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

I have the rest of my life, Part I

I still have quite a few photos saved from last week, a few of them will make it into this post as I go along.
But, this post will be a bit wordier than my past few posts, as I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my photos and my blogging.

However, before I get started down that long and winding path, I have a few updates.

The small woodlot that used to stand at the corner of the apartment complex where I live has been totally cleared of trees except for a few around the edges of the property, darn.

Just this past week, the owners of the vacant parcel of land that borders Creekside Park on the east have started clearing that parcel, but not totally clear. I’m not sure what they are planning on doing, it looks like they are planning on putting a small subdivision in there, with just a few homes. I can’t say that I’m pleased about that, but since I couldn’t afford to purchase the land, I have no say in what happens. If they leave what remains uncut the way it is now, it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on the wildlife around the park.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that my knees were bothering me a good deal before I went on vacation. Well, I was on my feet for most of the sunlight hours everyday while I was on vacation. My knees healed up, the pain and the limp that I had developed went away. A few weeks back at work, the pain is returning, as is the limp. Time for a new job!

I have wanted an ultra-wide lens for a while, I had discussed a few, and I believe that I had settled on the Sigma 10-22 mm lens if I remember correctly. That’s all out the window. Canon has introduced a new 10-18 mm lens for crop sensor cameras, which my 60 D bodies are.

When I saw that, I added that lens to the list of possibilities, but then I learned that it would be an all plastic lens, including the lens mount. I had almost crossed that lens off my list when I heard about the plastic mount. But, I also took into consideration what size filters all the lenses on my list took, because filters can add up to quite a bit of money.

I could prattle on about that, but I won’t. The reviews have started coming in on the new Canon, and they are all pretty much the same. Yes, it is an all plastic lens, to keep the price and weight down, but optically, it is the best ultra-wide lens ever built for crop sensor bodies. It also takes 67 mm filters, the same as the 70-200 mm L series lens that I already own takes. I already have a 67 mm polarizing filter, so that saves me a few bucks there. Since any other filters, such as neutral density filters, will fit both the 10-18 mm and 70-200 mm lenses, I’ll save a few bucks there.

The plastic mount still bothers me a little, but I have to be realistic, it’s not as if I’m changing lenses all the time, and I’m pretty easy on my equipment, so the plastic mount shouldn’t be a problem. Especially since the new Canon lens is only three hundred dollars,ย 33% less than the Sigma I had been looking at and half the price of the Canon 10-22 mm lens I had also been looking at.

I shouldn’t buy another lens at this time, I still haven’t learned how to get the best out of the lenses that I already own, and that’s especially true of the Tokina macro lens.

When I purchased the macro lens, I had big plans to spend a lot of time using it this summer, learning how to do macro photography, and getting good photos of the miniature world around us. What I didn’t know then was how much the improvement in my other types of photography was going to affect me.

I have hundreds of images of cardinals saved on my computer, but none of them come close to these as far as image quality.

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

It’s not just those two that have me looking at my photos in an entirely new way.

Juvenile Baltimore oriole

Juvenile Baltimore oriole

Juvenile Baltimore oriole

Juvenile Baltimore oriole

Female red-winged blackbird

Female red-winged blackbird

Female red-winged blackbird

Female red-winged blackbird

Nor is it only the photos of birds.

St. John's wort

St. John’s wort

Fly

Fly

Bee on unidentified

Bee on unidentified

Bee on unidentified

Bee on unidentified

Butterfly

Butterfly

Moth mullein

Moth mullein

Red sweet pea

Red sweet pea

White sweet pea

White sweet pea

sweet pea

sweet pea

There’s a part of me that would like to change the direction of my blog to where I only post the very best of my photos.

However, some of my favorite images continue to be those of wildlife engaged in every day activities that most people never get a chance to see. Judging from the comments to my blog, they are the reader’s favorites as well, like the woodchuck and porcupine in trees, the muddy red squirrel, and so on.

While I would love it if I could get perfect photos every time that I pressed the shutter release, I haven’t gotten that good yet. As luck would have it, I just happen to have a few examples birds in action, but my photos of them aren’t that great. ๐Ÿ˜‰

To start with, a young female turkey that had been dusting itself in the main part of the park. She decided that the other people in the park were too close to her, but she didn’t seem to mind me being even closer. I have photos of her dusting where I first saw her, then of her walking towards me, but I’ll leave those out, and post just these. She found the horseshoe pits in the park just perfect for dusting.

Turkey dusting itself

Turkey dusting itself

Turkey dusting itself

Turkey dusting itself

Turkey dusting itself

Turkey dusting itself

Turkey dusting itself

Turkey dusting itself

By the way, it is believed that bird dust themselves like that to rid their feathers of parasites, such as feather mites. Some birds bathe in water, others use dust, some use both.

Then there are these two photos, first, of a female red-winged blackbird shaking herself dry in the rain, then a close up of her showing the water drops still in her feathers on the top of her head. (You may have to click on the photo in order to make out the water drops in her crown)

Female red-winged blackbird in the rain

Female red-winged blackbird in the rain

Female red-winged blackbird in the rain

Female red-winged blackbird in the rain

Speaking of red-winged blackbirds, here’s a few of them chasing a red-tailed hawk.

Red-winged blackbirds attacking a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbirds attacking a red-tailed hawk

I was trying out some new exposure settings for flying birds that day, and I was so intent on the exposure that I forgot to turn the Image Stabilization of the lens to the action mode, so there’s some “ghosting” present in these images from the IS fighting the movement of the camera as I followed the action. And, it isn’t as if this is the first time that I’ve posted photos of red-winged blackbirds attacking a red-tailed hawk, so, then my decision is how many should I post, and should I show the entire flock of blackbirds….

Red-winged blackbirds attacking a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbirds attacking a red-tailed hawk

…or crop in on Bertha, the red-tailed hawk, as she keeps an eye on the blackbirds?

Red-winged blackbirds attacking a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbirds attacking a red-tailed hawk

Or, go for a shot of one of the blackbirds doing a little hawk surfing?

Red-winged blackbird attacking a red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbird attacking a red-tailed hawk

More decisions on what to post. I spotted a young robin just starting to get its adult feathers, and thought that I should get a photo.

Juvenile American robin

Juvenile American robin

The photo isn’t that great, but as I stood there shooting that photo, I heard a ruckus just a short distance from me as a Cooper’s hawk made a pass at an adult robin. The hawk missed, but I didn’t.

Cooper's hawk in flight

Cooper’s hawk in flight

So, the question is, should I post either or both of the photos. I have many images of Cooper’s hawks, many of them better than the one above, but I was able to watch the robin elude the hawk, even if I didn’t get both birds in the frame.

Here’s more bad photos that I question whether I should post them or not. This time, it’s an adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young. Maybe I’m reading too much into the photos, but I imagine that the conversation between the adult and juvenile bird went something like this.

Dad: “Here’s your lunch son.”

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Son: “Feed me!”

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Dad: “Here you go son”

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Son: “Beetles again? I wanted a nice juicy inchworm!”

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Dad: “I worked my butt off to find you this beetle, you’re going to eat it and like it, even if I have to shove it down your throat!”

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Son: “Well, I’ll eat it, but it doesn’t have to mean that I’ll like it.”

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak feeding one of its young

I would have loved to have captured that series on a day with good lighting, but it didn’t happen that way.

Iย tell myself that I have the rest of my life to shoot good photos of nearly every subject eventually, so there’s no need to post these now. I could wait until I get better photos, and stick to the better quality images, like these.

 

Spiny leaved sow thistle

Spiny leaved sow thistle

Crown vetch

Crown vetch

Peony

Peony

Catalpa

Catalpa

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

I also have the rest of my life to get even better images than these last few, so where should I draw the line?

If you had told me a year ago that I would still be seeing marked improvements in my photos to the degree that I see, I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but it seems like I’m seeing more improvement this summer with every passing day than last summer.

If I wait for the perfect photo, or as close to perfect as the first two cardinal photos in this post are, then I wouldn’t be posting very often. My posts would also become a lot shorter than this one has become. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I still have close to 90 photos left over even after all the photos that I have in this post. While I can easily weed that down to around 50, I really don’t want to post daily as I have been for the most part up until this week. But, I save too many photos to post weekly, the posts grow too long if I post once a week.

I thought about resurrecting a dormant blog that I have to post just my very best photos to, but I’m not sure that it is a good idea to do so either. I would still be posting almost as often between the two blogs, so what difference would it make other than that my photos would be spread out over two blogs rather than one.

I considered adding a poll to this post to ask all of you what you would prefer to see here, just the best of the best, or wildlife in action, but I have a fair idea of what the results of the poll would be, and each of you would have a different opinion as to what your favorite photos from this post would be.

So, I guess I’ll wrap this one up and continue my thoughts in a second post on this subject.

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

 

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31 responses

  1. So sorry your knee and limp problems have returned, I do hope you can have something done, or find a new job! Lovely pictures especially the birds at the beginning of the blog, so colourful.

    June 20, 2014 at 10:57 am

    • Thank you Susan!

      June 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm

  2. Hurting knees are no fun. Hope you find something that works. Personally I prefer posts on the shorter side as I don’t always have time to read the long ones and then I feel guilty only having time to skim… just my 2 cents ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 20, 2014 at 11:08 am

    • Thanks Ingrid!

      June 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm

  3. Come on, Jerry, you can’t just post the very best of the best of your photos – you’ll make bloggers like me look bad! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I thought those two first photos of the cardinal were exquisite, as were the flower photos. I have really enjoyed watching your photography change and improve in the time I have been following you. And your improvement has helped me, as well. You know me, I enjoy it all – the artistic photos and the as-they-are wildlife photos. I like how I always learn something new from your posts. (And by the way, I thought your father and son dialogue was great!)

    Sorry about the knee pain – chronic pain stinks! Hope you can get relief (or a new job) soon!

    June 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    • Thanks Amy! I have sort of decided to post several times a week, but I still would rather not post daily. That way, I’ll be able to include a little of everything without the posts becoming too long.

      June 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      • I respect those that blog daily, it takes a lot of time, discipline and commitment to do that. But that doesn’t fit everyone’s schedule. I try to do daily when we are up north and I have more to show and tell, but otherwise I don’t have a lot to blog about. For followers, sometimes it’s easier to keep up with blogs that post several days a week instead of daily. You have to do what works best for you and your schedule.

        June 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      • Thanks Amy! I guess that I’ll go with the flow, and post when I have photos worth sharing.

        June 21, 2014 at 9:58 am

  4. I usually try to do more of what readers seem to respond to, but that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. If I get stuck I try to fall back on the original mix for a while. Never could I do daily posts unless that was all I did.
    I think the shots of the cardinal are excellent, and the so are the flowers. I’m not sure what those purple ones are.
    Take care of those knees!

    June 20, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    • Thanks Allen! Each person who comments to my blog regularly seems to have their own favorites from among my photos. That’s what I get for photographing such a wide variety of subjects. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      June 21, 2014 at 10:00 am

  5. It’s your blog. Do what you want. Lots of fantastic pictures today.

    June 20, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    • Thanks Tom. We do similar type blogs, and there are times when I feel like I’m copying yours, but it just the way that things work out at times.

      June 21, 2014 at 10:02 am

      • You do a bot more than just looking out of the kitchen window. I admire your get up and go spirit and your willingness to learn too.

        I just hope that your knees are up to the job too.

        June 21, 2014 at 3:34 pm

  6. A lot going on in this post! First of all, wishing you better days with your knees! Not fun when you want to be out & about taking pix & enjoying nature! Very sorry to hear about the losing the natural space near your apt. I realize you don’t have a say in the matter but it probably still feels like a loss to you & the birds (etc). Love the pix in this post, esp the turkey and hawk chase shots. You have a real eye for action and enough patience/timing to pull off those pix that capture the life of the wild. Thx for sharing!!!

    June 21, 2014 at 1:36 am

    • Thank you Lori! I am lucky in that wildlife doesn’t seem to mind my being close to them to photograph them as they go about their daily business.

      June 21, 2014 at 10:04 am

      • Lucky indeed!

        June 22, 2014 at 5:21 am

  7. Lots of good photos again. I have looked through trying to decide which are my favourites and couldn’t – they are all my favourites! I think with a decision like the one you want to make only time will tell. Eventually the right answer will come to you so don’t worry yourself about it. The dormant blog could be used to put the best of the best in and you would only do that every now and then. I would love to post on my blog every day and I have lots of things to talk about and bore my readers with but I don’t have enough time in the day. Putting too much pressure on yourself spoils something which should be a pleasure and a relaxing pastime. I do hope your knees get better soon. Regular gentle exercise is the thing but this isn’t easy when you work.

    June 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm

  8. Sorry to hear about the knee problems. Dealing with chronic pain is certainly no fun. As for posting… I agree with a previous comment that it’s your blog and you get to decide. I find that my biggest problem is that blogging can so easily take over real life. Just trying to catch up on reading (especially longer posts like yours) can get to be a problem. I just came back from a short trip and have a long list of posts to look at. I fall behind and am tempted to delete the lot that sits there waiting for me. Even my own posts are becoming more sporadic lately. I find it pretty hard to find the right balance.

    June 21, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    • Thanks! I would rather not post as often as I do, and I know that my posts should be shorter, but trying to cut back seems to be getting harder.

      June 22, 2014 at 12:52 am

  9. I’ve been thinking about this post all week, trying to formulate an intelligent response to your thoughts about the direction you should take your blog. I’ve got an idea of how much time you must spend writing and editing each week, and it must be a significant chunk of your available time. It’s easy to understand why you might be thinking about streamlining a bit

    But, I would really miss the very stuff you would probably cut out, should you do so. One of my favorite aspects of the blog is how you have captured animal and bird behavior. I LOVE the series of photos such as the turkey taking a dust bath. Many of us would never see this in action, and it pains me to think that you might publish just one of these photos instead of the series. Or, the sky fights between rw blackbirds and hawks. I want to see each one, and love your captions.

    You have such a good eye, and see all the stuff out there that escapes me. Spring has unfolded to me in your plant photos – I enjoy them every bit as much as the bird photos.

    As a non-photographer, I don’t have the equipment concerns you do, but I do enjoy reading your technical discussions, and especially the ones where you’re trying to talk yourself in or out of some new piece of gear. Kind of like me and bicycle stuff! We all have our poisons.

    If you need to streamline because you’re just getting tired of the blog, then do so. But, please don’t make cuts on our (your readers) behalf. Like me, I’ll bet that most are pretty happy with what you’re dishing up.

    Whew – my 2 cents! Thanks, Jerry.

    June 22, 2014 at 7:09 am

    • Thank you for a very thoughtful response! I’ll keep blogging the way that I have, and hopefully, increase the quality of all my photos so there will be no need for me to debate whether or not to insert an action shot(s) or not. There are plenty of great nature photographers out there, what has always made my blog mine is catching wildlife in action.

      June 22, 2014 at 6:53 pm

  10. Sorry to hear about the knee problems- it may help to figure out what is causing that at work and doing things differently ergonomically. Every once in a while I find my computer habits give me a pain somewhere that I make go away by doing things differently.

    Great photos of the Grosbeak youngster being fed- I’ve never seen that!

    Your photos keep getting better and better. I wrestle all the time with figuring out what to post. I used to post every 3 days with all sorts of stuff, but I decided that was a bit much with all the other things I do so I now post once a week, being more choosy about what I post. I have dozens of ideas for future posts (specific parks, birds, flowers, trees etc.) and it always seems that something unplanned comes up to post about (like baby birds recently!)

    I’d vote- post what you want to post. Don’t feel you have to keep doing this or that just because you’ve been doing it that way for a long time. Sometimes varying it up gives you a fresh perspective on things and breathes new life into your posting.

    June 22, 2014 at 7:53 am

    • Thank you! You’ve been following my blog for a long time, so you’ve seen the improvement in my photos. I doubt if I would post an image of the quality that I used to post all too often with my old camera gear, it would have to be something pretty special. I have decided that there are enough great nature photographers out there to satisfy those who crave the highest quality to look at. I’ll stick to what I do best, catching wildlife in action.

      June 22, 2014 at 7:00 pm

  11. I think that it all depends on how you see yourself. An artist i.e. a photographer or a nature lover. I post some rubbish photos but people still like them. I just get enthusiastic about stuff and want to share it. I think that a lot of it comes down to kit. I only have a bridge camera and at 58 and unemployed I don’t really see me being able to upgrade in the future, plus whatever I get there will always be people with much better kit. I see some really good blogs and I know that I can’t compete in that field. You can be too good for your own good. I have just recently found an excellent blog with the best wild life pictures that I have ever seen and I really want to share it with my readers but is it really wise to show my readers what proper photography looks like? Well, I am sure most of them already know but I probably shouldn’t go out of my way to draw attention to my own shortcomings. Your pictures are excellent but it is your love of nature that comes across most for me.

    June 22, 2014 at 9:16 am

    • Thank you very much for the thoughtful response and kind words! I can’t compete with the best of the best wildlife photographers either, so I’ll keep plugging away, doing what I have been doing, trying to spread my love of nature through my photos.

      June 22, 2014 at 7:03 pm

  12. bummer about the knee, amazing photos as always.

    June 22, 2014 at 9:25 am

    • Thank you very much!

      June 22, 2014 at 7:03 pm

  13. I like the sense of balance you are achieving with this post. The first series are among your best that I can recall, and yet the rest are right up there for different reasons of their own. The turkey dusting is outstanding, I’ve never seen a turkey doing that. Smaller birds yes, but nothing that large. Keem ’em coming.

    June 22, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    • Thank you! It’s getting harder for me to choose photos, as a higher percentage of them are coming out well enough to use in my blog.

      June 22, 2014 at 9:39 pm

      • You’re welcome. That’s a good problem to have, no?

        June 23, 2014 at 11:26 am

      • Well, yes and no, but I’ll figure it out.

        June 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm