that I hadn’t gotten this species before, there were a pair of them at the Muskegon County wastewater facility, and I’ve never seen such cooperative birds before. I began photographing them with the 2 X extender behind the 300 mm lens, but they continued to come closer to me. The only difficulty that I had photographing them is that they never stopped moving as they were feeding, except for the short time when I switched from the 2 X extender to the 1.4 X because they had gotten so close. They stood there patiently until I made the switch and began photographing them again, then they returned to feeding, moving closer as they did.

Buff-breasted sandpiper

Buff-breasted sandpiper

Unlike my recent photos that may or may not be the sharp-tailed sandpiper, there’s no doubt that these two birds are buff-breasted sandpipers.

After my recent post and my angst over which full-frame camera, if any, that I should purchase, I’ve given the subject a lot of thought this weekend. I don’t want to rehash all of that, but I have decided that it isn’t the camera that counts so much as it’s the lens, the person behind the lens, and editing that makes a great photo. I was so happy with the photos of the buff-breasted sandpipers as the images came out of the camera, and I was in a hurry to get them online on my Facebook page. I did nothing to the first photo at all, it’s as it came out of the camera. I cropped the second photo slightly, but not very well. Since then, I also realized that I could take advantage of the tools in Lightroom to improve that already good image to make it even better. So, here’s what I think is a better version of the image above.

Buff-breasted sandpiper

Buff-breasted sandpiper

The changes are subtle, I’m still all about subtle, but the second version is better. A better job of cropping for composition, the use of the radial neutral density filter to brighten the bird while darkening the background slightly are all that I did.

So, the thought hit me, do I even need a full-frame camera body?

If better performance in low light is what I’m after, then instead of a full-frame camera, I could make better use of my tripod and turn the ISO of my current camera down for better resolution and lower noise. That’s only one of many things that I could do to improve the quality of the images that I’m getting. I do hate to brag, but some of my recent photos come close to matching the best that I have seen. That’s even in images shot with my outdated 60D body, as this recent image of a dragonfly shows.

Dragonfly, the cropped version

Dragonfly, the cropped version

Or this image also shows.

Orange hawkweed

Orange hawkweed

When the conditions are good, and I do things correctly, I get very good resolution capturing the fine details of the subject that I’m shooting.

At the time when the 7D Mk II was introduced, it was Canon’s most advanced camera, with many of its features being introduced to a Canon camera body for the first time. It does everything that I’d like a camera to do, so why should I upgrade to a much more expensive body?

As my recent photos of the lesser yellowlegs fighting show, it’s a great camera for shooting action, especially when I have the time to dial in the settings for action. But, even when I use my general purpose settings, I can get good photos of a great blue heron in flight…

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

 

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

…my only regret is that I didn’t continue shooting the heron, because as it was landing, this peregrine falcon may have swooped past the heron. I’m not sure exactly what happened.

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

It was the heron squawking at the falcon that alerted me to the falcon’s presence.

Unfortunately, I was in a bad position, and I wasn’t able to see or photograph the interaction between the heron and the falcon, darn! But, I could tell from the heron’s posture and behavior that it was not pleased with the falcon.

Great blue heron watching a peregrine falcon

Great blue heron watching a peregrine falcon

There were also a few gulls that weren’t happy to see the falcon either.

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

 

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

While the stand-off was going on, I switched to the 2 X extender for a few shots, as the falcon and a gull were eyeball to eyeball with each other.

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

I can only imagine the conversations that were taking place…

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

…as the heron was still squawking at the falcon from its perch on the next pylon over as well, and the falcon was keeping an eye on the heron.

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

Herring gulls and peregrine falcon

I don’t know if the heron had an itch, or if this is the bird equivalent of a certain obscene gesture.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

This very brave northern shoveler flew past as the falcon, heron, and gulls were yelling at on another.

Female northern shoveler in flight

Female northern shoveler in flight

As far as the stand-off went, the gulls left first, then the falcon, leaving the heron to bask in the sun.

Great blue heron sunbathing

Great blue heron sunbathing

I eventually caught up to the falcon again, for slightly better photos.

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

Well, I’ve done it again, gone off in several different directions at the same time.

Anyway, as I said, I didn’t see the initial interaction between the falcon and the heron, but I could tell from the way that both of them acted, neither of them were happy. I don’t know if the falcon tried attacking the heron, or if the heron came in for a landing close to the falcon, and that it thought that the heron was attacking it, and when the falcon took off, it frightened the heron.

In some ways, it doesn’t matter, as what ever happened took place so far away from me that even if I had shot photos, they would have been very poor.

As far as my quandary over whether or not to invest in a full frame camera, there are a couple of things that I could do to help me make the decision once and for all.

I could take one or two of my best images shot with the 7D, like these two…

Morning dew

Morning dew

…and have them printed at a very large size.

Marsh wren

Marsh wren

That would tell me if I truly need more resolution from a camera body, or if I can get by with what I have now. I know that I can go as large as 11 X 14 inches, and still get very sharp prints, because I’ve had a few of my images printed that size in the past. But, I’d like to find out just how large of a print that I can make from my current cameras.

The second thing that I could do is to rent a full frame camera for a week, and put it through its paces to see if there’s any improvement over my current gear. The problem with that idea is that a week may not be enough time to really learn how to get the best out of a rented camera.

One thing that I should do no matter what, is to find a willing subject…

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

…mount the 7D on the tripod, turn the ISO way down, and see just how good the resolution of the 7D is under ideal conditions. That image was shot using the 2 X tele-converter in poor light, a few minutes later, with better light, I got close enough to switch back to the 1.4 X tele-converter, and shoot this image.

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

I should also repeat the same type of test with my sharpest lens, the 100 mm macro lens, just to see what the ultimate image quality the camera is capable of.

By the way, while the eagle was perched there posing for me, instead of setting up the tripod as I should have, I got the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) and the Tamron 1.4 X extender out to shoot the eagle. It worked, and the photos aren’t horrible, but I can see one of the reasons for the improvements in my photos, quality Canon L series glass. Even cropped significantly, the images shot with the 300 mm L series lens, no matter which extender I used, were far and away much better than the uncropped images shot with the Beast, with or without the extender. It pays to invest in quality lenses.

That’s not a knock on the Beast, it still sees some use from time to time. Like this spring when I was on vacation. It still auto-focuses quicker than the 300 mm lens and an extender, so when I’m chasing quick, little birds in thick brush, the Beast is still my lens of choice. The absolute image quality may not be quite as good, but first you have to get the shot before you can worry about the image quality. I’m hoping that the Canon 100-400 mm L series lens will give me the same quick auto-focusing as what the Beast does, since I won’t be using an extender for the added reach as I do now with the 300 mm lens.

By the way, last Sunday, there were eagles everywhere at the wastewater facility, I could tell that fall is approaching, even though the temperature said that it isn’t.

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

In addition to this series…

Juvenile baal eagle preparing for take-off

Juvenile bald eagle preparing for take-off

…I have photos of four other eagles…

Juvenile baal eagle preparing for take-off

Juvenile bald eagle preparing for take-off

…perched around the county landfill…

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

…but, I’m not going to post those photos…

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

…because those eagles were too far away for good photos.

Instead, I have one more photo from this series, where a number of starlings are flying between myself and the eagle.

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

Juvenile bald eagle taking off

I’ve learned over the past few years that juvenile eagles congregate at the wastewater facility/county landfill during the fall and winter to take advantage of the easy pickings as far as food available to them. There are plenty of food scraps at the landfill for them to eat, plus, they can vary their diet by picking off a gull, duck, or small mammal that isn’t paying attention to the eagles from time to time. When spring comes, they will spread out over the state to claim a territory for themselves’, and the cycle will repeat the next year.

The question is, how do young eagles know where the landfill is, or do they find it haphazardly?

I think that I have figured out the answer to that question. Eagles take three to four years to fully mature, and while eagles don’t form tight family flocks like some other species of birds do, the young do stay in the same general area as their parents. So, it would only take one or two adult pairs bringing their young to the landfill to account for all the juveniles, since there are several years worth of young following their parents. When the young eagles do eventually have young of their own, they’d remember the landfill, and bring their own young there over the winter.

While I’d rather photograph adult eagles, seeing so many juveniles is a very good sign of just how well the species is doing here in Michigan. Lots of juveniles now means even more adults in the future.

Another thing that I’ve learned that helps me to spot the raptors is paying attention to the other birds in the area. Most of the time, whether it’s an eagle, one of the falcons, or a red-tailed hawk…

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

…a raptor flying overhead makes all the other birds act differently. Some, like the starlings in the photo above, take flight, and fly in flocks in such a manner as to confuse the raptors, or so the scientists say. Others, such as the shorebirds, dart into the taller vegetation, or just freeze in place, and hunker down until the raptor is out of the area. Either way, the behavior of the small birds alerts me to the possible presence of a raptor overhead.

Sorry, but I have some more thinking out loud to do about the full frame or crop sensor dilemma that I’m having right now.

Even if I did shoot a few test photos under ideal conditions to see just how well my current camera performs, I seldom have the chance to shoot under ideal conditions. I was shooting into the mid-morning sun for both the peregrine falcon and gull photos, and the juvenile bald eagle taking flight series of photos. So, while it would be nice to know just what my current photo equipment is capable of, there would be very few times that I could achieve the same results in real life.

Another problem if I were to stick with a crop sensor body is the price of a quality wide-angle lens to use for landscapes. Since a crop sensor body has the effect of increasing the focal length of any lens used on it, I’d have to go down in focal length to a fish-eye lens if it were used on a full frame camera. To get away from the severe distortion that comes with those lenses is expensive, any cost savings I’d get by staying with crop sensor cameras would be eaten up by paying more for better lenses. It’s funny how that works, but comparing prices, it comes up to about the same total if I purchase a full frame body and slightly less expensive lenses as it does if I stick with crop sensor bodies and purchase more expensive lenses to duplicate what I could get with a full frame camera.

There is one gratifying thing that has been happening lately. In the past, people would see my photos and say “You should sell your photos”. But, they didn’t want to purchase any of them even as they were saying that. Lately, I’ve had people asking if they could purchase my photos when they see them, or asking me to shoot specific subjects, because they would like to purchase a photo of mine that I take of that subject. While I’ll never be a professional photographer, it is nice to know that all my thoughts and the hard work that I’ve put into trying to improve my images hasn’t been for nothing.

There’s something humorous about that as well, most of the photos of mine that people have purchased have come from the 60D camera, not the much better 7D Mk II. That’s because I still use the 60D for landscapes and the 7D for birds. That tells me a couple of things. One, that landscapes sell, and that birds, other than eagles and a few other species of birds, don’t interest most people. Also, cute mammals. like bunnies and fawns attract people’s interest as well. It also tells me that if I would like to sell a few more photos from time to time to help offset the cost of my equipment, that I should shoot what sells.

That’s at the heart of the entire full frame or crop sensor debate that I’m having with myself right now. If I’m going to make an effort to sell a few images now and then, then a full frame camera is the way to go. If all I ever plan to do with my images is to post them here, then a crop sensor camera is just fine.

I’m not sure if I related this story here earlier this year, but while I was up north on vacation, I stopped in a local art gallery to have a look around. That gallery specializes in the works of local artists, including one or two photographers. I got to talking with the owner, and I showed her a few of the images that I had shot so far during my vacation, and she was quite interested, other than the fact that I wasn’t local. I could tell that she was trying to come up with a way that she could say that the photos had a local connection in one way or another so that she could put them on display in her gallery. In the end, we couldn’t make that local connection, so nothing came of it, other than I was taking a bit more pride in my images after that.

