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

Around home, A burst of activity

I’m going to start with an update about my new job, the hours are horrible right now, and I’m getting the runs that the more senior drivers don’t want, but I expected that being one of the new drivers. Last week, I had start times ranging from 6 PM on Monday to 6 Am on Friday. It’s hard to develop any type of sleep schedule when one works such a changeable schedule, if you can call it a schedule.

This week has been better, with more consistent start times, so I’m feeling quite chipper right now, rather than dragged out like last week.

The big news is my paycheck, this new company pays every two weeks, and my paycheck this Friday will be three times what a one week paycheck was at my old job. So, it does work out that I’m making almost exactly 50% more than my last job paid, and that makes it worth putting up with the miserable work hours for the time being.

Oh, and included in that is the fact that I had Thanksgiving day off without pay, as I haven’t been on this job long enough to qualify for holiday pay yet, or there would have been even more in my next check! It’s going to be great not to be broke all the time, I think that this weekend, I’m going to splurge, and go out for a steak dinner for the first time in years!

The weather has relented some as well, it’s been cold, but the snow has let up at least a little for the last two weeks, and we’ve even had a few sunny days this week. Because of the odd hours I’ve been working, there are days when I don’t make it out for a walk at all, but then there have been other days when I’ve been able to do the five-mile long version of my daily walk, so it is averaging out to being about the same as it was at my old job as far as getting out to shoot a few photos.

On that front, the past two weeks I have been playing with the high-speed burst mode of shooting photos of subjects in action, as you will see shortly.

The reason for that is because every review of the new Canon 7D Mk II has put a lot of emphasis on the fact that it can shoot up to 10 frames per second, with a buffer large enough to hold 33 RAW images, and some fantastic number of high quality Jpegs.

My 60D can’t come close to that, and I’ve only tried the high-speed burst mode once, on a vulture and hawk which were both out of range at the time that I tried it, but it seemed to work reasonably well. I found it to be a great way to shoot a large quantity of bad photos in a very short time. My results the past two weeks is somewhat the same, high-speed burst is a great way to shoot a large number of bad photos in a short time, but, it can also be the way to catch good action shots that I would otherwise miss.

Splash

Splash

Trying to time when a water drop from melting snow will hit the ground is impossible, as is catching a drop in midair.

Water drop in midair

Water drop in midair

Unfortunately, I used too slow of a shutter speed on the falling water drop, but I can see the potential of using the high-speed burst mode of shooting photos. But, I won’t tell you how many images I deleted to get those two. ๐Ÿ˜‰

With my old Nikon, I used to be able to fill the buffer shooting quickly when pressing the shutter release for each photo, so I’ve been leery of using the high-speed burst mode of my Canon 60D, That was an unfounded fear. On the same day as I shot the water drops, which I shot in quick but short bursts, I saw Bruiser, our resident male red-tailed hawk fly past me, although he was really out of range, so I started shooting in high-speed mode and didn’t quit until it got beyond the point of being ridiculous, just to see how large the buffer of the 60D is. I shot 59 high quality Jpeg images in that burst, and never did fill the buffer. These three images that I saved from that experiment are nothing special, but it did show me that using the high-speed burst mode was something that I need to use more often.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Like I said, those are nothing special, other than they showed me the potential of using the high-speed burst mode, and how large the buffer of my 60D is, which I put to much better use during a trip to Muskegon. I shot some of my best photos of a great blue heron flying straight at me, but you’ll have to wait until I do a post on that trip to see them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In the meantime, another thing that I have been trying is using the Tokina 100 mm macro lens for more than just macros, since it is my best lens optically.

Snowy tree

Snowy tree

Snow scene

Snow scene

Thirty seconds of sunshine

Thirty seconds of sunshine

Of course, that lens is a great macro lens.

Yellow lichens

Yellow lichens

???

???

Blue lichens

Blue lichens

Fungus or mold?

Fungus or mold?

Box elder tree seed

Box elder tree seed

Mosses and lichens

Mosses and lichens

You may remember the mosses from a recent post, when I had to shoot at f/2.8 to get any photo at all. The last one was shot with the lens stopped down for more depth of field in this image, so more of the image is in focus and you can see the mosses better.

Here’s another image of something from a recent post, the egg case that I shot earlier. With more sunlight, I was able to get closer to show one of the insect eggs in the egg case.

Insect egg

Insect egg

Here’s another repeat of sorts.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

I did manage to get close to a few birds.

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

And of course, a few squirrels as well.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel loving the sunshine

Fox squirrel loving the sunshine

Now then, I still wanted to play with the high-speed burst mode, and since it was a sunny day, I decided to try a few shots of mallards in action, since they are great subjects for practicing on. I did catch one flying, but didn’t do very well catching it in action.

Male mallard taking off

Male mallard taking off

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

I was using the 70-200 mm lens with the 1.4X tele-converter, and that was too slow as far as auto-focusing and shutter speed for any good images. So, since the mallards were just lounging around, I decided to switch gears and try for my best photo ever of a male mallard.

That may sound strange, since I’ve shot hundreds of photos of mallards, but it’s hard to get a perfect photo of them.

Male mallard

Male mallard

That’s not bad, I got most of him in focus and exposed correctly, but his chest is out of focus, and his belly is slightly over-exposed. Luckily, mallards love to ham for a camera.

Male mallard

Male mallard

Male mallard treading carefully

Male mallard treading carefully

Male mallard shaking it off

Male mallard shaking it off

Male mallard hamming for the camera

Male mallard hamming for the camera

Male mallard hamming for the camera

Male mallard hamming for the camera

I had forgotten just how hard it was to get a great image of a male mallard! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if they weren’t so common and tame, mallards would be one of the most sought after species of birds that there is. They’re beautiful, the way that they are colored, but we take them for granted because they are so common.

Male mallard

Male mallard

Male mallard

Male mallard

In the last two photos, you can see how they change color as the light strikes them at different angles, and the pattern of the feathers on a male’s back.

I tried the Tokina macro lens, and no surprise, it got me the best photos of the day.

Male mallard hamming for the camera

Male mallard hamming for the camera

Female mallard

Female mallard

Enough mallards for now, time to switch to ice. I was actually looking for a bird that I had heard calling, but never found, when I spotted this ice formation ย created when the water in a metal fence post froze.

Ice

Ice

I shot another from a little farther away.

Ice

Ice

And then, I tried getting as close to the ice as I could.

Ice

Ice

That’s it for the photos, just a few more words to say.

I said earlier that I shot some of my best heron in flight photos at Muskegon, that was even though it was a rainy, foggy day. However, the heron was small potatoes compared to this guy!

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

But, you’ll have to wait for my next post to see more photos of him. I wonder if he’s a distant relative of Mike the snowy owl that I photographed a couple of years ago? This one sat and posed for me just like Mike did.

Anyway, not only did Iย get some good shots of the owl, but also another golden eagle and several of its cousins, bald eagles.ย I don’t know when I post the Muskegon trip photos, like I said, it was rainy and foggy that day, so the image quality isn’t the best for some of the images. It’s also supposed to be nice with sunshine this weekend, so I’ll be going back, hoping for better photos.

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

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25 responses

  1. Well, your job problems, being the new man on the block so to speak, doesn’t stop you from taking excellent pictures. That drop of water is a minor miracle. Enjoy the money when you get it.

    December 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    • Thank you Susan! I wouldn’t call that shot a miracle, just knowing how to use a camera’s features did the trick.

      December 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

  2. Love your shot of the Male mallard taking off!

    December 4, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    • Thanks Bob! Next time I’ll use the right lens.

      December 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

  3. Only in my dreams, will I ever see a Snowy Owl. ๐Ÿ™‚ Great shot, Jerry.

    December 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    • Thanks Bob! However, that works both ways, you have a lot of species in Texas that we never see in Michigan.

      December 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      • That’s true, but there is something mystic about that beautiful white bird.

        December 7, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      • Especially in the fog, I’m working on a post about that right now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        December 7, 2014 at 6:39 pm

  4. That’s a great shot of the splash-not easy to get at all. I’ve never played with the burst mode on my camera and to be honest, don’t even know how to turn it on. Mosses and mushrooms don’t run very fast, so I haven’t needed it.
    Mallards might be an easy target there but not here. They don’t seem to be used to humans at all and fly off as soon as they see you, so they can be a difficult shot. At least, they have been for me. In the last 4 years I’ve had one female actually sit still and let me take her picture.
    The white fungus or mold is neither-it’s a whitewash lichen (Phlyctis argena.) I’m working on a post with them in it now.
    That’s a great shot of the snowy owl. I’d love to see one!
    I’m glad things are settling down at work. Enjoy that steak dinner!

    December 4, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    • Thank you Allen! I can see why you’ve never used the burst mode, although it may come in handy if you find a quick moving slime mold. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Come fall and winter, we get some of those skittish mallards around here, but there are so many local residents that are tame that I don’t have to worry about the wild ones.

      Well, that goes to show you how good I am at identifying mosses, lichens, ferns, fungi, molds, and so on…I can’t even get the right classification.

      There have been a few snowy owls spotted around here already this winter, there may be some near you. Don’t think of them as tradition owls though, snowy owls prefer to hunt wide open fields during the day, rather than the woods at night.

      And thanks again for the well wishes on my new job, being asked how long I’d like to work, rather than told that I had to work the maximum allowed by law is something new to me. That, and helpful dispatchers.

      December 5, 2014 at 7:38 pm

  5. Yeah for you for finally using the high speed continuous shooting mode. In jpg, the sky is almost the limit. The only thing else you can do is make sure memory card is a class 10 at least or as fast as possible to record.

    In shooting RAW, and in the cold temperatures, I find the card slows down and has a hard time keeping up with the shutter on the 5D Mark III. Still waiting on the bugs to be worked out of on the new 7D.

    Thrilled that you’re doing so well with the new job, even if the hours are rough. Think of all those steaks you can eat in my name. ๐Ÿ™‚

    December 4, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    • Thanks Emily! I can see that there are times when high-speed is a good thing, if I like to sort out and delete tons of bad photos. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The SD card in my 60D is supposed to be the fastest on the market at the time, I haven’t tried it with RAW images yet but 60 jpegs is so much better than the 6 or 7 I could shoot with my old Nikon.

      I’m really not a big meat eater, but every once in a while I do crave a good steak, now I can afford one once in a while.

      December 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm

  6. So many fun shots in this group. The mallard shots could all be part of a series entitled ‘Male Mallard Line-Dancing’. Loved 30 Seconds of Sunshine – we have to take what we can get, sometimes.

    As always, I’m envious of your eye, and how you view the scene before you.

    Glad you are finding a rosy glow to life these days.

    December 4, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    • Thanks Judy! I love mallards, I used to think that if reincarnation did occur, that I’d like to come back as a dog. Not any more, mallards have an easy life and love to clown around.

      Life is good. I just got home after working 13 hours, but after a good meal and a hot shower, I’m feeling the good kind of mellow tiredness. The paychecks are better too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      December 5, 2014 at 6:25 pm

  7. I like the “crown” drop. A friend of mine managed to take a series of photos of a drop slamming into a bowl of milk, creating a “milk crown”. Quite impressive!

    December 5, 2014 at 12:21 am

    • Thank you Lavinia! I thought about shooting milk drops, but I thought that starting with water was a good place to begin.

      December 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm

  8. Wonderfully sharp shots of the birds. The colours on the Mallards are gorgeous and I feel like the squirrel is right there in front of me. The fur looks like I could reach in and tough it on the screen. Actually all the shots are lovely. I’d love to be able to get some water droplet ones like that.

    December 5, 2014 at 12:32 am

    • Thank you very much Jane! Squirrels and mallards are easy to get very close to, making them great subjects to practice on for when a more difficult subject shows up.

      December 5, 2014 at 6:28 pm

  9. I am sorry the hours aren’t good at the moment in your new job but if the pay and other conditions of work are fine and there is the prospect of better hours in the future it’s not all bad news. The water droplet is great and I liked all the Mallard shots. My favourites are the American Goldfinch and the Snowy Owl.

    December 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    • Thanks Clare! I knew what I was getting into when I took the job, but it’s been worth it, believe me. It’s not just the money either, although that helps, I would like working for this company much more than the last one even if the money was the same.

      December 5, 2014 at 6:42 pm

      • I am really pleased for you.

        December 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

  10. So sorry I missed these fabulous duck photos earlier! (It’s been a tough week!) You are so right about the male mallard. Thank you for showcasing his beauty in this way. Look forward to seeing more of that Snowy owl, too!!!

    December 6, 2014 at 9:33 am

    • Thanks Lori! I’ve got more snowy owl photos coming, I even caught him yawning.

      December 6, 2014 at 8:01 pm

  11. I love how diverse and eclectic your album is…Great photos.

    December 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    • Thank you very much Charlie!

      December 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm