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

Light, lenses, and backgrounds

These are photos taken over the Labor Day weekend, yes, I’m running behind again. But, for good reason, I’m getting too many good photos lately.

It helps that with three days off from work, I was up before dawn on Labor Day, and caught the excellent early morning light, when it was able to find an opening in the clouds. Also, between the raindrops that fell a little after I got started.

My day started well, I spotted these mushrooms by the hundreds.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

I wanted to get a better shot of them, but a flock of turkeys were out feeding in the same field that I saw the mushrooms in. I thought that I could shoot the mushrooms on my way home, but they were all shriveled up by then. I did get the turkeys though.

Turkeys

Turkeys

A hole opened up in the clouds, and the sun was just like a spotlight on one of the Toms.

Turkey

Turkey

I moved so that I could isolate just the one Tom, but by then, the hole in the clouds was closing.

Turkey

Turkey

All that preening to look good for nothing, as the light had already changed, still, it wasn’t bad.

Turkey

Turkey

I’ve walked past this hundreds of times….

Wounded pine

Wounded pine

…but it looked worth shooting in the early morning light.

I’m getting unbelievably picky about my images these days, when I have the time to be. Here’s an example.

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

That was my test shot. I stepped a few feet forward to get a better view of her, then shot a series of photos going up and down between -2/3 and one full stop. I wish that I could adjust the exposure in 1/4 stop increments as there are times that 1/3 seems too much.

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Next up were two goldfinches, a female feeding on common mullein seeds…

Female American Goldfinch

Female American Goldfinch

Female American Goldfinch

Female American Goldfinch

…and a juvenile fluffing its feathers.

Juvenile male goldfinch

Juvenile male goldfinch

As low as the light was, the motion of the feathers moving out blurred that a little due to the slow shutter speed, but I lucked out, and the goldfinch held this position long enough to get a good photo.

Juvenile male goldfinch

Juvenile male goldfinch

Then, he turned around for me.

Juvenile male goldfinch

Juvenile male goldfinch

I’m going to keep shooting pokeweed berries until I get a good one.

Pokeweed berries

Pokeweed berries

You can see the water drop, as it had begun to rain lightly. When I reached an overpass, I took a break as the rain shower moved through the area. While taking the break, I shot this.

Model A Ford?

Model A Ford?

And after the rain ended, this is what I got.

Fallen

Fallen

A few more from Labor Day.

Some one drop a pancake?

Some one drop a pancake?

That fungus almost looks edible, but something only took one bite of it. I didn’t see any dead critter nearby, but you never know with fungi.

Juvenile chipping sparrow

Juvenile chipping sparrow

I had to pay my rent, so I dropped everything off in my apartment except for one camera body and the 300 mm prime lens and walked over to the office. To my surprise, there was a great blue heron in the pond across from the office.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I couldn’t resist shooting a few ducks while was there.

Female mallard

Female mallard

Mallard hybrid preening

Mallard hybrid preening

Mallard hybrid posing

Mallard hybrid posing

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

Male mallard posing

Male mallard posing

The next few photos were shot over several days after Labor Day. In a recent post I had a photo of a turkey vulture and I said that it would have been a much better photo if there had been a blue sky that day. Well, I got what I wanted.

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

I also said that I like to find a dark background when I shoot flowers, well, there are some flowers so tall that you have to make do with what you can.

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

That was shot with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens), hardly my first choice of lenses for flowers. But, because of the extremely narrow angle of view of that lens, I was able to line the flower up in front of plain dark blue sky.

When I switched to the 10-18 mm lens, which is a better lens for flowers that large, the wide angle of view of that lens got this photo.

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

The flower is actually better in the second photo, but the white clouds in the background ruin the over all photo, at least in my opinion.

So, the next day I did some testing. I chose one flower, shooting it first with the Beast.

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

And then with the 10-18 mm lens, but this time I used a polarizing filter on that lens.

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

To me, darkening up the sky, and causing the clouds to “pop” a little from the filter makes these two pretty good ones, at least to me.

I also shot a couple with the Tokina macro lens, which I don’t have a polarizing filter for.

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

Smooth ox-eye sunflower

So, the point of all this is that when considering which lens to use on a subject, it isn’t only how close or far away from the subject you are, or can get. A longer lens makes it easier to control the background behind the subject because of the narrow angle of view of a long lens.