So, as I try to decide which direction to go when it comes to camera gear, the thought is also in the back of my mind as to whether I should make more of an effort to shoot what would sell, and to attempt to sell more photos. Let’s face it, this may be a good photo, but very, very few people would ever purchase it.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

If I had better lighting, rather than shooting almost into the sun, and a better background, then there’s a chance some one would like it enough to buy it.

I’m afraid that if I did put the effort into trying to sell an occasional photo that it would change what I photograph, at least to some degree. While I would like to photograph more landscapes anyway, they aren’t the only thing that I want to shoot. It’s the same with birds, there’s only a few species of birds that a photograph of would interest any one enough to purchase a photo of them. My images of the buff-breasted sandpiper are very good, but I doubt if there’s any one interested in purchasing a photo of that species.

My recent images of the lesser yellowlegs fighting are excellent in my opinion, yet there’s probably no one who would be interested in purchasing any of them.

I do know this though, to a large degree, what the general public would purchase isn’t what the photography experts say is a great image. The general public wants cute and cuddly critters, and landscapes that are beautiful or that they can relate to in some way.

Anyway, I’ve placed an order for some large prints, 16 X 20 inches in size, just to see where I stand as far as image quality when it comes to prints that size. Until I see them, I really don’t know where I stand, so here’s a few more photos while I wait to see how the prints turn out.

Sunrise

Sunrise

 

Sumac

Sumac

 

Spider

Spider

 

Lesser yellowlegs reflecting

Lesser yellowlegs reflecting

 

American crow

American crow

 

Assorted shorebirds

Assorted shorebirds

 

Stilt sandpipers too far away

Stilt sandpipers too far away

 

Great egret too far away

Great egret too far away

 

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

 

Arrowhead flowers

Arrowhead flowers

Once again, I’ve gone on too long about camera gear, when the debate that I’m really having with myself is whether I should put the effort into attempting to sell my work. Yes, the extra income would be nice if I could sell a few photos now and then, but I’m not good at self promotion or selling myself. In many ways, those things are more important than the quality of the images that photographers sell from what I can see. And, there’s the issue of time, I don’t have enough as it is already with the hours that I work, do I want to spend some of that precious time trying to peddle my photos?

Then, there’s the expense to get started. Having large prints made isn’t cheap, having them mounted and framed increases the cost significantly. I don’t want to go around to the various art fairs, paying for space, setting up a display, then sitting around all day not selling anything. I’d rather be out shooting more photos, even if I never sell another one. Still, that last little bit sounds good in a way, even if I never sell another one. It’s nice to know that at least a few people have thought that my photos were good enough to purchase them.

So, I guess that I’m on hold until I see the large prints. I just received a call from where I ordered them to confirm that I really wanted them all printed that size. The person who called had started the printing, but then realized how many more I had ordered. I told her I had sent the order to find out what my camera gear was capable of. According to her, the first 5 she had printed “came out just beautiful!”, so now I’m getting a bit excited. Too bad that it’s almost time for me to go to work. I’ll pick-up the prints tomorrow after I go for a walk, then I’ll have a better idea of where I’m going to go as far as future camera gear.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

And the rains came, and went, I got a lifer

It’s a Saturday morning, and I should be out shooting photos, but there’s a constant moderate rain falling at the present time. There’s even a few flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder from time to time. Since I worked until just after midnight last night, I missed what little morning light that there was any way. It looks as if the rain will be an all day event, or close to it, so I may as well resign myself to that fact, and do a little housecleaning of sorts. Maybe I’ll be able to use up more of the photos that I have saved from earlier this summer without going into one of my long-winded discussions of photo gear.😉

That may be too hard for me to do though, since I’m going to start the photos with this one.

