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

My Weekend, Feathers and Flowers

Sunday

It’s somewhat early on Sunday morning as I struggle to find something new to write here.

The replacement 300 mm prime telephoto lens arrived late Friday afternoon after I left for work. I was outside the door for the apartment office waiting for it to open yesterday so that I could get my hands on it. When I did, I went up to the Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve and wandered around until the weather got too bad for even me. It was a good thing that I went prepared, which surprised me, that didn’t use to be the case. I had a rain jacket and the dry bag with me to protect myself and my camera and lens respectively. That was even though the forecast had predicted that the rain would hold off until evening.

The day started sunny, but the clouds rolled in soon after I started my hike, and by mid-afternoon, there was a steady, moderate rain falling. I really wanted to stay out longer, but the rain drove all the critters to cover, so I packed it in. It turned out to be a good thing that I did, for just after I got back home, I saw news reports of severe thunderstorms rolling through the area that I had just left, complete with 85 MPH winds.

I should do a post on just yesterday, as most of the photos that I shot were excellent, if I do say so myself. However, even though the photos are great, they are of the same old same old for the most part. I may still do post on yesterday, but if I do, I’m going to disable the “Like” button on that post. In fact, I may well disable it from here on in.

I almost went on a rant about the drive-by “likers” but I deleted what I had begun. I’ll just say that you shouldn’t be surprised if you no longer see the “Like” button for anymore of my posts.

Anyway, there’s a front draped over the area, the same front that brought the rain and storms yesterday. Right here where I live, there have been occasional showers, but not very much rain all told. To the north, they are getting hammered by wave after wave of storms. To the south, just a few miles, it’s been much warmer, with no rain.

So, if I were to go somewhere today, my best bet would be to go south, but, as changeable as the weather is, I think that I’ll just wander around here today.

Now then, about the replacement lens, WOW!

I thought that the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) produced great photos, and it does. I thought that the first 300 mm prime lenses produced even better photos, and it did. But, the replacement lens does even better if you can believe that.

I’m loving the new lens already, as it’s great having a lighter, easier to manage lens than the Beast for longer hikes. And, the new lens goes from shooting photos of subjects as close as close to me as at my feet, to being a great long lens for subjects in the distance. But, I’ll save my raves for the new lens for later.

It does have its quirks, Up close, and off in the distance, it auto-focuses extremely well, but there’s a range in the middle where I found that I had to help it out a little at times. Not always, but once in a while. I’ll see if that continues as I use the lens more.

I know why the lens performs as it does, in their efforts to make a lens that focuses very quickly, the engineers at Canon designed the lens so that very little movement of the focusing mechanism is required to make large differences in the focus of the lens. In simple terms, the focusing is fast, but touchy. If it’s off just a bit, it shows as being way off in any photos that you take.

So, I either tweak the focus manually, or force the camera into the servo mode of focusing, and I get sharp images, really sharp images!

Well, enough of that for now, I think that it’s time to eat breakfast, and then head on out for the day to see what I can find around here.

Once again, I found too much! I’m trying to be ruthless as far as deleting photos and not posting all of them that I shoot, but that’s getting harder everyday. I’ve been through the photos that I shot the last two days numerous times, and I still have way too many left, 80 to be precise. Some are of common subjects, but I can’t bring myself to delete them, as they either demonstrate how sharp the new lens is, or they are of those subjects engaged in interesting behavior.

Part of the reason for that is the new lens, I’m blown away by how well it does even under really bad lighting. I’ve also been pushing it to see just what I can get away with as far as critters partially hidden, as well as flying birds, and other things. All I can say is that I can no longer blame my equipment for crummy photos.

The new 300 mm prime may not be quite as good as the Beast is at getting birds trying to hide, but it’s close. And, what a one-two punch these two lenses make! The Beast is solid and dependable, it always gets the bird, the new lens may miss one now and then, but the images it produces makes up for any missed shots, at least so far.

So, where do I start, since I haven’t posted any photos of one of these for a while, I suppose this is a good place to start, a muskrat bringing fresh grass to its den.

Muskrat

Muskrat

Then, how about a female mallard that I rudely awakened.

Female mallard

Female mallard

I don’t know what it is about robins, they position themselves in some awkward positions for no reason that I can fathom.

American robin doing weird things

American robin doing weird things

Then, a couple of signs that spring is here.

Spring

Spring

Crocus

Crocus

Some one asked me about getting close to turkeys, this is how close I get, as this photo wasn’t cropped at all.

Turkey

Turkey

The next two are part of the “torture” test for the new lens.

Immature red-winged blackbird and pussy willows

Immature red-winged blackbird and pussy willows

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

Next, the flying mallard test.

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

The bird in the bush test.

Female American goldfinch preening

Female American goldfinch preening

The bird ID test. πŸ˜‰

Yellow-rumped warbler, rear view

Yellow-rumped warbler, rear view

Yellow-rumped warbler, front view

Yellow-rumped warbler, front view

I know that I’ve posted many chickadees lately, but here’s one tunneling into a fence post to make a nesting spot.

Black-capped chickadee excavating a nesting place

Black-capped chickadee excavating a nesting place

Black-capped chickadee excavating a nesting place

Black-capped chickadee excavating a nesting place

Black-capped chickadee excavating a nesting place

Black-capped chickadee excavating a nesting place

I thought that chickadees used old woodpecker holes, but this one was chewing its way into the fence post as you can see from the debris.

How can I do a lens test and not shoot a photo of Fred the friendly fox squirrel?

Fred the friendly fox squirrel

Fred the friendly fox squirrel

The female yellow-bellied sapsucker has arrived.

Female yellow-bellied sapsucker

Female yellow-bellied sapsucker

As have the white-throated sparrows….

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

…and the field sparrows.

Field sparrow

Field sparrow

Field sparrow

Field sparrow

I was able to sneak up on this warbler, it took it a second to realize how close I was.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler taking flight

Yellow-rumped warbler taking flight

I don’t know if this is a lichen or a fungus, but it was interesting.

Lichen or fungus?

Lichen or fungus?

No day would be complete without a waxwing.

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

But, it was a sparrow kind of day.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

Chipping sparrow looking for its mate

Chipping sparrow looking for its mate

Who soon joined the first one on the ground.

IMG_1460

Chipping sparrow

Not only is the new lens sharp, I love the color I get with it!

Crocus

Crocus

Crocus

Crocus

Back to birds for a while.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

Bruiser, the male red-tailed hawk did a fly by so I could test the new lens.

Male red-tailed hawk in flight

Male red-tailed hawk in flight

Male red-tailed hawk in flight

Male red-tailed hawk in flight

Male red-tailed hawk in flight

Male red-tailed hawk in flight

Which caused this red squirrel to remain hidden.

Red squirrel hiding

Red squirrel hiding

Red squirrel hiding

Red squirrel hiding

Those of you who don’t care for snakes may want to look away.

Garter snake

Garter snake

Garter snake

Garter snake

Garter snake

Garter snake

I was tempted to put that last one in the slideshow that runs at the top of the post, but I was afraid that it would scare a few people off. πŸ˜‰

With some sun, I was able to play with my exposure settings for turkeys, since they are a difficult bird to photograph well.

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

I should have removed the extender from behind the lens for those last three so that I could have gotten the entire turkey in the frame. πŸ˜‰

And, to wrap this up, a couple of more flowers.

daffodil

daffodil

Maple flowers

Maple flowers

Sorry for so many, but I shot over 200 today just playing in the park that I walk everyday. But, with four first of the year species of birds, the first flowers of spring, and everything else on top of testing the new lens, and I just couldn’t stop myself.

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

Advertisements

24 responses

  1. Great shots! I particularly liked the Yellow-rumped warbler series. The 300 mm seems to be working well. Perhaps you’ve mentioned it before but I’m assuming you’re using a 2x extender with the lens.

    April 14, 2014 at 9:25 am

    • Thanks! I’m using a Tamron 1.4X extender with the 300 mm lens, I’ve read that there is too much drop off in the quality of photos with a 2 X extender. Besides, 420 mm is long enough for my daily walks, 600 mm would be too long!

      April 14, 2014 at 9:31 am

  2. It passed the flying mallard test with, er, flying colors! πŸ™‚ And you’re right, no day would be complete without a waxwing pic. Or that warbler!

    April 14, 2014 at 9:36 am

    • Thanks Lori! I’m about to head out to try to top those today.

      April 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

  3. Wow -nice lens and already such wonderful results. Love them all, but mostly “Fred”. How do I stop the like button?

    April 14, 2014 at 10:14 am

    • Thank you, I’ll let Fred know how much you enjoyed his photo the next time I see him.

      If you look in the WordPress menu under settings/sharing, you can turn the “Like” button on or off, but it won’t stop those who are determined to like a blog, how, I don’t know.

      April 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm

  4. Awesome pics, so fun to look through

    April 14, 2014 at 10:37 am

    • Thank you!

      April 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm

  5. “American robin doing weird things” made me laugh πŸ™‚

    April 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    • Thank you! Hopefully this summer I’ll get photos of the robins anting, when they really go crazy!

      April 15, 2014 at 2:50 am

  6. Money well spent.

    April 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    • Thanks Tom!

      April 15, 2014 at 2:51 am

  7. You’ve almost convinced me to give up my Canon Powershot SX40 HS and go back to a DLSR. My favorites are the snake, the flying mallard and Fred. The thing you’re not sure of is a fungus, but I’m not sure which one. And who needs a macro lens?
    I wouldn’t be too hard on the likers. I sometimes click the like button without leaving a comment because I honestly can’t think of anything to say but I still want to show my appreciation for the post.

    April 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    • Thanks Allen! The SX 40 is a great camera, but I have to say that I love my DSLR, with good lenses of course. The new lens does do macro photos quite well, except that having to be so far away from subjects sometimes makes getting a good composition impossible. Thanks for confirming that the white disk is a fungus, I thought so, but wasn’t sure.

      April 15, 2014 at 2:59 am

  8. Can’t figure what you don’t like about the ‘like’ button. It provides the list of blogs I ‘like’ over at my blog, for anyone interested in checking out the folks I like and follow. So, I ignore the drive-bys… what’s the big deal?

    April 14, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    • Thanks for the input, I’ll explain in a post so that I don’t have to type the same reply to several of the comments here.

      April 15, 2014 at 3:00 am

  9. Good pictures and the chickadee chewing it’s way through that post fascinated me.

    April 14, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    • Thank you! I looked for the chickadee today, it wasn’t there. The post it was chewing into is very close to the park entrance, maybe it decided that there was too much human and dog traffic to finish that nest in that spot.

      April 15, 2014 at 3:02 am

  10. Wow! You’ve been having a lot of great days! Based on what I’m seeing from this new lens, I think you may have found your new best friend. Very nice!

    April 14, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    • Thanks Jan! Hopefully, one of these days you’ll have the same lens, it would be great for you!

      April 15, 2014 at 3:07 am

  11. Those up-close snake photos were pretty awesome! I like snakes well enough as long as they are in their proper place – outside! LOL One day we had a garter snake get into our heat ductwork (how is still a mystery!) and we looked up in the living room to see it hanging out of the ceiling vent. That was pretty creepy! πŸ˜€ I’m glad you are enjoying your new toy. I’ll bake a cake in your honor using my new toy. Haha

    April 16, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    • Thanks Amy, I feel the same way about snakes, they belong outdoors. I’m loving the new lens, probably as much as you’re enjoying the new Kitchenaid mixer.

      April 17, 2014 at 2:21 am

  12. Beautiful photos! Love the turkey picture the best out of all of them πŸ™‚

    April 16, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    • Thanks Michael, hopefully the turkeys will stick around now that they’re back.

      April 17, 2014 at 2:22 am