The second point is that if you must have distractions in the background, make them a part of the overall photo any way that you can, in this case, by using a polarizing filter.

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

Advertisements

28 responses

  1. I love the different ways you captured the sunflower.

    September 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    • Thank you Ingrid!

      September 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm

  2. Just keep it coming. There are so many delights here – but, I think the turkeys are my favorite.

    September 7, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    • Thanks Judy! I have had a couple of off days, but I’m still way behind with my postings.

      September 7, 2014 at 11:33 pm

  3. So many great photos…nice way to end the summer! Soon the colors will be changing into autumn hues…

    September 7, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    • Thank you Mary! Summer isn’t quite over with yet, but I’ll be looking forward to the fall.

      September 7, 2014 at 11:43 pm

  4. What a splendid array of pictures, I loved the Great Blue Heron and the female Northern Cardinal.

    September 8, 2014 at 2:33 am

    • Thank you Susan, there’s more to come!

      September 8, 2014 at 8:21 am

  5. I don’t like a flat, one color background in flower photos unless it’s black or at least very dark, because it doesn’t look natural to me. That’s why the ones with clouds are my favorites.
    It looks like you should grab a lawn chair and sit outside of that office-there were a lot photographic opportunities in that pond!
    Nice to see the turkeys too!

    September 8, 2014 at 6:44 am

    • Thanks Allen! I like the ones that I shot using the polarizing filter, but otherwise I think that dull white clouds muddy up a photo.

      There’s about a hundred each mallards and geese that hang around here, they leave a huge mess behind. But, the residents continue to feed them, so they are tame, there’s no challenge to shooting them.

      September 8, 2014 at 8:25 am

  6. Such a fantastic collection of photos you have taken!! I am mesmerised! I think your pictures of fungi are brilliant, and I enjoyed your photos of the birds, especially the turkeys. But there are so many to choose from! Wonderful 😀

    September 8, 2014 at 7:48 am

    • Thank you Violet! It was just a regular week around here, sorry there wasn’t anything special to photograph.

      September 8, 2014 at 9:09 am

      • I think it’s special. The turkeys were special especially! And the mushrooms – I saw some mushrooms yesterday, and they are just wonderful. 🙂

        September 9, 2014 at 2:17 am

      • Well, thanks again. It may be a while before I get a better shot of a turkey, but I’ve got much better photos of mushrooms coming a few posts from now.

        September 9, 2014 at 2:39 am

      • I can’t wait!! 😀

        September 9, 2014 at 2:45 am

  7. Enjoyed your female Cardinal pics!

    September 8, 2014 at 10:55 am

    • Thank you Bob!

      September 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm

  8. All sound advice. ( I must try to get up early one day.)

    September 8, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    • Thanks Tom! If I were retired, I’d be one of those old farts up before dawn each morning, especially in the summer to beat the heat along with the excellent light for photography.

      September 9, 2014 at 2:27 am

      • I keep thinking about an early rise but that’s as far as it gets.

        September 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm

  9. Nice turkey shots! I also enjoyed all the ducks, very much. The sunflowers were pretty, too, and interesting to see the different views from different lenses and filters.

    September 8, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    • Thank you again! Every one has their own tastes and style of photography, just trying to pass along a few tips to help others develop their own style.

      September 9, 2014 at 2:31 am

  10. Do you think it’s possible for a heron to attack a Canada goose and damage one of its wings like in a photo I posted a few days ago? I was thinking an eagle or turkey vulture, but I really didn’t see the actual attack.

    September 10, 2014 at 10:15 am

    • Herons will chase geese away from their hunting grounds, but I doubt if it would result in an injury. More likely is that the goose collided with another while landing. That happens quite often.

      September 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm

  11. You work very hard discovering the potential of all your lenses and cameras and everyone benefits! I love the shots of the female cardinal and the tom turkey.

    September 10, 2014 at 10:24 am

    • Thanks Clare! I don’t look at it as work, I find overcoming challenges fun, like a jigsaw or crossword puzzle.

      September 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

  12. Love those ducks!!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen those pale feathers underneath the female mallard’s wings before. Thx for sharing!

    September 10, 2014 at 11:22 am

    • Thanks Lori!

      September 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm