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

I’ll settle for one a day

It was a little over a month ago that I was in a funk because it seemed as if I wasn’t getting many really good photos.  The “drought” only lasted for about two weeks, then things returned to normal for me. But, at the time, I decided that if I got one well above average photo per day, that I’d be happy no matter how bad the rest of my photos were. I usually get the one good photo per day, with a few bonuses as well.

For instance, yesterday I was on my way back home and spotted a praying mantis in the bike path ahead of me. I chased it around using the 300 mm lens with 1.4 x extender, as it was obvious that the mantis was worried about me being a predator. Finally, it stopped for a few minutes, so I laid down on the ground and got as close as I could with the set-up I had been using. Then, I replaced the 1.4 X extender with the 2 X extender for this photo.

Praying mantis, 600 mm

Praying mantis, 600 mm

I have to brag a little, I’m getting pretty good at burning and dodging in Lightroom, just the way we used to do things in the darkroom. The mantis’ back was way over exposed, but I used the healing brush in Lightroom to dodge the back of the mantis so that the photo looks fairly good.

Anyway, since I had mesmerized the mantis into holding still, I switched to the 60 D body with the Canon 100 mm macro lens on it for this next photo.

Praying mantis, 100 mm

Praying mantis, 100 mm

That was about as close as I could get that set-up to focus at, so this next one is the slightly cropped version.

Praying mantis, 100 mm cropped

Praying mantis, 100 mm cropped

Seen full screen on my 27 inch iMac, the mantis’ head is 6 inches wide, and reasonably sharp, not bad for something that’s only around 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide in real life.

Changing gears, I’m going to try to make it up north to the Jordan River Valley this weekend in hopes of getting some good fall color landscape photos. In preparation for that, I’ve been practicing the last few days around here. On the first day, it was cloudy with a little mist at times, which I have learned leads to great color saturation if you use a tripod and keep the ISO settings low.

Creekside Park in the mist

Creekside Park in the mist

 

Creekside Park in the mist 2

Creekside Park in the mist 2

 

Creekside Park in the mist 3

Creekside Park in the mist 3

 

Creekside Park in the mist 4

Creekside Park in the mist 4

Sorry for the two nearly identical photos, I couldn’t decide which one I liked better.

This next one isn’t special, other than I used more than three images to make the HDR image for the first time successfully.

Creekside Park in the mist 5

Creekside Park in the mist 5

I was blown away by how well that one turned out as far as looking exactly as I had viewed the scene as I shot it.

Anyway, the next day was sunny, but by using the polarizing filter, shooting HDR images, and some tweaking in Lightroom, I came up with these.

Creekside Park in the sun 1

Creekside Park in the sun 1

 

Creekside Park in the sun 2

Creekside Park in the sun 2

 

Creekside Park in the sun 3

Creekside Park in the sun 3

Today, it was sunny, but the wind was much stronger, which up until now, has thwarted my attempts to shoot HDR images, as I haven’t been able to deal with the ghosting that you get as the wind moves the foliage around between the shots used to create the HDR image.  I made it as tough on myself as I could, using seven images and a healthy dose of de-ghosting to get this image.

Creekside Park in the sun 4

Creekside Park in the sun 4

If you look closely, you can see some of the sumac leaves in the lower center of the image are being blown upside down in the wind, and yet are reasonably sharp, not bad if I do say so myself.

Some more bragging coming up next, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been using Photomatix to create HDR images for just over a year, and Lightroom for around six months. I should have worked at Photomatix more in the beginning, but I didn’t know that the RAW image converter written into it isn’t very good. I didn’t begin getting good results in HDR images until I began using Lightroom to convert RAW files to TIFF files for use in Photomatix.

Another little side note, it’s obvious that my two EF-S wide-angle lenses, the 15-85 mm and 10-18 mm are both very good lenses. On the same theme, the 60D body is a pretty good one as well, with the added benefit of the vary-angle display, which I used with the 10-18 mm lens to shoot this stump in Muskegon again.

Stumped again

Stumped again

By using live view and tilting the viewing screen, I was able to place the camera on the ground pointed up towards the stump, and I didn’t have to dig a hole to lay in to do so. 😉 I don’t use the vary-angle display often, but it sure comes in handy at times, and, it keeps the screen from being damaged since I can fold the screen face-in towards the body while I’m not viewing it. I purchased a nifty glass screen protector to fit the 7D Mk II body to prevent the screen from being scratched or damaged. It’s much better than the self adhesive sheet type of protectors, but I digress.

Speaking of the 7D, here’s a few more photos from it during my last trip to Muskegon.

Juvenile turkey vulture

Juvenile turkey vulture

 

Bonaparte gulls in flight

Bonaparte gulls in flight

 

Bonaparte gulls in flight

Bonaparte gulls in flight

 

Bonaparte gull in flight

Bonaparte gull in flight

 

Bonaparte gull in flight

Bonaparte gull in flight

 

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel

Here’s one of those photos that I couldn’t resist, even though it’s nothing special in any way.

Sailboat mast in the fall foliage

Sailboat mast in the fall foliage

Even though this post is supposed to be about one good photo per day, I’ve gotten sidetracked again, as this series shows.

A Copper’s hawk went blasting past me as I was just beginning my walk on Monday, it was going for a flock of English house sparrows near the entrance to the apartment complex where I live. I found the hawk perched on one of the signposts that mark the entrance to the complex.

Cooper's hawk

Cooper’s hawk

I tried to get to a better position, but that would have entailed walking out unto a busy road if I kept my distance from the hawk. I did the best I could, but was too close to the hawk, so it took off…

Cooper's hawk in flight

Cooper’s hawk in flight

…landing on the roof of the storage facility being built next-door to the apartment complex. In case you’re not familiar with small hawks like the Cooper’s hawks, they are quick flyers much more like falcons than the larger hawks. This one stopped on a dime, unfortunately, I didn’t stop panning the camera on a dime though.

Blurry Cooper's hawk

Blurry Cooper’s hawk

That one was cropped from the edge of the frame of the original image, as I overshot the hawk as I tried to pan with it. So, I shot a sharp image of the hawk was it had regained its balance to make up for the blurry one. Still, I wish that I had gotten the hawk as it struggled to stop as quickly as it did, that would have been a photo of the month if I had gotten that one right.

Cooper's hawk

Cooper’s hawk

A few seconds later, it flew to the top of one of tall pines along the road, and I stood there hoping to catch it in flight for a good photo. I had the camera and lens all set-up for it, but the hawk wouldn’t budge. I eventually got bored waiting, set the camera and lens back to normal, and then the hawk decided to buzz me when I wasn’t ready.

Cooper's hawk in flight

Cooper’s hawk in flight

Do you know how hard it is to keep up with a small hawk flying nearly directly over your head? At least I got the exposure almost right. 😉

I have a few more images from my last trip to Muskegon to share before I forget.

Eastern phoebe

Eastern phoebe

I like that one, the background looks like a painting.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

I tried to show how much chipmunks can expand their cheeks to hold food, but I couldn’t get the right angle.

Trumpeter swan in flight

Trumpeter swan in flight

I couldn’t tell from sight that it was a trumpeter swan, but there’s no mistaking their calls for any other species of swan.

Calico asters or daisies?

Calico asters or daisies?

I think that those flowers may have different common names in different parts of the country, but not being an expert, I’m not sure.

Anyway, here’s a few more photos from around home this past week.

Soapwort

Soapwort

 

Chicory

Chicory

It will be a sad day when the last flower of the year fades away. But, I do like fall, the temperatures are cooler, and as the leaves turn color and fall from the trees, I get some good bird photos.

Yellow-Rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

 

Yellow-Rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

 

Fall

Fall

Allen had a bit about not seeing many dandelions in his latest post, so I went looking for some today. I found a few, here’s one.

Dandelion

Dandelion

 

Northern cardinal in the fall color

Northern cardinal in the fall color

 

Northern cardinal in the fall color

Northern cardinal in the fall color

Why is it that I manage to get most of my photos of songbirds in flight as they are gliding with their wings folded back?

