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

Where do I start today?

When I started this blog it was never my intention to post daily, or even twice on some days, but I have been very fortunate the last couple of weeks in that I have managed to get what I think are some pretty good photos. Maybe not technically great, but if not, photos that tell a story. I think that my good fortune has continued, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. I don’t want to post so often that people dread seeing an announcement that I have posted yet another worthless post. I’ve stopped following some blogs because the authors seemed intent on posting multiple times per day, and didn’t really have much content to their posts. I don’t want this to be one of those.

I simply do not have the time to keep up that kind of pace, I need to slow down a little, or I won’t have any time left to be out there taking pictures. 😉 For a while I stopped replying to every comment in an attempt to save time, but that’s not fair to the people who take the time to leave a comment, so I am back to replying to comments, as I should. I guess I didn’t really understand this thing called the blogosphere when I started this blog. I had no idea that there were as many talented people out there, as writers, or photographers, or both. I haven’t even had time lately to give a shout out to some of the really good blogs that I have found, or add links to them here, and I need to do that, but don’t have time right now.

One of the things that has left me lacking in time for my blog has been getting all the forms filled out and copies of documents gathered to continue my mother’s Medicaid insurance, I have completed that, and sent everything in, now it’s time for the waiting game to see if I did everything correctly. With that done, hopefully I’ll have some more time for other things.

So what I am working towards in my long-winded way is this, I don’t have the time to comply with the requirements for the Versatile Blogger Award, so I’m not going to accept it. It isn’t just a matter of time, most of the blogs that I follow have already either won the award, or have been nominated for it, so I would have a hard time coming up with 15 more blogs to nominate. Besides, it means more to me that some one thought this blog was worthy of the award than adding another widget to my blog to display the award does, so I hope you aren’t offended by this Sheila. Thank you for nominating my blog for the award.

I would like to have enough time to do other than photo posts as well. I try to post at least a few serious posts from time to time, based on news articles I have read, either good news, or not so good news. I haven’t had time for that lately.

For example, there was recently a story on Yahoo News about hybrid sharks near Australia. Here’s a link to the story, I don’t know how long it will work, Yahoo is notorious for pulling down news stories after a short time. The first thing that hit me was that the interbreeding of the two species of sharks was due to climate change according to the story. At the risk of alienating a few of the readers of my blog, I don’t believe that man is responsible for climate change, and I will explain why in a future post. But, the gist of the story is this. Two species of sharks, the Australian black-tipped and the common black-tipped, were both swimming around in the ocean, minding their own business when both species noticed minute changes in the temperatures of the ocean currents. Both species concluded that this was due to climate change caused by man, and that they had to do something about it. So, the two species got together and decided that interbreeding between the two of them to produce a hybrid better able to cope with cooler ocean temperatures would be just the thing to help them survive. I guess those darn sharks weren’t so smart after all, I mean, they could detect that man was responsible for climate change, and take the initiative to produce a new species, but the new species is better adapted to cooler temperatures. If they were really smart, it would seem to me that they would produce a hybrid better able to survive the predicted increases in ocean temperatures.

What ticks me off about the story isn’t that it supports the idea than man is responsible for climate change, I have come to expect that. Stories that support that theory are the only ones that will ever make it into the mainstream media. The only times you will see a story about some one who disagrees with the theory of man induced climate change is when they convert from a doubter to a supporter, or when the media is attempting to destroy the reputation of a scientist who doesn’t believe the theory, because they once got a discount on their gas at an Exxon station, and therefore are in the pocket of Big Oil.

No, what burns my butt about this story, and many other science related stories of late, is this, that the interbreeding between the two species of sharks was a conscious decision on their part, or at least that’s the way it is written. It’s bad enough when scientists ascribe human traits to living things, but I have seen stories written where events involving inanimate objects supposedly took place because the inanimate objects “decided” that it was the correct course of action to take. I’m sorry, but rocks, volcanos, and continents do not think, they do not do the things they do because they made a conscious decision to do something.

It took the story about the sharks to make me realize that it is only some scientists who do that, and they are the ones that the media will report on. Real science is boring to the average brain-dead reporter and their almost equally as brain-dead editors. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but I have had a few run ins with reporters, and none of them I have met thinks about anything other than their appearance, and how they can get a job in a larger market. To get a job in a larger market requires them to file stories that conform to the correct templates, or the reporter will be stuck in small market limbo for life.

If a scientist expects to get written up in the mainstream media, they too must conform to the current template in place, or the story won’t get published or broadcast.

For the record, I do not watch Fox News, that would require me to turn on my TV, which I refuse to do. I do not listen to Rush “The Lush” Limbaugh either, I don’t need some one telling me what to think. I am not a scientist, only because I couldn’t decide on which “ology” I wanted to go into, but I did win the science bee 5 of 6 times back in school. The year I didn’t win, it was because I assumed what a question was going to be before the question was finished, and I answered incorrectly because I was in too much of a hurry, not because I didn’t know the correct answer.

