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

Pounding them out

I hate to brag, but I’ve been getting some of the very best photos of my life the past two weeks. Most of that is due to my equipment, and that I’m getting a handle on how to use it. It’s not that every photo from the past few weeks are great, but I’m getting at least a couple of very good images that I am very proud of each day.

I’ve talked a lot about the new 300 mm L series prime lens, but the real gem in my kit is turning out to be something that I didn’t intend to purchase, the Tamron 1.4 X tele-converter. While researching macro lenses, several constants turned up, one being that longer is better as far as focal lengths. That allows one to stay farther away from a subject such as an insect, without scaring it away.

I chose the Tokina 100 mm macro lens as it was relatively inexpensive for the image quality that it produces. The only knock on that lens in reviews was that it was too short, but you could overcome that by adding a tele-converter behind it. That led me to the Tamron extender, as it too is relatively inexpensive, and it functions correctly with all my lenses, both optically and electronically.

Seeing how good the Tamron extender is optically behind either the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) and the Tokina macro lens is what influenced my decision to purchase the 300 mm prime over a 400 mm prime. It was a wise decision in my opinion.

Fly

Fly

Fly

Fly

Yeah, I know, it’s only a fly, but it gives you an idea of what it’s like to have a 420 mm macro lens that can also turn out photos like these.

Barn swallow

Barn swallow

Barn swallow in flight

Barn swallow in flight

One of these days, I’m going to have to use just the prime lens without the Tamron extender and see what it can do on small birds in flight. I lucked out with the barn swallow, usually, neither I nor the auto-focus of the prime lens are fast enough to follow smaller birds as they fly. I can’t keep the birds in the viewfinder as close as 420 mm gets me, and the extender does slow down the auto-focus to the point where it can’t track the smaller birds as quickly as they move.

Anyway, changing the subject, here’s a few turkeys from this past week.

Tom turkey

Tom turkey

Tom turkeys

Tom turkeys

And for Allen, who asked where the females were when I posted images of the males, here are the females.

Hen turkeys

Hen turkeys

I think that I have also figured out why the turkeys favor that area. We had a very rainy week here, and it rained overnight several times. If you’ve ever seen a turkey in the rain, you’d see that their feathers soak up water far more than the feathers of other species of birds do. Every time I saw the turkeys in that open area, it was just after rain had stopped. I believe that the turkeys come out into the open like that to dry off, if they stayed back in the weeds and brush as they normally do, their feathers would soaking up the water drops that remained on the vegetation. At least that’s my theory for now, as it is rare to see the turkeys out in the open like that when the weather has been dry.

I have two more photos that require slightly longer explanations, starting with this image, which was shot with the Tokina macro lens.

The storm approaches

The storm approaches

I had wanted to get a photo of the trees still in full sun with the very dark storm clouds as a background. I tried to capture that with the 300 mm prime and extender, but of course that set-up didn’t allow me to get very much of either the foliage or the sky in the frame. I started to walk away, but then it dawned on me that I had the 100 mm lens with me, which would allow me to get more of both sky and foliage in the frame. I’ll have to remember that when I’m trying to get a flock of birds or other subjects that require a wider view than I can get at 420 mm.

Sorry for the interruption, not that you knew that I had left.

I received my extra check yesterday from work, for all the sick days that I didn’t use. So, I checked the local camera store’s website to check on the availability of the 10-18 mm lens that I wanted to purchase. The website said that the lens was sold out, horrors! I called the store once they had opened, they had one of those lenses still in stock, so I asked them to hold it for me, and ran right over to pick it up before they sold that one.

I used the new lens on my walk, and let’s just say that I have a lot to learn about ultra-wide angle photography.

New 10-18 mm lens, 10 mm

New 10-18 mm lens, 10 mm

New 10-18 mm lens, 18 mm

New 10-18 mm lens, 18 mm

I’ll have a lot more to say about the new lens as I go, but my first impressions are that it is very good optically, extremely light, and that I’ll have a ton of fun learning how to use it. I see a little vignetting in the left corners of the photo from the polarizing filter at 10 mm, I don’t think that it will be a problem as I can get by without the filter if I absolutely need 10 mm, or crop the image slightly to remove the dark corners. I do wonder why the vignetting only shows up on the left side and not the right, just one of those things I guess.

Enough of that, back to the last week in photos. 😉

Where was I? Oh yeah, the second of the photos that needed a longer explanation.

Reflections

Reflections

I learned something from that photo, it’s the reflection of trees in a puddle in the road. If you noticed, the surface of the road is out of focus, but the reflection of the leaves is in focus. When I focused on the surface of the road, the leaves were out of focus.

Apparently, when shooting reflections like that, the distance at which the reflections are in focus is the total distance from the camera to the surface of the puddle plus the distance from the surface to the puddle to the leaves, and not just the distance from the camera to the surface of the puddle. When I had the surface of the road in focus, the reflections were out of focus. Who knew? I think that I remember reading about that phenomenon once a long time ago.

By the way, that was shot with the Tokina macro lens, as were the next few except for the birds,  not that it really makes a difference.

Alfalfa flowers

Alfalfa flowers

Alfalfa flowers

Alfalfa flowers

Alfalfa flowers

Alfalfa flowers

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown with skipper

Unknown with skipper

From here on, the photos all came from the 300 mm prime lens. Other than that, I don’t think any more words are required for these.

Female red-winged blackbird

Female red-winged blackbird

Female red-winged blackbird

Female red-winged blackbird

Juvenile mourning dove

Juvenile mourning dove

Juvenile mourning dove

Juvenile mourning dove

Water strider

Water strider

Bindweed

Bindweed

Unknown legume? that grows in marshes

Unknown legume? that grows in marshes

Red and green

Red and green

Eastern tiger swallowtail

Eastern tiger swallowtail

Eastern tiger swallowtail

Eastern tiger swallowtail

Tiger lily

Tiger lily

Wild rose

Wild rose

Wild rose with green bee

Wild rose with green bee

Wild rose with green bee

Wild rose with green bee

Grass flowers

Grass flowers

damselfly

damselfly

damselfly cropped

damselfly cropped

???

???

Elderberry flowers

Elderberry flowers

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird

Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Insect on pokeweed flower

Insect on pokeweed flower

The weather this coming weekend is forecast to be as close to perfect as it can be, cool, sunny, and with very little wind. So rather than prattle on and bore every one, I’m going to go to bed early, get up early tomorrow, and shoot hundreds of photos! Some of them may even be good enough to make it into a post or two. 😉

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

 

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24 responses

  1. You certainly have some great pictures, birds, flowers, insects and views. I liked the flowers best.

    July 4, 2014 at 2:56 am

    • Thank you Susan! I’ll try to include more flowers in the future.

      July 4, 2014 at 9:53 am

  2. That has to be the creepiest looking fly I’ve ever seen. Granted I don’t normally look that closely at flies. The alfalfa flowers are gorgeous. I’ve never seen them before. Your images are getting to be beyond impressive.

    July 4, 2014 at 5:00 am

    • Thank you! One of the things that I’m really liking about my current photo gear is that I can show the details of flowers and insects that most people never see.

      July 4, 2014 at 9:57 am

  3. I may have to indulge myself and get a macro lens.

    July 4, 2014 at 5:33 am

    • You should, there are many good ones to choose from.

      July 4, 2014 at 9:58 am

  4. You are going to have so much fun as you learn these new lens and the options they provide!! Enjoy. Can’t wait to see what comes as you get more and more comfortable with their characteristics!

    July 4, 2014 at 5:53 am

    • Thanks Judy! It will take me a while, but eventually I will learn all the lenses.

      July 4, 2014 at 10:00 am

  5. That fly photo is going to keep me uncomfortably awake at night. Who knew? Happy that you got another new lens – it’s going to be a treat for all of your readers.

    July 4, 2014 at 7:35 am

    • Thanks! I think. 😉 Sorry about the fly, but I never knew that they had “feathers” before I shot those.

      July 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

  6. The real test of that macro lens will come when you run into a few slime molds. I was shooting some yesterday and had forgotten just how small some of them are. And don’t forget your LED light!
    I like the eyes on that fly!
    It’s good to know that the turkeys have wives. Your theory of the wet feathers seems logical to me. I was in waist high wet grass yesterday and wishing I wasn’t.
    I’ve never seen a young mourning dove. They gain beauty as they age, apparently.
    I wonder if that legume growing in a marsh was a beach pea (Lathyrus japonicas). It’s an introduced plant but I can’t think of another legume that likes wet places.
    Enjoy your good weather. It’s raining here. (again)

    July 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

    • Thanks Allen! Sorry about the rain on a long weekend, but the “bright” side is that you may find more molds and fungi. 😉

      I do have to try the macro lens on some slime molds and other “exotic” subjects, but right now, I’m having too much fun with all my new gear on birds, blooms, and bugs.

      July 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

  7. It’s OK to brag!!! More great birds in motion stuff, too! Happy Fourth!

    July 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

    • Thanks Lori! A Happy Fourth to you and yours as well.

      July 4, 2014 at 10:09 am

  8. The alfalfa shots were very nice but my favourite of the day was the second shot of the swallowtail. I don’t know how you remember what lens you are using in the moment of shooting. I hope your new lens lives up to expectations.

    July 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    • Thanks Tom!

      It’s really quite easy for me to remember which lens I used, I have a system of sorts. I have two bodies, and the numbering of the photos is different between the two. One body always has one of the long lenses for birding mounted to it for the day, the other gets the short lens(es). And if that system fails, I can always look at the shooting info in the Canon software, which tells me exactly what lens I used, and all the shooting specs. 😉

      July 4, 2014 at 6:39 pm

  9. Your attention to detail is amazing. I am only a point and shoot amateur but find your discussions on lenses and kit fascinating. Your resulting photos are always a treat.

    July 4, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    • Thanks Brandy! I find that paying attention to the details is the biggest factor in the improvement in the quality of my photos.

      July 4, 2014 at 6:41 pm

  10. I think you have cause to be proud of all these photos – I don’t think you’re bragging at all. I really liked that unknown yellow flower – it’s so clear and with a cobweb on the leaf behind too!

    July 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    • Thanks again!

      July 5, 2014 at 5:54 pm

  11. So many great images here! I really liked the alfalfa flowers, I never knew they were so beautiful! Whatever that red and green leaf-like thing is, the photo is very artistic. I liked it a lot!

    July 8, 2014 at 8:34 am

    • Thanks Amy! It pays to take a closer look at nature, you never know what you’ll see. I’m planning on indulging my more artistic notions this summer, until the bird migration begins. 😉

      July 8, 2014 at 8:53 am

      • I’ve started noticing things a lot more. I realized this past weekend that I was seeing more interesting fungi and other objects but I couldn’t stop to take a photo because Mark is usually in front of me and I have Milo on his leash so I can’t really get down on the ground for a photo op with him tugging to catch up with the rest of the gang! At one point hiking over at the Pigeon River I saw this tree stump, it had really cool lichen all over the top and I wanted to take a picture of it but didn’t get to. But anyway, it’s just that I’m starting to notice things more, was my only point. 🙂

        July 8, 2014 at 9:09 am

      • I thought that I was observant before, but since I’ve gotten back into photography, I see things that I used to pass by without a glance. I’m sure it will be the same for you.

        July 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm