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

They come in streaks

I have my good days as far as photography, then the are the not so good days. I should know that by now, and not let the bad photos ruin my mood as much as I do. One thing that I’ve done to remind myself that all my photos aren’t failures is to keep a smart collection in Lightroom of the best of the best of my photos. Currently, I have 77 images in that collection. Then, when I’m going through a time period when it seems as if I can’t get a good image for the life of me, I’ll view the smart collection as a slide show full screen on my computer. Or, I have had a few of those photos printed, and I’ll get out the prints and look at them again.

The remarkable thing about the photos in the collection is how I may add two or three photos from a single day to the collection, have several days in a row when I’m getting a couple of images a day, then go for weeks before adding any new images. As a matter of fact, in the past two days, I’ve added four photos to the collection of my best photos, bringing the total to 81 images. I decide that all of you were right, the photos of the solitary sandpiper and water-lily from the last post belonged there, and I shot these two today.

Red-tailed hawk in flight, impersonating an eagle

Red-tailed hawk in flight, impersonating an eagle

Despite the fact that Bruiser snuck up on me, coming out of nowhere as he likes to do to me, I got the image stabilization turned off so the photos of him were sharp, and I dialed in about the right amount of exposure compensation just from experience, without ever looking at the exposure compensation scale in the viewfinder.

The second one from today isn’t as dramatic, but I love it, and I can’t even tell you why I do, other than that they are pretty flowers.

Asters opening

Asters opening

I may add a few from yesterday at Muskegon, but the light wasn’t all that good then, even though I got a fairly good close-up of a juvenile peregrine falcon, both perched…

Juvenile peregrine falcon

Juvenile peregrine falcon, not cropped

…and in flight…

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

…a merlin…

Merlin

Merlin, slight crop

…but the ones that will probably draw the most comments are the ones I shot of the sandhill cranes taking off at dawn.

Sandhill cranes in flight at dawn

Sandhill cranes in flight at dawn

Sandhill cranes in flight at dawn

Sandhill cranes in flight at dawn

Sandhill cranes in flight at dawn

Sandhill cranes in flight at dawn

Sandhill cranes in flight at dawn

Sandhill cranes in flight at dawn

Being a perfectionist, those still aren’t exactly what I had in mind, so that while there’s a great sunrise behind the cranes, I’ll have to keep trying until I get it right.

So, just how large are sandhill cranes? Here’s a great blue heron in flight before dawn…

Great blue heron in flight before dawn

Great blue heron in flight before dawn

…that dropped in for a visit with the cranes before they left for the day.

Great blue heron and sandhill cranes

Great blue heron and sandhill cranes

You can see that even though the heron is a large bird, it’s dwarfed by the cranes.

Shortly after the cranes left the marsh, the heron did as well, although it’s a little hard to see in these photos, I was setting up the 70-200 mm lens when the heron flew off, so I had to shoot with what I had in my hand at the time. Besides, every one loves a good sunrise, right?

Great blue heron in flight at dawn

Great blue heron in flight at dawn

 

Great blue heron in flight at dawn

Great blue heron in flight at dawn

Speaking of the sunrise, it was okay, good enough for a photo or two.

Sunrise over my favorite marsh

Sunrise over my favorite marsh

 

Sunrise over my favorite marsh

Sunrise over my favorite marsh

I was hoping that the sun would cast the color onto the underside of the clouds, but that didn’t happen. I swung the camera around for this instead.

Trees at sunrise

Trees at sunrise

(Note: I know, you can see my shadow. I hid the shadow of the tripod in another shadow from the brush, as you can tell because it doesn’t show, but after releasing the shutter, I stepped away from the tripod. I’ll have to remember not to do that again)

Nothing special, other than for the first time, by doing that as a HDR image, I finally caught how the sun hits the bark of the trees and casts the orange color onto the trees.

Later, I shot another practice shot, here’s the non-HDR version…

Sunrise over the lagoon

Sunrise over the lagoon

…and the HDR version.

Sunrise over the lagoon, HDR

Sunrise over the lagoon, HDR

Again, nothing special, other than what I’m learning, it’s the same with this one from yesterday…

Cloudscape over a farm field

Cloudscape over a farm field

…or this one from this morning.

