Muskegon July 5th, 2015
On the second day of my three days off from work for the 4th of July, I went to the Muskegon area once again. I set-up to shoot photos of the sunrise over my favorite marsh in the Muskegon County wastewater facility. But, it turned out to be a rather boring one for wider shots, so I was limited to a few tighter shots of various subjects. If only the water didn’t have the sickly color that it does in these photos, it would be great!
I was playing around, waiting for it to become light enough to shoot other types of photos, when the thought occurred to me to try this one.
I couldn’t resist trying to make a HDR image of the same thing.
The sandhill cranes were there after having spent the night in the marsh.
And this time, two deer came along to look the scene over. I was not able to get both the cranes and the deer in the same photo, not like the last time I was there.
I’m probably a bit off my rocker, trying to shoot wildlife photos before the sun has even risen above the horizon, but pushing the limits of my camera and my own skills may pay off one of these days. Besides, it gives me something to do while I’m waiting for better light.
A short sidebar here, the Canon 7D Mk II may not be the low light camera that some people claimed that it was when it was first introduced, but I’m learning that it is better than I gave it credit for. Yes, there’s still a lot of noise in my photos shot at high ISO settings, almost as much as in photos shot with the 60D. However, I’m finding that after cleaning up the photos in Lightroom, those shot with the 7D are much better than what I could ever hope to get with the 60D.
So, I keep working at getting better images all the time, and here’s a couple of examples of what the 7D can do even at ISO 6400.
It helps when the birds let me get as close as this to them.
That wasn’t cropped at all, which helps a great deal to produce a good image, that and having used the 300 mm L series lens on the 7D. Those aren’t my best photos of a catbird, but they’re pretty darned good for having been shot when there was just enough light to see well.
Anyway, it turned out to be a good thing that I had made a stop at the wastewater facility, I was able to get better photos of a short billed dowitcher than what I’ve gotten in the past.
I even found one of the dowitchers posing with the American Avocet to show you size comparison.
And, I got my best photos of the avocet to date.
I found a few other things to shoot while at the wastewater facility, like a great blue heron and its reflection.
I caught a deer looking over one of the man-made dykes to see if I was on the other side, but I had fooled the deer, and was behind her instead.
I also found a patch of rabbit’s foot clover…
…and tried a macro shot of one of the flower heads, but there wasn’t enough light yet for this to be good.
Then, it was on to my main destination for the day, Lost Lake in the Muskegon State Park.
It was a warm weekend, not hot, but I’m one of those who prefers cool weather to hot weather. Lost Lake is about the perfect place to beat the heat on a summer day. The wind coming over the waters of Lake Michigan, which is still only around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C), and the shade from the forest provide natural air conditioning on a hot day.
That reminds me, another benefit of getting out at dawn is that it’s cooler in the summer, along with less wind, and more critters.
Anyway, on my way back to Lost lake, I stopped to shoot this scene.
That’s a HDR image, here’s the best my camera could do in one image.
It’s really nothing special, just a small clearing in the forest, but I just love those places where the light makes it all the way to the ground, and new growth is occurring. It can be nearly as dark as night in the thickest parts of a swamp forest like that. It will be there in just a few short years as the new growth eventually blocks out the sun in this spot also. But, other clearings will open up as trees are blown over by the wind, as their roots don’t go very deep in the wet soil of a swamp like this.
That’s one thing about nature that many people forget, nothing is permanent, nothing is forever. It was over 100 years ago that the fires in northern Michigan left the area a virtual wasteland, but nature can heal itself if given the chance. The places that I remember as a kid, which was 50 years ago, have changed a great deal over time, they no longer look the way that I remember that they looked back then. Even the worst of areas that were burned have some new growth now, and will eventually become forests again if allowed to. But, I should have a few photos to illustrate what I’m talking about before I go too far down that trail, so instead, I’ll return to the things that I saw along the trail to Lost Lake.
The hummingbirds were enjoying the early morning sun as they warmed themselves and looked for insects at the same time.
Meanwhile, I found these growing on the first floor.
And, there were squirrels everywhere, here’s just one that there was enough light to photograph.
I caught this chipmunk as it was gathering food.
And it decided that if it had to sit still and pose for a few photos that it may as well enjoy a little snack while doing so.
This raccoon was on its way up a tree to spend the day sleeping in the shade.
Arriving at Lost Lake, I was greeted by this scene.
I made my way around the lake to the observation platform, and spent the rest of my time there photographing the flowers…
…and fungi that I found.
One of the many reasons that I had to gone to Lost Lake was to try out the new Canon 100 mm macro lens, which I used to shoot the rest of these.
The pink Pogonia orchids were past their prime, but I shot this one to try out the new lens.
I found this little yellow flower, but I have no idea what it is.
I know that these are Atlantic blue-eyed grass flowers.
And, I also know that these are bladderworts.
I believe that the is a cranberry flower, but I could be wrong.
I found this plant or moss growing in the very shallow water along the lake.
The sundew photos came out well!
I found this grass or sedge also growing in the shallow water of the lake.
It had an odd growth pattern down lower on the stem, which I found interesting.
While I was shooting those photos, this came flying past me, but all I had with me at the time was the 100 mm lens, so this is cropped severely.
Finally, to end this one, a dragonfly…
…and a damselfly.
I’ll be returning to the shores of Lake Michigan this weekend, since the weather forecast is calling for the warmest temperatures we’ve had in nearly two years. Since we had such a cold winter, and cool spring and early summer, the waters of the Great Lakes are still quite cool. I’ll use nature’s air conditioning, rather than running the AC at my apartment. If I didn’t have an appointment early Monday morning, I would have gone camping somewhere this weekend, but that’s the way that it goes sometimes.
This time when I go to the lake, I hope to shoot a few photos along the beach, where ever I decide to go, for the newer readers of my blog who may not have seen my earlier photos of the beaches. We do have some great sandy beaches here in Michigan, but I find that they become a bit boring after a while, they are miles and miles of water, sand, and sand dunes. To some one who hasn’t seen them, they look spectacular at first, but I suppose that I take them for granted, having grown up here.
That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!