My Week, more planning, and some testing
Cloudy and breezy this morning, I’d call it cool, but the humidity seems to be quite high making it feel warmer than it really is. I’m going to do the extended version of my daily walk around home, then work on my plans for my vacation which is coming up shortly.
Clouds and wind are not the photographer’s friend! At least that’s the way that it goes for me. I saw a few flowers that were past their prime, and made a few half-hearted attempts to photograph them. As is usually the case, half-hearted attempts result in half-you know what photos. The only shot of wildflowers that came out well is this one.
They were so pretty that I had to shoot them, and I considered switching lenses and using the tripod, but I couldn’t find a good angle that would have given me the background for them that I wanted. So, I did my best with the Beast, knowing that there are many of them around, and I can do better with better lighting on another day.
One other flower photo, just because this one lone flower was the only part of the entire plant that didn’t look dead.
I thought that those two were going to be the only photos from the day, but I was wrong, not that the rest of these are great. But, this was a case where I shot the photos to record something about bird behavior.
Last week, I posted a couple of photos of bluebirds. There were also a few house finches in the same area as the bluebirds, but I thought nothing of it at the time.
But today, as I was leaving the park, I saw what I thought were a couple of bluebirds land in a tree a good distance ahead of me. I was able to get an OK photo of the bluebird.
But if you look to the lower left part of the photo, you can see a male house finch close to the bluebird, here they are together.
They both took off right after that shot. But, looking to my left, I saw a juvenile bluebird, and went for a shot of it. The photos of it that I took with the hazy white sky behind the bluebird didn’t turn out well at all, but this one taken after he had landed on the ground to look for a snack is a little better.
To my surprise, another house finch landed near the bluebird to see what the bluebird was up to.
The young bluebird subdued his prey, then went off to enjoy its lunch.
As soon as the bluebird left, a number of house finches landed in that same spot, as if searching for food. Something spooked them, I don’t think that it was me, since they started out coming straight at me.
I would say that I was attempting to one up Mr. Tootlepedal by getting a workweek’s worth of flying birds of the day in one shot, but his photos put mine to shame.
OK, bluebirds are of the thrush family, and their diet is primarily insects. House finches are of course finches, and their diet is primarily seeds. So, why are the finches hanging around and following the bluebirds?
The “rules” as to what each species feed on is not hard and fast by any means, I’ve seen bluebirds eating berries in the early spring when they first arrive here, as there are few insects readily available. I’ve seen finches of all species eating insects, especially when they are raising young. But, I wouldn’t expect finches to follow bluebirds in an effort to find insects, as bluebirds search for “targets of opportunity” rather than heavy concentrations of insects.
If I saw finches and bluebirds together once, I’d think nothing of it, but this seems to be an ongoing thing right now.
I’ve seen relatively smaller birds hang out in flocks of larger birds very often. Wood ducks will “hide” in with a flock of mallards. Mallards will “hide” in a flock of geese, and so on. Is that what’s going on with the bluebirds and finches? That doesn’t seem likely.
The only thing that I can think of is that caterpillars are one of the favorite foods of bluebirds, and many species of caterpillars are plant specific, that is, the caterpillars feed on one type of plant. Could it be that the finches watch the bluebirds to see when a bluebird finds a particular species of caterpillar, and that by that, the finches know where to find the plants that produce the seeds that the finches prefer to eat? That doesn’t seem very efficient to me.
Oh well, it’s one of those questions that only some one like myself who has no real life would even ask.
As happens all too often, I was just about home when the sunshine finally began poking through the clouds. At the same time, a pair of vultures began circling me, at a very low altitude. (Guess what’s coming!)
I wasn’t happy with the shots that posted yesterday of the eagles or falcons, not as sharp as I would have liked, and not exposed properly either. Part of that was because I had adjusted the brightness of the LCD display of my camera, I tried setting it back today, but I have to be able to see it when I try to use it, so I’m going to have to live with it brighter, and adjust the exposure by going up 1/3 stop above what looks good on the display.
Since vultures are colored much the same as eagles, I thought that the two vultures circling me today would make good practice candidates.
Those were all shot with the optical stabilization turned off, zoomed to 500 mm, not cropped at all, and +2/3 EV. I think that I’m about ready for some more eagles!
Turning the optical stabilization off is the key, that, and good light. I could have backed the zoom down from 500 mm and still filled the frame with the vultures, and the photos would have been even sharper had I done that.
If I can get good bird in flight photos out of the Beast (Sigma lens), then, there’s a lot less reason for me to purchase the 300 mm L series prime telephoto lens any time soon, and I’m getting close, really close! I think that I still have adjustments that I can make to the camera to get my photos of birds in flight even sharper yet when using the Beast.
In fact, if it wasn’t for the weight of the Beast, there would be little reason for me to consider purchasing a long prime telephoto lens at all.
Something just hit me, my current “bad” photos of birds in flight are better than most of my best photos of them taken with my old Nikon! It’s funny how good equipment can spoil a person so quickly.
Why is any of this important? Well, I’m going to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for my vacation in two weeks. And, there are species of wildlife and birds that I would love to get photos of. Here’s a few examples, wolves, moose, otters, and other mammals, sharp-tailed and spruce grouse, as far as birds, just to name a few. I would love to keep the Beast on the camera so I’d be ready for any wildlife.
However, I’ll be shooting mostly landscapes and waterfalls, which will require that I use my shorter lenses, and completely different camera settings. It would be so much easier to have two bodies, one for wildlife, and one for scenery, so that I wouldn’t have to be switching everything back and forth all the time.
Well, I’ve talked myself into buying a second 60D body before I go on vacation, as if there were any doubt. 😉
I’ll leave the Beast on one, with the camera settings all set to go for wildlife, and I think that I will program the user setable mode for birds in flight. I can set the ISO and aperture, and let the camera set the highest shutter speed possible for those settings, and see how that works.
I’ll have the second body set to take scenery shots, with the user setable mode set for use on the tripod.
That way, there’s a lot less chance of me blowing an opportunity for good photos, maybe the opportunity of a lifetime. If I see a wolf, I’m quite likely to forget that I have the camera set wrong for the shot presented to me, if that were to happen.
Then, next spring, I’ll purchase a true macro lens, probably the Tokina 100 mm f/2.8, unless I hit the lotto before then. I may be all set to go as far as equipment by that point, we’ll see.
Not to rush things, but I suppose that I should pick up the second body this week. It will take me at least one night after work to get all the settings the way that I want them. And, I would like to use the second body some to make sure that everything is OK with it before I trust it on my vacation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve read a few horror stories from people who took brand new photography equipment on a vacation of a lifetime. My vacation may not be one of a lifetime, but I prefer not to add a horror story of my own to the list that’s already out there.
It would be nice if meteorologists could get the 12 hour forecast correct!
I was jolted out of bed this morning by thunderstorms, which were not in the forecast last evening when I checked. I don’t mind the fact that it’s raining, or that there are thunderstorms, but I’d like to know what the weather is going to be like so that I can plan my days. A quick check of the news tells me that there is a severe thunderstorm warning for the area, and a flash flood advisory as well.
OK, I’ve had a cup of coffee, and closed the windows of my apartment to hold the rain cooled air inside today. It still ticks me off about the weather forecasts being at least slightly incorrect the past three days. I probably wouldn’t have gone to Muskegon on Saturday if I had known that there were going to be sprinkles of rain off and on during the morning and early afternoon. I managed some good photos despite the cloud cover, but I would have preferred more sunshine.
Yesterday was much cloudier than forecast, but that didn’t really affect me that much, since I stayed home and walked around here.
I went to bed early last night, planning on getting up early, and getting my walk in before the heat began to build. But, now I’m sitting here babbling away, waiting for the rain to clear the area. There’s one more thunderstorm headed this way that I’m going to wait out.
So, I’ll add a couple more reasons why a second camera body makes good sense. For one thing, it reduces the wear and tear that occurs when using just one body. I shoot a lot of photos, I wore out the shutter of the old Nikon that I had. By spreading the load over two bodies, I’m a lot less likely to send another camera to an early demise. It’s also nice to have a back up, just in case one camera were to quit functioning for some reason. That’s no big deal around home, but it is added insurance when I go on trips somewhere, like my up coming vacation.
Well, that last storm just brushed the area, time to go out and see how much rain did fall.
