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

From two days in the Muskegon area, Part II

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.

This picks up where my last post ended, towards the end of the first day in Muskegon, my last stop of the day was the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.

I had been growing more frustrated with the new 300 mm L series lens all day. It was too slow to auto-focus, it wouldn’t auto-focus at all far too often, so when I got to the nature preserve, I removed the Tamron extender and shot these photos.

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Female palm warbler

Female palm warbler

Female palm warbler looking rather demure

Female palm warbler looking rather demure

Blue-headed vireo

Blue-headed vireo

Female Baltimore oriole

Female Baltimore oriole

Female Baltimore oriole

Female Baltimore oriole

White-crowned sparrow

White-crowned sparrow

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

Lincoln's sparrow

Lincoln’s sparrow

Common grackle

Common grackle

The bad thing about a day of birding like that day is that I didn’t know how “soft” many of the photos from earlier were. When I went through the nearly 400 photos that I shot on this day in total, I was even more frustrated with the new lens.

So, a few days later, when I returned to the Muskegon area, I took old reliable, otherwise known as the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) and started the day using it.

In good light, the Beast is no slouch when it comes to getting excellent images! There’s very little difference between what it can produce, and what the 300 mm prime lens can produce, as you can see here.

Female tree swallow

Female tree swallow

It’s under less than ideal conditions that the better quality of the 300 mm L series lens begins to assert itself. But, on this day, poor lighting wasn’t an issue, so here are the rest of the photos that I shot with the Beast.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great crested flycatcher

Great crested flycatcher

Female rose-breasted grosbeak

Female rose-breasted grosbeak

Great crested flycatcher

Great crested flycatcher

There weren’t very many species of birds around to photograph, my timing was off that day, as I arrived at mid-morning when the birds were taking their siesta.

In a pinch, the Beast also works for landscapes.

Early summer

Early summer

And finally from the Beast, a woodchuck trying to help me out by pretending to be a bird, since I hadn’t seen many.

Woodchuck

Woodchuck

This was the day when as I was walking back to my vehicle at Lane’s Landing, that I decided to bite the bullet, and switch the settings of the camera body that I had only used for landscapes and macros up until then, and to use that body with the 300 mm lens and Tamron extender for birds at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve. The difference was amazing, right off the bat.

Not only was the auto-focus faster and more accurate, the second body came up with slightly different exposure settings for the lens/extender combo than the first body did.

If you remember, for a few days, I thought that the problem with the 300 mm lens was an exposure problem, as the first body came up with different exposures for that lens than it does when I use the Beast. It wasn’t, well, I suppose that’s a symptom of the overall problem, which is that the first 60 D body that I bought simply does not work well with either of the L series lenses that I own.

Anyway, here are the photos, although I didn’t find as many birds as I had hoped for.

Turtle

Turtle

Common yellowthroat singing

Common yellowthroat singing

Common yellowthroat really singing

Common yellowthroat really singing

Male rose-breasted grosbeak

Male rose-breasted grosbeak

Mute swan

Mute swan

Whitetail buck

Whitetail buck

Whitetail buck

Whitetail buck

Yellow warbler, not cropped

Yellow warbler, not cropped

Willow fuzz

Willow fuzz

So, it may not be “right” that one body works well with the L series lenses, and the other body doesn’t, but I can live with that. I have since done more testing, and the 300 mm lens definitely works better on the second body.

I have also tried the Beast on the second body. I used that combo for one day, and for very few birds. I can see that when I was shooting flowers and insects that the auto-focus of the Beast missed by between two to three inches, focusing that much behind where I wanted it to focus. But, the Beast has never done well with close focusing, the margin of error that I saw was very close to what I had come to expect from it on the first body. But, I’ll have to shoot more birds before I can say for sure whether it will work well on the second body.

It really doesn’t matter that much any longer. It was only my stubborn streak that made me stick to having the bodies dedicated to just certain types of photos anyway. As I’ve had the Canon bodies for a little over a year now, I’ve gotten used to changing the settings all the time as my skills have improved, as well as my photos. I still have my basic walking around, shoot quickly settings, but I use those settings less all the time, I’m changing at least the exposure compensations for almost every photo. I automatically go to aperture mode for flowers and insects, to get more depth of field, for example.

So, if I have to use the Beast on the first body for birding, and the 300 mm lens on the second body, it’s no longer a big deal to me. As long as I have a second body along that I can set-up for landscapes or macros, it doesn’t matter which is which.

I think that you’ll see what I mean when I get to the photos that I’ve been shooting since this I shot the ones in this post. Here’s a teaser of what’s to come.

Turkey

Turkey

That just happened to be shot with the 300 mm lens, Tamron extender, on the second body. But, I’ve been getting many other really good photos the last two weeks as well, using almost of my gear, other than the 70-200 mm lens. I may even get that lens out one day this coming week. When I was planning my lens purchases, I thought that the 70-200 mm lens would be my least used lens, and that has held true.

Before I begin babbling like a brook, I’d better end this post. 😉

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

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23 responses

  1. The great blue heron was a splendid sight, thank you for the picture.

    June 7, 2014 at 11:20 am

    • Thank you Susan for taking the time to comment!

      June 7, 2014 at 4:51 pm

  2. It must be very frustrating–esp when carrying around a bunch of heavy gear–to have a piece of equipment fall short! But those telefoto pix of the warblers, esp the “coy” one (probably searching the sky for predators, mind!) So adorable! You really have a knack for capturing the animals’ personalities!!!

    June 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

    • Thank you Lori! I guess that critters feel safe around me, which is why they display their personality to me.

      June 7, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      • U may be right!!!

        June 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm

  3. Wonderful pics….I get frustrated with my 300mm lens as well. Thanks for the i.d. on one of my birds…it’s the Common Yellowthroat

    June 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    • Thanks, and you’re welcome. The common yellowthroats are easily found by following their singing.

      June 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm

  4. i love your work… every bird (and of course all the other living beings) you show become real stars !
    cheers,
    michel 🙂

    June 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    • Thank you Michel!

      June 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm

  5. clicking on the photo of the mute swan shows every single drop of the water, this is really great. so, i can highly recomment to take a look to the greater shown photography work.
    mi

    June 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    • Thanks again!

      June 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm

  6. The uncropped yellow warbler is good.

    June 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    • Thanks Tom!

      June 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm

  7. I think my favorite shot is of the yellow warbler. I just can’t see anything that would make it any better.
    I never knew that woodchucks could climb trees. I wonder when they learned that trick?
    I’ve gotten so I keep my camera on manual all the time now and manipulate the exposure settings as required. I’ve gotten so used to it that I do it without hardly thinking about it.

    June 7, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    • Thanks Allen! Woodchucks have always climbed trees, but most people don’t notice them. They can also sound like birds when they want.

      I haven’t tried full manual yet, maybe someday. I’m too busy changing metering modes, the ISO range, the self timer, mirror lock up and other things right now. 😉

      June 7, 2014 at 11:57 pm

  8. Who knew woodchucks climbed trees? Never have seen one other than scuttling across the ground. The variety of colors in the turkey in the photo was impressive – something I haven’t really seen in person. Thanks.

    June 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    • Thanks Judy! You have to pay more attention to what’s in the trees, woodchucks climb all the time to get to the leaves they want to eat.

      I wanted the turkey to turn so that I could get all its colors, but it wouldn’t cooperate.

      June 7, 2014 at 11:54 pm

  9. Oh heavens, I grew up a farm girl and never knew woodchucks climbed trees!!! That was a real hoot.

    I’m so glad you have figured out the problem with the new lens and are now getting the great images you wanted to with it! That has to be a huge relief to you, to have that mystery solved (well, at least somewhat, even if the “why” is never known – why better on one body than another). I could definitely see the differences in the top photos, then when you switched to the beast, and then the last photo of the turkey, so perhaps my eye is improving after following you all this time and learning from your skills!

    My favorite photo is the one with the buck looking straight at you through the tall grass, although many others are wonderful as per usual! 🙂

    June 8, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    • Thanks Amy! Most people don’t notice the things that I do, like woodchucks in trees. I think that they assume it’s just a squirrel.

      I think that I could send the lens and body in to Canon and that they would fine tune them to work together, but I shouldn’t have to. Besides, they charge for that service.

      June 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm

  10. The colours on the turkey are fabulous – each feather so clear too.

    June 8, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    • Thanks Clare!

      June 8, 2014 at 9:54 pm

  11. Nenkin Seikatsu

    Today I have learned something new: woodchucks can climb trees.
    Thank you.

    June 14, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    • Thank you Nenkin!

      June 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm