My Week, the good life!
I’m sitting here drinking my coffee, getting ready to head over to Aman Park for the day, and catching up on some of the blogs that I follow. Next week at this time, I’ll be packing for my vacation. Things are going well for me right now, so much better than what they have for the few years, life is good again.
I have my Subaru Forester, rather than the old junk Explorer that I could no longer rely on. I’m in the process of putting together an excellent kit of photo gear, with two solid, dependable bodies, and quality lenses to use on them. I can afford to take a week of vacation, and I’m really going to enjoy it! That’s just the tip of the iceberg, there’s no need to recount everything.
I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to return from vacation with some excellent landscape photos, I have a plan in mind as to where I’m going to go, but those plans may change. You see, it doesn’t really matter if I come home with great photos or not, I’m not going to worry about that, or I’ll spoil my first vacation in years.
I’m going to enjoy my time outdoors away from it all. Modern life imposes more than enough deadlines and commitments on us, there’s no need for me to create more self-imposed ones to that list. It’s been so long since I’ve taken a vacation that I have forgotten that part, up until the past few days. It will be so soothing to walk around in what comes close to a wilderness area again, rather than my daily walks listening to the traffic on the expressway roar past me all the time. To smell clean fresh air, and not the exhaust of vehicles. I really don’t want to hold myself to any type of schedule, or to place unrealistic expectations on this vacation. My life is looking pretty good now, I’d like to keep it that way.
I was up before dawn, I love sunrises, much more than sunsets. The promise of a new day, rather than looking back on a day that is coming to an end. Too bad that I couldn’t see the sunrise this morning due to the clouds.
Back when my family used to go camping, I was always the first one up, and I’d be out exploring the new day long before my parents or siblings got up. I was going to be quick in getting something for breakfast and be on my walk already, but there’s rain heading this way, and there’s no way that I could have gotten in my entire walk before the rain arrives.
I may as well relax, and wait for the rain to get here, since I don’t mind walking in the rain. In fact, I like walking in the rain. According to the radar, it’s raining here right now, but when I look out the window, it’s still dry. It’s getting bad when one can’t even trust the radar.
I like this new-found sense of serenity that is coming over me of late, I didn’t complain very much about the past few heat waves, and I’m not even going to go off on a rant about how bad the weather forecasts have been the last two weeks.
Attitude is everything in life, or at least that’s the way that I’m beginning to see things. But, it’s hard to have a good attitude when you’re busting your hump and getting nowhere fast, or even worse, being swept away by the current no matter how hard that you try to fight it. Maybe it’s better to let yourself be swept away and enjoy the ride, and see where the current takes you.
Well, that’s as close as I get to being profound, I think that I’ll eat breakfast, and see where the current takes me today.
I’m back, and I learned today that I can control the weather! It’s true, I swear it!
I can make it rain by simply taking my camera out of its protective covering. I can make the rain stop by putting the camera away. I can control how hard it rains by the hood of my rain jacket. If I have the hood up, the rain will taper off to nothing. When I lower the hood, the rain will increase in intensity.
It’s not only precipitation that I can control, it’s also the wind. No matter how calm it is, all I have to do is point the lens of my camera at a flower, and a good breeze will rise up out of nowhere. I can make the wind go calm again by simply walking farther away from the flower than I have the willingness to walk back to the flower when the wind does die down.
Oh wait, maybe that’s all due to Murphy’s Law, the one that says whatever can go wrong will go wrong. You know, it’s like sitting down to take a break, only to have a hawk come flying over the tree that you’re sitting under, drop down, bank just right in the light, and do a slow half circle around you as you fight the zipper of your rain jacket which has jammed for the first time in the six or seven years you owned it.
Yup, that kind of day today.
I know that with the slide show at the top of the page of the theme that I’m using now that I should start with the very best photo from the day so that it’s the one that gets put into the slide show. I have been trying to do that, but I’d better not try to fool any one that way. So, I’m going to start with my last photo from the day, even though it isn’t the technically best one, but I like this little warbler’s attitude.
