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!
That photo was one in a series of reflection shots that I took, here’s two more.
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. 😉
Seeing a grasshopper on a dandelion so late in the year led to this, shot with the Tokina macro lens.
I decided to pull back, and capture more of the scene.
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.
The truth is, I don’t remember which lens I used for this next one.
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.
The reason that the crows were willing to tolerate my being so close is because they were busy mobbing a Cooper’s hawk.
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….
…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…
…got one of the berry going down, or did I?
Did that robin spit the berry skin out? I’ll have to try to see if I can catch that!
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.
I thought that I would end up deleting that photo, but as I was watching her, I spotted a buck nearby.
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.
The buck was watching the doe, I was hoping to shoot some deer porn, but no such luck.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And, the few that I have left from Roselle Park.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I moved in as close as I could hand holding the Tokina, and I also cropped this one slightly.
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!