A lot of rain fell! The creeks were running higher and faster than they have since the spring floods, which is good, we needed the rain.
I hit my target of getting at least one photo good enough to use as wallpaper on the desktop of my computer, despite the dreary weather. Here’s the first.
I’m quite surprised how well those held up in the storm, almost all the other flowers I saw today had been beaten to a pulp by the heavy rain.
By getting out there right after the rains had passed, I saw a good deal many more birds than I have of late. However, must of the time they were in shade so dark that photos were impossible. I did squeak out a couple though.
During the time that I was shooting those, there was a catbird posing for the camera, so I turned my lens on it from time to time as a reward for its cooperation.
Both of those are good, but I like the second one a little better, because the look on the catbirds face, and how well the colors of its feather turned out.
I think that I have prattled on enough over the last two days, and those are the only photos from today. Monday is the day that I visit my mother in the nursing home. I also have to stop at a drugstore to have a prescription filled, and to pick up a few essential items. Since I am out and about anyway, it seems like a good time to make a stop at the camera store as well.
Addendum: I did purchase the second 60D body this afternoon. I had just enough time before work to unpack it, and start the battery charging. However, when I arrived home from work tonight, the battery wasn’t charged. I had placed the battery in the charger that came with the first body, I thought it may have been the problem, so I got the new charger out, and tried it. The battery didn’t begin charging the first few times that I plugged it in, it took some playing to get it to work. It seems to be charging now.
I hope that I didn’t jinx myself by saying that you should test new equipment before going on vacation!
But, this little experience also tells me that having two identical bodies will be much easier than two dissimilar bodies. The two 60D’s take the same batteries and storage devices to record the photos on. I picked up a “slow” 32 GB SD card for the landscape body, and a second high-speed 16 GB card for the wildlife body. In a pinch, all the cards will work in either bodies, as will a spare battery when I get one, the store was out today.
Hot and nasty, and I’m talking about the weather, not my ex. 😉
Places very close to me received 3 to 5 inches of rain from the storms yesterday, not bad for storms that weren’t in the forecast.
With all that rain yesterday, and the heat building in, it was extremely steamy yesterday, and it will only be worse today. I’d be tempted to sit inside and run the AC to stay cool, but I have a new camera to test.
After my little scare with the battery not charging at first yesterday, everything seems OK now. The real test will occur when I have to recharge it.
I have the second body set the same as the first for right now, I’ll use it all this week, then reset what I need to for landscapes and close-ups this weekend, after I’m sure that everything functions as it should.
I’m back from my walk, and I didn’t have the new body set up exactly the same as the older one. I got about half way done with my walk, and I was thinking that either the viewfinder of the new body wasn’t as sharp as the first one, or that the auto-focus was off a touch. Then it hit me, I forgot to adjust the diopter to my eyesight, silly goose! A few seconds at a convenient sign took care of that.
When I sat down to take a break in the shade, and review the photos I had taken so far, I realized that I hadn’t set the date or time, idiot!
I had remembered to set the offsets for all three lenses, and everything else, I think, but now I’m not so sure. I must be close. There’s nothing new here in my photos from today, in fact, I did that on purpose to compare the two bodies and to make sure that I had the settings correct. And, since this was a test day, I thought that I may as well start with something difficult to get the exposure correct on, like these “hot” petunias.
Notice the difference between the petunias and these leaves, even though the colors are close.
I put the polarizing filter on for this next one.
I love the effect that the polarizing filter has on these flowers!
The new body also does well on “macro” shots.
The only one that I’m not pleased with is this polar tree. I tried the preprogrammed landscape setting for that shot. That’s not to say that the landscape setting doesn’t have possibilities, it may once I try it a few more times. That mode overrides all the presets that I have set up, including exposure compensation, which is where I blew that shot. I had the camera set to -2/3 EV before I changed the mode, and when I changed the mode, the camera reset itself to 0. Oh well, live and learn.
I shouldn’t have played around and tried a new to me mode of shooting. I thought for a second or two that I had made a mistake purchasing a second body, as going to landscape mode made most of the changes to the camera settings that I would make for a scenery shot. However, it doesn’t change lenses, nor does it allow the user to change many of the camera settings for creativity or to overcome difficult lighting situations.
