Spring really arrives!
I boxed up and shipped out the defective 300 mm prime lens to start the day, then I spent the rest of the day in the local park where I walk every week day, and many days on the weekends as well. The weather was fabulous, and there were a number of flocks of migrating birds in the area, but I managed to miss all but one of them. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, here are two of the reasons that I keep on taking photos of the same species of birds that I have already photographed hundreds, if not thousands of times.
Neither photo is perfect, but the one of the cardinal may be the best of that species that I’ve ever gotten. I knew that the photos of the cardinal were going to be very good, but I didn’t think that they would be great. I wish that the twigs in the foreground weren’t there, but I wanted the tree trunk that is in the background to be there to make it easier for me to get a good exposure of the cardinal. You can’t have everything I suppose.
And I thought that I was having a bad day. I was in a way, I saw winter wrens, fox sparrows, and at least two species of warblers, but I missed all but this fox sparrow.
And, I almost missed the sparrow as you can see, at least I got a shot of some kind.
I did get a blue headed mallard.
But, most of the day I ended up with photos of birds that ducked at the last second…
…or skulked in the shadows.
I didn’t shoot only birds.
I spent quite a bit of time photographing the first crocus of the year, way too much time. 😉
The next three are identical except for the exposure, I went down 1/3 of a stop between each one, but I can’t decide which one I like best.
That’s interesting, they don’t look that much different here in this post in their small version, but full screen, there’s a great deal of difference in the lighting of each of those three photos.
The last one is okay, but it was more of a test to see how low I can go with my new tripod, and it passed the test with flying colors! It is really a great piece of kit. I’ve posted a couple of photos with it set-up with the center post flipped to the horizontal position, and that’s how I was able to get the photo of the crocus from the side. Not only does it position the camera very low when required, but it also allow you to keep the main part of the tripod back away from the subject so that you don’t have shadows from the tripod to contend with. The articulated display of the Canon 60 D body is also great when shooting that close to the ground, I only had to kneel in the mud, not lay on my belly in it to see the screen to set-up the shot. 😉
I was a little disappointed that none of the blue crocus were open yet, hopefully they will be on Monday when I return.
A clear, frosty start to what promises to be a great day. I don’t have much time this morning, I’m headed to Grand Haven, Michigan for a day of birding along the big lake.
It’s late, but I did make it back home. I went a little crazy out there today, and shot photos of 48 species of birds, well over 400 photos in total.
In the old days, I’d probably do two or three posts from my photos today, but that won’t happen this time, although I do think that one stand alone post is warranted, as you will have seen before this post gets published.
Anyway, I started out at Harbor Island near Grand Haven, Michigan because there have been red-necked grebes seen there lately, which I did find. But, not before seeing many other species first. I’m going to start with a photo of a song sparrow belting out his spring song, because it represents the kind of day it was so well!
I could do an entire post of just song sparrows singing, but I won’t. Here’s an American tree sparrow instead.
Oh, and by the way, I know that no one is interested, but I’ll be updating the photos for many species of birds that I have already posted in the My Photo Life List project, the song sparrows, tree sparrows, starlings, American coot, and horned grebes.
It took me a while (and quite a few photos) but I talked the grebe into posing for a series of photos up close and personal, that’s barely cropped at all.
The stand alone post that I’ll do features this coot and the trouble that it has eating a snail.
While watching the coot trying for its meal of escargot , I found the red-necked grebes that I had set out for.
My next stop was Lake Harbor Park where Mona Lake empties into Lake Michigan. A number of eagles were flying around, I forgot to turn off the OS of the Beast, and as a result, there’s the ghosting that I get with the OS on in this photo.
I may have been off a little on the focus as well, I was using the Beast with the Tamron extender, so I had to manually focus the shots of the eagles that I tried.
Here’s a few other photos from my time there.
On to my next stop, which was Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon, on the channel from Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan. Most of the waterfowl have headed back north already, but I caught a greater scaup preening.
A female mallard too cute not to photograph…
…more horned grebes…
…and to make it a three grebe day, this cute little pie-billed grebe.
That’s another species that I’ll update the previously done post.
There was one lone male long-tailed duck left.
So, then it was around to the other end of Muskegon Lake and the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve. The photos that I shot there were all of common species, the only one worth posting is this one of a herring gull checking out its lunch.
Even though I was tired, I made a stop at the Muskegon County wastewater treatment facility to see if I could find anything noteworthy there. Way out in some of the flooded farm fields there were snow geese and other waterfowl, but I could just barely make them out with binoculars, they were way too far away for photos, so this bufflehead…
…and these hooded mergansers were the only photos that I shot worth posting.
