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

A drought update, and more

The drought here continues, we had a little bit of rain on Thursday, and just a few drops of rain this morning. It’s getting ugly around here as far as the stress being shown by some of the plant life. Some of the creeks are nearly dry, and probably will be completely dry by next weekend.

There’s no real rain in the weather forecast, but that may be a good thing. If I remember correctly, the most significant rain we received since the drought began came when there had been no rain in the forecast 24 hours before it fell. And I sure wish that the local meteorologist whose blog I follow would stop predicting that there’d be no more heat waves for the foreseeable future!

This is what he wrote back on Wednesday of this week as our last heat wave was about to break, “Weds. PM – Last really hot day until July”. Guess what? They’re now predicting high temperatures near 100 degrees for later this week, and it’s still June unless my calendar is incorrect.

I want to become an “expert” so that I can be wrong most of the time, and still get paid handsomely for being wrong. It isn’t just meteorologists that I’m talking about now, it’s the “experts” who predicted that Americans would be paying $5 a gallon for gas about now. Didn’t happen, thankfully. The same “experts” are now predicting gas prices below $3 a gallon by this fall. Maybe prices will be that low, I’m not holding my breath. It’s the “experts” who make predictions about what the stock markets, or the bond markets, are going to do. And so it goes, which reminds me of the worst “experts” of all, the media.

They pick which of the “experts” they are going to quote, not on the basis of informing the public, but on the basis of creating the most sensational headlines and the most buzz about their stories, all in hopes of increasing ad revenue. The media do their best to misinform the public when they pick zany “experts” to report on, quote, and to use as sources, then the media is shocked and amazed to find out just how uniformed the public is, now there’s a racket if I ever saw one.

Anyway, my efforts to combat spammers seemed to help, by making the posts that were getting the most spam private for a few days, the level of spam I’m getting is now back to normal, one or two a day. Of course what I don’t know is if Akismet was tweaked to ward off that spam while I had those posts switched to private. All I know is that I’m no longer getting swamped with spam, which suits me just fine.

It seems that there’s another trend towards black and white photography going on among some of the bloggers that I follow. I shouldn’t be surprised I suppose. Back in the early 1970’s when I was getting started in photography, you couldn’t consider yourself a “serious” photographer unless you were shooting using black and white film. Back then I wanted to be a “serious” photographer, so I dutifully shot countless rolls of black & white film, and hated the results I got, except for the portraits of people I shot in B&W.

I think that I am a pretty good portrait photographer, and here’s why I think that. The subjects of the portraits I did almost always hated the photos of them I took, while friends and family members would tell me what a great picture I had taken of the subject. That I had really captured their personality. I thought so too, which is why the subjects didn’t like my results, I got a little too far into their shell.

But for nature photos, I hate B&W most of the time. I love Ansel Adams’ work, but it’s already been down. Shooting high contrast black and white landscapes won’t make you the next Ansel Adams, it will only make you yet another Ansel Adams wannabe. That’s my opinion anyway, for what it’s worth. But, I could be at least partially wrong.

We see the world in color, that’s particularly true in nature. Modern digital cameras eliminate most of the weaknesses that were present in even the best color films, and modern photo editing software goes way beyond what a photographer could do with B&W prints as far as color photography these days. I don’t see a reason to eliminate the color from nature, when it’s the colors that make nature what it is, and what most of us find so beautiful in nature.

But then, I was looking at a group of recent photos I had taken, wondering just out of curiosity what they would look like if I turned them into black and white photos when it hit me, I shoot many of my color photos as if I were shooting in B&W, or at least I think so.

I’m not going to say why I think that just yet, instead, I am going to post a few of the photos I was looking at with no other comments other than what they are of to see what you think.

Female rose-breasted grosbeak

Fox squirrel sunning

Canada geese

Northern cardinal


American goldfinch

American goldfinch

Wild rose

Wild rose

Wild rose

Wild rose and bug

Tiger lily

Fox squirrel


Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly


American robin

American robin

Blue jay in flight

I would appreciate any comments along the lines as to whether you think these would look good, as good, or even better in black and white than they do in color, and why, and if you see what I see when I look at these.

Now then, a few more photos to throw in of a red-winged blackbird doing a little “hawk surfing”, as my brother calls it. These have nothing to do with color vs. B&W, but I think that they’re interesting.

Red-winged blackbird chasing a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbird riding on the back of a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbird riding on the back of a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbird riding on the back of a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbird riding on the back of a red-tailed hawk

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


21 responses

  1. I’ve never been that interested in black and white. I’m not sure why but it has never really appealed to me. It seemed like whenever anyone got ahold of a black and white roll of film they suddenly had to be “artistic” rather than just shooting as they normally would. I even found myself wishing Ansel Adams had shot his photos in color once! (Sorry ansel) I think the blackbird-on-hawk shots are fantastic!

    June 25, 2012 at 8:50 am

    • Thank you! To be fair, color film was still in its infancy when Adams made a name for himself, and I’m not sure that you would like the color versions as much as you may think. That was nearly 100 years ago though, it’s time to move on.

      June 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

  2. I know nothing about photography but I am in total agreement with you on your observation of the “experts”. Enough already

    June 25, 2012 at 8:56 am

    • Thanks Iris! Those experts predicting $5 a gallon gas this summer probably didn’t help your business, or many others in your area, since you rely on tourism. I hope things are going well for you.

      June 25, 2012 at 9:58 am

  3. I’m less interested in shooting in B&W, than I am of experimenting a bit. I do like trying new things, and you never know what might come out of it. Nice pictures, once again!!!! 🙂

    June 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    • Thank you. That post wasn’t directed at you by any stretch of the imagination, I agree, we have to experiment to learn what works for us and what doesn’t. I was speaking more of the professionals who still believe that the only serious photography is B&W photography.

      June 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm

  4. Love your pictures! I think most nature photography is better done in color but there are some subjects, especially portraits, that seem to have more of an impact in b/w.

    June 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    • Thank you! I agree, portraits do work well in B&W.

      June 26, 2012 at 2:51 am

  5. Northern Narratives

    I can be a weather expert. I bet it will be snowing in six months!

    June 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    • LOL 🙂 I don’t know about that, with the heat that’s being forecast now, it may not snow around here until 2013.

      June 26, 2012 at 2:53 am

  6. I saw gas for $2.95/gallon in Arkansas last week. I just hope that price follows me home.

    June 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    • One of the many things I like about Arkansas, a lower cost of living than my home state of Michigan.

      June 26, 2012 at 2:54 am

  7. snowbirdpress

    Great Post! Thanks for the wonderful photos. I have to tell you that Rembrandt always said that in portraits “there is always something wrong with the nose”… he was complaining about what the patrons thought of his portraits. So you are in good company for sure.

    June 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    • Thank you, but I don’t think that anything I have ever done rates a comparison to Rembrandt. 😉

      June 26, 2012 at 2:58 am

  8. snowbirdpress

    As far as black and white goes, I think you have to be in love with the line…more that the object. Since I am basically a black and white artist, it’s the line that captures my attention, does it move, is it alive, and I catch the spark of life in my drawings. I don’t expect in photography you can get the same sort of sensory satisfaction in the creation as if it were drawn with a simple brush or pen.

    June 25, 2012 at 11:57 pm

  9. I’ve not experimented with B&W much, but I’ve not liked it with my nature photos, just seems I need to see & share the beautiful colors God gave our birds. BUT, landscape and portraits, I’ve had better results. Great captures Jerry, love the RWB hawk-surfing, cool behavior!

    June 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    • Thanks Donna, I agree! You do so well at capturing those colors. It would be very hard for me to live in a colorless world.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm

  10. One could never show the beautiful color mother nature brings in B&W ! B&W are good for architectural photos, to show building structures though.

    June 28, 2012 at 9:01 am

    • Thank you! Your use of color in your photography is outstanding!

      June 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm

  11. The experts have done a bang-up job in many areas over the past several years, haven’t they? There was a book written not too long ago about this subject…I bet we could get by without experts alright.

    Black and white shots can be very cool, but I like landscape or portrait shots in B@W more than nature shots I think. Good color shots here!

    June 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    • Thank you! I’ll bet we would do much better than alright if we stopped listening to the “experts”.

      June 30, 2012 at 10:08 am