My week, you can never go home again?
On Saturday, I went up to the Leelanau Peninsula.
I spent a considerable amount of time there in the 1970’s, mainly hunting and fishing. That’s hard to believe these days.
I’m going to attempt to limit my negativity, as it is a beautiful area, but that’s going to be difficult.
The area was known as a fruit-growing area, with dozens of orchards dotting the landscape. Because of the moderating influences of Lake Michigan, that part of Michigan leads the nation in the production of tart cherries, and ranks high for the production of other fruit, such as apples, sweet cherries, and pears.
In the late 1970’s two things happened which changed the face of the area forever, the creation of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and the influx of a large number of rich liberals Yuppies.
The park was authorized on October 21, 1973. The park’s creation was highly controversial because it involved the transfer of private property to public. The Federal government’s stance at the time was that the Great Lakes were the “third coast” and had to be preserved much like Cape Hatteras or Big Sur, which are National Seashores. The residents living in what is now Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore believed they were stewards of the land and did not want it to be overrun by tourists. The Government eventually won out using strong-arm tactics to force local residents out of their homes and businesses.
I had come to know a few of the people in the area, they were not at all happy about being forced out of their homes, and/or losing their livelihood. The government then let out contracts to concessionaires to run businesses much like the locals had run, such as canoe liveries. The government denied permits to the locals, and awarded the contracts to outside people who had the money to
bribe donate to the correct political party in power.
The Yuppies moving into the area was very much like what I read about is going on in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area these days.
The Yuppies looked down their noses at the locals, whom they referred to as hicks or hillbillies. Any one who hunted or fished was a redneck. The rich liberals did their best to drive both the hicks and rednecks away. They also took over the local governments by promising one thing, and doing another. (Sound familiar?) What they promised was to preserve the rural character of the area, and the natural beauty. What they did was to use local zoning ordinances to hamstring the local farmers and tax them out of existence. (Sound familiar?)
Of course, Yuppies are motivated by one thing, money! So, if any one waved enough green under their noses, those people were allowed to build any monstrosity anywhere. Instead of rural farmland, now there are mega resorts, huge gated communities, and some of the ugliest buildings ever designed by man as a blight on the ridges to the northeast of Traverse City.
This weekend was the first time that I’ve been there in years, it’s nothing like it used to be at all. And the crowds! I couldn’t get to many of the places that I wanted to photograph because there was either nowhere to park, or lines of traffic a quarter of a mile long or longer waiting to get to a place to park. I swear, I could have walked down the Platte River all five miles from the M 22 bridge to the mouth of the river where it empties into Lake Michigan without getting my feet wet by walking on the tubers, kayakers, and canoeists on the river. The Crystal River was only slightly less crowded.
Those rivers are being destroyed by that volume of people, but the government doesn’t care as long as they get their cut of the profits from the concessionaires.
Turns out that the local hicks and hillbillies were correct, that the area has become overrun with tourists.
Yes, I feel like a hypocrite for doing a couple of posts about how beautiful the area is, then complaining about how crowded it has become in this one. But, like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, it’s one place that every one should see once in their life. Besides, the crowds will soon tire of the crowds, the area will no longer be trendy, and eventually, the crowds will thin out.
Something else happened up there as well. All day long I saw small things, birds and flowers, that I wanted to photograph, but for the most part, didn’t. I didn’t really have the time if I wanted to hit all the landscape photo ops that I had planned on.
I got to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse not long before sunset. I shot a few photos, but was going to wait for slightly better light, then shoot a few more. While waiting, I jumped a doe and two small fawns in the woods near the light. While chasing them, I found a trove of wildflowers that were begging to be shot. Having some time to kill, I did so.
I sat down on a bench to wait for the light, and it hit me like a ton of bricks, I love photographing flora and fauna much more than I do landscapes, and always have. Don’t get me wrong, I like shooting landscapes, but it isn’t my first love. That probably explains a lot. You may not guess that though after looking at the photo of the deer. They were in shade so deep that I had trouble seeing them with my naked eyes, I cranked in a full stop of exposure compensation, and took a shot. I’m surprised that the photo turned out as well as it did.
But I digress. There I was, sitting on the bench thinking about how much more I had enjoyed myself the last half hour chasing deer and shooting flowers than I had all day long fighting the crowds. Since I had planned on staying overnight, I was trying to think of places to start out in the morning, but drew a blank. I decided that I had enough of fighting crowds, and that I would enjoy myself more anywhere other than in the swarm of humanity I had dealt with all day. So, I didn’t even wait to see what the light would do at sunset, I packed it up, and headed for home.
One or two more things from yesterday. I used to consider the Leelanau Peninsula to be my second home, since I loved it there, and spent so much time there. Now, I consider the Pigeon River Country to be my second home, even though the scenery pales in comparison to the Leelanau area.
