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

Another photo page done, pity party optional

I have completed another page of the Taking good nature photos series, the Rule of Thirds. I may as well be blogging, as I have nothing better to do this weekend.

Lake Michigan beach

So I’m throwing a pity party for myself, and even bringing the whine. You can join me if you wish.

I was going to go up north this weekend, since it is the long 4th of July weekend, but, for various reasons, I decided to stay home instead. For one thing, the weekend sort of crept up on me before I knew it was here.

I’ve been so caught up in trying to get my Nikon camera to take halfway good pictures that I lost track of what day it was. I know it is heresy, but the Nikon sucks, bigtime! About half the pictures I get out of it are either out of focus, or blurry because of camera movement, I’m not sure which. I know the auto focus is poor to say the least, I am beginning to suspect that part of the problem may be due to camera movement as well. Even when I focus manually, many of the pictures turn out blurry. I’ll have to get out my monopod and see for sure about that. I used to shoot with a 300mm lens on my Pentax all the time with no problems, not every picture was sharp, but most were. With my Canon, about half the pictures I took zoomed in to 48X came out well, and that’s a lot more of a telephoto lens than the 360mm that the Nikon’s lens will zoom to. So I don’t understand why I can’t get sharp pictures from the Nikon?

I have also figured out that I’m going to have to start playing with many of the other settings on the Nikon as well. It has never rendered what I would consider to be great pictures of foliage, so I took a series of test shots today and found out that by using the exposure compensation and adjusting it down three to four steps, foliage pictures started coming out better, but not great. And that was in direct sunlight, nothing difficult for the camera at all. You shouldn’t have to make adjustments to get a good picture of a tree from a camera and lens as expensive as the Nikon was, well, I guess I do. The Nikon over-exposes foliage pictures, it doesn’t like the color green I guess. It does well with other colors, on second thought, maybe not. Maybe that’s why the color saturation has never been great with the Nikon, maybe it over-exposes everything. Something else to check out.

I miss my Canon, I never had to play with any of them. They were truly point and shoot. As I was going through some of my pics looking for ones to use in my newly published page, I was struck by how good the pictures all three of the Canon Powershots that I have killed have been. Color saturation and reproduction is excellent!

I may be on to something. Thinking about this as I’ve been writing led me to step out and take a few more pics with the Nikon, and there may be hope for it.

Small orb spider at work on its web

Not only has the exposure compensation helped the color saturation and rendition, the photos are sharper as well, that one I can’t figure out.

Blue sky, green leaves

This is without a doubt the best picture the Nikon has ever taken of blue sky and green leaves in the same shot. If it cools off a little later on, I’ll go for a walk and do some more testing.

That’s another reason I didn’t head north the weather. Close to 90 degrees with a dew point in the upper 70’s, hot and humid, not my kind of weather. One of the times I stepped out to take test pictures, the lens of the camera fogged over from the humidity, and my air is set for 75 degrees, that’s humid! Plus, they had a chance of storms in the forecast for all three days, now they are saying it will be nice on Sunday and Monday.

Then there are the crowds, the 4th is a busy weekend up north, and I dislike crowds. There was an article in the local press yesterday about the U. S. Forest Service and Michigan DNR stepping up enforcement on some of the rivers due to the number of drunken slobs making life miserable for those of us who choose not to drink and act like an ass. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you’re going to drink yourself stupid and act like an ass, stay home, there’s no reason to spoil it for every one else, and since you’re drinking yourself into a stupor, what difference does it make where you are?  Stay home, you can afford more beer that way since you don’t have to buy gas!

As I said, the weekend kind of snuck up on me. I was trying to decide where to go and what to do, but never formed a solid plan in time to get ready. Towards the end of the week, I had an idea, visit Ocqueoc Falls, the only recognized waterfall in Michigan’s lower peninsula, and do some exploring along the Lake Huron shoreline. The Ocqueoc River and Falls are not far from the Pigeon River Country, but I’ve never seen them in person. They’re not real impressive falls, but still, I’d like to see them. At one time I was close to having seen every waterfall in the Upper Peninsula, or UP as it is known as. I’ve lost track of which ones I had left to visit, so I guess I’m going to have to start over again.

And as much time as I have spent along the Lake Michigan shore, I have spent no time on Lake Huron’s shore, hard to believe. I’ve seen pictures, and read about places along the shore, but never made it there yet. The two lakes have completely different types of shorelines, mostly due to the prevailing winds. Lake Michigan beaches are sandy, with towering dunes, some well-known like the Sleeping Bear dunes and Empire Bluffs, some not so well-known. The winds and waves pile sand up along Lake Michigan, but not Lake Huron, which has a rockier coast. Since I won’t make up there this weekend, I’ll have to add it to my list of places to explore. I need to do some more research first, which is what held me back this weekend. I didn’t get the idea to explore there until it was too late.

That, and money. Here’s where the whining really gets going folks, so read at your own risk. For the first time in my life I actually have to live with in a budget, and I don’t like it one bit. I am a truck driver, an underpaid truck driver. I had been a real estate agent until the housing market began to crash here, and I needed steady work to pay the bills. Looking in the paper, I saw the most sought after workers were truck drivers, so I thought what the heck, I can do that. And I did.

For the first 4 years I worked for a local short-haul, regional carrier, they were supposed to give me two days off per week, but it seldom happened that way. Most of my “weekends” were a day and a half, sometimes just one day. But, I was making good money, working 70 hours per week, and running just over 2,400 miles per week, getting paid by the mile. I didn’t like it because there were no holidays, no long weekends, and time off was impossible. I was only able to go camping once or twice a year, and it seriously cut into my kayaking and fishing time as well. Living in a truck was no fun either, even though in some respects it is much like camping. I like camping in a tent several times a year, but I wouldn’t want to live that way, and living in a truck is about the same.

Then my mother began showing signs of Alzheimer’s. I am going to skip all the gory details of everything I had to do for my mother as far as immense stacks of paperwork required by the government, and everything else there was for me to do. I am also going to skip over a couple of the jobs I took trying to find one that worked for me as far as all I had to do for my mother. The job I have now worked well for me with all I had to do. I work five days a week on second shift, so I was able to schedule appointments and actually get to them.  The only problem is that this job doesn’t pay squat, in fact, it pays less than squat. I was making squat when I started there, but soon after, the union I am forced to belong to, negotiated a new contract that included a pay cut and a cut in benefits.

I have been losing money since I started there, and things don’t look like they’re going to get any better soon, if ever. I can foresee the company going under in the next few years, not that I plan to be there that long. With my mom safely in a good nursing home, and her finances in order, it’s time for me to find a job that pays again.

I don’t really want to go back to over the road, but if I have to, I will. I wouldn’t get long weekends if I went OTR, but what good are long weekends if you’re broke and can’t afford to go anywhere anyway? Since I didn’t hit the lottery again this week, it’s time to start job hunting again.

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