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

Around home, as the snow began

Well, I’m almost caught up posting the photos that I have saved, this post should get me back to being current again. The reasons for that are the new job, and the weather, or I’d still be falling behind.

The new job is going well enough, the hours are long, so I don’t get out to shoot photos most days since I started, but the pay is good, and the weather nasty.

We set a record for the most snowfall ever in the month of November, with over a week left to go in the month. Along with the snow came record cold, but at least we didn’t get hammered as hard as Buffalo, New York.

On Saturday, the snow changed over to rain, and it has been raining most of the time up until now, which is Monday morning. In a month of records, we set the daily rainfall total for the date yesterday. Most of the snow is gone, for the time being, but it is a wet, muddy mess outside. By this afternoon, the rain is forecast to change back to snow again, so we’ll be adding to our record for the month as far as snowfall.

After I went for my long walk in the rain yesterday, I went to the local Apple store to look at computers. I know that an iMac is more expensive than a Windows machine, but I’m almost positive that I’ll be purchasing an iMac, if for no other reason than to get away from Microsoft. But, that won’t be until the end of January, or more likely, the first part of February, it will depend on how many hours I work.

I really liked the iMac that I played with at the store, and I also like that way that you can use an iPhone and an iPad seamlessly with an iMac. Of course the phone and tablet are way down the road, but it pays to think ahead. I had a smart phone for a while, and I miss having one.

I could go for a Macbook, but I’ll get more bang for my buck with a desktop iMac for right now. If I ever see the need for a notebook, a tablet will fill the bill nicely, while the desktop will be better for processing photos, with its larger display, larger hard drive, more RAM, and higher processor speed.

Once I have a current computer, rather than my ten-year old Gateway, I’ll shoot more photos in Raw, rather than JPEG. I also hate to admit this, but I’m going over to the “dark side”, and I’ll begin tweaking my images in Lightroom as well as Photomatix.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll go crazy in my editing, creating images that look nothing like what nature presented to me. However, I have come to the conclusion that no matter how well I learn to use my camera gear, the limitations of what a camera’s sensor can record require some editing to bring the images that the sensor produces up to the level of what I can see with my eyes as I shoot the images.

In fact, I doubt if I will do much, if any, editing to most of my bird and wildlife images, other than possibly noise reduction in images such as these.

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Not to brag, but I think that I do well enough on birds and wildlife often enough that I don’t need to edit poor photos to come up with enough to fill my blog regularly.

I’m not sure that editing could save a photo like this anyway.

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

That’s what I get for trying to shoot photos in the rain and gloom. However, I was quite proud of myself in one way, as I approached the spot where I had seen the mallards land, I got everything set on both my camera and the 300 mm lens in preparation for the mallards to take flight. But, despite setting the lens to the action mode for the IS, and setting the focus limiter for quicker auto-focus, when a mallard comes straight at me at speed, then turns abruptly as I’m pressing the shutter release….

Most of a male mallard in flight

Most of a male mallard in flight

…there are no camera settings that would have helped, and no amount of editing that would make that a good photo. 😉 I can’t even stitch the next photo in the series on to that one…

Male mallard's head

Male mallard’s head

…because I was moving the camera too quickly trying to catch up to the mallard.

Better light may have helped, not to make excuses again, but here’s a blurb from the local meteorologist whose blog I follow about our recent weather.

“Over the last three weeks, G.R. has had just 12.9% of possible sunshine.  Today (Tue.) is the 21st consecutive day with at least at trace of rain or snow and 17 of those days have had measurable rain or snow. Over the last 5 days, Grand Rapids has averaged 45 SECONDS of sunshine per day”

In other words, it’s been dark, wet, and gloomy all this month so far, and it doesn’t look as though it’s going to improve much any time soon.

Of the photos that I have saved for this post, three were shot in good light, and here they are.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Most of the time, it has been cloudy, so here’s the same mushroom after the snow began.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

On the few days when I have been able to make it outside for a walk, the birds have been hunkered down against the cold and snow most of the time, but I did catch a few.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

However, this weather has confirmed what I suppose that I already knew, that I have become too reliant on birds, or maybe a better way to put it is obsessed with birds.

When I began my blog, I shot far fewer birds, and more of the other things that nature has to offer. As I shot more species of birds, including some rare ones, my blog has become more of a bird blog than an all around nature blog. With winter here, birds are going to be few and far between, so I have been going back to shooting other things in nature.

There are always squirrels to photograph.

Relaxed fox squirrel

Relaxed fox squirrel

Guilty fox squirrel

Guilty fox squirrel

Guilty fox squirrel

Guilty fox squirrel

Hungry fox squirrel

Hungry fox squirrel

They do make good subjects, because each one seems to have its own personality, but I really don’t want my blog to become the fox squirrel of the day blog.

There are fungi to shoot.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

But in low light, they are not easy to photograph. Besides, I can’t identify any of them, and probably never will be able to, despite the best efforts of Allen (New Hampshire Garden Solutions) to teach me about such things.

Speaking of low light, and this goes to editing images and noise as well, buying good lenses really pays dividends! I saw some mosses growing on a fence, and wanted to get a photo of them. But, in the very low light that day, even at ISO 3200, which is very high for my 60D body, I couldn’t get the photo that I wanted to shoot with the Tokina macro lens stopped down for more depth of field, there simply wasn’t enough light.

I have sung the praises of that lens before, but this next image surprised me, shot at f/2.8 and ISO 3200.

Mosses on a fence

Mosses on a fence

I think that the image above is the first one that I have ever shot with the aperture of the Tokina lens wide open. Most lenses need to be stopped down a few stops before they render super sharp images, apparently, the Tokina is super sharp with the aperture wide open. Not only that, but just as with my two Canon L series lenses, great glass seems to produce less noise at higher ISO settings.

I wish that I had been able to get more depth of field, but we’ll say that I shot it that way on purpose, since that seems to be the trend these days as far as style. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that the current obsession with extremely short depths of field and the quality of the bokeh in an image is a bit amusing, especially since the word bokeh didn’t exist until recently.

One day, I was coming up short of subjects to photograph, so I tried turning a molehill into a mountain.

Molehill mountain

Molehill mountain

Obviously, that didn’t work as I planned. 😉 But, it’s fun playing with my lenses and trying to see how the world looks at different angles and perspectives. To go with that thought, I’m going to bore you with a few images of the same fungi that I shot over several days, trying both the 70-200 mm and the Tokina macro lens, and different aperture settings.

I’ll start with a wide view.

Turkey tails?

Turkey tails?

Then, I moved in and out, shooting various bits of the scene.

Turkey tails?

Turkey tails?

Turkey tails? 70-200 mm

Turkey tails? 70-200 mm

Turkey tails? Tokina 100 mm

Turkey tails? Tokina 100 mm

Nearby, I found this, which I think is an egg case from an insect.

Insect egg case?

Insect egg case?

I think that I see the larval stage of an insect there, and it looks like the birds have been digging into the case to pluck a few of the larva out, but I’m guessing.

I’ve been using the Tokina macro lens more than ever lately, here’s a few more from it.

Dried Pine resin teeth

Dried Pine resin teeth

Dried Pine resin teeth

Dried Pine resin teeth

???

???

Lichens

Lichens

Lichens

Lichens

Lichens

Lichens

I’ve also been carrying the 70-200 mm lens most days, since it has been so gloomy.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

And, I’ve been trying more artistic shots as well.

Frozen in time

Frozen in time

Light snow

Light snow

Standing out from the crowd

Standing out from the crowd

Rose hips in the rain

Rose hips in the rain

Sumac with its "catch"

Sumac with its “catch”

Blushes of color

Blushes of color

Anyway, I’ve also played with Photomatix to produce a few more HDR images, here’s the scene that I’ve been shooting repeatedly as I learn to use the controls of Photomatix.

The last color, not HDR

The last color, not HDR

I like the color, but the sky is blown out. So, here’s one attempt at a HDR.

The last color, HDR 1

The last color, HDR 1

I think that I got a little carried away with that one, but not as much as it looks. Here’s another try.

The last color, HDR 2, in the snow

The last color, HDR 2, in the snow

One of these days, I’ll get the hang of using the Photomatix software.

To wrap this one up, a big surprise!

Garter snake in the snow

Garter snake in the snow

The snake was moving so slowly due to the cold, that I was able to shoot several photos as it tried to escape.

Garter snake in the snow

Garter snake in the snow

Now that I’m caught up with my photos, I’ll begin posting one species of bird to the My Photo Life List project again over the winter.

As cold as I think that this winter will be, I doubt if I’ll be chasing birds very often, as they will have all that they can do to survive. So I guess that you’ll have to look forward to subjects other than birds for the next few months. Of course I have no idea what those subjects will be, or if my photos will be any good or not, but, it will be fun trying new things for a while.

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

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30 responses

  1. Some great shots there, Jerry. I think you’re going to love switching to that iMac.

    November 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    • Thank you! I’m sure that I’ll love the iMac, I loved it playing in the store.

      November 27, 2014 at 10:15 pm

  2. Love the squirrel and very nicely shot. 🙂

    November 28, 2014 at 1:17 am

    • Thank you, glad that you liked them!