There are lessons to be learned from those two places and the way that they’ve changed over my lifetime. Leelanau has become everything that it shouldn’t have become, a huge money driven tourist trap of sorts. What used to be old family farm houses are now trendy shops, boutiques, or art galleries. Many of the orchards have converted to, or added vineyards, which isn’t a bad thing at first glance. But, now you have thousands of tourist taking the winery tours, and getting crocked at all the wine tasting stops, then driving like the drunks that they are.
The Pigeon River Country has been allowed to revert back to its wild state for the most part, as a result, very few “nature lovers” ever visit the area, and there are fewer people visiting now, then back in the 1970’s.
Oh well, I’ll have to ponder a little longer on all of that. For my walk today, not much was going on, but I managed a few shots, starting with a turkey vulture in flight.
In a change of my typical routine, I overslept this morning rather than waiting for Wednesday. That could be because the heavy cloud cover has kept it almost as dark as night, and some very welcome rainfall has been falling this morning. So, I’m fooling around this morning waiting for the rain to clear the area, which looks to be over with for at least the time being.
My mistake, the rain had fooled me into thinking it was over, just long enough to get outside. Not that it mattered, I suspected as much and was prepared.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the show that a scantily dressed attractive young woman put on for me in the park today. I don’t know if it was a police sting looking for Johns, or a real hooker, but it sure made the day a lot more interesting than normal! Sorry guys, no photos, this is a family blog.
Other than that, it was an enjoyable walk in the rain, that didn’t leave me much to prattle on about. Besides, I’ve devoted too much space to this past weekend’s trip, so I’ll cut today short to make up for that.
The sunshine has returned, and it has turned even cooler than it has been, the first shot of fall weather. Too bad that it won’t last but a couple of days. They are forecasting a heat wave of sorts for next week, so I’m going to enjoy this shot of cool air while it lasts!
The birding forecast for this weekend is looking good as well, with a good many shorebirds being seen in Muskegon, along with a few raptors that I could use photos of. I’ve already made the arrangements at work to do half my Friday run Friday night as I usually do, then go home, and finish it up on Sunday. That will let me get some sleep Friday night so that I can be in Muskegon early to join with the Muskegon County Nature Club to go on their field trip with them.
I should be making plans for the long Labor Day weekend, but after fighting the crowds and traffic this past weekend, I’m considering sticking close to home. When I visit many of the places that I go around here, I see very few people, and I could use that right now. Besides, I can save money staying home.
Time to get a move on.
After this past weekend, I came up with the title for this post. After my walk this morning, I added the question mark.
For the newer readers of my blog, up until last fall I lived in an apartment complex where I was able to photograph many herons, geese, ducks, and swans. I thought that those days were over, other than mallards and an occasional goose around here, but I was wrong.
Much to my surprise, there was a young heron fishing in one of the small ponds here. So, I found a good spot where I was somewhat hidden, and started filming the action. As you can see, the heron made a nice catch early on.
Then, for no reason that I could fathom, the heron charged a flock of mallards resting on the bank of the pond.
Once the heron had the mallard’s attention, it waded right past the flock as if they weren’t there.
As soon as the heron was past them, the mallards all dove into the pond…..
Splashed around a little….
…then just as quickly, went back on shore.
In the meantime, the heron had made another catch.
Whatever it was, it must not have tasted good to the heron, for the heron bent back over and released whatever it was back into the water gentle as you please. I’ve never seen a heron practicing catch and release before. 😉
I was hoping that the heron would continue around the pond closer to where I was, but I had no luck with that.
It was kind of nice shooting some of my old favorites again, and I was thinking that I would have to change the title of this post, when I came to the next pond, and another heron.
I had watched the first one fly off into the distance, there’s no way that this is the same one. Besides, this one posed nicely for me, none of these are cropped.
It was just like old home week at my other apartment!
For the technical details, all those were shot with the 70-200 L series lens, minus 1/3 EV, and ISO 100. I may have stopped the aperture down a little too far in those last shots. The camera was set to program mode as is usual, but I was dialing the shutter speed down to stop down the aperture for more depth of field to make sure that I had the entire heron in focus. I’ve had trouble getting all of larger birds in focus before, and I didn’t want it to happen today. I think that the photos would have been a touch sharper if I hadn’t adjusted as much. I think that I got the shutter speed a little too low. But we’ll see, I’m sure that I’ll get another chance.
I probably should have shot a few at -2/3 EV as well, I forgot that the camera was still set to center weighted metering mode for shooting the landscapes this past weekend.
A week or two ago, I took the slight amount of extra contrast that I had the camera set to render out of the settings, as I found that when I got the exposure correct, I was getting a little too much contrast. Our eyes tend to mistake contrast for sharpness, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. So, anyway, between having the camera set to center weighted metering, and having taken that little bit of extra contrast out, I should have gone down another 1/3 stop on the EV for a little more contrast in these.