It was looking pretty grim as far as getting any photos today, what with the on and off rain, the on and off wind, and not too many good subjects to photograph to be found. So, I shot these two just to have a couple of photos from the day no matter what. I probably should have used one of these in the slide show, but, that’s not me, or my blog. Sometimes the technically best photo doesn’t move me as much as a more interesting one does.
I’ve read Charles Darwin’s book, The Origin Of Species, and I try to keep up with the science of evolution at least to some degree, but can any one explain why there are several thousand species of small white flowers that all look like daisies, and hundreds of species of yellow flowers that all look like the one in the photo above? They all grow in the same areas and conditions, there certainly couldn’t be that many niches in the ecosystem to warrant so many species of the same flowers, could there? You’d almost have to think that God created so many of the same flowers just to keep us occupied trying to learn how to identify them all.
Anyway, the hawk that flew over me when the zipper of my rain jacket jammed took pity on me, and did a couple of fly overs later in the day.
Not bad for photos taken when there was a light rain falling! I saw the hawk make one pass over me, and I set the camera to +2/3 EV just in case it came back. I should have gone up a full stop, but it wasn’t like I had time to evaluate the exposure settings between photos. 😉
My only other photo from today is the first photo of the warbler that I shot.
It sure was a hungry little goomer, if you noticed, it has something in its beak in both shots.
Anyway, that’s all the photos from today, it was a very nice, quiet, enjoyable walk despite the occasional sprinkles of rain.
The clouds are lingering on. It’s funny how what was forecast on Saturday to be a slight chance of scattered afternoon showers on Sunday turned into an all day rain. I had thought about going for another walk in the evening yesterday, if the rain had ended, but it was still sprinkling at dusk. What’s even funnier is the fact that I’m getting antsy about seeing a forecast for next week while I’ll be on vacation, when I know that any forecast is more likely wrong then right.
That’s even funnier since I know that no matter what the forecast is, I’ll be packing for any type of weather, from snow and cold, to hot and dry. The weather in the UP of Michigan is even more changeable than it is down here in the flatlands. Even a slight change in wind direction can make huge differences in the weather being so close to Lake Superior. I just hope that it doesn’t rain the entire time I’m up there. That happened to me once on an extended fall fishing trip, it rained most of every day that I was up there, I spent a lot of time at laundromats drying clothes that week.
Well, time for breakfast and a walk.
I should start a new feature in my blog, my daily screw up. I make enough of them that limiting myself to choosing one per day would be the hardest part of doing that.
Because of the clouds and gloomy day, I only took the wildlife camera body today, but I had enough sense to take the tripod, knowing that as dark as it was, the tripod would be required for any flower shots. So, I get to the asters that I’ve been wanting to shoot from the tripod, set it up, went to attach the camera, but the quick release plate to mount the camera was on the other body back at home.
I improvised, by resting the barrel of the lens on top of the platform of the tripod, and managed these.
I’m not 100% happy with either of those, but they did turn out better than I expected considering how I shot them.
My only other photo from today is this wider shot of one of the fields in Creekside Park.
I saw a few birds, but didn’t bother trying for a photo given the poor lighting, the species I saw, and how far away from me they were.
I’m about to do something that I really shouldn’t do. I have a perfectly fine Columbia Bugaboo tent. But, it’s 9′ X 12′ and meant for a family. I have no trouble setting it up or taking it down by myself, and it would be OK for my vacation. However, I’m not going to be staying in one campground for the entire week of my vacation, the way I have things planned, it will be at least four campgrounds.
Having to dry and clean the big tent each morning before I can get on the road is going to seriously cut into the time that I have for other things. So, I’m about to run over to Cablela’s and see if they have one of their tent cots in stock. Since I just depleted my bank account by purchasing the second camera body, I’ll have to charge the tent, something that I didn’t want to do. But, that tent cot will be so much better not only for this vacation, but many of my other trips as well. The time consumed caring for the Bugaboo tent is one of the things that’s held me back as far as doing more weekend camping.