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

One of the things that I’m trying to do is shoot more artistic photos when the conditions are right for that. The sandpiper was between myself and the sun just coming up over the horizon, so I had good backlighting for that photo. It’s a tough shot to pull off, but when a bird perches long enough to get the exposure dialed in, it can yield a good photo. Now, if I could control the wind blowing vegetation around in the frame, I may come up with a great image. Still, I like that one.

They don’t call the hour after sunrise the golden hour for nothing.

Least sandpiper in front of a semi-palmated sandpiper

Least sandpiper in front of a semi-palmated sandpiper

The hour before actual sunrise is great for some landscapes, but not so good when photographing nocturnal animals headed home to sleep.

Raccoon at sunrise

Raccoon at sunrise

I lucked out, the raccoon paused for a while when it heard the shutter of my camera going.

Raccoon at sunrise

Raccoon at sunrise

I got the raccoon and the vegetation exposed fairly well, but then the color of the sunrise was blown out. If only critters would hold perfectly still so that I could shoot HDR images…

The storm passes

The storm passes

…but the critters are almost always on the move.

Raccoon at sunrise

Raccoon at sunrise

While I’m wishing, I could wish that the critters were always in good light as well, or that they would turn around to face me.

Gadwall duck

Gadwall duck

But, that’s like wishing that they’d all strike the same pose at the same time.

White-rumped sandpipers

White-rumped sandpipers

There’s always one that has to be different.

White-rumped sandpipers

White-rumped sandpipers

Even when there’s another bird in the frame.

Blue-winged teal in front of White-rumped sandpipers

Blue-winged teal behind White-rumped sandpipers

I know that I said that I didn’t want to get into a discussion about photo gear, but the reason that I saved these next two photos is that they represent some of my first attempts using the 2 X Tele-converter in very low light.

Male American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

The image quality isn’t great, but I was surprised at how well these did turn out to be.

Male American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

It never hurts to push your gear to the very limits to see what it can do. I now know that in a pinch, and with me helping out the auto-focus, I can get usable photos in very low light when using the 2 X extender.

Here’s a couple of images from my uncooperative subject files. This pewee was singing constantly when it was perched in partial shade.

Eastern wood pewee

Eastern wood pewee

But when it moved out into full sunshine, it wouldn’t so much as let out a chirp.

Eastern wood pewee

Eastern wood pewee

At least he struck a nice pose for me.

Changing gears, I have plenty of flower photos left over.

English plantain

English plantain

 

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object

 

Fleabane

Fleabane

I could probably fill an entire post with flowers.

I give up

I give up

 

Too many flowers look the same to me

Too many flowers look the same to me

 

Black-eyed Susan and sweet pea

Black-eyed Susan and sweet pea

Back to the birds. One day this spring, I found this great crested flycatcher…

Great crested flycatcher (I don't name them, only photograph them)

Great crested flycatcher (I don’t name them, only photograph them)

…and this house finch…

Male house finch

Male house finch

…standing in the parking lot of the headquarters for the Muskegon State Game Area.  I was changing settings to try to get them both in focus at the same time when the flycatcher decided to take off, so I had to shoot quickly.

Great crested flycatcher and Male house finch

Great crested flycatcher and Male house finch

Too quickly.

What the heck, I may as well empty out the folder that those photos came from.

Savanah sparrow

Savannah sparrow

 

Cliff swallow

Cliff swallow

 

Barn swallow

Barn swallow

 

Assorted shorebirds

Assorted shorebirds

 

Bonaparte's gull

Bonaparte’s gull

 

Bonaparte's gull

Bonaparte’s gull

 

Unidentified fluttering object

Unidentified fluttering object

 

Damselfly with a snack

Damselfly with a snack

 

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Let’s see here, what else do I have saved?

I usually try to shoot a landscape or two every time that I’m out, but few of them make it into posts that I do, because they’re not that good. But, it helps to stay in practice in case the opportunity to shoot a good one comes along.