Creekside Park

Creekside Park

Each of those contain an element that was very hard for me to get right in my photos before, from the patterns of the sun on the water, to the clouds not being blown out over the farm field, to the backlit leaves in the last image. I’m putting pieces together that will hopefully work out when the time comes that I need those pieces.

In response to a couple of people who commented on my last post, I said that the beauty here in Michigan is subtle, it isn’t like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or Yellowstone. In order to really capture the beauty of Michigan, I have to be able to get those little pieces right. I think that I’m making progress.

Now, I have to work on training young eagles not to perch on the side of the Muskegon County landfill!

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

This one’s training is coming along well, it has enough sense to pose somewhere at least a little more photogenic.

Juvenile bald eagle 2

Juvenile bald eagle 2

Even if it is on the rocks of the wastewater storage lagoon. 😉

Not very far away, these Bonaparte’s gulls were taunting the eagle.

Bonaparte's gulls

Bonaparte’s gulls

 

Bonaparte's gull

Bonaparte’s gull

The gulls didn’t seem to be bothered by the eagle’s presence at all. Earlier, I had seen the peregrine falcon make repeated dives at the shorebirds, but the shorebirds stayed put. The falcon’s antics did get the geese all upset, and they left. Peregrine falcons are fierce little birds, but I can’t picture one taking on a full-grown Canada goose though, a gull maybe, but not a goose.

Oh yeah, speaking of gulls, I put what I learned about the auto-focus system of the 7D to use for these.

Juvenile ring-billed gull in flight

Juvenile ring-billed gull in flight

Juvenile ring-billed gull in flight

Juvenile ring-billed gull in flight

Juvenile ring-billed gull in flight

Juvenile ring-billed gull in flight

It’s great being able to do my close-up portraits of gulls while they are flying now. 🙂

I took a break from the birds and landscapes to shoot a few flowers, some more very pretty flowers that I can’t ID, I just wish that the light had been better yesterday.

Unidentified purple flowers

Unidentified purple flowers

Unidentified purple flowers

Unidentified purple flowers

Unidentified purple flowers

Unidentified purple flowers

Unidentified purple flowers

Unidentified purple flowers

Sorry for so many of them, but if I remember correctly, these flowers don’t last long, they’ll probably be gone the next time I’m at Muskegon, and I won’t see them until next year. You maybe able to see the head of a hoverfly sneaking into the frame of the last photo, I tried for a shot of it.

Hoverfly

Hoverfly

But the light was just too poor for a good photo. I did a little better with these somewhat strange looking plants…

Unidentified plants

Unidentified plants

…I thought that they could be ferns, but no, they had obviously flowered, and ferns don’t have traditional flowers.

Dying flowers on the unidentified plants

Dying flowers on the unidentified plants

I did better with the flowers this morning.

Blue vervain

Blue vervain

Blue vervain

Blue vervain

 

Moth mullien

Moth mullein

???

???

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

I have two more photos from yesterday that I’d better stick in this post, a ruddy turnstone.

Ruddy turnstone

Ruddy turnstone

Ruddy turnstone

Ruddy turnstone

Like my good photos, they come in streaks as they migrate south for the winter, and I don’t see them very often.

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

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25 responses

  1. This is the post beat all previous posts, I gasped in amazement at the beautiful images of birds, especially the sandhill cranes, flowers, the unidentified purple flowers and the sunsets. You are a great photographer in my eyes.

    August 24, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! I may not be great yet, but I hope to be some day.I ran out of room before I got to the squirrel eating crab apples, they will be in the next post.

      August 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm

  2. Great captures. Thanks for sharing.

    August 24, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    • Than you very much! Glad that you liked them enough to comment.

      August 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm

  3. Wow, those cranes are huge! I never knew they were that big. I like the shots of them flying through the sunrise.
    I’m not sure about the purple flowers. They look like they could be a liatrus.
    The greeen plants look like cypress spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias) but might also be gopher spurge (Euphorbia lathyris,) They look a lot alike.
    I like the landscape shots and the flying gulls couldn’t be sharper!

    August 24, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! Yes, the cranes are huge, that’s why it’s relatively easy to get good photos of them, you don’t have to be right on top of them. I have no idea what the flowers or plants were, other than they must love very sandy soil, as that’s all there is in the area they were growing.