So, that’s it for today.
Well, the Cabela’s store didn’t have one of the tent cots in stock, but I ordered one, it should be here Thursday, Friday at the latest. That’s cutting it close, but I should be OK. It’s so nice having a Cabela’s store in town, I’m saving almost $40 in shipping charges by having it shipped to the store for me to pick up there.
The weather is cool, and the sun is shining here for the first time in a couple of days, so maybe I’ll get a good photo or two this morning. It’s so cool that there were frost warnings for areas just to the north, and I’m going to wear a long-sleeved shirt, now that’s cool.
I learned something new today, there’s such a thing as too much dew on flowers, which I’ll get to in a minute. But first, a goldfinch, to reward it for posing so nicely for me.
Not long after that shot, I came to a patch of small white flowers, I can’t tell you if they are daisies or asters, but they were sparkling in the sun from the heavy dew over night. I shot a few with the Beast, here’s the best of those.
Then I got serious, brought out body II with the 15-85 mm lens on it and shot these.
The dew was so heavy that these photos look as if they’re out of focus, but they’re not. I think that if the flowers had been larger, or if I could have found a single flower, that the results would have been better. But, these grow in tight clusters, so it I couldn’t find one by itself with a good background.
Next up is a mushroom, just because I haven’t been photographing many of them lately, and this one looked interesting.
I hate to brag on my equipment too much, but this next one is one of those that amaze me. Not because it’s great, but because the Canon body and the Beast (Sigma lens) is able to get a photo as good as this despite terrible lighting.
An almost black cat in deep shade, hiding behind the weeds, could there be a worse subject to try for? Yeah, I know that there are, but still, that was a tough one, and my camera and lens pulled it off much better than I expected. That was shot at 1/100 second, ISO 1600, and the Beast zoomed to 250 mm.
I don’t know if it was a cat, car, or something else that caused the injury to this little guy, but he’s healing well.
If you look closely, you can see that it has a scar that starts on the top of his head above his left eye and runs all the way to the base of his beak. It looks like it had been a serious injury, he almost lost his left eye, but fortunately, he hadn’t. I shot other photos of him that show the scar better, but because of the lighting in those photos, it did look as if he had lost his eye, and I didn’t want to post those. He acted fine, calling away in the chipper voice that goldfinches use to call to one another, and had been chowing down on seeds just before this photo, so I’m sure the little guy will be OK.
I’m going to finish the day with these two of a monarch butterfly, because these are the last two that I shot today, funny how that works.
Neither of those are “The” shot of a monarch that I hope to get someday, but the last one is close, and they’re both darned good.
I have much to do to get ready for vacation coming up, so I’d better get busy working on those things. I have to leave detailed instructions for the person replacing me that week, and also for my boss and the branch managers, seeing as they don’t have enough sense to think of what needs to be done on their own.
Cloudy and cool this morning, with the possibility of a few sprinkles of rain.
I’m trying to remain calm and not get too stoked about having a full week off from work to go wandering around out in the woods, but as the day approaches, that’s getting harder. The weather forecast, if it is to be believed, is for nice weather during the first half of the week at least.
I was going to carry my complete kit for the rest of this week, just to get used to it. However, with the unsettled weather in the forecast for the rest of this week, that probably isn’t a good idea. I’ll take just the L series lens today, and maybe the rest of the week, it all depends on the weather.
Time for chow.
I’m back from my walk, and I have one question, who turned up the heat? It was cool and cloudy with a few sprinkles of rain when I started, it was hot and sunny before I made back home. So hot, that I’ve shut the windows for the day.
I photographed a few flowers early while it was still cloudy, they came out OK, but I can do better, so there’s no reason to post just OK photos. Besides, I’m have trouble sorting through too many photos of a monarch butterfly that I shot. So, I guess I’ll start with a few of the Alabama Leaning Robin. It was perched in the top of a bush sunning itself as I approached it. As I got closer, it kept leaning over more and more to try to stay out of sight.
The robin decided that it should keep an eye on me as I walked behind it to continue my walk.
Any of those qualify as far as meeting my target of at least one great photo for the day. Here’s a couple of almost winners.
Well, after viewing over a dozen of the best photos of the monarch, I’ve settled on four to post. That’s really more than I would like, but I can’t decide which of these doesn’t belong here.
I learned a few things today. I’m never going to get the shot that I want with white flowers in the background. The sun was just starting to burn through the clouds when I shot those, and already I was getting blow out in the white flowers. A darker background would have been better for the butterfly as far as going for the shot I want. I also learned that it’s darned hard to catch a butterfly in flight, and I have a few blurry photos to prove it. 😉
In my spare time this week, I’ve been packing things up for next week. One of the many advantages to having a separate wardrobe for outdoor activities is that I can pack well in advance of when I’m leaving, and, I don’t have to be in a big rush to unpack and wash everything from a trip when I get home. That, and since those clothes aren’t worn that often, they are lasting forever.
When I get home tonight, I’d better put the milk and other food items that can be frozen in the freezer. I would have done that last weekend when I bought it, but I had too much food in the freezer for it to fit. That’s rather strange for me.
I still have a little more stuff to get ready, so that’s it for today.
Warm, humid, with showers and thunder showers popping up here and there all around the area.
I overslept this morning, not that I have any set time that I normally get up, but I was surprised when I looked at the time and saw how late it was compared to when I usually get up.
The tent cot that I ordered has been shipped, and should arrive in the store today or tomorrow, so I should be all set to go there. I shouldn’t have made that purchase, but it’s something that will not only work well for my vacation next week, but will be a lifetime type of purchase, something that will get a lot of use over the rest of my life. So, even though I shouldn’t have, I’m glad that I did buy it.
I have a basic plan as to where I’m going to go on my vacation, which I’ll share when I get back from my walk.
I’m back, and I suppose the story for today, besides the weather, is that I am easily amused and will photograph what ever amuses me. I’m going to start with a wide shot that I took just for practice since I don’t have many chances to practice on my daily walks.
Now come the shots that amused me, but will probably bore most of you. They are of a fox squirrel in action, finding a walnut and then peeling it.
I think that the squirrel’s jaw was getting tired and needed a break.
Break over, time to go!
OK, cute enough, I didn’t plan on taking any more photos of the squirrel as it scampered off into the woods. However, as I was walking through the woods, I ran into it again.
It ran a short way up the tree to a convenient stub of a dead branch, and began peeling the covering off from the walnut, and spitting the peel at me, I found it too funny not to shoot.
A little later, when I was walking across the upper parking lot in the park, there were two guys playing with their R/C trucks, and since I never turn down a chance to shoot action shots, you know what happened.
I was trying to blur the truck slightly to imply motion, I should have gone slower on the shutter speed.
For the last shot of the day, a turkey.
I chose the turkey as being the shot to use as wallpaper for the day. None of the photos from today are spectacular, but I could easily rave about how well my camera works under extremely trying conditions, but I won’t.
Instead, I’m going to do a run through of my plans for next week, with the caveat that these are subject to change, depending on the weather, and my mood. I have decided to bring my camp chair with me, and spend some time just relaxing in the woods. That’s something I seldom do much of lately.
Anyway, I’ll be leaving on Sunday morning, the earlier the better to avoid traffic. I’ll make it up to the Straits of Mackinac in the early afternoon. I’ll spend the rest of the day shooting mostly man-made subjects, two lighthouse and the Mackinac Bridge. I’ll be going for some sunset/moonrise photos of the bridge if things go well. I’ll spend the night at the Little Brevort Lake State Forest Campground, which is just north of the straits.
Monday, I’ll head farther north to photograph the Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point, and do a little birding before heading west along the Lake Superior shore. I’m not sure how far I will make it, or where I’ll spend Monday night.
Tuesday, I should arrive at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I’ll take the boat tour in the afternoon, and the rest of my schedule for that area is up in the air, depending on how Monday goes.
Wednesday, up in the air.
Thursday and Friday I’ll be in the Porcupine Mountains to photograph the Lake of the Clouds, and as many waterfalls and landscapes as I can find. I’ll be staying at the Emily Lake State Forest Campground while in that area.
Saturday, I’ll start back towards home, stopping at the Fayette State Park, which includes a restored ghost town from the days of an iron smelting operation.
That’s an ambitious schedule to say the least. I won’t begin to take in everything that there is to see at each of the places I’m going, I know that, but have to keep reminding myself of that fact. Each place that I’m going is deserving of at least a week at least, two would be better. This will be more of a scouting trip for future excursions. I hope that I’ll be able to go back to the schedule I used to have when I was much younger, spend a week in May in the Pigeon River Country for trout fishing, and a week in the UP in the fall for the scenery. A big plus is that I miss the horrific black fly hatches in early summer that way. If you’ve ever been to the UP or southern Canada in June, you know what I mean. 😉 I also miss most of the crowds that way as well.
The job that I have now may not be great, but two weeks of vacation is getting harder to come by as companies cut benefits. As long as I can afford to take my vacations, and a few trips on weekends during the summer, I’ll be a happy camper, literally! I’ll be getting back to living the good life that I used to live before I let other things get in the way.
Cloudy, warm and humid. It’s been raining on and off for over 24 hours, although more off than on. The humidity level is so high that new showers and thunder showers continue to form, move off, and then more will reform.
I have a good deal of my stuff packed already, just a few more things to go. The weather forecast for next week is looking good, maybe too good. There’s not supposed to be any rain from Sunday until Friday at the earliest, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some good photos while on vacation.
I still haven’t heard from Cabela’s about the tent cot, which has me a bit worried, hopefully, they will pull through before I leave. It was rather silly of me to wait til the last minute to order it, when I’ve had my eye on it for months. Well, live and learn, I sure hope that I don’t have to deal with setting up and tearing down my full size tent everyday next week. If I do, it will have been my own fault.
I’m back from my walk, the bad news is that the dark dreary skies put a crimp on photography. The good news is that I’m learning to get some very good shots in any weather. I hate to post another photo of a fox squirrel, but it isn’t as if I can command the animal kingdom to provide me with different subjects on a rotating basis, I have to shoot what I can see.
Hard to believe that I was dodging raindrops when I shot that one.
Here’s one of my unexplainable observations. When I tried out the second camera body, the 70-200 mm L series lens seemed to perform much better on it than what it had on the first body, as far as auto-focus accuracy and being able to pick a subject out from the fore and backgrounds. Since using that lens on body II, it now seems to work much better on body I, here’s an example.
As you can see, I didn’t have a clear opening to shoot through, and as dark as it was, I had little hope of those photos being usable. I don’t know why the L series lens continues to improve in its performance, but I’m glad that it is.
I didn’t see many birds today, other than the huge flock of starlings in the park that seems to grow larger everyday. Could this be the reason?
It took me a dozen shots to get those three, but it was worth it. I’m getting a better handle on the exposure settings needed for birds in flight on cloudy days all the time. It helps a lot when the birds circle me repeatedly, as this hawk, the red-tailed earlier this week, and the turkey vultures last week all did.
My last shot of the day, this week, and this post is of a song sparrow, just because.
Not a bad week, even if there were only two sunny days this week.
I see that gas prices jumped up 30 cents a gallon, of course, I’m going on vacation, so you had to know that would happen. But, I filled up at the lower price, so I have a little consolation there.
One camera battery is charging for next week, as soon as it is fully charged, I’ll do the second one. Just about everything else except for the food that goes in the cooler is set to go, but I will have to stop at the store on my way home from work for the last food items that I’ll be taking with me next week.
Well, that’s it for today, and for the week. If I go for a walk tomorrow, I’ll be carrying the Poweshot camera, as both of the good cameras are charged and packed for the trip. I won’t be online for the entire week next week, but I do have a