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

Still more random thoughts from around home

I have to begin with some bad news, my Tokina 100 mm macro lens died on Sunday. That wasn’t completely unexpected, I’d been getting error messages at times from my camera bodies telling me that they couldn’t communicate with the lens when I tried to shoot a picture. That’s one of the reasons that I purchased the set of extension tubes that I mentioned in an earlier post, to serve as a back-up to the macro lens, as well as increase the versatility of my other lenses. After getting a couple more of those error messages yesterday, the lens quit working at all. It won’t try to focus, and the aperture is stuck partially closed. It could be a loose wire or bad connection inside of the lens, or it could be much more serious.

Now I’m faced with a decision, do I send the Tokina lens in and see if it can be repaired, or do I purchase the macro lens that I wished that I could afford when I did purchase the Tokina, the Canon 100 mm L series macro lens?

Optically, the Tokina was the best lens that I own, but it was ancient in design. The auto-focus was the old screw drive type, noisy and slower than molasses in January, and the lens didn’t have image stabilization, when macro photos are one of the times when you need it most, if you’re not using a tripod.

As you may be able to tell, I’m leaning towards replacing the Tokina, rather than trying to have it repaired. I’ve never had good luck with camera equipment that has been repaired, and while the Tokina was very sharp, I was never completely happy with the way it rendered some colors, especially blue.

Blue-eyed grass

Blue-eyed grass

I can live without the 400 mm lens that I was going to buy, but I can’t live without a macro lens at this time of year, when I never know what may slither past me…

Snail

Snail

Snail

Snail

…land next to me…

Fly

Unidentified flying object

…or what flowers I’ll see.

Flea bane

Wild rose

IMG_8088

Hop trefoil

IMG_8090

Flea bane

Flea bane

Flea bane

Moth mullein

Moth mullein

Beard's tongue

Beard’s tongue

I just installed 16 GB more of RAM in my iMac, and it has made even more of a difference when working in Lightroom than I thought that it would, it snaps right to the photo when I change which one I want to view. And, I can do a three image HDR in less than thirty seconds, not bad when it used to take my old computer twenty minutes or more. Even better, I added the 16 GB or Ram for less than half of what 8 GB would have cost me had I gotten it from Apple. It’s great to have nice things and get them at a good price!

The weather around here continues to be rainy and gloomy, although I’ve had two good days in a row this weekend. I can’t remember the last time that there was sunshine for both of my days off from work. Not only that, but it was cool for summertime, and very pleasant both days as well. Many of the photos in this post were shot in the rain, as if you hadn’t been able to tell that from the snail photos. I got more than a little wet while lying on the ground that day. 😉

The birds don’t seem to mind too much, here’s a mourning dove splashing around…

Mourning dove playing in the rain

Mourning dove playing in the rain

…but they prefer some sunshine at least once in a while also.

Mourning dove on a sunny morning

Mourning dove on a sunny morning

I shouldn’t do this, as far behind as I am in my blogging, but these photos are too good to whittle down to one or two, a turkey posing for me.

Turkey

Turkey

He had started out facing away from me as he fanned his tail out, and while a turkey’s butt is quite impressive when they fan their tail, it’s still a turkey’s butt. I was fortunate that he turned slowly and put on a show for me.

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

You can see how their feathers seem to change color as the light hits them differently, even better, he decided to let out a gobble for me.

Turkey gobbling

Turkey gobbling

Then he turned, looked at me as if to say “I hope that you got that, the show’s over, I’m off to find a willing female!”…

Turkey

Turkey

…before he turned and headed into the brush.

Changing gears, on day back in May, I went to the Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve. I arrived before dawn, hoping to get some good early morning landscape photos as the sun rose. That was not to be, for they lock the place up at night, and don’t open the gates until 8 AM. It was a mostly forgettable day anyway, a few minutes of sunshine early on…

Pickeral Lake after sunrise

Pickerel Lake after sunrise

(if you look closely, there’s a deer drinking from the lake in the lower left of the frame)

…before it clouded over shortly after I got started. The highpoint of the day was getting this male redstart while he was singing….

Male American redstart singing

Male American redstart singing

Male American redstart singing

Male American redstart singing

…and getting photos of bobwhite quail for the My Photo Life List project I’m working on.

Female northern bobwhite quail

Female northern bobwhite quail

Male northern bobwhite quail

Male northern bobwhite quail

I did find it interesting to find trillium still blooming there so late in the year.

Trillium

Trillium

And I remember playing hide and seek with a red squirrel.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

It was very surprised that I had gotten into position to catch it coming out from behind the leaves like that.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

Needless to say, it didn’t want to play after I had won round one. 😉

On the other hand, this chipmunk didn’t seem to mind being caught out in the open.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

The only other wildlife of note was this pileated woodpecker…

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

…which perched in an almost impossible spot to get a good shot of it, almost directly between the sun and myself….

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

…so that’s the best that I could do.

I’m probably wrong, but I believe that this is the spore producing part of a cinnamon fern.

Cinnamon fern?

Cinnamon fern?

And I also think that this is horsetail beginning to “leaf” out.

Horsetail plant

Horsetail plant

My memory must be going, for I know that my mom told me what these were dozens of times, but I’ve forgotten what they are.

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object

Since the gates to the Pickerel Lake preserve are locked until 8 AM, and because the place is so busy, I probably won’t go back until fall. There’s plenty of other places nearby, including right around my apartment where I can see enough nature to keep me supplied in photos throughout the summer.

Wild rose

Wild rose

Day lily

Day lily

Catalpa

Catalpa

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Skipper on red clover

Skipper on red clover

Skipper on red clover

Skipper on red clover

Skipper on vetch

Skipper on hairy vetch

Male Baltimore oriole

Male Baltimore oriole

Yellow hawkweed?

Yellow hawkweed?

Milkweed flowers

Milkweed flowers

Can you tell that many of these photos were shot early in the morning on the few days when there was some sunshine? I love getting out first thing in the morning, the light is better for photography, and there’s more wildlife to be seen. The one downside to getting out early is that some flowers don’t open until the sun has been up for a while. That’s okay, if they are closed on my way out, they are usually open when I’m on my way back home.

I could babble on for some time about my decision process for choosing whether or not to repair or replace the Tokina macro lens, and everything that there is to take into consideration, such as filter size, but I won’t bore you with that. I will say that I’ve decided to replace the macro lens with a Canon 100 mm L series, based on price, performance, features, and filter size to name a few of the many things that affected my decision. Maybe I’ll buy the 400 mm lens for myself for Christmas, or maybe not. I may very well find that I don’t need or even want that lens as much as I thought, only time will tell.

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

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27 responses

  1. Decisions, decisions. I’m still sticking with the lenses you recommended for my Rebel. They do an adequate job and the budget is tight until the old house sells. Though I have to say I seriously thought about how great a bit more autofocus would have been nice when I was out on the kayak. It was really hard to get good focus when I was so low on the water. Don’t know if a different lens might have helped, but I ultimately started doing some manual focus. It was probably good practice, but I could only do it for some of the slower birds. More practice needed, or perhaps a better lens and body when I have some spare change.

    June 30, 2015 at 12:26 am

    • Thank you Gunta! There’s so many things that affect modern photography equipment, much of it is never written about. Such as how a lens that works great on one camera body works poorly on another body of the same brand. I hate to rub it in, but I’m loving the 7D Mk II, everything seems to work as it should with all my lenses, with the possible exception of the now defunct Tokina macro lens. I never had a problem with that lens until I tried it on the 7D, and the thought occurred to me that the lens, being a very old design, wasn’t compatible with the brand new body.

      Going back to manual focusing isn’t all bad, I tweak the focus from what the 60D bodies give me for almost every shot. If I relied on the auto-focus of those bodies, you wouldn’t see the improvement in my images that you’ve seen and commented on in the past.

      June 30, 2015 at 12:46 am

  2. Great photographs. For close up work I prefer a slower focussing lens. Vibration control is less effective the closer you get to 1:1. Just sold my Nikon 105 for a Sigma.

    June 30, 2015 at 6:26 am

    • Thanks for your input Victor! I looked long and hard at the Sigma, especially since it’s on sale for $200 less than the Canon. But, there were several reasons I decided to go with the Canon, besides the auto-focus and IS. The Canon is weather sealed, the Sigma isn’t, The Canon takes 67 mm filters, the same as two of my other lenses, the Sigma takes 62 mm filters. One good polarizer filter would make up the difference in price between the two lenses. I have a good 67 mm polarizer already.

      June 30, 2015 at 2:45 pm

  3. I’m sorry your lens has died as your macro shots are wonderful. I’m not sure that you could go for too long without a replacement but I’m sure you’ll try to find some means to get near enough what you want from the lenses you have.
    I love the red squirrel shots you managed to get and the skipper butterfly ones are beautiful.

    June 30, 2015 at 6:32 am

    • Thank you very much Clare! I’ll get by for a week or so by using the extension tubes, as you will see in my next post, and by using the 300 mm lens and cropping down to macro, which you will also see in the same post.

      June 30, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      • I look forward to it 🙂

        June 30, 2015 at 8:25 pm

  4. Jerry,
    Good luck with the lens decision. Nice shots of the turkey and all the flowers. It’s been a tough spring in central Ohio, tons of rain. Fortunately on our trip to Algonquin, the weather was a lot better, and believe it or not the bugs weren’t that bad. Bob

    June 30, 2015 at 7:13 am

    • Thank you very much Bob! I know that as bad as it’s been here with the rain, that central Indiana and Ohio have ben hit even harder. I’m glad that you had good weather for your vacation.

      June 30, 2015 at 2:50 pm

  5. Love all your macro shots, especially the flowers where you can see all the fine little hairs that hold pollen and other bits, then seeing some of those same bits attached to the Unidentified Flying Object. Hope you find the perfect new lens to match up with your gear – I somehow just can’t imagine you getting an old, slow one repaired!

    June 30, 2015 at 8:00 am

    • Thank you Judy! Being the curious type, I want to see all those fine little hairs and other bits too, to see how the flowers work. As inexpensive as the dead lens was, the shipping and handling to send it in for repair would cover almost half the cost of an identical new lens, so there’s no reason to have the dead one repaired as I see it.

      June 30, 2015 at 2:57 pm

  6. You are such a good photographer, I loved those turkeys and the fox squirrel of course.

    June 30, 2015 at 11:37 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! I included the squirrel just for you.

      June 30, 2015 at 2:51 pm

  7. I think I’d replace the lens too if you can find one as good. I was going to replace my Panasonic Lumix after I dropped it but I had even Canon salesman tell me there wasn’t a Canon camera for the same price that could do what the Panasonic could. And Panasonic doesn’t make it anymore!
    That is the fertile frond on a cinnamon fern and the unidentified flower looks like a calla lily. Probably wild calla (Calla palustris.)
    Nice shots of the turkey, squirrel and chipmunk. Squirrels and chipmunks have been following me lately. They stay in the woods but keep pace, following right along. I’m not sure why or what it is they want. Maybe they think I’m a nut.
    Glad you saw the quails. I would think that would be a very hard bird to get a good shot of.

    June 30, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! Not only can I find a lens as good as the one that died, I can find a better one, one that’s weather sealed to keep out moisture and dust. Your Panasonic does excellent macros with you at the controls, I’d guard it with my life if I were you. 😉

      As for the squirrels and chipmunks following you, it could be that some one has been feeding them, and they’re looking for a handout. Or, I’ve seen critters follow me or other humans for a short distance, just to keep an eye on them to know when they’ve left the area, and it’s safe again.

      I really lucked out with the quail, they were at the edge of the trail picking up either insects, or the small stones that they need in their crop to grind up the food that they eat. Seeing them in the open is rare, and seeing them in the grass is almost impossible.

      June 30, 2015 at 11:29 pm

  8. I don’t know anything about the equipment you are talking about but given what my friends have said about the cost of having camera equipment fixed and their discontent with the results I would probably opt for buying the new one you’ve wanted. I just switch to the macro setting on the old camera I use – no ability to add different lenses – so that’s how far I am behind in the tech knowledge! 😉 Loved the macroshots in this post. I rarely see snails about here. That’s good for my garden but I do enjoy watching them they are fascinating close-up. Nothing wrong with including multiple shots of the same bird! It shows their variation in appearance and behaviour. Male turkeys do love to show off, don’t they? I had a flock on a farm I lived and they were quite entertaining (and delicious). Another beautiful collection, Jerry. Thank you.

    June 30, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane! I’ve never had luck with repaired electronics or camera gear, so I’ll replace the lens. I like snails also, but seldom see them around here, at least not live ones. I see piles of their shells around rivers and streams and have always wondered why I see so few live ones.

      Our wild turkeys are very wary, so it’s difficult to get that close to one, so I’m especially proud of those photos. One thing that the wild and tame turkeys share is the male turkeys are always in the mood, and make it well known. 😉

      June 30, 2015 at 11:36 pm

  9. Wonderful photographs. The chipmunk stands out like 3D and I’m sure the turkey was posing for you, he know what a good job you do!

    June 30, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    • Thank you very much Brandy!

      June 30, 2015 at 11:37 pm

  10. I am really impressed not just by the excellent quality of the flower pictures but by the number that you can name. The turkey was very good value.

    June 30, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! Two years ago, I don’t think that I could have identified more than one or two of the flowers, but since I’ve been following Allen’s blog, my knowledge base has increased considerably.

      June 30, 2015 at 11:39 pm

      • He is a very knowledgeable chap and very good at helping the less well informed.

        July 1, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      • Truer words have never been spoken!

        July 2, 2015 at 12:06 am

  11. I’m so sorry about the macro lensing crapping out on you – but I know you will get a new one that will help you take even more impressive photos!! That snail — all I can say is WOW!!! So cool to see the design on the shell!

    The bee-bopping mourning dove really made me smile. I used to really dislike mourning doves but I’ve grown rather fond of them recently and they always have that innocent look about them. 🙂 Loved the redstart, too, and the bobwhite pair.

    I sure hope Michigan can dry out a bit now!

    June 30, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    • Thank you very much Amy! It was worth laying down on the wet pavement to get the snail shots, they’re beautiful creatures in their own right. I’ve always loved mourning doves, they are innocent and unobtrusive birds.

      It doesn’t look as if it will dry out soon, it rained on and off again yesterday, and I think that the forecast is about the same for the rest of the week.

      June 30, 2015 at 11:43 pm

  12. That Canon 100mm Macro is a ROCKING lens. You’ll never regret that decision. That 400mm doesn’t have IS, which I’m sure you know. Deal breaker for me. The 300mm was sharp as could be though.

    How are you? This series is awesome, and loved the turkeys.

    June 30, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    • Thank you very much Emily! I’m sure that I’ll love the Canon macro lens, once I’ve had a chance to learn how to use it to its fullest. I’d like the 400 mm lens specifically because it doesn’t have IS, for bird in flight photos. The 300 mm does okay, but it gets soft at mid-range distances, it’s sharp close and at a distance though. I think that my Sigma is sharper between 15 and and 40 feet than the Canon 300 mm.

      I’m doing well, I started a new job in November that keeps me extremely busy, 10 to 14 hours a day, so I don’t have much free time anymore.

      June 30, 2015 at 11:58 pm