Just another bad landscape for practice

Just another bad landscape for practice

Sometimes, those photos include birds.

Turkeys and wildflowers

Turkeys and wildflowers

But, I’m not very good at those shots either.

I do pretty good with turtles though.

Eastern box turtle

Eastern box turtle

Before I forget, I promised to post this photo soon, so now’s as good of time as any.

Unidentified plant, for Allen

Unidentified plant, for Allen

Well, the rain moved through the area sooner than what I expected from the forecast, and from the radar images that I had checked. I did make it outside for a walk on Saturday, and while I saw plenty of birds, I wasn’t able to bring home a single image of any of them. I did shoot a few photos of various fungi that I saw, but they will appear in a later post, since I’m almost out of room in this post for too many more photos.

Instead, I’ll finish this post with these three images.

Unidentified fluttering object

Unidentified fluttering object

I stood there watching the butterfly through the viewfinder, mesmerized by the way that the light played off its hairy wings.

Unidentified fluttering object

Unidentified fluttering object

I never did get exactly the shot that I wanted, which is why I’m including three of the many photos that I shot as I watched the butterfly sipping nectar from the goldenrod flowers.

Unidentified fluttering object

Unidentified fluttering object

Breaking news!

I got my birthday present a day early this year. No, it has nothing to do with photo gear, other than I used a camera and lens to check another species of bird off from my list of birds for the My Photo Life List that I’m working on. This time, I did it in style, there’s no questioning if this is really a buff-breasted sandpiper or not.

Buff-breasted sandpiper

Buff-breasted sandpiper

That’s number 227, only 124 more to go.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

It’s been a good summer

Good, but not great. It’s been one of our warmer summers, but after two cool summers, that was to be expected. For the first half of the summer, I was getting great weather for photography, the past few weekends haven’t been as good. I’ve been dodging rain, and even a few tornadoes last weekend. In fact, one of the tornadoes crossed a road that I took on my way home not long after I had made it home. While they were a big news item here, we seldom get the strong tornadoes that they do out on the plains of the United States, we get weak, short-lived ones that blow down a few trees and branches and then dissipate.

At least for the time being, it has cooled off to around average temperatures for around here this time of year, and the drought(s) are a thing of the past. We had two stretches where we received little or no rain, but they ended before the lack of rain had much effect on the vegetation or wildlife here.

I haven’t had much time to get outside, but I’m making a lot more money than I did at my old job, so I can afford better photo gear than I could ever have imagined just two years ago. The thing is, that I’m in no hurry to purchase many of those items at the current time. I’m having too much fun learning the 7D Mk II and the lenses that I currently have. Although, for the past month, the 60D body with the EF S 15-85 mm lens that I use for landscapes hasn’t been auto-focusing as well as it used to. It struggles to find the correct focus, at first it was just in low light, but lately it’s been goofing up even in good light. I’ve been able to get by, and I don’t know if the problem is with the lens or the camera body. It almost has to be the lens, as the same body works fine with the 100 mm macro lens on it. Maybe the 15-85 mm lens got wet one too many times.😦

I thought about that this past weekend, I used to love walking in the rain, and I still do for that matter. However, I’m being very careful with my camera gear, so I haven’t been going out in the rain as I used to. I doubt if that will change, even though the 7D Mk II is supposed to be moisture proof, as are the 300 mm L Series lens and the 1.4 X tele-converter, I’m being careful to keep them as dry as possible. That’s funny, one of the reasons that I was willing to spend the big bucks on the 7D was the fact that it is weather sealed, but because I did spend the big bucks on it, I try to keep it out of the weather.😉

Anyway, it has been a good summer, I have tons of photos that I shot earlier in the year that may or may not end up here in my blog.

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

The problem that I have every year is that as the year progresses, I end up with more and better photos than the ones that I shot in the spring.

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

I’ll probably end up deleting many of the photos that I thought that I’d use here, but there are a few that are of species of birds that I don’t see that often.

Male orchard oriole

Male orchard oriole

Or, I see often, but seldom photograph because they are so common here.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

Here’s another example of that, three young robins.

Three juvenile American robins

Three juvenile American robins

Two went off in search of food on their own, and seemed to be having a discussion as to whether something that they had found was safe to eat.

Juvenile American robins in conference

Juvenile American robins in conference

While the other decided that sticking close to mom was the best way to get food.

Juvenile American robin waiting for its mother to feed it

Juvenile American robin waiting for its mother to feed it

I haven’t been neglecting photographing the more common species of birds around here.

Female American goldfinch

Female American goldfinch

 

Female yellow warbler

Female yellow warbler

 

Female American goldfinch

Female American goldfinch

 

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird

 

Male Rose-breasted grosbeak

Male Rose-breasted grosbeak

 

Male American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

 

Grey catbird

Grey catbird

 

Female Rose-breasted grosbeak

Female Rose-breasted grosbeak

But, I find it harder to post those photos when I have fair photos of a northern harrier.

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

 

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

 

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Or, a common raven posing for me in the sun.

Common raven

Common raven

Breaking news!

Canon has just introduced the 5D Mk IV which I have been waiting to learn about before purchasing a full frame camera body. After reading what little there is in the way for details about this new model, I’m not so sure that it’s the right camera for me. It does have the much improved metering system like the 7D Mk II, which I have come to love. It has improved auto-focusing over the older model, but it isn’t as good as what the 7D Mk II is in some respects, in others, it is better. What it does have is a 30 mega-pixel sensor, wi-fi, GPS, a touch screen, and much improved video capabilities. Oh, and a much larger price tag than the 5D Mk III had, in the neighborhood of 50% larger, and I’m not sure that I want to visit that neighborhood.😉

I don’t want to bore every one with my talk of the technical details of the things that will drive my decision, I’ve done enough of that already. However, I’m leaning towards purchasing the 5D Mk III and a device that will allow me to shoot time-lapse and long exposures when the occasion arrises. I’d love the higher resolution of the new model, it’s close to the Nikon D810, but Canon still has a way to go to catch up with Nikon in that area.

I have to keep in mind why I’m purchasing a full frame camera and what I intend to use it for. In general, it’s for better performance in low-light situations, and for better results when printing very large prints. I suppose that being able to “go wider” is part of the mix. What I mean by that is that a crop sensor camera like the ones that I have now increase the focal length of the lens used on it. For example, the 24-105 mm lens that I’d like to have becomes a 36-168 mm lens on a crop sensor body like my 7D. That means carrying another lens to be able to get as wide of a view as 24 mm is on a full frame camera. That’s very important for landscapes, which I’d like to shoot more of. Otherwise, with what I see about the new 5D Mk IV, I’d be just as well off buying a second 7D Mk II, and my bank account would be much healthier if I did.

Before I forget, Canon also announced a new version of that 24-105 mm lens, with improved optics, and only a slightly higher price tag than the old version of that lens. When the time comes to go full frame, that’s the lens that I’ll purchase to go with it.

All of this is important to me as I decide my future, there’s no other way of putting it. It may be a sad comment on my life, such as it is, but I’ve been planning the rest of my life around photography. Not just the photography that you’ve been seeing here in my blog, because I also plan to travel once I have the time to do so. That means more landscape images, which means that the full frame camera becomes more important. As I get older, I turn 62 on Monday, the weight of the gear that I carry will also become more important.

With a 24-105 mm lens on a full frame camera body, and the 100-400 mm lens on my 7D, I’d be ready for 90% of the photos that I’d be taking. Throw in the 100 mm macro lens, and I’d be ready for 95% of the images I’d like to make. Add in a lens wider than the 24-105 mm lens, such as the 16-35 mm, and I’d have almost all the bases covered. That’s a lot less than what I carry now, which would be a big deal as I get older, especially if I do make it out west to photograph in mountainous areas, which I would dearly love to do!

My head is beginning to hurt from all the thoughts racing through my mind right now, trying to weigh the costs versus what I’d like to have, keeping in mind that the more that I spend on camera gear, the less money that I’ll have to travel. It would be easier if I could sit back and wait to decide, but retailers are already beginning to discount the price of the 5D Mk III to clear their stock of those camera bodies before the Mk IV begins to ship in September. Trying to see into the future is hard!

Okay, so I spent the day at work thinking through all of this, and some more time this morning. I keep flipping back and forth between waiting until I can afford the new model, or acting quickly and purchasing the older model at a discounted price.

If I act now, it throws a monkey wrench into all my plans for this fall, which includes purchasing the 100-400 mm zoom lens, which will become my workhorse lens when I do make the purchase. I don’t have any wide-angle lenses that would fit the full frame body, the shortest lens I have that would fit it is the 70-200 mm lens. Even at the discounted price, I couldn’t afford the camera and at least one lens for it. So, the full frame body would be useless to me when I go to shoot the fall colors over the next few months.

Also, I have to remember what I intend to use the full frame body for, landscapes…

After the sunrise

After the sunrise

…where higher resolution is important.

Macros…

Seal all?

Seal all?

…where higher resolution is important.

Bird portraits…

Eastern Phoebe bringing home the bacon

Eastern Phoebe bringing home the bacon

 

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

 

Merlin

Merlin

…where higher resolution is important.

And, I can’t forget other critters…

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

 

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

 

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

…where higher resolution is important.

I have the 7D for action photos…

Red-winged blackbird chasing a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbird chasing a red-tailed hawk

 

Eastern meadowlark in flight

Eastern meadowlark in flight

 

Killdeer landing

Killdeer landing

 

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

…so, if my main reason for going full frame is higher resolution in lower light, then the new model of the 5D is my best choice at the current time, as it will have a 30MP sensor. My 7D has a 20MP sensor, the same as the older model of the 5D, but in a crop sensor, which means that the resolution of the 7D is actually higher than the older model 5D. If higher resolution is my goal, then it makes little sense to take a step backwards.

I realize that there’s more to resolution than just the number of mega pixels in the sensor of a camera, but it is a good indication of what one can expect from a camera.

However, I’m not going to make that purchase any time soon, I’d wait until the bugs have been worked out of the new model, and until it has been on the market long enough that Canon begins to offer rebates on it, as they always do after the initial hype over a new model has passed. That’s what I did when Canon introduced the 7D Mk II, and it worked out well for me. And, having a camera that will do everything that I want it to do without add-ons to learn how to use and carry around is another big plus for the new 5D.

Besides, who knows what will happen while I’m saving money for the new camera, things may change dramatically in the next year or two.

I may not like the price tag, but then, I should have picked a less expensive passion.😉

Okay then, with that settled, at least for the time being, it’s time to get back to the present rather than sweating over the future. Or should I say, get back to the past, because I’m going to use up a few more of the older images that I have saved.

Least sandpiper

Least sandpiper

 

A murder of crows

A murder of crows

I thought about converting that last one to black and white, but I kind of like the blue of a nozzles hanging from the irrigation pipe. I should have removed the tele-converter from behind the lens and gone wider with that photo.

These next two, I’m including just because.

Green heron in flight

Green heron in flight

 

Green heron in flight

Green heron in flight

Let’s see, what else do I have saved?

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

 

Eastern swallowtail butterfly

Eastern swallowtail butterfly

 

Male house finch

Male house finch

 

Day lily

Day lily

 

Clouded sulphur butterfly

Clouded sulphur butterfly

Once again I find that I should apologize for all of this post that I devoted to my angst over camera gear, but typing out my thoughts helps me to make decisions. Those decisions lead to the quality of the photos that I post here, so I suppose that you have to take the bad with the good.😉

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!