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

Jumping ahead, Muskegon June 26th, making do

I’m jumping ahead again, and while I have a few good shots from previous trips to the Muskegon area, most of them were shot on gloomy days. This past weekend, there was sunshine for a change, and my original plan was to hike in Muskegon State Park, and spend some time at Lost Lake there, to photograph the flowers and dragonflies. Even though I said that I wouldn’t be going back to the Muskegon County wastewater facility for a while, that was my first stop on this day, to shoot photos of two species of rare birds that had been seen there. I did manage to get them both, but I’m doing the posts on this trip in reverse order, so my next post will include the rare birds.

The Lost Lake area in Muskegon State Park is a great place to find some rare plants and flowers this time of the year, and I had one in mind that I really wanted to shoot photos of, the rose pogonia orchids. So, I set out with all my photo gear, finding a few things to photograph along the trail leading back to the lake. Those photos will appear a bit later in this post, as I want to start out with the star of the show, the wild orchids.

I got back to Lost Lake, and was happy to see that I had timed this trip just right, the orchids were in full bloom. But, this is when my Tokina macro lens died on me. It wouldn’t do anything, so I sat down for a few minutes to weigh my options. I decided to use my EF-S 15-85 mm lens with the middle length extension tube behind it so as to be able to fill the frame with the orchids. It worked out well enough.

Rose pogonia orchid

Rose pogonia orchid

Rose pogonia orchid

Rose pogonia orchid

I had set-up my LED light on the Gorillapod tripod to add the extra light that I needed to get those photos, that’s a great set-up for macro photos. The extension tubes work well enough, but they limit the range over which a short lens will focus to such a degree as to make it necessary to play with the tubes to get the right one(s) behind the lens for the exact distance from the subject that you want to be to fill the frame with the subject. That didn’t bother me too much on this day, as I had planned to spend most of the day there.

However, many of the flowers that I hoped to shoot are either done for the year, or haven’t begun to bloom yet. I found one pathetic Atlantic blue-eyed grass flower, not worth taking a photo of, the same with the bladderworts, they were few and far between, and not very good specimens for photography. I couldn’t find the large colony of pitcher plants that used to be there, but the sundew are spreading like crazy as the water level of Lost Lake rises, and makes the soil around the lake even wetter than it has been in recent years.

So, I went looking for other things to photograph.

The spore producing part of an unidentified moss.

The spore producing part of an unidentified moss.

That was good, this one is even better.

The spore producing part of an unidentified moss.

The spore producing part of an unidentified moss.

I was very pleased with the way that the 15-85 mm lens performed while using it with the extension tubes.

It looked like wild strawberry to me, but probably isn't

It looked like wild strawberry to me, but probably isn’t

Pincushion moss?

Pincushion moss?

In fact, seeing these photos contributed to my having decided not to try to have the dead Tokina lens repaired, but to purchase a new Canon 100 mm L series macro lens instead, especially since the Canon is weather sealed, which is important to an all-weather photographer such as myself. If I can get photos as good as this one with the new Canon lens, I’ll be a happy camper for sure!

Dragonfly hiding

Dragonfly hiding

I went the other way for this photo, I dug out the 10-18 mm lens to put its large depth of field and close focusing abilities to use for this photo.

Moss

Moss

Those were all shot with one of the 60D bodies, but it didn’t seem to matter which body I used, these were with the 15-85 mm lens and extension tube on the 7D Mk II.

Indian pipes

Indian pipes

Indian pipe

Indian pipe

I have to say, having all my camera gear, well, most of it, sure made photography fun and interesting! I used the LED light for some of those images, my flash unit with either the LED light that is has, or the flash itself as a slave removed from the camera, to get those photos.

News flash!

I picked up a Canon 100 mm L series macro lens today (Thursday) after work.  The Tokina may have had good optics, but the 15-85 mm lens with the extension tube was close, and much easier to use than the Tokina. The new Canon macro lens is even easier, I took a few test photos with it outside my apartment, and didn’t get a single bad photo, despite poor light for all but one image, and a slight breeze blowing the flowers around. It will auto-focus all the way down to at least close to one to one…

Hop trefoil?

Hop trefoil?

…the small yellow flower was about 1/4 inch across and the image wasn’t cropped at all. The faster auto-focus kept up when the flowers moved in the breeze, 25 shots and not one out of focus. The IS is the same, not one blurry because of camera shake either. It’s even much lighter than the Tokina. The topper, it performed equally as well on one of the 60D bodies as it did on the 7D body! How I wish now that I had saved for the Canon lens in the first place, but it never would have been in my budget while I worked at my old job. Oh well, live and learn.

Wait a minute here, I’m not being totally fair to the Tokina. What I learned while using that lens for the last year and a half I put into use today while trying out the new Canon, without even thinking about it. If I had been starting from scratch with the Canon, my results wouldn’t have been close to as good. Still, the new Canon is a much easier lens to use, so it will be worth it in the long run.

It just so happens that I stumbled onto something about Loda Lake, a Federal Wildflower Sanctuary about 70 miles north of where I live. I’ve heard about it before, and I’ve seen the signs for it, and always meant to stop and check it out, but never have. That’s the reason that I picked up the new Canon, I have plans to go there this weekend if the weather forecast is correct. It will be good to get up north again, and check out a new place that I’ve never been to before.

Back to our regularly scheduled post.

When I wasn’t shooting true macros, I stayed busy shooting dragonflies with the 300 mm lens.

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

It’s always good to have a long lens set-up and close by at all times, for I never know what’s going to show up.

Juvenile barred owl number 1

Juvenile barred owl number 1

Juvenile barred owl number 2

Juvenile barred owl number 2

Their parents were around also, but wouldn’t pose for me. I could see them moving around through the trees, but stayed well hidden.

I also heard a veery singing, but I wasn’t able to track it down for a photo. I did find a few birds though.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Turkey

Turkey napping

Female common yellowthroat

Female common yellowthroat

Since we’ve had so much rain this year, I kept an eye out for fungi…

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

…but that’s the only good one that I saw. I do believe that I found two different slime molds though.

Scrambled egg slime mold?

Scrambled egg slime mold?

Coral slime mold?

Coral slime mold?

I took off my backpack that holds my camera gear, grabbed the camera set-up for macros, but in that short of time, the sun had moved enough so that the leaf canopy blocked almost all the sunlight, and it was nearly pitch black on the log where I found those were. I tried to get a better close-up, but even with extra lighting, the images were too poor to share.

After I had been at Lost Lake for a while, the water-lily opened up, as they close at night.

Water lily opening

Water lily opening

Water lily opening

Water lily opening

I didn’t think about it at the time, but it would have been a good time to test out the 7D Mk II’s ability to take time-lapse photos and shoot a series capturing one lily opening over time. There wasn’t much wind, so it would have been great. Maybe next time. Besides, I was using the 7D to shoot rodents.

Grey squirrel, black morph

Grey squirrel, black morph

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

So, you’ll have to make do with this one photo of a fully open water-lily.

Water lily

Water lily

My most unusual photos of the day came as I hiked back to the parking lot to leave, a robber fly eating a ladybug.

Robber fly eating a ladybug

Robber fly eating a ladybug

Robber fly eating a ladybug

Robber fly eating a ladybug

But, I hate to end a post on that note, so I’ll add one photo from the first part of my trip, while I was at the wastewater facility at sunrise.

Sunrise over the marsh

Sunrise over the marsh

Yes, I went crazy shooting more HDR images of yet another sunrise, although that wasn’t one of them. That photo was shot with the 7D and 300 mm lens, and is just as it came out of the camera. In my next post, I’ll cover the foggy sunrise, the rare birds that I found that morning, and a few surprises as well.

That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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28 responses

  1. Lovely…love the dragonflies and the barred owls…

    July 3, 2015 at 12:55 am

    • Thank you very much! I’m glad that you liked them.

      July 3, 2015 at 12:59 am

  2. Indian pipes! haven’t seen those since the east coast. Thank you! beautiful photos as always. Love the ending shot.

    July 3, 2015 at 1:10 am

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I hope to have a few more mid-west only plants and flowers soon.

      July 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm

  3. The squirrel and the chipmunk were a delight, I loved the wild orchid, such a good photograph and the sunrise was a magical shot, thank you.

    July 3, 2015 at 3:57 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! It may sound like I’m bragging, but you’ll see some good sunrise photos in the next post.

      July 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      • Can’t wait!

        July 3, 2015 at 5:43 pm

  4. Very nice selection of photos! I think I’m suffering from macro envy.

    July 3, 2015 at 4:17 am

    • Thanks Bob! I’ve only shot two dozen photos with the Canon L series macro lens, but I have the feeling that it’s something special.

      July 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm

  5. Your first waterlily shot just glowed – love it. Don’t you love finding Indian pipes? It’s such a brief pleasure. Baby owl? And the shot of the blue-eyed dragonfly on the green grass or reed was great.

    Glad you got the new macro lens already (knew you wouldn’t be able to hold out too long without it). It must be very satisfying to have everything come together so well for you.

    Thanks for closing with the sunrise shot. It just shimmers.

    Reading your blog always makes me happy. Hope you get an extra day off for the holiday to wander around with all your new gear.

    July 3, 2015 at 7:16 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! Turn me loose someplace like Muskegon State Park, and you never know what I’ll find. Just a flash of grey from one of the adult’s wings led me to the baby owls, and a single ray of sunlight showcased the Indian pipes so well that I doubt if many people could have missed them.

      Summer is macro season, with the flowers and insects, I couldn’t without a macro lens now. So, I put off buying a lens for mostly bird in flight photos, there’ll be plenty of time for those in the future. I did get a 3 day weekend, and I’m going to try to make the most of it!

      July 3, 2015 at 1:50 pm

  6. A beautiful collection again, Jerry! I especially enjoyed the dragonfly and other insect pics, the fungi and the final sunrise. Michigan summers are very colourful! Keep sharing your excellent pictures with us. 🙂

    July 3, 2015 at 8:41 am

    • Thank you very much Jane! I’ll keep on blogging until I can’t get outside any longer, and hopefully, that will be many years down the trail. I hope that things are going better for you on the home front!

      July 3, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      • Thanks Jerry. 🙂

        July 3, 2015 at 6:35 pm

  7. I think the two slime molds are what you said they were. I’m sure about the scrambled eggs and a little less sure about the coral, but they’re so small.
    The extension tubes were a good investment. I can’t tell when you’re using a macro lens and when you’re not!
    Nice shots of the barred owls. I’ve never seen baby ones before.
    I like the water lilies too but my favorite is the sunrise. That’s a beautiful shot!

    July 3, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! If I hadn’t seen both of those slime olds in your blog recently, I’d have had no idea what they were.

      The extension tubes do work very well, but it takes time to figure out which one, or which combination of the tubes, will be the correct combination.

      I’ve seen young owls before, but never was able to photograph them.

      Wait until you see the sunrise photos in the next post. 😉

      July 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm

  8. The sunrise shot made me forget to say that it was nice to see the rose pagonia orchids too. I saw some today for the first time ever but the sun was so bright that I’m not sure I can salvage the photos. They certainly won’t look as good as yours do!

    July 3, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    • I hope that you are able to salvage your photos, as I’d like to see the regional differences in the orchids. And congratulations on finding them, they’re worth looking for.

      July 4, 2015 at 1:22 am

  9. An all round feast of photographs. You do manage to see a lot when you are out and about.

    July 3, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! I do see a lot when I’m not watching only the treetops for birds.

      July 4, 2015 at 1:20 am

  10. Pingback: Muskegon June 26th, My favorite marsh | Quiet Solo Pursuits

  11. The poor little ladybug being eaten was sad, but the sunrise did help to blot it from my mind. Another nice series. So great to see you getting the gear you want and being happy with it.

    July 4, 2015 at 11:26 am

    • Thank you Gunta! I always wonder about photos such as the robber fly eating a lady bug, but it’s nature, and I learned from that photo, which is one of my goals.

      July 4, 2015 at 5:19 pm

  12. You photograph all the things I love to see on a hike – birds, plants, fungi, insects and the sky! I thought all the shots were wonderful, even the robber fly and its dinner. The orchids are beautiful and the little owls rather cute. The sunrise is amazing! Thank-you Jerry.

    July 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! It would be a lot easier on my back and knees if I limited the types of subjects that I photographed, so that I would have to carry so much gear around. But, I love all those things too, so I just have to photograph them. 😉

      July 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      • I do understand 🙂

        July 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm

  13. Wow, Jerry, another outstanding post! That sunrise is incredible but the stars of this post have to be the series of dragonfly photos. Oh my gosh, those are amazing!! Love the flower macro shots, too. Congrats on the barred owl youngsters! I can’t believe you caught a turkey napping, that is funny!

    Have fun with your new lens. I can’t imagine your photos getting any better, they are already so incredible!

    July 9, 2015 at 9:05 am

    • Thank you very much Amy! I’m having the time of my life right now! I hate to rub it in, but with good equipment, and the right software, I can actually make my photos look the way that I saw things when I photographed them. I’ve always been good at spotting critters before they see me, I pay attention to every little clue in the form of color, motion, or sound, and that helps me to get close to them.

      July 9, 2015 at 4:51 pm