From two days in the Muskegon area, Part I
While I was on vacation, I went to the Muskegon area for two days of birding. On the first day, my first stop was Lane’s Landing, then the State Game Area headquarters, next was the wastewater facility, then the Muskegon Lake Nature preserve.
Even though my thoughts about the new 300 mm prime lens are now moot, I’m going to include them in this post, as they were definitely on my mind at the time.
As I was driving back to the parking lot at Lane’s Landing, I noticed these Dame’s Rockets next to the road, so I set up my tripod and shot these with my Tokina 100 mm macro lens.
It would have been easier to have used the 300 mm prime lens for those images, and if I had, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference here in my blog. However, I would have had to crop any photos from that lens to get as close as I did with the Tokina, as these are full size, not cropped at all. If I were to print the photos, there would be a difference.
Anyway, I got back to the parking lot and started hiking along the dike at Lane’s Landing that splits a large marsh into two smaller marshes, and controls the water lever in the “upper” marsh. I was using the 300 mm prime lens and Tamron 1.4 X extender for these, more on that later. But for now, birds and a bee.
This female yellow warbler was bashful, and didn’t want her picture taken.
The 300 mm prime lens is great for birds in flight!
And when it auto-focuses correctly, it does very well with perched birds.
These next three are of a male yellow warbler letting the rest of the bird world that he’s the baddest warbler of all.
In my opinion, the photos are great because of the warbler’s actions, but the photos themselves are a bit soft, the 300 mm lens didn’t quite hit the mark when it focused.
But, that lens is great up close.
I think that this next one should have been sharper though.
This one is OK, it’s of a very pale male goldfinch, I’ve never seen one this pale before, they are usually bright yellow.
The 300 mm lens nailed the grosbeak!
My second stop was the State Game area headquarters, where there are several trails back through woods and fields along what used to be the Maple River. Back in the logging days, the Maple River was diverted to feed into the Muskegon River to provide more water to float logs down the river to the sawmills in Muskegon. What used to be the Maple River is now just a slough, or very long, narrow lake, depending on your point of view. There are plans to let the Maple flow freely again, but I don’t know when the work will begin on that project.
My frustrations with the 300 mm prime lens as far as its focusing continued to build on this stop. Here are the few images that I saved, as a good many that I shot were too out of focus to use.
I know that I already inserted photos of a male yellow warbler, but here’s a few more. This one was looking at the other males singing in the bushes next to where he was perched, first to his right….
…then to his left….
…and decided that he had better join in the chorus.
Here’s one of his competitors.
I was disappointed in the photos of the buntings, and many other birds that you won’t see in this post. And, I had to shoot twenty some photos of the blue-winged warbler to get a few to use in the My Photo Life List project that I’m working on. The more that I used the 300 mm prime lens, the more frustrated I became because of how poorly it focused on small birds in the brush.
My next stop was the wastewater facility, only because I had to drive past it to get to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve. I thought that the new prime lens would really work well on the larger birds there, not really. I had to manually focus for this photo.
I had no idea why the lens wouldn’t auto-focus on the gull, but it wouldn’t.
I also shot these waterfowl while I was at the wastewater facility.
When I got home and saw those last few photos, I was thoroughly bummed out. I was able to get sharper photos of a coot and canvasback (to name two species off the top of my head) using the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) with the extender and manually focusing than what the 300 mm prime lens had produced. The one sharp waterfowl photo that I got was this one.
That was shot within seconds of the photo of the male, they were just a few feet apart, yet you can see distinctly that the photo of the female is much sharper than the one of the male.
The photos of the waterfowl aren’t terrible, but they are the very best that I got of each species, some of the other photos were much worse.
Most of you have at least an inkling of where my troubles with the 300 mm lens were, so I won’t go on any more about it in this post, other than to say that while I was taking the photos on this trip, I was getting more frustrated all the time.
I’ll save the photos from the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, plus those from a second trip to Muskegon for the next post.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!