Rocket blue jay in flight

Rocket blue jay in flight

I’m sorry that I’m rushing through this post, but I have much to do to get ready for this weekend, if my work schedule permits me to go up north. So, in hopes that I do make it, I’ll end this one with this unidentified caterpillar.

Unidentified caterpillar

Unidentified caterpillar

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

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24 responses

  1. I know you said you didn’t think they’d amount to much this year but your fall colors look pretty good to me, and the photos of them are excellent.
    Those are great shots of the mantis too! I never see them here.
    I’m glad you found a dandelion but the thought of having to go looking for one is strange. Not that long ago you couldn’t help but see them because they were everywhere.
    I think that aster might be a white heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) but I could be wrong. It’s always hard to tell flower size in a photo but heath aster blooms are quite small-smaller than a bumblebee.
    My first thought when I saw the chipmunk was that he had plenty of seeds in his cheeks!

    October 8, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    • Thank you Allen! I still think that the colors here will be less than spectacular this year, I went with tighter shots that showed only the leaves that have turned. You can tell that it’s going to be a strange fall, some of the trees have lost their leaves before the Virginia creeper, when it’s normally the other way around. it does make it easier to get good photos of the Virginia creepers though.

      As I was looking for dandelions, I saw a lot of leaves, but few flowers, I wonder if it’s because it was so dry this fall.

      You’re right, those flowers were heath asters. I found a good website, and we have both heath and calico asters here, the heath prefer the fields, the calico prefer wooded and shady areas. The calico have fewer rays also, so I learned something new today.

      October 9, 2015 at 3:10 am

  2. O h the mamtis and bird shots are awesome!

    October 8, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    • Thank you very much Cindy!

      October 9, 2015 at 3:10 am

  3. I am a sucker for gull shots so this was a treat (among the other delights).

    October 8, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! We have plenty of gulls around here, I may have to post a few more now and then.

      October 9, 2015 at 3:12 am

      • Please do.

        October 9, 2015 at 6:33 pm

  4. Awesome mantis. Great post.

    October 8, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    • Thank you very much Victor!

      October 9, 2015 at 3:12 am

  5. Great set!

    October 8, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    • Thank you Michael!

      October 9, 2015 at 3:13 am

  6. I think these are the first mantid pictures I’ve seen where the expressions look rather cheeky and surprised rather than intimidating. Great “stalking” and angles, Jerry. I loved all the different colours of the foliage and the rocket blue jay shot too. Beautiful detail in the caterpillar too. Thanks for another great collection. 🙂

    October 9, 2015 at 2:16 am

    • Thank you very much Jane! I’ve found that if I can get directly in front of an insect and move slowly, that it sort of hypnotizes the insects, and I can get very close to them.

      October 9, 2015 at 3:14 am

  7. Great shooting, as always. I think I’ve missed at least one of your posts while we were out in the desert, but it’s still there waiting for me to get caught up.

    October 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    • Thank you very much Gunta! I hope that you’re going to post a few photos of the desert from your trip.

      October 10, 2015 at 11:53 am

  8. Great shots of the mantis and all the birds too. The heath aster photo and the caterpillar are my favourites. I hope you manage to get away this weekend.

    October 9, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I ended up working very late this morning, so I didn’t get to bed until almost dawn, so the trip is off for this weekend.

      October 10, 2015 at 11:53 am

      • What a shame! I hope you can go soon.

        October 10, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      • Thanks Clare, but I probably won’t make it this year. Between the weather and work, I missed my best chance for what I was going after.

        October 11, 2015 at 8:11 am

  9. An amazing photo album, so much that is truly special. Your post is such a “day brightener”.

    October 10, 2015 at 2:39 pm

  10. Nenkin Seikatsu

    Your foliage is more advanced than ours. The third photograph of the hawk gave me and my wife a laugh; we can hear him saying, “Ta-daah!”

    October 10, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    • Thank you very much! I wish that I hadn’t missed the focus on that shot of the hawk, it would have been so much better if I hadn’t.

      October 11, 2015 at 8:10 am

  11. So many colours and beautiful details!

    October 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    • Thank you very much Cornel!

      October 12, 2015 at 3:33 pm