Around home, Before the deep freeze
Where do I begin? It’s been so long since I shot many of the photos that will appear in this post that I don’t remember many of the details of where and when I shot them, other than they were all shot around my apartment as I went on walks around here. From my last post, you know that I spent a lot of time on the road over the Christmas weekend, driving back and forth to various places along Lake Michigan. I decided to save money and stay home over the New Years weekend. Not that there were many things to photograph around here, or good light when I did want to shoot a photo.
During one week in December, we went an entire week with just seven minutes of sunshine, Lake Michigan was working overtime to produce the lake effect clouds that kept this area so dreary for most of the month.
So, I think that I’ll skip way ahead, and start with a photo from yesterday, when there was some sunshine.
There’s a couple who walk their dogs daily in the same park that I walk, and they decorate the entrance gate to the park, as well as a couple of the small trees in the park, and that’s one of the ornaments that they put out for every one to enjoy. In one way, I wish that the reflective coating hadn’t begun to flake off from that ornament, in another way, it adds interest to that image. I shot some of the other ornaments at the same time, those photos may appear in a later post, but I should stay away from them now. Otherwise, I’ll be wanting a fish-eye lens to play with to get the same effect as the reflection shots. 😉
Yesterday was the first time that I went for a walk while carrying my monopod with the new ball head attached to it, and I was looking for interesting things to try that set-up out on, but this was the best thing that I could find.
I have been trying that set-up indoors, I won’t bore you with those photos though. However, I’m liking the ball head on the monopod, it works well so far. I even tested the limits of what the ball head can hold by putting the 300 mm prime lens on it to go from this, shot at 1/400…
…and slow the shutter down to get this at 1/15.
The ball head has a quick release plate, so I don’t have to screw the monopod to the camera body or tripod mount of the lens if so equipped, which makes it much easier to use. I can hold the monopod vertical, the position it is most stable in, and tilt the camera as needed using the ball head, works like a charm with the macro and wide-angle lenses! The 300 mm lens is pushing the capacity of the lightweight head that I bought, but I found that it will work in a pinch.
Now then, let’s go back in time to the middle of December, so that I can post the photos in the order they were shot, more or less. I’ll start with some fungi, just because I liked the way that the light that day fell on them.
You can see, not every day was cloudy, it just seemed that way. 😉
Most of my photos of birds looked more along these lines, high noise, low resolution.
Since I’m on goldfinches, here’s one that was taking a bath in a creek.
And, here it is drying its wing feathers…
…then noticing me watching it.
Maybe I’m losing my touch, but I can’t seem to get many birds to pose for me lately. I’m not the only one complaining about that, several other people I have spoken to have been saying that all the birds seem very skittish this year. I have no idea why that would be, but that’s how it’s been the last few months.
The poor light also interfered with my attempts to shoot macro photos, here’s one of the better ones of late.
It’s hard to get the lens stopped down for a good field of view needed for macros, and like a dummy, I don’t carry my flash or LED light in poor weather, as I’m worried about ruining them, and/or battery life in cold weather.
In some areas of the country, they get rain, which allows fungi and lichens to become good subjects for photos, then sunshine to shoot photos of those subjects. Around here, as I’m sure that I’ve mentioned more than a few times, we get rain and nearly continuous cloud cover for days after this time of year. Well, on one rainy day, I noticed this brightly colored lichen.
And, as I was trying for photos of the lichen, I noticed these tiny fungi growing nearby on the same tree.
I switched to the macro lens for these, but they’re not very good since the light was so bad.
As is almost always the case, I saw things through the macro lens that had escaped my notice before. That section of the tree had a miniature jungle growing on it, but I was frustrated trying to get better photos.
I don’t know if some of those things are mosses or what they are, but they looked interesting through the macro lens even if they didn’t photograph well.
Of course, it’s hard to get good photos when many of the days when I was trying looked like this.
However, the snow never stuck around for more than a day or two until New Year’s Eve, but I’m getting ahead of myself again.
On the same day as I shot that last photo, I was very surprised to find this heron taking shelter from the storm in the brush along the creek in the park.
I couldn’t find an opening in the brush to get a clearer shot of the heron, and while I was trying, the heron took off.
Macro photos aren’t the only type of photos that need some light for depth of field, here’s a muskrat taken on one of the many dreary days here.
Its eyes are relatively sharp in that photo, but the rest of it is blurry because I had to shoot with the lens wide open, hence, no depth of field with the 300 mm prime lens.
I have to keep telling myself that I walk for the exercise, the photography is just something to make the walking more interesting, but it’s becoming harder to convince myself of that as I immerse myself deeper into the photography. So, I tell myself that even though the images are crap, they’re still a record of what I saw when walking, like the heron and muskrat.
Trying to think positively, we’re about half-way through January already. While February is often the coldest winter month around here, I can already tell that we’re getting longer hours of sunlight, even through the clouds. March is a wet, sloppy month, but by then, it’s warming up, the birds are singing spring songs, and those birds that migrated south are beginning to trickle back to this area, so, it won’t be long now. The first flowers of spring will soon be appearing shortly.
So, I have to accept the fact that for a few months each winter, good nature photos are going to be few and far between, unless I’ve saved some from the summer months, like this one.
Now then, back to what’s normal around here this time of year, fungi that I had to use the flash on to get any usable photo at all.
One good thing, I’m getting better at controlling the flash built into the camera.
I’m also learning to take advantage of every second of good light that I get.
I had all summer to hang around the ponds and shoot mallards in action, but did I? Of course not, I waited until winter to shoot them.
That was because I had plenty of other subjects to shoot.
Here’s another photo of one of the plants from earlier in this post.
I like that one, with the frost and the vine in the background, it was shot with the 300 mm prime if any one is interested. I’m using this time when I don’t see very much to shoot to experiment more, sometimes, as in the last one, they work, most of the time I get to wear out the delete key. 😉
I did find a few other birds, starting with these unhappy bluebirds, and by the way, who ever heard of unhappy bluebirds?
Maybe they were unhappy because they knew this was in their future.
Back to the birds.
Yup, I’ve been so bored on a few days that I’ve had to resort to shots like that last one. 😉
But, spring will get here eventually.
And, spring better get here, or the smug squirrel from an earlier post will have exploded from over eating.
I suppose that I should quit whining about the weather here during the winter months, it is what it is, and I’m not able to change it. We did have two sunny days in a row here the last two days, but unfortunately, I had to work, and didn’t have time for a walk. However, with the sun came very cold temperatures, we set record low temperatures the last two days as well. That’s the way it goes here, the only sunny days we get are when the wind is straight out of the north, bringing Arctic air into the state.
The forecast is for a warming trend this next weekend, we may make it above freezing for a day or two, that will seem like a heat wave!
Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Michigan, at least for nine months of the year, and our winters aren’t as harsh as most of the northern state’s winters are. The Great Lakes, which produce the almost constant cloud cover also moderate out temperatures compared to Wisconsin or Minnesota, as examples.
Maybe when I retire I’ll become a “snow bird” a resident of one of the northern states that travel south for the winter. 😉
Well, that wraps this one up, I’m about caught up in using the photos that I have saved for future posts, I may go to Muskegon this weekend to stock up again. It would probably be Sunday, as I have volunteered to work Saturday if they need me there. Trying to save up for that new computer as quickly as possible. 😉
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!