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.
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.
That was good, this one is even better.
I was very pleased with the way that the 15-85 mm lens performed while using it with the extension tubes.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
…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.
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.
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.
Since we’ve had so much rain this year, I kept an eye out for fungi…
…but that’s the only good one that I saw. I do believe that I found two different slime molds though.
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.
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.
So, you’ll have to make do with this one photo of a fully open 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.
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.
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!