      November 28, 2014 at 4:45 am

  3. I loved the shots of the fox squirrel as always and the floating leaf was very artistic, enjoyed it all though.

    November 28, 2014 at 2:42 am

    • Thanks Susan!

      November 28, 2014 at 4:48 am

  4. Great photos, even the ones you were not pleased with. I’m glad they made it into your post. I once submitted a couple photos for contests, and received correspondence about one of them being used in a photo book. I’ve often felt regret for not following through with that photo, but life often pulls us in directions other than our dreams with it’s ups and downs. I am finding my way back, though, and for that I am thankful. BTW, one of those photos was a squirrel 🙂

    November 28, 2014 at 3:36 am

    • Thank you very much! It’s easy to get off track in life, but It’s good to hear that you’re finding your way back.

      November 28, 2014 at 4:52 am

  5. Gorgeous pics! I find fungi beautiful and fascinating and of course, I am also a fan of birds and reptiles. Thanks for capturing nature in this way for all to enjoy.:)

    November 28, 2014 at 4:16 am

    • Thanks Jane!

      November 28, 2014 at 4:51 am

  6. Lots of good shots – I like the artistic leaf ones. Such a surprise to see a snake in the snow!

    November 28, 2014 at 6:02 am

    • Thanks Clare! I’m going to try to step out of my comfort zone and do more with my camera gear than just birds. The snake was a huge surprise, we had a brief two day warm up, the snake must have thought that it was an early spring.

      November 28, 2014 at 8:02 pm

  7. Your post makes me want to go back out and take photos again, even if it’s cold.

    November 28, 2014 at 8:07 am

    • Thank you very much! My new motto is, if it’s warm enough for snakes, it’s warm enough for me. 😉

      November 28, 2014 at 8:03 pm

  8. Your “The last color, HDR 2, in the snow” is suitable for framing. Love your Downy pics!

    November 28, 2014 at 8:34 am

    • Thank you Bob! I hope to do better with the Photomatix software by next fall, then I will have photos worth framing.

      November 28, 2014 at 8:04 pm

  9. Thanks for the mention Jerry. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
    I think that fox squirrel had a fist full of mushrooms. I didn’t know they ate fungi until I saw a gray squirrel eating one.
    It looks like you’ve got some wood ears or some other type of jelly fungus before the shot of the mosses. One of those mosses is rose moss (Rhodobryum roseum), which is hard to find.
    There are also two types of bracket fungi there and neither one is a turkey tail. I think the colored ones might be the hairy curtain crust Stereum hirsutum. I’m not sure about the white ones but they have teeth and turkey tails have pores.
    You’re still getting a lot of colorful shots in spite of the weather. I like the shot of the beech leaves.
    Very strange to see a snake it the snow! It must have been a warm day.

    November 28, 2014 at 9:02 am

    • Well, thank you Allen! You deserve the mention, many times over since your blog is so full of information about so many things.

      It must have been the weather, we had two cold weeks with snow, then two days in the 40’s with rain, and all the mosses, lichens, and fungi popped out then, along with the snake. It didn’t dawn on me until now, the snake may have been flooded out of where it had chosen to hibernate, with the melting snow and over an inch of rain one day.

      November 28, 2014 at 9:57 pm

  10. Can’t believe you managed to find a snake in the snow. Animal life just drifts out to be photographed by you. Agree with the HDR2 comment above – lovely.

    November 28, 2014 at 9:28 am

    • Thank you Judy! Weird weather we’re having, warm enough for snakes, but the snow was falling that day and the one when I shot the HDR.

      November 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm

  11. Very nice photos. I especially enjoyed the guilty squirrel.

    November 28, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    • Thank you Bente!

      November 28, 2014 at 8:06 pm

  12. I was entertained as usual by your text as well as delighted by your pictures. I am pleased that you are going over to the dark side of photo editing and await your account of your adventures there with great interest.

    November 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    • Thanks Tom! It will be a few months before I go all the way over to the dark side, once I have a new computer, then, there’ll be a learning curve as well.

      November 28, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      • But you enjoy learning.

        November 29, 2014 at 5:28 pm

  13. Molehill into a mountain you say? Very clever!

    December 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    • Thank you!

      December 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      • You’re welcome, sorry I was too late to get a comment in onyour earlier posts with the fledgling BBH. I hope he has migrated now, and glad your new job is a good fit.

        December 4, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      • Thank you! The young heron around home has gone, but I’m still finding them in Muskegon, which surprised me.

        December 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      • Same here – I mean that as recently as last Sunday, I observed a GBH fledgling at the lake here. Snow on the ground, but he was basking in the late afternoon sun’s warmth.

        December 7, 2014 at 7:56 am