Well, that’s about it for today.
I’m still recovering from my bird extravaganza yesterday, and running behind as well, so this will be short.
I noticed a pair of vultures perched in a tree, which I seldom see, so even thought the light was poor, I went ahead and shot photos anyway.
When the vulture leapt into flight, I kept shooting.
I spotted a flock of golden-crowned kinglets and managed a few shots of them, along with some photos of empty branches where a kinglet had been a split second before, they sure do move fast, and often!
While taking a short break despite being pressed for time, I saw what I thought was a downy woodpecker on a tree nearby, but it didn’t act like a downy, so I decided to give it a closer inspection. It was a good thing that I did, for the bird in question was a male yellow-bellied sapsucker. This photo and several more will be added to the previous post that I did on this species in the My Photo Life List project, as my only photos so far have been poor ones of females of the species.
The sapsucker looked a bit skittish, and here’s why.
The Cooper’s hawk was in sight of the sapsucker, so I was surprised that the sapsucker moved around as much as it did, I would have thought that it would freeze in place like most birds do when a hawk is about.
Finally, a photo of a house finch that refused to sing for me.
As long as I had the camera on the finch, it wouldn’t as much as peep, when my arms got too tired to hold the Beast up any longer, the finch would start singing away, until I brought the camera back up again.
Now, it’s time for a shower and a visit to my mom.
It’s a mostly cloudy and cool start to the day, it has really been a fine week so far, and that is forecast to continue into the weekend.
I’m finely getting caught up around here, last night and this morning I update half a dozen of the posts that I’ve already completed in the My Photo Life List project. That’s the great thing about doing that on the web in a blog, as I get better photos of a species, I can go back and add to or replace my earlier photos.
I am also almost fully recovered from this past weekend of spending almost all of both days outdoors, Saturday, lugging the majority of my photo gear, and Sunday, from carrying the Beast and my tripod around all day. I would say that I was looking forward to a day of not so nice weather so that I could ease up a little, but after the winter that we had here, I’ll keep pushing, and keep on enjoying this string of splendid days!
One other thought about my birding extravaganza on Sunday. I brought back photos of 48 species of birds, granted, some of the photos were pretty bad, but, I read some other birder’s blogs, and they are happy to see 48 species in a day, I got photos of that many species. That’s not my bragging about my birding skills, that’s more a reflection on how great of a place that the State of Michigan is to live if you’re a nature buff, especially if you’re a birder.
I suppose that I could post one photo of each species, but I have switched gears and gone from numbers to quality whenever possible. I could list all the species that I photographed, maybe even list the species that I saw but wasn’t able to get a photo of, such as the peregrine falcon that swooped over me and disappeared before I could get a shot of it, but I don’t want to bore you any more than I already do. The main point is that I truly love living in Michigan with the numerous areas of public access that we have, and our abundant wildlife.
Well, before I prattle on any longer, I suppose that I should get going, and see what I can find today.
I’m back, and I found too much! It was so ominous looking when I started my walk that I came back in to grab the dry bag that I use as a raincoat for the Beast, and there were even a few sprinkles of rain before I got to the park. Along the way, I stopped to try to see how good of a photo that I could get of a turkey vulture in the horrible light.
But when I got to the park, the sun broke through the clouds, and I started taking good photos.
I tried to find an angle where I wouldn’t have the branch behind the waxwing with the bad hair, but couldn’t do it.
My attempts at even better photos of the sapsucker from yesterday were ruined by some jerk that insisted on going between myself and the bird, even though I had the camera up, ready for the sapsucker to come out in the open. The same guy has done that to me before, next time, he gets an ear full!
As many photos of chickadees as I have shot, I shouldn’t try any longer for more, but how could I pass up these?
I know, way too many, but I couldn’t choose a favorite from among them. I love chickadees to begin with, and getting images that good of them in action always makes me happy.
Most of those were shot very close to the limit of how close the Beast can focus, and were only cropped slightly, which is why they’re so sharp.
I also shot a few of the crocus, but used the Beast. If I had known the weather was going to get better, I would have brought my tripod, other body, and the macro lens, which I will do tomorrow, but here’s a preview.
And, the same holds true of these maple flowers.
I had to rush through the photos from today, as I just got off the phone with my brother, discussing various things related to photography. He has received the 10-20 mm lens that he ordered, and has been posting some awesome photos to Facebook while using it, of both flowers and skyscapes. I want one, more than ever, but it will have to wait.
It’s just about the perfect spring morning as the day begins, I wish that I didn’t have to work tonight. I’d spend the day in the park just as I did on Saturday, wearing myself to a frazzle lugging all my camera gear as I walked in circles.
The weather is forecast to remain good right through Saturday afternoon, but then rain moves in for Sunday. I have been thinking of going to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, but that’s too far to go for one day, since it’s a five-hour drive across the state to get there. Besides, there haven’t been reports of very many species of birds that I couldn’t find much closer to home.
So, I’ll have to decide on where to go around here. I could easily repeat what I did on Sunday. I got one lifer, the red-necked grebes, and got much better photos of over a half a dozen other species of birds than I already had. Or, I could go looking for early spring flowers at one of the parks even closer to home, but I think that it’s about a week early for that. Maybe I’ll do a birding extravaganza again on Saturday, then look for wildflowers in the rain on Sunday. We’ll see, once the weather forecast is more certain.
For right now, there are crocuses blooming in the park, and birds singing outside my apartment window, so it’s time to get moving!
I’m back. I think that I may have to wimp out and drive down to the park one day this week, rather than try to lug everything with me. I had the wildlife body with the Beast, the second body with the macro lens, and my tripod, but I really needed something to diffuse the harsh sunlight and/or add fill in light for most of the flower photos that I shot today.
It wouldn’t be quite as bad to carry all that stuff if the temperature didn’t start out chilly as I start my walk, then warm up a lot while I’m out there. I ended up shedding my jacket and a shirt, and had to add those items to the camera gear to carry. On the other hand, if I carried all my stuff every day, maybe my muscles would get used to it. 😉
Anyway, to start the day off, this robin came running up to me and demanded that I take its picture, so I did.
That’s full frame.
I have to wonder, if what the robin did today, or what the chickadee did yesterday, is the bird version of a selfie? Find a human with a camera, then pose so that they get their photo taken, since birds don’t have cell phones, yet. 😉
The rubber duckies are nesting!
I shouldn’t waste space like that, but I couldn’t help myself. 😉
The other birds were singing.
I got another excellent photo of a downy woodpecker.
I tried for a few shots of cedar waxwings in flight, but by that time, I had too much stuff hanging off me to put much effort into the photos, so here’s the best of a bad lot.
Actually, what I need is the 300 mm prime lens back, in good working order. Not only is it better suited for bird in flight photos, it weighs a lot less than the Beast, so carrying my other gear wouldn’t be so much of a burden. The defective lens has made it back to the retailer that I ordered if from, I hope that they get the replacement lens shipped out soon.
I shot this goose, as it was smaller than the average Canada goose, and its neck looked shorter as well, so I thought that it may be a cackling goose, but no, it’s just a small, short-necked Canada goose, but the look it gave me was great, so I have to throw the photo in here.
Okay, for the macro shots that I tried today, they’re not horrible, but I know that I can do better.
As soon as I started reviewing the photos, I knew that I should have brought the LED panel light with me to soften some of the shadows, I’ll try that tomorrow or Friday, depending on the weather. There may be rain tomorrow, so my next attempt may have to wait until Friday.
By the way, those were all shot with the Tokina 100 mm macro lens, as was this one.
That was the best subject that I could find close enough to the ground to reach with my tripod, none of the buds lower on the tree were open yet. I added the Tamron extender behind the macro lens, but it was still too short to really reach the flowers, so I cropped this one down.
I also used the extender for these lichens, even though I didn’t really need it.
Well, that’s it for today.
Another beautiful spring morning! I could get used to weather like we’ve been having this past week! There may be a little rain this afternoon, but that’s okay, we could use some rain, and so could all the plants that are starting to green up and/or blossom.
It looks as if Sunday is going to be a washout, rain off and on most of the day, and mostly on if the forecast is to be believed. They are predicting an inch or more of rain from Saturday night to Sunday evening. Oh well, into each life a little rain must fall.
I have changed my mind about another lakeshore birding trip this weekend, I think that I’ll go to the Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve instead. That’s a good spot to find migrating songbirds, even migrating waterfowl, along with early season wildflowers. Besides, I just did the lakeshore thing last weekend. Good weather is here, it’s time to get out all over the place again!
More good news, the replacement 300 mm prime lens was shipped yesterday, I should have it in time for the weekend! That played a part in my changing my mind as to where to go. Pickerel Lake will be a good place to test the new lens out.
More than anything, I just want to get out in the woods and enjoy this spring! Spring has always been my favorite time of the year, and after the winter that we just went through, I’m enjoying this spring even more than usual! In fact, it’s time for me to get moving, get out there, and enjoy the heck out of today!
I’m back, and I sure did enjoy my time outside today, I hated to come home. But, there are things that I have to attend to so that I’ll have more time this weekend, and also to start preparing for my vacation, which starts in 30 days.
With a layer of high clouds diffusing the sunlight, today would have been a good day to re-shoot the crocus with the macro lens, but the strong wind today would have left me frustrated. It’s been so dry, and the wind was so strong, that it was blowing up dust devils, there’s always tomorrow for the macros.
Okay, for my photos, the goldfinches are getting their summer plumage.
And, I saw a small patch of crocus in the woods, this was shot with the Beast, just because this photo says spring to me.
A Cooper’s hawk circled me a couple of times, for the first photo, I turned the OS off but used my normal exposure settings.
While it circled away from me, I changed to my saved bird in flight exposure settings for this one.
This red-winged blackbird didn’t seem to mind the hawk overhead.
In the wooded part of the park, I spotted my first hermit thrush of the year. In a rare occurrence, the Beast failed to get a focus lock on the bird, so I had to focus manually, and I missed too.
I suppose that I can’t blame the Beast for missing the focus, as when I saw the photo as shot, I had a hard time making out the thrush because it blended in so well with the background, and there were weeds in the foreground.
I had much better luck with the male yellow-bellied sapsucker.
Patience paid off when shooting the sapsucker, the first 20 or so photos of him today weren’t very good due to the lighting, but I hung in there until he worked his way to where he was in good light, and I had a fairly clear view of him.
Here’s the backside of a blue jay.
I’d rather get side or front views of most birds, but with the jays, you don’t get to see their beautiful plumage in those angles, you almost have to photograph them from the rear.
Then, there are the birds that you’re lucky to even capture in the viewfinder!
If only! If only the kinglet hadn’t turned its head as the shutter went, and if only the twig in the foreground hadn’t been there!
Just a few quick words this morning, it’s absolutely beautiful outside today, but I’m going to try to do my walk fairly quickly. The replacement 300 mm prime lens is due to be delivered today, and I’d like to be back before it arrives. The UPS truck usually goes through here just after noon, so I have to get a move on.
Well, I’m back, no new lens yet, but I’m sure that it will arrive soon.
It is such a beautiful day out there that I’m thinking about going back out to try a few more macro photos. I’m finding macro photography to be even trickier than I thought that it would be, but I’ll get to that later.
I’ve practiced on birds enough that I think that I’m getting fairly good at photographing them, and right now, I’m a bit obsessed with getting images of the birds while they are singing.
I watched two female cardinals in a territorial dispute as a male looked on, but the photos are junk, since the battle took place well back in the brush.
And, the winner was…
…I suppose the real winner was the male, but he didn’t want his photo taken.
It must be nice to have two females fighting over you! 😉
The huge flock of cedar waxwings is still around, but I didn’t spend much time trying for photos of them, just this one.
It wold have been quite easy for me to get a shot of one of the waxwings out in the open, but I liked the lighting of that photo.
I know that I posted too many chickadee photos earlier, but when one poses, how can I resist?
And finally, for wildlife that is, the reason for our long cold winter, this guy saw his shadow.
Okay, when I got back from my walk, I didn’t really want to come inside, and I also noticed some tiny flowers just outside the door to the building. So, I set the beast inside, grabbed my tripod and macro set-up, and tried a few photos.
Okay, all those were shot with the Tokina 100 mm macro lens with the Tamron 1.4 extender behind it because the white flowers were so tiny. The entire flower clusters were less than an inch across, and I had trouble seeing the individual flowers if I wasn’t looking through the camera viewfinder. I’m not used to composing photos of such small subjects, at least not without cropping to get what I want. I need more practice doing the composition knowing that I won’t be cropping, which none of these were.
Also, I’m finding that lighting is extremely tricky on very small subjects, what appear to be slight shadows turn out to be drastic ones in the images the camera captures.
Well, I could go on and on about what I need to learn, but it will come with practice, I’m sure. What it boils down to is that I need to be more precise in both composition and lighting.
I’d go out and get some more practice, but I have the camera batteries charging up for what I hope will be a great day tomorrow at Pickerel Lake!
I think that I’ll end this one now, as It is already quite long, and despite my trying to limit the number of photos, I’ve ended up with too many yet again.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!