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

My Week, short

Tuesday

A much more pleasant day to start this short work week. I’d complain that the cooler weather won’t last long, but it is September, and all too soon I’ll be trudging through snow on my daily walks. I don’t even mind the snow or cold that much, other than there isn’t much nature to see or photograph in the winter. Oh well, that’s Michigan.

I ran into a fly in the ointment as far as ordering a second 60D body, the prices had jumped back up by the time I had made a decision. There’s still a $200 rebate available, which keeps the price at $700, but I’m going to hold off and see if the price does drop again. It would have been nice to have the second body along when I take vacation in two weeks though.

Well, time to get something to eat, and get moving.

I’m back, and I did it!

Pink, purple, or whatever Chicory

Pink, purple, or whatever Chicory

The secret wasn’t the white balance after all, it was getting the light right, and not adjusting the exposure compensation. I’m not sure what color you would call that, but it isn’t they typical blue of chicory, this is.

Sea of blue

Sea of blue

I’ve tried that shot several times this summer, that’s the best so far, at least I think that it is.

The actual first shot of the day was of this wasp, I tried to catch the light right so that its wings showed blue, but I missed. It’s still a good close-up though, so I’m posting it.

Wasp

Wasp

Then, I played hide and seek with a few turkeys, here’s the best shot.

Turkey

Turkey

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see more shots of these flowers in the future. These just opened up, my shots from today are OK, but I think know that I can do better.

Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet – smooth oxeye

Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet – smooth oxeye

Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet – smooth oxeye

Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet – smooth oxeye

As more of these flowers open up, I’ll have more subjects to choose from to get the light and everything else the way I want it, plus, I have supreme confidence in my equipment these days. I think that alone accounts for much of the improvement of my photos, confidence in the equipment I use now. I know that the camera and lenses are capable of stunning photos, now it’s up to me to make stunning happen, so I’m willing to put forth the effort that it takes to make stunning happen.

I know that all the photos I attempt may not be stunning, but that’s OK, I’m getting enough of them that are, or are close to stunning, to make me happy, and I know that I’ll always take shots like these, just for something to do.

Grass seeds

Grass seeds

Red bellied woodpecker

Red bellied woodpecker

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

That’s it for today, I can’t believe that tomorrow is Wednesday already!

Wednesday

Still cool and sunny for now, and I’m, loving it. There’s talk of yet another heat wave next week, but it can’t last too long, so I’m sure that I’ll survive.

I have many things on my mind right now, mostly petty, boring things that I won’t bother to type here to bore all of you, so I suppose that it’s time for a walk.

I’m back, and rather than bore you with thoughts on camera gear, how to pay for it, quitting smoking, etc., I’ll bore you with a few photos from today.

There was a bright bluebird sky today, and I didn’t want to let it go to waste. I’ve posted shots of the highbush cranberries before, but I had this great idea today, use the polarizing filter to increase the color contrast between the reds, blues, and greens, it sort of worked.

Highbush cranberries

Highbush cranberries

Highbush cranberries

Highbush cranberries

I wish that I would have thought of using the polarizer back when the leaves were dark green and not fading out! There are possibilities there though, I’ll have to remember that trick. (I did later on today, but that’s a surprise, so don’t tell any one please)

While looking for goldfinches that aren’t around much any longer, I spotted on lone cardinal flower plant in a so-so spot, but I had to try some photos, as I haven’t been happy with the ones that I’ve posted so far. This was a little better.

Cardinal flowers

Cardinal flowers

While checking for more of them, and/or a better angle to shoot from, I had to pause a second to photograph this katydid.

Katydid

Katydid

Then, I shot a few more of the cardinal flowers, here’s the best of the lot.

Cardinal flowers

Cardinal flowers

I warned you yesterday that you may be seeing more of the smooth ox eye sunflowers, and here they come.

Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet – smooth oxeye

Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet – smooth oxeye

These are the other photos that I used the polarizer on, I think that polarizers aren’t just for landscapes anymore!

Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet – smooth oxeye

Heliopsis helianthoides (L.) Sweet – smooth oxeye

It may be hard to top that last one, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be trying! 😉

I did learn one other thing today, besides that you can use a polarizer on flowers, they don’t work well when you pull up to shoot a passing dragonfly when you have your camera set to -2/3 EV to photograph bright yellow flowers in the sun.

Dragonfly in flight

Dragonfly in flight

I have set a target for myself of getting at least one photo per day that is good enough for me to use as the desktop on my computer. I may not hit that target each day, hopefully due to weather conditions and/or a lack of suitable subjects, and not because of a lack of skill on my part. So far, that’s going well, and it helps me to put forth the time and effort to get those shots. And, I suppose that I should tell you that when I say time and effort, most of that is thought, thinking about what the finished photo will look like when shooting at different angles, and under different lighting, before I take any photos.

Thursday

Cool and clear again, we’re back to the weather that I absolutely love for a few days!

I have to take my Forester in for its second service this afternoon, so I may not have very much time later on after I get back from my walk. I was checking the service schedule this weekend, this thing isn’t going to cost me very much to maintain, another reason to love it. I thought that my WRX was good in that respect, but it was a high performance vehicle that required more service than the Forester does. Live is good, so I’m going to get something to eat, and go outside and enjoy this fantastic weather while it lasts.

Well, I hit my target for the day, at least one photo good enough to use as wallpaper, which I’ll get to in a minute. I’m going to go in chronological order today, just because. I think this is wild lettuce, but, I could very well be wrong.

Wild lettuce???

Wild lettuce???

Then, this punk rocker version of a juvenile northern cardinal landed close enough to me for me to try for a shot or two.

Juvenile northern cardinal

Juvenile northern cardinal

Juvenile northern cardinal

Juvenile northern cardinal

Yeah, the lighting is horrible, and the shots aren’t very good, but he was too cute not to post.

Next, two photos of woodland sunflowers, which were in the running as my target photos for the day, but I can do better than these.

Woodland sunflower

Woodland sunflower

Woodland sunflower

Woodland sunflower

I’ve been waiting for one patch of downy lobelia to get to the point where the buds on the top of the plant were opening, so that I could get the shots I wanted. I think that these are just past their peak, but definitely still looking good. Good enough to set the tripod up, adjust the camera, and use live view for these two.

Downy lobelia

Downy lobelia

Downy lobelia

Downy lobelia

The entire time that I had the camera on the tripod, there were birds all around me. Cedar waxwings, goldfinches, house finches, blue jays, robins, grosbeaks, and more, but of course I couldn’t get any photos of them. Once I was done with the flowers, I did manage to track down one of the eastern bluebirds.

Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird

And when it took off, I managed one shot of it in flight, but it isn’t that good.

Eastern bluebird in flight

Eastern bluebird in flight

Birds that are blue in color never photograph well against a blue sky, especially when I don’t have time to adjust the exposure to suit the situation.

I thought that this was a juvenile goldfinch when I spotted it coming at me, now I’m not sure what it is, but it makes a good last photo for the day.

Unidentified flying object

Unidentified flying object

It could be the house finch that was perched near the bluebird.

Well, that’s it for today, time to take a shower, then bring my Forester in for service.

Just a quick update, $60 and change for a full synthetic oil change, replace the air filter, rotate the tires, and other minor services needed, and they threw in a wash, and that was at the dealership. Since the Forester is still under warranty, I’ll continue to have the scheduled services done there, as they are about the same price as any one else. I love my Subarau!

Friday

Another cool, clear, crisp start to the day, almost fall-like, too bad that next week will be a roller coaster of up and down temperatures and humidity levels. Oh well, I’ll enjoy the days no matter what.

It is supposed to be quite warm tomorrow, I may splurge and head to Muskegon to stay cool, and look for more birds. There’s a flock of golden plovers hanging around that I’d like to get photos of.

Well, I may have to go to Muskegon tomorrow in hopes of getting myself out of the funk that I have put myself into. I turned 58 last week, and for some reason, I began looking back at the could haves, should haves, and would haves of my life today. Where I’m at today is not where I expected to be, nor is it where I should be, but, I shouldn’t really complain, as overall, my life is pretty good.

I’d better stop that train now, or this will get derailed and I’ll be forced to explain, which will only deepen the funk. But, the funk affected my photography today. I don’t think that I quite hit my target today, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

That, and one of the chances that I had for a really good shot was ruined by another photographer of all people. I had the camera on a robin eating berries in a bush, waiting for just the right instant to shoot, when the photographer and his model walked right up to where I was standing, which of course scared the robin away. I thought about waiting until they were set for a shot, then walking between them to see how he liked it, but I didn’t. Sometimes it sucks to be a nice guy.

Here’s what I did manage to get today, starting with a bee in flight.

Bumblebee in flight

Bumblebee in flight

I found another praying mantis in the chicory plants, but couldn’t get a good angle on it today, despite trying again on my way back home. Here’s the best two of a bad lot.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

I tried to “adjust” the foliage several times to get a better view and lighting, but each time I did, the mantis would move to another shaded spot.

I have tried to get out of the practice of photographing insects or other wildlife that I see on the sidewalks, paved paths, or the roads. Pavement is a hard background to get the exposure correct for one thing, and it doesn’t look natural for another. But, there are times when you have to do what you have to do, like this brown katydid.

Brown katydid

Brown katydid

On top of the other reasons for not shooting subjects on the pavement, you really need to lay down to get a better angle as well.

Here’s an almost winner. I saw a leaf floating downstream in the creek, and thought that the lighting would make this one a good candidate for hitting my target, but I blew it.

Floating leaf

Floating leaf

My timing, exposure, and just about everything else was off by just a smidge, so this one didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. But, I only had on chance, and not much time to think about what I was doing.

My last shot of the day, and of this post, is of a few Hostas growing along the road.

Hosta flowers

Hosta flowers

I’ve been seeing many more birds the past few days, I almost wished that I had taken the Beast with me today. I missed some bluebirds, finches, and other species because the L series lens isn’t long enough for a good photo under the conditions that presented themselves today.

So, I’ll go to Muskegon tomorrow and get more bird photos than I know what to do with, maybe a few flowers, and I’ll hang around for either a sunset or a storm coming in from over Lake Michigan, if that doesn’t cure a funk nothing will!

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

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17 responses

  1. That bee shot is truly amazing!!! Your wildflowers are stunning as well. I can see how hard you are working and notice the improvements, which I always thought your photographs were awesome to begin with! Happy belated birthday! I understand the funk – I was in one pretty horrible over the labor day weekend but decided to skip the details in my northwoods journal! 🙂 Have a great weekend and I can’t wait to see what you have for us after your trip to Muskegon tomorrow!

    September 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    • Thanks, the reason for my funk is that I went all the way back to the time when I was finishing high school, and realized that my parents prevented me from taking advantage of the many opportunities that presented themselves. It’s hard to deal with that realization.

      September 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm

  2. So lovely to watch the quality of your shots go way up. Keep at it! Going out shooting is the best cure for funks!

    September 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    • Thank you! It’s amazing what turning a dial or pushing a button now and then can do for photography. 😉

      September 7, 2013 at 1:06 am

      • Being more tuned into your subject doesn’t hurt either. 😉

        September 7, 2013 at 1:07 am

  3. Your photos are so nice and crisp!! Well done!!

    September 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    • Thank you!

      September 7, 2013 at 1:06 am

  4. Great dragonfly. Your desktop is spoiled for choice.

    September 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    • Thanks, I believe you’re correct.

      September 7, 2013 at 1:07 am

  5. You’re certainly getting better at plant names! I like the 2nd shot of the highbush cranberries. Back in the film days I always used a polarizer in the fall after the trees started to change. It can work wonders on an orange maple against a deep blue sky.
    I’m not sure that flower is wild lettuce. It looks a little too yellow for that plant but it might be panicled hawkweed (Hieracium paniculatum,) especially if the flowers were at the end of long, wiry stems.
    Those are excellent shots of the cardinal flower and downy lobelia-you can really see where the “downy” part of the name comes from.
    Happy 58th-I’m right behind you. I try not to look back at what might have been because all it does is take away from what I have today. Sure, things might have been different, but they wouldn’t neccessarily have been better.

    September 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    • Landscapes and fall foliage I knew to use a polarizer on, but individual flowers? It works.

      I wasn’t sure about the wild lettuce, I have to do more checking. The plants are growing so tight together that I’m going to have to grab hold of one and see which leaves go with the flowers.

      The cardinal flower is OK, but I could do better if they’re still around. I am very proud of the downy lobelia shots, looking at those photos, one would think that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to photography. 😉

      Happy 58th when you get here!

      I try not to look back, but there are times that I just have to ask myself, how did I wind up driving truck for cheap ass bastards? I have to ask, just to make sure that I don’t repeat what I did wrong to get here.

      September 7, 2013 at 1:18 am

  6. Wonderful set of your photography!

    September 7, 2013 at 3:27 am

    • Thank you very much!

      September 7, 2013 at 8:28 am

  7. Wow–some real lookers in there this week! Love the bee, of course, but also the “underneath” shot of the dragonfly and–in a totally different mood, the floating leaf. That’s my vote for this week’s desktop wallpaper.

    September 7, 2013 at 9:13 am

    • Thanks Lori! The leaf is OK, but that one didn’t come out quite as I envisioned it, so I’m a little disappointed in it. But, that’s just me.

      September 7, 2013 at 9:29 am

  8. The bee shot is AMAZING! It’s always tough to pick a favorite from all of your shots, but that one takes the prize this time around. 🙂 The dragonfly in flight is a close second, btw. I’m impressed!

    September 9, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    • Thanks, but I didn’t think that either the bee or the dragonfly were all that great. Now some of the flowers, yes.

      September 10, 2013 at 1:13 am