I didn’t try the live view on the new body, the wind was too strong today, so I shot this handheld, not a true test, but close.
No test would be complete without at least one bird. I should have brought the Beast, but it was too darned hot to lug that thing around today. Besides, this second body may never get to know the Beast, so there’s not much reason to test that combo.
I mentioned that the wind was strong, too strong for a really good shot of this aster.
I tried to get a shot of this bumblebee in flight, but it was in no mood to play today, so I shot it on a flower.
That’s it for the photos from today, I think that I can safely say that the new body passed the tests even with my screw ups. There are several here that are wallpaper worthy, even if the subjects are recent winners of that award.
I may have saved a few more dollars if I had held out on purchasing the second body, only time will tell. But, having it for two weeks before my vacation starts will let me be sure that I have everything dialed in correctly, and that there are no glitches in this body before going on vacation. There’s a lot to be said for that!
Well, the end of this week’s heat wave is in sight. Yesterday, we tied the record high temperature for the date at 94 degrees (34 C), and it didn’t cool off very much over night. Yes, I broke down and ran the AC.
By Friday, it is forecast to be almost 30 degrees cooler than yesterday, I’m looking forward to that! Right now, I’m headed out the door before the heat and humidity become unbearable.
OK, I step out of the door into bright sunshine, and see just a few white clouds overhead. As I was turning on the camera and checking the settings, I felt water drops hitting me. I looked up, nothing but blue sky directly over me, but a few light grey clouds to the west. It’s so humid that it was raining without rain clouds!
Needless to say, I came back inside and grabbed a rain jacket just in case that continued, but it didn’t.
I was going to post a very poor photo, but changed my mind. It was of a bluebird and house finch together again. However, they were so far away that I had to crop the photo too much for any one to be able to recognize the species of the two. You’ll just have to take my word for the fact that bluebirds and house finches have joined together in a flock. I still have no real idea why to such dissimilar species of birds would do that, but they have. I’ve been witnessing them together nearly every day for well over a week.
I did hit my target of getting a wallpaper worthy photo, several times.
There was a large flock of goldfinches in the park today, but these were migrants, I hadn’t had time to train them to pose yet. But, I managed a good photo or two of members of the flock.
The males are in the process of molting, soon it will be impossible to tell the males from the females from the juveniles.
That’s it for the birds from today, time for the blooms.
I knew when I was shooting this next one that I should have set up the tripod to be able to get a greater depth of field in the low light. But, it was so hot and miserable out there that I didn’t feel like playing around. Now, I’m kicking myself for not doing it. This is good, but if I had used the tripod, I could have gotten the center of both the fully opened flowers in focus, and the photo would have been so much better!
This next one isn’t really a bloom, but it used to be.
That’s it for the blooms, now it’s time for a bug.
The butterfly was trying to play hide and seek with me, it had first landed in the open, when it saw me, it hid behind the leaf. I waited until it looked out from behind the leaf for that first shot, then got one more as the butterfly spotted me and crawled behind another leaf.
That’s all the photos from today, well, all that I’m posting anyway.
Time for a shower, then suffer through another steamy night at work.
Cooler air is moving in!
They are re-paving the parking lots and streets here at the apartment complex, I hope that they finish the parking lot for my building today. It’s been so hot that I’ve run the AC overnight the past two nights, but I’d love to be able to open the windows tonight when I get home. Well, that won’t be a problem, but, I’d like to leave the windows open all night. I won’t be able to if they are going to be working right outside my apartment early in the morning.
I’m back from my walk, and I should subtitle today “I fought the wind and the wind won!”. I also didn’t find very many things to attempt to photograph, other than flowers, and with a stiff wind blowing them around, few of the photos that I did shoot turned out well. I did attempt to photograph the asters using the tripod, but I got so frustrated that I gave up for a while, took a break, then tried again, with the same result. It wasn’t a productive day.
I thought that I had missed my target of getting a wallpaper worthy photo every day, but after cleaning my glasses and the computer screen, and taking a second look at the photos, it turns out that I did better than I thought that I had.
Not too bad, the exposure could have been a little better for their heads though.
I saw the flock of bluebirds and house finches yet again today. I can’t figure that oddball combination out for the life of me. It almost looks as though each finch pairs itself up with a bluebird, and follows it around every place the bluebird goes. I didn’t get a shot of the two species together, but I did get a shot of one of the bluebirds, unfortunately, its companion finch was back in the leaves in this shot.
The best shots from today are of a honey bee.
Considering how the goldenrod the bee was on was moving in the wind, and the fact that the bee was always on the move, I’m surprised that those turned out so well.
Other than that, I don’t have much to say today, I think that I need a nap. I slept well up until the time that they started chewing up the pavement outside of my apartment this morning, and that started earlier than I would have liked. But, I suppose it’s a good sign that they maintain things well around here.
The really cool, and very pleasant, air has arrived! The forecast high for today is a full 30 degrees lower than our record trying high of 94 F on Tuesday. The only downside to this cool down is the wind, which is pushing the cooler air into the area, and I say that only because the wind will make photographing flowers or insects difficult.
I read an interesting article the other day, wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new scientific study by government biologists. The study was done in just ten western states, that figure of 67 dead eagles is probably much higher if they had studied all the wind farms across the entire country.
On a related note, the Canadian Provence of Ontario is paying the operators of wind farms not to produce electricity, for two reasons. One, it’s the time of year that birds are migrating, and wind turbines take a significant toll on migrating birds, especially the ones that fly at night. Two, it’s cheaper to pay the wind farm operators the wholesale price of electricity than it is to pay them the higher amount that is the true cost of electricity generated by wind turbines.
Just a little food for thought before I get some real food in my belly and head outside to enjoy this wonderful weather.
Woo Hoo! I was a little disappointed in the photos I shot yesterday, not so for the ones from today. But, I did shoot different subjects for the most part. I didn’t bother trying for any shots of flowers whipping around in the wind today, I shot mostly birds. This clean crisp air that has settled in played a role as well. But, before I get to the photos, it’s Friday, which is battery charging day around here. If you remember, I had trouble getting the battery for the second camera body to charge for the first time. I plugged it in today, no problems, it’s taking a charge with no playing around, whew!
I’m having a tough time deciding which photos to use from today, what a great problem to have! Not that all of them are exceptional, only one or two are, but there’s a few of birds that were playing peek-a-boo with me, and I love those shots even if the you can’t see the entire bird. Besides, it’s Friday, I can insert them all, and call this post finished after today.
So, I’m going to start with a squirrel silhouette, just because I can.
Then, three turkeys milling about.
Since this camera body is going to be used for landscapes and scenery, I thought that the clouds today would make a good test shot for exposure purposes.
I found a very large spider repairing its web.
This next one is my worst shot of the day. I was approaching a dead tree that the birds liked for some reason. There were blue jays, starlings, robins, flickers, mourning doves, and other species all in the one tree. I was setting up for a wide shot to get all the birds in that one tree in the shot, when one of the blue jays took off, my finger pressed the shutter release out of habit.
Here’s a robin and flicker hanging out together in that tree.
Here’s just the flicker.
I would have liked to have gotten closer to the flicker, but it was too high up in the tree for me to be able to do so. No problem, that flicker started calling, and one of its flock mates flew over to another tree, the tree that I was standing next to. The second flicker and I played peek-a-boo for a while, then it rewarded me with some good poses.
While I was standing there, this robin also struck a pose for me.
These next and final two are my favorites from today, I know, I’m weird.
I love going in the brush after birds and getting shots like those last two.
Maybe it’s my imagination, but I would say that camera body two is slightly better than number one is, at least when using the L series lens. The higher end cameras have an auto-focus micro-adjust feature that allows you to fine tune the auto-focus of the camera to the lens that you are using. It could be that body two matches up slightly better with the L series lens than body one does. Time will tell on that, but I sure am happy with the results that I’m getting from both bodies.
I haven’t tried the Sigma lens on the second body, there’s no reason to. The first body and Sigma lens have proven themselves to be excellent performers together, and I plan on the Sigma being permanently attached to the first body for wildlife photography. The second body will be for landscapes and close-ups using the L series and 15-85 mm lenses.
I think that I’ll go to Aman Park tomorrow, there won’t be the wildflowers there like in the spring, but I can usually find a little of everything there. It will be a good place for me to start carrying all my gear set up the way that it will be used when I go on vacation the week after next.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!