I’ve set the camera back to partial spot metering, which works much better for birds and flowers, most of the time. Using partial spot metering, I can go down 1/3 stop and keep it there for everything other than birds against the sky.
Sorry about the last few boring paragraphs, but typing that stuff out helps me to remember what I am doing and why, and to make sure that I check all my settings from time to time.
Another perfect day weather wise, I’m getting spoiled. Cool sunny days, and crisp overnight temperatures are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the weather in August here in Michigan, but that’s what we’ve had. There’s even less wind today than there was yesterday, so maybe I’ll be able to get a few shots of flowers today. There’s a few late season flowers about to open soon, and I could do a better job of a few that I shot last week.
I’m back, and things were interesting in the park today. No hookers today, but there were guards from the mental hospital up the road rounding up what I think was a walk away from the facility. I didn’t pay enough attention to what was going on to be positive, but that what a glance in the direction of the guards and a person who didn’t seem very cooperative from time to time suggested.
I’m probably not being politically correct calling the facility a mental hospital, sorry. I don’t know the correct term as prescribed by the PC police these days. I do know that the doctors there saved my ex-wife’s life, and that the patients there are nothing to be wary of for the most part. I’m sure that there are a few dangerous patients, but for the most part, the patients are good people in a bad situation in life.
I also noticed that some of the play groups don’t play well together. It humorous in a way. Group A will be at the playground in the lower part of the park when group B arrives. Group A will then pack up and move to the playground in the upper part of the park. Group B will then follow Group A up there, at which point, group A will return to the lower level. I don’t stick around long enough to see how many times they will move, but it seems like they would be able to either work out their differences, or divide the park between the two groups rather than chase each other around. I never will figure people out.
Anyway, I shot a few photos worth posting today. I’ll start with the bugs.
Neither of those shots came out exactly as I intended, but they are close enough.
Now, the blooms. I found some downy lobelia blooming in the sun, the other shots I have posted lately were taken in deep shade. So, I needed to take a test shot or two of the first of the flowers opening for when the plant is in full bloom.
I’ve also posted many photos of Queen Anne’s lace of late, but these shots were too good to pass up.
I don’t want to brag (too much) but I think that I pulled off something very tough to do in those last two. The white flowers against a dark, almost black background makes those shots high contrast, but I was able to soften the sunlight to the point where the photos look like a low light shot. The photos are sharp, yet the overall photos have the appearance of a soft focus shot. So, I came up with high contrast/sharp photos with the appearance of being soft light/soft focus at the same time. They may not wow, but I think that those are the two best photos that I have ever taken, technically and artistically.
Here’s a flower I haven’t photographed lately.
And, the goldenrod is just getting started.
I’ll wrap today up with the birds, all male American goldfinches. They are everywhere this time of year.
I’ll bet that there’s at least one in this mass of wildflowers.
Yup, sure is.
Sorry that I’m posting so many shots of the finches lately, but they’re one of my favorite species of birds. They are as cheerful and even comical as chickadees, but with a beautiful song, and brighter colors. Besides, since so many species of birds are already headed south from what I can tell, I’m running out of birds to photograph.
We’ve been flirting with record low temperatures overnight the past few nights, but haven’t set a new record yet. It’s too bad that this pleasant weather is only going to last through the weekend, before the heat returns next week. This has been a string of phenomenal weather as far as I’m concerned, so I’m going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts.
I’m all fired up for this Saturday, when I’m going birding in Muskegon once again. Not only are the shorebirds there in numbers, but people have seen merlins and peregrine falcons as well. I have to remember to give the UV filter on the Sigma lens a good cleaning before I go. In fact, I should do that this morning before I go for my walk, then use the Sigma lens today for any birds, just to get used to using it again. It’s been a few days since I’ve had it on the camera. It’s been a joy to carry just the two shorter lenses the past two weeks, but it’s time to get used to carrying and using the beast again.
Okay, I’m back, and I not only did I carry the beast, but I also put it to good use, at least I think so. Since it’s been a while since I used it, and there was a flock of geese in the complex, I started out by shooting a shot of a headless goose, just in case I didn’t see anything later on worth photographing.
As is usually the case, I spied a couple of things that I wanted to change lenses for, but I had forgotten the case for the Sigma, so I had no way to carry it off from the camera, so I made do with it.
That reminds me, the forecast was for calm winds for the next few days, which was totally wrong. There was a stiff southwest wind blowing this morning that continues to blow now. Anyway, after those shots, I got down to some serious birding for a change, starting with a rather grumpy goldfinch.
Maybe he didn’t like having some one photographing him as he preened?
Next up is a catbird, nothing spectacular, but there’s two reasons I shot this. One was to get the best shot that I could under trying circumstances, the other was because this catbird was one of a half-dozen species of birds hanging out under one small bush. I also got shots of a song sparrow and goldfinch there, but missed the robins, starlings, and English sparrows. Why all those birds were packed in together, I couldn’t tell, there must have been something there that they were all feeding on.
Next up is a male cardinal that I see on almost a daily basis. He does not like to have his photo taken, as I have chased him around several times. He’ll get behind a branch, start singing, and the second I work my way around to get a clear view of him, he moves so that there’s something between us. I think that I posted photos of him in action before. I got him singing today!
Then to really tick him off, I cropped another photo down so that every one has a good look at him.
A little later, this guy came hopping down the path towards me, stopping off now and then for a bite to eat. Since he was headed my way, I just stood there and shot a photo every few hops until I got these two.
On my way back, I saw a couple of cedar waxwings fly out of a honeysuckle bush to perch in a tree overhead. I was about to shoot a photo of one of them in the tree, when I spotted movement in the honeysuckle bush. This cedar waxwing dropped down into the open for this shot.
That’s not cropped at all, when I first got him in the viewfinder, I couldn’t get a focus lock because he was too close. So, I stepped back half a step, and got this, just before he flew off to join the others in the tree above. I shot a few photos of them in the tree, and they came out fairly good, but there’s no reason to post them after that shot above.
I think that it was a good idea to take the beast today, and to warm up on the earlier photos of the birds that I have posted today. I’m not sure that I would have been able to get that last one without “warming up” on the earlier ones. I think that I’ll bring the beast tomorrow as well, along with its case, so that I can get better photos of the flowers, along with more practice for the birding trip on Saturday.
One last thing, I am deleting photos now that I would have loved to have gotten with my old Nikon. The heron from yesterday is a great example, I shot over a dozen photos of it, and they were all better than any I had taken with the Nikon. But, they’re not as good as I can get with the Canon, so there’s no reason to post, or save them. It was the same with the birds today, I deleted more photos than I posted, not that there was anything wrong with them, but I can do better, so into the recycle bin they go.
Yesterday I posted with a poll for my regular readers to vote for how I should continue this blog, the results were overwhelmingly in favor of switching themes, so I have. At least for the time being. I really like this new theme that I have chosen so far, but it’s time to see if I can get my photos to display larger.
I think it will work! I know that I said that I would give it a week before I decided, but almost every one who does read my blog and comment regularly have cast their votes already, and I wanted the waxwing to display as large as possible. It’s not everyday that I get that good of a shot!
I like the drop down menus that this theme allows, I plan to make good use of that in the future.
I know that I’ll fill up my free space quicker using this theme, but I also knew that I’d have to start shelling out for more space eventually anyway.
I also realized after I posted the poll that if I switched over to a new blog, that the posts for the My Photo Life List project would end up spread over two different blogs. That idea didn’t appeal to me at all, neither did all the work of transferring the posts and pages that I have completed over to a new blog.
And finally, it will be good to have everything under one roof so to speak. I had been leaning towards a new blog, I glad that most people who voted changed the direction I was leaning in. 😉
Now then, the weather continues to be better than I could hope to expect for the end of summer. I haven’t shut my windows in weeks, although I’m afraid that it will change this weekend.
I’m back from my walk, and I have some very good photos to sort through to decide which ones to post.
There are advantages to living close to the local airport. I was walking along, deep in thought, but I could hear an airplane behind me. That’s not unusual at all, it happens many times a day while I’m walking. However, eventually the drone of four huge piston engines worked its way through my thick skull, and I turned around to see this.
I had read in the news that this plane was going to be at the airport this weekend, and I was slightly ticked off that I didn’t turn around sooner for a better shot. I lucked out though, it did another fly by a bit later on.
Back at the honeysuckle bush from yesterday, I got a shot of a waxwing swallowing a berry, even though it isn’t as good as the photo from yesterday, I’m going to post it anyway.
And, to make up for the low quality of that shot, here’s one of the waxwings perched in the tree above.
Even though I have posted many photos of these of late, I’m posting yet another.
The Sigma 150-500 mm lens may not be as sharp as my two shorter lenses, but here’s a few odds and ends to show that it’s no slouch either.
Now comes my catch of the day! A series of photos of a red squirrel eating berries. The lighting couldn’t have been much worse, but anytime you get close to a red squirrel sitting still, it’s a keeper.
Oops, dropped my berries!
Ah, one left!
Now then, to wrap this up, a female goldfinch. I see her nearly everyday while I take a break, she must have a nest in the bushes behind the bench I sit on.
I have noticed that the males tend to feed mostly on thistle seeds if they can find them, the females go for chicory seeds more than any others right now. I wonder if that has to do with feeding their young?
Since tomorrow is my birding trip with the Muskegon County Nature Club, and I have a lot to do to get ready for the trip, I’m going to wrap this one up here.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!