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

It’s been a bad week

In some respects that is, in other ways, it has been a good week. My new Internet service is so much faster than the old Verizon wireless “broadband” that I used to have, so far I am more than pleased! I have now have Bloom Broadband, and it flies, at least ten times as fast as Verizon, and cheaper too.

The weather has been up and down around here. One day I wear nothing but a heavy long sleeve T-shirt, the next day I’m wearing a winter parka to ward off the wind and rain. Most of the time it has been cloudy, I took some photos today around noon, and the exposure settings were 1/40 of a second at F/4, and that was out in the open, not in the woods. Needless to say, I have been using the flash a lot for about everything.

The critters have been driving me crazy, either they won’t sit still, or they won’t move.

I have been trying to get some good photos of some of the smaller birds around here, and trying a new technique. That is, just keep shooting rather than trying to catch them sitting still. If you have ever tried to photograph a small bird like a chickadee, you know that they are perpetual motion machines, they never sit still for very long. Back in the old days of film, it made no sense to waste an entire roll of film hoping that you would catch a bird sitting still, you waited and hoped that it would pause long enough for a shot. Since digital photos cost nothing, when I see one of the small birds close enough for a photo now, I start clicking the shutter about as rapidly as I can, then delete all the blurry ones from when the bird was moving. It does take some time to sort through the photos as I end up with many like this one.

Black capped chickadee

But then, I do get a few like this.

Black capped chickadee

Or this one of a downy woodpecker.

Downy woodpecker

I’m sure that other people have figured this out before, it is a lot less frustrating to shoot a bunch of photos and get a couple good ones than it is to chase the little buggers through the woods trying to time when they are going to sit still for a split second 😉

I have been testing it on larger animals as well, that lead to this interesting little series. I was all set to photograph a small whitetail deer….

Whitetail deer

when the larger one in the foreground barged into the frame, startling the smaller one, which caused it to move enough to make the photo look out of focus. But, the next quick shot shows the small deer in the background in focus as I intended.

Whitetail deer

Then the auto-focus picked up the deer in the foreground…

Whitetail deer

This was one of the times the critters wouldn’t move when I wanted them to. There was a small herd of deer pinning me in to a spot I didn’t want to be in.

Whitetail deer

The deer kept milling around back and forth in front of me.

Whitetail deer

I didn’t want to be in the spot that I was as the light was too poor for a good shot of them, and there were even more around, so I didn’t want to frighten these and spook the others too. They finally moved off after about 15 minutes, and by then it was getting so dark that any photo would be an iffy one.

With the deer gone, I moved off and saw a small flock of wood ducks land in a small pond not far from me. There is an even smaller cove in the pond, which is where the ducks went. The cove is surrounded by large pines, so I thought it would be my chance to sneak up on the ducks, wrong. One of the ducks swam out of the cove enough to catch a glimpse of me through a tiny opening between the pine boughs. I froze, but too late. All birds seem to have incredibly good eyesight, and wood ducks must have some of the best among birds. That duck was off in a flash, and not the flash unit of my camera either, it was way too far away for that. Of course the rest of the flock followed the first one, so much for that idea. I should get to the pond earlier some evening and sit in the pines and wait for the ducks, that’s the third time I’ve seen them there. Maybe next weekend.

By then it was really dark, but I couldn’t pass up this shot.

Whitetail bucks sparring

The two bucks were pushing each other a little, a sparring match for the true battles they will have in a few weeks when the rut begins. I was hoping for a few more shots like that, but they back away from each other a short way, then went back to feeding again.

On one of the few sunny days, I did get a few shots like these.

Fall foliage

You can see that all the wind we’ve had has stripped many of the leaves off from the trees.

Fall foliage

On a more typical day, I was chasing some of the small birds around a stand of pines, never getting a shot of any of the birds, when  noticed an orange butterfly land near me. It was the first butterfly I have seen in a couple of weeks with the weather the way that it’s been. I moved to get closer to the butterfly, and spooked a small herd of deer on the edge of the woods near the pines I was in. No birds, no butterfly, no deer.

There are times I think wildlife does that on purpose, use decoys to confuse us. If I hadn’t been watching the birds, I probably would have noticed the butterfly sooner, and if I hadn’t been intent on the butterfly, I may have seen the deer before they saw me.

I did see the drunken raccoon again.

Drunken raccoon sleeping off its drunk

It had wedged itself into the opening of the hollow tree it lives in, and was sleeping soundly as I approached. As I tried to move around to get a better photo, I stepped on a twig which broke and woke the raccoon up.

Drunken raccoon

About that time, the batteries in my camera went dead, and as I was reaching in my pocket for some fresh ones, I managed to shove my hand into a briar I was standing next to, sticking a number of thorns in my fingers. After pulling the thorns out with my teeth, I changed batteries, only to find the set I thought were fresh were really the dead ones from my GPS unit, so there I was with a drunken coon watching me and no batteries for my camera. Not the best of days in a week that hasn’t been the best of weeks.

If that wasn’t enough, Monday after my walk, I started a number of blog posts for here that I intended to be just drafts for me to work on over time. I like to keep ahead on drafts, it works better than if I try to do an entire post all at once. It fits my method of writing better, which I won’t bore you with by explaining it here. I started a couple of drafts, including the Dumb Human Trick, but somehow either I clicked the wrong button or WordPress screwed up and it published the draft long before I was done with it. I think WordPress screwed up, because it didn’t take me to the page that tells me what a great blogger I am when I finish a post, it took me to the dashboard instead. Anyway, I rushed through that post a lot quicker than I wanted to since it was already published. I am going to go back and edit it heavily when I get a chance, I am sorry about the quality of that post.

Thanks for stopping by!

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3 responses

  1. Northern Narratives

    It’s such a challenge to photo animals – thanks for the tips 🙂

    October 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm

  2. Totally agree on the ‘shoot early and shoot often’ photography technique. I too would wait for ‘the perfect shot’ that often would never come, so I started taking a quick ‘good enough I hope’ shot and then trying for a better one. But even better is to shoot say 4-6 quick shots when a subject is in a good position nearby and get one (maybe more) good shot(s) out of that. Digital photography is wonderful for doing all of this shooting!

    Also, on the WordPress problems…I’ve run into something similar. WHen I’d try to post a link, it would default to the ‘show all posts’ page and I’d lose any unsaved work. I believe the problem was with my browser’s script blocker software, because when I allowed all scripts on the page (something I don’t like doing a lot) it would work fine. So I’m guessing it’s a compatibility issue between scripts and browsers and such.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    • I’m still getting used to “free” photos that come with digital photography, old habits are hard to break. I have been thinking of switching my cameras to the burst mode, where they continue to shoot until the buffer is filled, but I’m not sure about that yet. I can see the camera doing its thing, then pausing to write to the memory card, just as the perfect photo op presents itself. For the time being, I’ll just shoot as quickly as my finger says to.

      Thanks for the comments, and the tips on WordPress. It does have a few quirks, but I have switched to Google Chrome for blogging purposes, and they seem to function better together than MS IE, at least the versions I have.

      November 1, 2011 at 10:31 am