I do try to keep up on scientific discoveries, but it is getting harder all the time. Part of it is that scientists have to compete for funding, so they try to generate buzz about their research, and often times overstate their findings in order to generate that buzz.

OK, my take on the sharks, then we’ll get to the photos. Both species of sharks are fished for heavily, as the main ingredient for shark fin soup. With the numbers of both species diminished, they are having a harder time finding members of their own species to mate with, and the interbreeding between the species is a result of that, which wasn’t really mentioned in the news article at all. This probably isn’t the first time that such interbreeding has taken place, it is the first time it has been documented, there is a difference.

The photos, where do I start? I guess with this one, of a huge flock of herring gulls circling overhead, nothing special, except for the huge number of gulls I managed to get in the frame.

Herring gulls circling overhead

Some of the gulls dropped down lower, and I shot a few photos of them, but nothing as good as in my earlier post, so I won’t bore you with any more of them.

Stopping at one of the ponds here, I saw a small flock of geese, took a quick shot or three, then started walking away from the geese. About that time, large numbers of geese from several of the ponds in the area all began honking at one time, including the small flock near me. I turned around and saw one goose with its mouth open as it honked, and that gave me the idea to try to capture a photo of a goose with its mouth open. If you know geese, you may say it is harder to catch one with its mouth closed, but I took it as a challenge to get photos for a reason.

It all has to do with timing, learning the delay between when my mind says shoot, and the shutter actually goes. It is something I hold over from my days as a marksman, learning to “call you shots”. You may think that when target shooting, you put the crosshairs on the center of the bullseye and pull the trigger, well, not quite. That’s the ideal, but we humans are full of all sorts of movements within our bodies that we are not aware of until we try shooting, either a gun or a photo. We wouldn’t need tripods if we were as rock steady as we think we are. So when target shooting, you try to keep the crosshairs centered as you squeeze the trigger, but as to when the gun actually goes off, that should be somewhat of a surprise every time. “Calling your shot” means remembering the sight picture at the exact moment when the gun did go off. I find the same thing holds for photography, that between the time my mind says shoot, as in press the shutter release, and the time the camera actually captures the scene, there is enough of a delay so that the scene may change during that small amount of time. That delay is most noticeable when shooting moving subjects, especially small, quick subjects, like chickadees for example. I’ll have a better example of that later on, but I think that any one who has tried to catch small birds in photos has had a time when they pressed the shutter, thinking the bird was sitting there, only to find that the photo shows an empty branch where the bird was.

Anyway, the goose photos.

Canadian goose honking

Canadian goose honking

The other thing I stuck around for was that with all the geese in the area honking to one another, I knew something was going to happen, and it did. The small flock I was photographing began running for take off speed..

Canadian goose running for take off

…and take off they did.

Canadian goose taking off

Canadian goose in flight

Canadian goose in flight

A double winner! Goose in flight with its mouth open. 😉

Canadian goose in flight

That flock joined a larger flock, which continued to grow in size as they circled the area, all the small flocks at each pond joined to form one huge one.

Canadian geese in flight

I shot quite a few of the geese in flight, but I’ll only post a couple more, I still can’t get a really good one of them overhead.

Canadian goose in flight

Canadian goose in flight

My next stop was one of the creeks here, they tend to be hot spots for good photos, like the ones of the cardinal bathing I posted not long ago. While I was walking up to the creek, I could see a flock of turkeys off in the distance having a row, but they were too far away, and there were too many trees between us for a good shot. Two of them took off running towards me, with four others chasing, the two being chased didn’t stop, they kept right on running as they passed me, I guess the four doing the chasing weren’t all that intent on catching the two, for they stopped when they saw me.

Turkeys calling off the chase

Then I got these of a female cardinal near the stream, I thought that she was going to go for a bath, but she didn’t.

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

I think the reason she didn’t take a bath was that there was a feral cat in the area. I was going to snap a photo of it, but I was too busy shooting the birds that came out of the underbrush to escape the cat.

House finch

House finch

House finch

House finch

The other small birds didn’t cooperate as well as the house finch did, either they were too far away, or didn’t sit still long enough for a shot, so I crossed the creek at the bridge and found this squirrel who wanted its portrait taken.

Fox squirrel

It kept its eyes glued to me as I continued walking, I thought it may fall off the branch it was on.

Fox squirrel

I continued my walk, taking a few more photos that aren’t worthwhile posting here, until I got to the juniper tree where I had taken a few photos of a male cardinal on an earlier walk. Several people raved about that photo, but I was never that happy with it, so I have made the juniper tree a regular stop on my daily walks, hoping to get a better one. Luck was with me on this day, I saw a cardinal back in the branches, waited, and it came out to make an appearance for this shot.

Male northern cardinal in a juniper tree

That’s better than the earlier one, but it still isn’t quite what I want, so I’ll keep trying. I have noticed that the male cardinals seem to be brighter red this winter than I can remember them ever being before.

Male northern cardinal

I’m not sure if they really are a brighter red, or if it is that we have had a lot more sunshine than is typical of a Michigan winter, making them seem brighter in the sun, when we normally have endless cloudy days that mute all colors.

Next up is a chickadee in action, some shots are good, some not so good, but they are of one of my favorite birds, doing what they do best, non-stop clowning around.

This one thinks that it has been hired as a building inspector.

Black capped chickadee

Black capped chickadee

Of course what it is doing is looking for insects under the edges of the siding on the building. And that reminds me, I was wrong about chickadees, they don’t always use jet packs to get around, sometimes they do fly using their wings.

Black capped chickadee in flight

I got one of it hopping from branch to branch, and singing as it was doing so.

Black capped chickadee

It’s tough to see their eyes, since their eyes are the same color as their feathers.

Black capped chickadee

Black capped chickadee

Then this one was joined by two more, and they chased each other around for a while.

Black capped chickadees chasing one another

Not the greatest shot in the world, but how often do you get a chance to capture three chickadees in flight at one time? Well, at least most of three of them, those little buggers are quick!

Which brings me back to calling your shots. This next photo was actually taken today.

Black capped chickadee in flight

I saw this chickadee working its way through the brush, coming towards me. When it got close enough for a photo and perched, I brought the camera the rest of the way to my eye, cranked the zoom in as I pressed the shutter release halfway for the camera to auto-focus and set the exposure, and as soon as I heard the beep from the camera and saw the focus was good, my mind said shoot! At that exact same moment, the chickadee made its leap into flight. I could see that it was airborne even as the mirror of the camera was locking up, that’s how quickly it all happened.

Stupid branch, got to get me a chain saw! Wait, I already did that post.

Back to the last photo, when my mind told my finger to press the shutter release, it was going to be a photo of a perched chickadee, by the time the photo was actually captured, it turned out to be of a chickadee in flight, which I saw as the mirror locked up. Why is this important? Because you have to take that delay into account when you are trying to take action shots of wildlife, or any other moving subjects. In the case of the last photo, it just happened to be luck, but it is luck that I practice at, by shooting as many moving targets as I can, and by calling my shot on each one. I am learning how long the time delay is between my mind telling my finger to fire, and the time when the photo is actually captured, and my brain is beginning to take that time delay into account when I am trying to time action shots.

That time delay is different for all of us, because of us, and because of our equipment. We all have different reaction times, and not all cameras work at the same speed. And, it takes a while for our brains to be trained as to how long the time delay is, and the only way it happens is through practice. Practice, practice, practice!

Well, that’s about it for this one, I hope you aren’t all too upset about my rant in the beginning of it, thanks for stopping by!


10 responses

  1. I really enjoy your posts and look forward to reading them, but I also know how much work they are. That’s why I only post twice a week-it’s all I can keep up with. I have one post coming up that I’ve been working on for 3 weeks! Family and living have to come before the blog, so I don’t blame you for slowing down. As usual your pictures are excellent, and your story makes them even better.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:43 am

    • Thank you!

      January 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm

  2. An absolutely, great bunch of photos. 🙂

    January 9, 2012 at 9:31 am

    • Thanks!

      January 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

  3. I think we could be siblings. I hate when real life interferes with my photography, but it is what it is. My parents are also elderly and I am closest and take care of them when I need to. I can totally relate! I LOVE the honkers and chickadees. I have not seen a cardinal yet this winter and so jealous! Keep the great photos coming 🙂 P.S. Not offended at all, no worries.

    January 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    • Thank you, glad you understand.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

  4. You have gotten some really nice photos and captured them in flight. I like the details on the feathers and the movement in some of them. We are simpatico in that we like to bird watch–I get pretty diligent about feeding them in winter too. I adore your chickadee photos–especially seeing it looking for insects–I didn’t know.
    ps. It’s difficult to blog every day. I did it last year but find that so much of the rest of my life was being pushed aside. Some days I leave the computer with sore eyes. And the blogging awards–who could you leave out? 🙂

    January 10, 2012 at 10:31 am

    • Thank you! I love it when I get a photo that is both technically good, and shows wildlife in action so that others may understand their behavior, which is my ultimate goal.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:53 am

  5. Your photos get better and better, I really enjoy them and your posts!

    I know what you mean about cutting back on the blog posts, I used to post every 3 days and found that I was burning out after a few months of that schedule. Once a week fits me much better, and I find I can focus on better posts.

    Winter, with its bare branches, gives me photography headaches as well. Certain birds like Golden Crowned Kinglets live behind a screen of twigs it seems, twigs that my camera loves to focus on (instead of the Kinglets).

    January 22, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    • Thank you. In a way, I find winter a better time for photographing birds, the twigs and branches are a problem, but not as much of a problem as a tree fully leafed out is.

      January 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm