More random thoughts from around home
Even though the photos in this post will be ones that I shot around home, I have to start with my day yesterday, as it fits in with the last post, and what I’ll talk about in this post to some degree. It was another day of off and on rain showers, so I went to Muskegon, where I can stay in my car, or close to it, while birding. I was correct, the new backpack is too heavy to carry very far, but it sure was handy to lug all my gear around in only one bag for the first time in years.
I have purchased another backpack, smaller and lighter than the first, I may not get all my gear into it, but I will be able to fit the “must haves” in it, and be able to carry it. I’ll give it a try today, once the sun comes up. Another nice thing about this smaller pack is that I don’t have to undo everything to get to my gear. I set the large one in the back of my Subaru yesterday, opened it up, and left it open until I returned home, as it does take a minute or two to open it up or close it. The smaller one will work fine for day trips, I’ll use the larger one for longer trips, they will compliment each other nicely.
I mentioned in my last post that I’ll be buying the Canon 400 mm f/5.6 L series lens next month, now I’ll tell you why. The Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) is a very good lens, but it weighs over 4 pounds (1.8 Kg) by itself, attached to the camera, it’s over 6 pounds (2.7 Kg), and that’s a lot of weight to carry, and to sling around as I’m trying to photograph fast-moving birds. I’ve said that before, but there’s also another reason I want the 400 mm lens.
My two sharpest lenses are the Tokina 100 mm macro lens, and the Canon 70-200 mm f/4 L series lens. One thing that those two lenses share is a lack of image stabilization. I think that the lack of IS is what makes those two lenses sharper than my others. More layers of glass in the IS system has to degrade image quality at least a little, no matter how good the glass is, or computer controlled machines are at grinding the lenses. I’m hoping that the same will be true of the 400 mm lens, without IS, it will be a touch sharper than my other lenses that I use for birding. Since it doesn’t have IS, it’s almost exactly the same weight as the 300 mm L series lens that I have. That, and I get ghosting of birds in flight from the IS system if I don’t have time to turn it off before I shoot the photos. The 300 mm lens is also a tad too short for serious birding, even birds in flight.
Without IS, I’ll use the 400 mm lens on nice weather days, and the 300 mm on really rotten lighting days, and save the Beast for special occasions when it’s the best choice of the three. Without IS, the 400 mm lens should be just the ticket to throw around when I’m trying to shoot birds in flight. I’m hoping that the weather pattern here changes by the time when the new lens arrives, as I’m tired of the rain and shooting photos in low light.
Like I said, it rained off and on yesterday, the forecast is the same for today, along with another dense fog advisory for the morning. That seems to be the story for the past month, if I have time to get outside, it rains on and off, although there have been some sunny spells too, they’ve not lasted for very long.
One other short camera related things that I have to say, sometimes what I thought would be overkill turns out to be just what the doctor ordered. The 60D camera bodies I use have just 9 focus points, one in the middle, then eight more in an oval pattern that seems to work well for composing photos to the rule of thirds. The 7D Mk II body has 65 focus points, which I thought was far more than any one would ever need, but I was wrong. Not only do all the focus points come in handy while shooting birds in flight…
…but by selecting the correct points to use, I can get my composition just the way that I want it for other subjects.
I’m back from my walk this morning, I actually had light that was okay for most of the time. The smaller bag worked well enough, although it’s a tad smaller than what would be best, and I didn’t strap the tripod to it yet. One step at a time, I did walk the entire 5 miles today with the backpack on, once my muscles are used to it, I’ll add the tripod.
Why is that my favorite photos are the ones from my last time out?
Maybe it’s because they are so much better than the ones I have saved.
I have photos going back to when the lilacs were in bloom.
I put that in just to bring back memories of how good they smelled! It’s the same reason for these.
I had to look high and low to find one with its flowers turned up enough to see inside.
But these were no problem at all.
Although it took me a few days to find some that were totally dry.
Thankfully, it hasn’t been too warm yet this year, with all the rain we’ve received, if we do get any sunshine, it gets very humid, so humid that the squirrels spraddle out on the tree branches to stay cool.
When they aren’t lounging around, you may see them in the treetops filling their belly’s.
I had a photo of a poor, bedraggled deer that I was going to post along with a story. The past two winters have been so hard on the deer in Michigan’s upper peninsula that the state was considering suspending the hunting season for this fall. The deer herd is down by around 40% in the UP, but their were so many protests from hunters and the businesses that rely on the hunters that the state caved, and will allow hunting, but the state won’t issue as many doe or second buck permits as they have in the past. I deleted the photo of the very skinny deer, because it only took a few weeks of good food to get the herd here back to looking fit and healthy again.
That one was running around in the field next to the park, either she was confused, or running just for the heck of it. I have photos of her going back and forth, but I won’t bore you with them. But, these two other deer found the antics of the first to be amusing.
They soon joined the first, but there’s no reason to post those photos either.
I’ve also deleted a good many poor quality bird in flight photos that I shot while learning the 7D MkII’s auto-focusing system, but here’s a couple that I’ll post even though they aren’t that good.
Those are all of the second of two cardinals that were fighting over that flowering bush as their territory. They were at it for quite a while, over half an hour as I remember. One would pop out of the bush and then dive back into it on the other side, then I’d wait for the second to do the same, but sometimes it cheated and took shortcuts through the bush instead.
Let’s see, what other birds do I have saved?
I can’t believe that I’m as far behind as I am and I’m posting photos of starlings, when I could be posting these instead.
The grosbeaks were taking turns on the nest until a little over a week ago.
About the same time that the young grosbeaks fledged, the kingbird was just starting her nest.
If you’re not familiar with kingbirds, they are just as territorial and quick to defend their nest as any species of bird is. You may know that red-winged blackbirds will attack any size predator, such as a red-tailed hawk…
…and even larger birds, a snowy owl near Muskegon in this case.
The kingbirds are just as fearless in their defense of their young.
I also had photos of a Baltimore oriole chasing a very ragged crow out of its territory, but I decided that it wasn’t good enough to post. It’s amazing to watch the smaller songbirds taking on what seem to be giants to them though.
Anyway, I have room for a few more photos, so here’s a bird that I don’t see everyday.
I missed getting a photo of a yellow billed cuckoo while at Lane’s Landing a few weeks ago, and I also missed a least bittern, which really ticked me off, they are hard to see in the first place, and this was a male in full breeding plumage. I missed the cuckoo by playing around too long trying to get the best photo possible, rather than shooting a couple of quick shots, then going for a better one. The bittern was missed because it flew across the path in front of me and disappeared into the marsh before I could react. Oh well, maybe next time.
So, I suppose that I’ll end this one with one of my favorite subjects to shoot, a male mallard posing for me.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!