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

Around home, before the snow began

Where do I begin?

My new job is going well enough, although being the newbie, I’m getting stuck working odd hours and doing runs that the company’s senior drivers don’t want to do. Well, that comes with being a newbie, it will get better the longer I work there. So far, I do really like working there as far as the way the company is run, so I think that I will be there until I retire. I’ll spare you the details, but this company doesn’t fool around, they aren’t afraid of pulling a truck out of a shipper’s facility if the shipper doesn’t start loading a truck in a timely way. Neither do they ask a driver to attempt to speed up a dawdling shipper, they have a person on staff to do that.

Anyway, I’m sipping my “morning” coffee at 4 PM today, I start at 10 PM tonight. I can’t say that I like these hours, but I do know that it will get better as I work there longer, and get a chance to bid on a dedicated run, so I’ll have a more reasonable work schedule.

My work schedule has prevented me from doing a daily walk on most days so far, not that the weather has been conducive for photography. We’re in the middle of a lake effect snowstorm that began yesterday, and continues today. At last check, the terminal where I start from had gotten 15 inches of snow so far. I live 12 mile east of the terminal, and we’ve had a little over a foot of snow, and it’s still coming down. The snow is forecast to let up overnight, then begin all over again tomorrow. Yuck!

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, we’re setting records for snow and cold for the month of November.

I must be getting old, the idea of trudging through a foot of snow on gloomy days when we never see the sun, and it feels like mid-January rather than November, doesn’t appeal to me as much as it used to.

So, with nasty weather, and working long hours, I don’t know how much photography I’ll be doing this winter. That’s okay, it’s part of my plan. I haven’t received my first paycheck from my new employer, but I estimate that it will be close to double what I averaged at my last job, and that’s always a good thing. So far this week, I’m on pace for the same size paycheck again.

With some real money coming in again, I’ll pay off the few bills that I have quickly, buy a new computer, and still be able to purchase a new Canon 7D camera next spring.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with the two 60 D bodies that I have now, not at all, but the new 7D has even better noise reduction, and of course, a much better auto-focusing system. I wonder if the improved auto-focusing will “cure” the problems that I have using my two Canon L series lenses.

Both the 70-200 mm and 300 mm prime L series lenses that I own work much better on one of my 60 D bodies than they do on the other one. I’ve written about that before, so I won’t repeat myself too much here.

And, all of the lenses that I have purchased came with strengths and weaknesses, it’s been both fun and a little frustrating at times learning what those strengths and weaknesses are, and learning when to use each lens to play to its strengths.

A few examples, the Sigma 150-500 mm lens is at its best at mid-range distances. The 300 mm prime lens is great both close up and at longer distances, but a bit soft at mid-ranges. The 70-200 mm lens doesn’t do well close up, but seems to get sharper and sharper the farther that I am from something. I have to wonder if those things will still hold true when I use those lenses on a better camera body.

Okay, speaking of the 70-200 mm lens, it has been my forgotten lens, that I seldom used this summer. That was a mistake!

Fall mallrds

Fall mallards

That photo was one in a series of reflection shots that I took, here’s two more.

Fall reflections

Fall reflections

Fall mallards 2

Fall mallards 2

In a way, I wish that the mallards hadn’t been there. I was angling for a shot of the branch in the water “sprouting” from the reflections of the trees, but the mallards wouldn’t leave, so I just had to include them. 😉

Not to brag (too much) but all my lenses are capable of delivering super images under the right conditions, my problem is that I shoot photos no matter what the conditions are outside. 😉

Yellow

Yellow

Seeing a grasshopper on a dandelion so late in the year led to this, shot with the Tokina macro lens.

Grasshopper and dandelion

Grasshopper and dandelion

I decided to pull back, and capture more of the scene.

Grasshopper and dandelion

Grasshopper and dandelion

It was then that I noticed the blades of grass in the foreground which are distracting from the subjects. But, when I tried to remove the grass, the grasshopper spooked, so I was left with this.

Dandelion

Dandelion

The truth is, I don’t remember which lens I used for this next one.

Fall still life

Fall still life

But, that’s sort of the point that I was trying to make, that all my lenses are quite capable of producing great images as far the technical side of photography, now, it is up to me to learn the artistic side better.

I suppose that I could stop trying to shoot great photos on days when the weather and/or lighting isn’t good for photos. However, that’s just not my style, and I would miss recording some of the things that I see in nature. For example, on one misty morning, I found a flock of crows that for some reason, held still for a few photos, one of which I will post.

American crow

American crow

The reason that the crows were willing to tolerate my being so close is because they were busy mobbing a Cooper’s hawk.

Cooper's hawk in flight

Cooper’s hawk in flight

Here’s another example. I’ve posted photos of both robins and cedar waxwings eating berries before, even catching shots of the birds swallowing the berries whole. Well, one day I found a flock of robins feeding on berries….

American robins

American robins

…so even though the weather was less than ideal, and I was too far away from the robins, I thought that I wold try again…

American robins

American robins

…and again…

American robins eating berries

American robins eating berries

…got one of the berry going down, or did I?

American robins eating berries

American robins eating berries

Did that robin spit the berry skin out? I’ll have to try to see if I can catch that!

American robin chewing a berry

American robin chewing a berry

American robin chewing a berry

American robin chewing a berry

American robin spitting out a berry skin

American robin spitting out a berry skin

Sure enough, with this species of berry, the robins didn’t swallow them whole, but extracted the insides of the berries and spit out the skins.

That brings up a couple of points, one, if I’m good at anything related to photography, it is catching wildlife, particularly birds, in action. I seem to be able to capture shots that I seldom see anywhere else. That’s because most wildlife photographers shoot from blinds, whereas I track down the wildlife doing things that they naturally do. But, that also means that I’m often shooting in bad light, and/or bad weather.

Another point is that I would love to be able to carry all my lenses all the time. The robins were shot with the 70-200 mm lens, and were really out of range for that lens, I would have loved to have had the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) with me for those photos. Then, I could have zoomed in closer for even better images of the way that the robins were eating the berries. However, I never know what I’ll see on any given day, and carrying twenty pounds of camera gear three miles every day doesn’t sound like fun. I guess that I’m a wimp on that point.

Here’s another of those times that I wished that I had been carrying one of my longer lenses, these were also shot with the 70-200 mm lens.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

I thought that I would end up deleting that photo, but as I was watching her, I spotted a buck nearby.

8 point whitetail buck

8 point whitetail buck

8 point whitetail buck

8 point whitetail buck

Here’s the two of them together, although they are hard to see, their coloration blends in so well with the colors of the vegetation.

8 point whitetail buck and doe

8 point whitetail buck and doe

The buck was watching the doe, I was hoping to shoot some deer porn, but no such luck.

8 point whitetail buck

8 point whitetail buck

Once again, I had the wrong lenses with me.

Since the weather cooled off from summer, and before the snow began, I was carrying both camera bodies and four lenses with me. One longer lens, the two wide-angle lenses I own, and the Tokina macro lens. Here’s a photo that I shot as a throw away using the 10-18 mm lens, but I kind of like it, so I’ll go ahead and post it.

Fall woods

Fall woods

Oh, that reminds me, in a past post, I had a HDR image that I shot at the same time as the mallards that I started this post with, and I’ll post it again to refresh people’s memories.

Fall Mallards in HDR

Fall Mallards in HDR

On Sundays, I often listen to Leo Laporte, who does the Tech Guy radio show. One of his recurring guests is Chris Marquardt, an expert on digital photography who passes on tips, and also posts “assignments” or challenges for listeners to try their hand at. I posted the last photo for the current assignment, Fall, and it is holding its own as far as views and being picked as a favorite against some pretty stiff competition. I’m quite proud of that photo, so even if it isn’t picked as one of the top three that gets discussed next week, I think that I did well. Now, I need to do that more often!

Anyway, back to my other photos. I spent a day at Roselle Park, intending to do some birding, but the birds didn’t cooperate. I shot two photos of birds, a hawk and a heron, neither of them worth posting here. I did shoot a few landscapes though.

Roselle Park 1

Roselle Park 1

Roselle Park 2

Roselle Park 2

Roselle Park 3

Roselle Park 3

Roselle Park 4

Roselle Park 4

Down the trail

Down the trail

Teasel and goldenrod

Teasel and goldenrod

I used the Beast for all of those, and a shorter lens would have been better, maybe. Those were shot back when we saw some sunshine, this past week, we’ve had less than 4% sun, and just over 10% for the past two weeks.

News flash, I’m leaving at midnight tonight for Iowa, an overnight run for work. They’ll put me up in a motel over Thursday, and I’ll get back on Friday. I’ll get to leave the snow behind for a few hours, and even get to see the sun again!

However, neither my body or brain are used to switching work times like that, I’ve been on a set work schedule for five years. So, please don’t be surprised if some of the comments that I’ve left to your blogs don’t make a lot of sense. Also, don’t be surprised or disappointed if I don’t respond to comments that you leave to this post right away. I may not get to them until Saturday, possibly Sunday, it depends on my work schedule for the rest of the week.

As I said at the beginning of this, being the newbie, I’m going to be used to fill the holes in their scheduling between the dedicated runs that the more senior drivers have.

It is mentally and physically draining to work the long hours on different schedules that I’m doing right now, but I’ll get used to it again, and the money will be worth it. This winter is shaping up to be just as harsh as last winter, so I may as well work as many hours as I can, while I can.

Okay, back to the photos. Here’s one saved from some time ago, to remember when it was warm and sunny outside.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

And, the few that I have left from Roselle Park.

Artsy caterpillar

Artsy caterpillar

Artsy seeds in the wind

Artsy seeds in the wind

Woolly bear caterpillar

Woolly bear caterpillar

I’m going to post a small version of the next one, a dust storm in the parking lot. The dust doesn’t show up well the larger that the image is for some reason.

Dust storm

Dust storm

I used the Beast for this next one, only because the log was out in the river, and I couldn’t get close enough with any other lens.

???

???

It was a very slow day at Roselle Park, I was quite disappointed that I didn’t catch any migrating birds, but that happens sometimes.

To finish this post off, I’ll go back to photos shot from my daily walks. I haven’t put any squirrel photos in this one yet, so here’s two for the squirrel fans.

Fox squirrel eating lunch

Fox squirrel eating lunch

IMG_3456

I saw pine sap that had flowed from a tree, and tried to get artsy with it using the Tokina lens, but I didn’t like the artsy version, here’s the one that I shot with the 300 mm prime lens.

Pine sap

Pine sap

Do you see the dark spot in the sap that looks like it is about to drip? Here’s a closer view, shot with the Tokina.

Future fossil

Future fossil

I moved in as close as I could hand holding the Tokina, and I also cropped this one slightly.

Future fossil

Future fossil

By the way, the reason that I didn’t like the artsy shot of the sap taken with the Tokina lens was that it didn’t fit well with the more “scientific” type of images of the ant trapped in the pine sap. I should have saved it and slipped it into another post later on. I also meant to go back and do better as far as the ant, but that’s about the time that the weather went downhill.

It will still be there if there’s ever a good day for photography again. Call it morbid curiosity, but the ant trapped in the pine sap now may very well end up as an insect trapped in amber thousands of years from now. I find it interesting that what I see now may be discovered as a fossil by a future generation.

Okay then, that’s all the photos for this post. I still have photos from one more trip to the Muskegon area to use up, plus one more post from around home, then, I’ll be all caught up again. The images from Muskegon were shot on a crappy day, rain, snow, and wind made photography difficult. But, as it always seems to go, I caught a few interesting things, such as an eagle carrying a mallard that it had killed around, and a gull chasing a peregrine falcon. Low light and miserable weather meant that I had to shoot at very high ISO settings, and my 60 D camera loses quite a bit of resolution at the settings required that day.

That’s one of the reasons that I’m saving for the new 7D Mark II, it has superior noise reduction at high ISO settings, and much better resolution as a result. A better auto-focusing system would have helped as well.

I’ve begun looking at new computers, I’m considering switching from a Windows machine to a Mac when I make the purchase, so if any of you have any pointers for me, I’d appreciate hearing them.

Well, that’s about all I have to say for this one. I’ve prattled on more than long enough.

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

Advertisements

22 responses

  1. ethereal!

    November 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    • Thanks!

      November 19, 2014 at 8:11 pm

  2. Love my Mac. Would never go back to the agony of Windows ever again. But I wish you’d quit talking about how great the 7D Mark II is since I’ve totally blown my budget on other fun stuff. 🙂

    November 19, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    • Thank you Gunta! I hear great things about Macs, and in my limited research, I think that an iPhone would go great with one.

      I think that a 7D would be overkill for your use. The image quality would be marginally better, but for landscapes as you post most of the time, you don’t need the features of a 7D. A 6D full size sensor body would be a better choice for you. 😉 The 7D is meant to be a sports and wildlife action camera, which makes it the best choice for me. You’d see more improvement in your landscapes with a full size sensor body, even if it lacks the bells and whistles of a 7D.

      November 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      • Well, that didn’t help with my craving to upgrade. Looked at the 6D and it’s a pretty hefty price. As for the bells and whistles that I’d miss with the 7D… sometimes it’s nice to have fewer choices. They can add to the confusion or learning curve when it comes to handling a new camera. 😀

        November 22, 2014 at 1:10 am

      • Sorry. 😉

        The 6D and 7D are about the same price, the differences are that the 7D has more bells and whistles that you don’t need, the 6D has a full size sensor.

        If you’re happy with your images now, there’s really no reason for you to upgrade to either. If you really wanted to improve the quality of your images, better lenses would be a wiser investment than a different camera body. If you were to try one of Canon’s L series lenses on your Rebel, I think that you’d be amazed with what your camera can do.

        November 22, 2014 at 5:28 am

  3. thanks for the snaps…there great……loved the last two

    November 20, 2014 at 10:31 am

    • Thank you very much!

      November 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm

  4. Ant in sap is a huge winner with me. #2 and #3 are artsy seeds and dust storm. Happy to hear that the job is going well. Hope Iowa is treating you better than Michigan right now.

    November 20, 2014 at 11:01 am

    • Thanks Judy! I think that one day I’ll have to walk around looking at the world through the macro lens, I see so many interesting but tiny things as I’m shooting larger subjects, like the ant in the sap. I would have never seen it if I hadn’t been looking to get an artsy shot of the sap in the first place.

      November 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm

  5. Those don’t sound like great hours Jerry but you’re right, doing any job they give you now will pay off in the long run. And overtime is always good!
    This post is full of great shots but especially the crow. It’s hard to get one of them to sit still for you. I like the foliage shots too, and all the robins in that small tree.
    That looks like a crust fungus on the log that was in the river, but I can’t tell which one. Possibly Stereum complicatum.
    I like the ant in the pine sap. I always look for things like that but never see them.
    I don’t know anything about Apple computers but I know that my kids got me this Acer aspire laptop for Christmas 3 years ago and you couldn’t kill it if you tried. For a $300.00 computer it would be hard to beat, No matter what you get, invest in all the memory (ram) that you can afford. There’s no such thing as too much but too little can make a computer so slow that it’s hardly worth using. 16gb seems about right in the computers that I use and I do a lot of graphics on them.
    I hope the trip to Iowa is a smooth one!

    November 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    • Thanks Allen! It will take me a while to adjust to this new job, but it will be nice not to be broke all the time. I received my first paycheck, the switch was worth it!

      The Acer aspire is a great computer from what I hear, and I’ll look into them, but I’d really like to get away from being jacked around by Microsoft all the time. I’m leaning towards a Mac, and it will have lots of ram, and the biggest hard drive that I can get in it to store photos. 😉

      November 21, 2014 at 6:28 pm

  6. I liked the sparrow and the teasel shots the best in a post brimming with outstanding work. I wish that I had your dedication to getting the shots that count. You are an example to us all.

    November 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    • Thanks Tom! That’s quite a compliment from some one who posts daily and full of shots that count.

      November 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm

  7. Jerry, the auto-focus on the new 7D is excellent. Very, very fast. Both with my Tamron 150-600mm,but also with my Canon 100-400mm L lens. I haven’t really given it much of a test because I have been so busy, but so far it has met or exceeded my expectations.

    November 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    • Thanks Bob! I really appreciate your input, since you’re an excellent photographer.

      November 21, 2014 at 2:32 pm

  8. So many really beautiful shots. I hope you get used to the new working hours soon. It’s hard enough starting work at a new place but having to work long nights in bad weather must be very difficult.

    November 20, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    • Thanks Clare! It will take me a month or two to get back into the swing of working long hours again, I had gotten spoiled. The weather would be the same at my last job, or worse. The route I drove took me through the snow-belt every single night. At the new job, I get away from the snow from time to time.

      November 21, 2014 at 2:36 pm

  9. Love how you persisted with the robin until you caught him spitting out the skin! The whitetail buck looking right into your lens is my favourite. Be safe in the snow.

    November 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    • Thank you very much Brandy, glad that you liked them!

      November 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm

  10. Loved the variety and the beauty in these stunning shots.:)

    November 25, 2014 at 6:28 am

    • Thank you Jane!

      November 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm