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

Jumping ahead, Lost Lake again

Even though I have photos from last week to use up, I’m going to jump ahead, and do a post on my day at Lost Lake in Muskegon State Park today. For one thing, I shot a series of photos of Atlantic Blue-eyed grass using three different lenses, and I want to put them in a post before I forget which images were shot with which lens.

Some of you may find so many photos of the same flower boring, but I’m doing this for any budding photographers who may read this, or for more experienced shutterbugs that may be considering what lens(es) to purchase. It was also a learning experience for me, so I’d like to document it.

I may as well start out with the lens test that I did, even though I did it in the middle of my day.

First, Canon 300 mm L series lens with Tamron 1.4 X tele-converter, at near the limit of how close it can focus. The image wasn’t cropped at all.

Atlantic blue-eyed grass at 420 mm

Atlantic blue-eyed grass at 420 mm

I forgot to shoot one to crop, so here’s a cropped photo from last week, taken with the same lens/extender combo.

Atlantic blue-eyed grass at 420 mm, cropped

Atlantic blue-eyed grass at 420 mm, cropped

Next up, my Canon 15-85 mm lens, as close as it will focus.

Atlantic blue-eyed grass at 85 mm, not cropped

Atlantic blue-eyed grass at 85 mm, not cropped

Sorry about the tripod leg being in the background, I was using the it to hold the stalk of the flower still in the wind, and I thought that it would be out of focus for a nice dark background. 😉

Here’s the cropped version from the 15-85 mm lens.

Atlantic blue-eyed grass at 85 mm, cropped

Atlantic blue-eyed grass at 85 mm, cropped

Finally, two from the Tokina 100 mm macro lens, neither of them cropped at all, I didn’t have to. I could have, and maybe should have, gotten much closer.

Atlantic blue-eyed grass, Tokina 100 mm macro lens

Atlantic blue-eyed grass, Tokina 100 mm macro lens

Atlantic blue-eyed grass, Tokina 100 mm macro lens

Atlantic blue-eyed grass, Tokina 100 mm macro lens

Because I reduce the quality of the images that I post here, you may not see how much of a difference that there is between the three lenses. The Tokina is the clear winner, followed by the 300 mm L series lens, with the 15-85 mm lens lagging slightly behind. That’s more or less what I had expected, but I had time to play, so it seemed like something worthwhile to try. If there was anything surprising about this test, it was how well that the 15-85 mm lens did compared to two lenses with the reputation for being extremely sharp for macro photos.

Even though I tried to use the tripod to hold the flower still, I think that it moved a little in the wind during the last photo. I was using the servo mode of auto-focus because of the wind, and the Tokina’s auto-focus is extremely slow, it may not have been able to keep up with the movement of the flower. That’s the nature of most macro lenses, because the focusing mechanism allows for very fine focus adjustments, they are very slow to auto-focus.

The images from the Tokina point out another problem that I have, the viewfinder of the 60 D body only shows 96% of what ends up in the image. I wanted the flower to almost completely fill the frame, but I mis-judged how much difference there is between what I see and what I get. But, that’s minor, I’ll learn as I go along how close to get to subjects to fill the frame the way I would like.

Anyway, the test showed me what I wanted to know, which was, how much closer the Tokina macro lens would allow me to get to a subject. Like I said before, I probably should have gone even closer, since I could have.

I am a little surprised, according to the specifications, the 15-85 mm lens will focus to 1.15 feet, the Tokina 100 mm focuses down to 11.8 inches, I didn’t think that there would be as much difference between the two lenses as there is. But, that’s measured from the focal plane, not the end of the lens.

Okay, with that out of the way, a few other photos.

Mute swan

Mute swan

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

The 300 mm L series lens has a reputation for being “soft” at longer distances, so I shot this heron and haven’t cropped the photo to test that out.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

It looks darned sharp to me when looking at the trees in the background. I would say that from 5 to 20 feet, there are few lenses that can match the sharpness of the 300 mm lens. It seems to go soft from 25 feet to around 75 feet, then, it stays sharp all the way out from 75 feet. And, soft is a relative term, most people would be very happy with the performance of the 300 mm lens. I am, but I can see its weaknesses, and to get the best photos, I have to find ways to work around those tendencies.

The Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) is a bit soft up close, it is at its sharpest from 20 to around 80 feet, then it gets a bit soft from there on. That’s what makes it such a good birding lens for me, it’s at its best at the range that I normally shoot at.

Along with testing lenses, I also did an eyesight test. I stopped by the eagle’s nest, even though I was fairly certain that any eaglets had fledged and left the nest by now. I didn’t see any eagles, but I did see a scarlet tanager hunting bugs in the eagle’s nest, see if you can spot him.

Male Scarlet tanager under an eagle's nest

Male Scarlet tanager under an eagle’s nest

I’ll crop an image down for you.

Male Scarlet tanager under an eagle's nest

Male Scarlet tanager under an eagle’s nest

The tanager’s mate was also there, but she stayed hidden most of the time, so I didn’t get a photo of her. But, it dawned on me that my eyes must be pretty good yet to watch such small birds at so great a distance, remember, the first photo was shot at 420 mm, and the second one was cropped to bring the tanager even closer.

That reminds me, I hadn’t stopped at the eagle’s nest at all this year as it was getting hard to view the nest because of other trees in the way. Some of the trees blocking the view of the nest came down this past winter, so now there’s a clear view of the nest. I’ll have to remember that next spring.

I shot a few photos of a song sparrow.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

Then, I went for a close up.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

The sparrow was not amused.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

I also got a red-eyed vireo, even though its red eye doesn’t show up in my photos.

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

A little later, the heron from the earlier photo came flying across the lake for these photos.

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron coming in for a landing

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

A few of the other things I saw.

Buttercup?

Buttercup?

Water lily

Water lily

Water lily

Water lily

Water lily

Water lily

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Some one spooked the heron again, sending it my way for a second time.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

And to wrap this up, a few photos of the wild iris growing around Lost Lake. I was busy fending off swarms of mosquitoes while I shot these, so I didn’t spend much time on composition, it was shoot and run.

Iris

Iris

Iris

Iris

Iris

Iris

I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t find any of the wild orchids blooming yet, but that gives me an excuse to go back again in a week or two.

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

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21 responses

  1. The song sparrow, the chipmunk and the wild iris were my favourite pictures though the blue heron in action was pretty good too.

    June 16, 2014 at 2:55 am

    • Thank you Susan!

      June 16, 2014 at 8:41 am

  2. The GBH shots were undoubtedly my favorites. But you have me wondering why the color is so different in your experiment between the 15085 and the Tokina? The Tokina has almost a grayish color caste to the purple.

    June 16, 2014 at 3:51 am

    • Thanks! This will sound like an excuse, but when I downsize and reduce the quality of the photos to be posted, the software seems to do more to any images shot with the Tokina lens than any of my others. I’m not sure why that would be, the images from the Tokina are much better in their original form. I guess that’s the same as one body working great with a lens, and the other body not working well at all with the same lens, just one of those things.

      June 16, 2014 at 8:47 am

  3. I loved the heron landing series of shots. I don’t think your buttercup is a buttercup – it looks more like the tormentil I have been photoing recently. Leaves look more like strawberry leaves so maybe a member of the potentilla family?

    June 16, 2014 at 4:26 am

    • Thanks Clare! It was late, and I was tired last night, and in too much of a hurry to get the post done.

      June 16, 2014 at 8:48 am

      • I quite understand. I am always staying up after midnight to finish posts. There are just not enough hours in the day!

        June 16, 2014 at 12:19 pm

  4. I think I like that first shot of the blue eyed grass best. I’m so used to being able to get within an inch or two with the Panasonic Lumix I use that 11.8 inches sounds like an awful lot. It’ll be interesting to see how the macro lens will do on things like slime molds.
    The yellow flower is a cinquefoil, possibly silver cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea). It’s called that because of the silvery look that the undersides of the leaves have.
    I think my favorite shots in this post are the water lilies.

    June 16, 2014 at 6:34 am

    • Thanks Allen!

      The 11.8 is from the focal plane, where the sensor is, the front of the lens was about 6 inches from the flower when using the Tokina lens. I know what you mean though, I have a Powershot that will get to within an inch or so of a subject.

      I’ve been meaning to shoot more things like slime molds and such, but I’m already posting almost everyday with flowers, insects, and birds. That’s the problem with so much new camera gear so quickly, I’m getting what I think are my best photos ever, especially the flowers, so I don’t have the time or blogging space to shoot everything that I would like to. But, as I run out of other subjects, I’ll get around to doing some serious macro photography. 😉

      I knew that the “buttercup” wasn’t a buttercup, but it was late, and I just threw a name at the photo to get the post done.

      June 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

  5. Those water lilies are awesome! I had to click on the eagle’s nest photo to see the tanager (I hadn’t scrolled far enough to see the cropped version when I did it, LOL). Funny that we were discussing the lack of herons recently and now you’ve had a couple of posts with heron photos in them. 🙂

    June 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    • Thank you Amy! I have seen a few herons lately, but it still seems like there’s a lot fewer of them this year.

      June 17, 2014 at 2:37 am

  6. I too like the water lilies best. It is not easy to get the light and exposure right to take pictures of white flowers and you have done a great job there.

    June 16, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    • Thanks Tom. I look for a lily that seems to glow from within, then keep going down on the exposure until I get it right.

      June 17, 2014 at 2:39 am

  7. Wow, that eagle’s nest is huge!!! (great seeing the little song bird for size comparison) PS, flower pics are not boring imho… 😉

    June 17, 2014 at 9:26 am

    • Thanks Lori! The eagles have been using that nest for years, and every spring, they add a little more to it.

      June 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      • It’s like a condo now!

        June 17, 2014 at 4:42 pm

  8. Enjoyed the photos. Thanks for sharing.

    June 18, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    • Thank you Kathy!

      June 19, 2014 at 12:57 am

  9. Great photos, too many to comment adequately! Looks like one of your GBH is in molt, as is one here. The water lily photos are wonderful and the scarlet tanager at the eagles’ nest fascinating. I also appreciated your lens comparison/tutorial.

    June 19, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    • Thanks! You know that I’m having a very slow day for the Muskegon area if I do lens testing there. 😉

      June 20, 2014 at 2:08 am

      • Yep, I hear you BUT I, for one, enjoy your tech tips. Keep ’em coming.

        June 20, 2014 at 9:12 am