      I love practicing on the gulls, they seem to like to pose for the camera, whether perched or in flight.

      August 25, 2015 at 12:30 am

  4. I didn’t realise that the cranes were so large. The portraits of the flying gulls were superb. Congratulations on developing the skill needed to take those shots.

    August 24, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! It was nice of the heron to land close to the cranes so I could show the size difference between them. The skills needed for the gull were knowing to choose the 7D Mk II as my main birding camera. I hate to rave so much about it, but it really is an incredible camera as far as the auto-focus for tracking action.

      August 25, 2015 at 12:34 am

      • That is a very useful quality.

        August 25, 2015 at 5:34 pm

  5. A great collection of photos, Jerry. A visual feast!

    August 24, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! Just two good days in a row, now, I expect another slump in photos.

      August 25, 2015 at 12:35 am

  6. Too many startlingly beautiful pics to comment on individually really, but I’ve a fondness for your favourite marsh sunrise photos. It’s not a scene I see here at all. The red-tailed hawk really does look like an eagle in that shot and it’s great to see a blue sky in the background. So much detail in the feathers there. The sand cranes at dawn are of course wonderful as is the lagoon at dawn. I think I am a bit biased…I seem to love sunrise shots more than anything. It is my favourite time of day I suppose. 🙂

    August 25, 2015 at 2:23 am

    • Thank you very much Jane! I keep shooting the marsh as I can compare earlier photos to see if changes I make to camera settings improve my photos or not, and because the cranes hang out there overnight. There’s a pair of the red-tailed hawks here that I’ve named Bertha and Bruiser, but I haven’t seen them much this year. I do know that they had two young ones this summer, as I saw all four together after one of the adults brought a rabbit to one of the young right after it had left the nest.

      I love sunrises also, although I’d like to get a good sunset or two over Lake Michigan. But with my work schedule, that may not happen this year.

      August 25, 2015 at 3:33 pm

  7. The season of asters is here. I love them so much.
    Cranes are very large. Is it the largest bird of your area?

    August 25, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    • Thank you Cornel! Yes, it’s the season of the asters, they may be beautiful, but it seems way too early to see them. The year is flying by.

      The cranes are the tallest birds around here standing close to 120 cm tall, but swans and turkeys are heavier, and swans have about the same wingspan.

      August 25, 2015 at 3:27 pm

  8. So many brilliant shots! I love that little merlin! I often wish that the subjects of my photos were in better surroundings. Such a beautiful bird as an eagle really shouldn’t want to spend his time on a landfill site!

    August 25, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! Yes, it’s too bad that we can’t train critters to pose for us in only scenic settings. The truth about eagles is that they’d just as soon scavenge for meals at a landfill than to hunt their own prey. No wonder Ben Franklin wanted the turkey as the symbol of the United States.

      August 25, 2015 at 11:15 pm

      • The eagle is obviously a resourceful and intelligent bird. Why waste valuable energy hunting when food can be scavenged. Some of our birds of prey do similar things. Common Buzzards sit on fence posts at the side of roads and wait for road kill and kestrels sit on power-lines instead of hovering.

        August 26, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      • All true, and some songbirds have come to rely on people hanging bird feeders out for them as well.

        August 26, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      • They have!

        August 27, 2015 at 3:09 pm

  9. Superb photos.J.

    August 26, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      August 26, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      • You welcome.

        August 26, 2015 at 3:24 pm

  10. I wouldn’t have really noticed your shadow if you hadn’t pointed it out, but I kinda like that it’s there. Could be your signature – a hidden shadow of yourself in all your sunrise photos?

    The heron hanging out with the cranes reminds me of being spied on by my kid sister when I was hanging out with my friends in junior high. Just skulking around, trying to go unnoticed.

    Nice collection, and accompanied (as always) by terrific narrative.

    August 27, 2015 at 7:25 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! Having your own shadow in a photo is a sure sign of not paying attention, except that I did while setting up the shot. My mistake was wandering away from the camera. I have a rubber ducky that I’ve been thinking of placing in some of my photos, I may have to try that as a signature.

      Normally herons are quite the bullies, but surrounded by the cranes, that one looked rather humble.

      August 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm