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

Serving up more leftovers

This post will be mostly leftovers, and before Thanksgiving. 😉

However, before I get to the older photos, I have to start with a few of my newer ones, just because I can, and because they give me a reason for some more boring talk on photo gear.

As you know, I have a Canon 2X tele-converter, and I have a few more words to say about it. I was told not to purchase that item by several well-intentioned people, but I’ve also noticed that in many of the online photography tutorials and presentations that I’ve been watching, the 2X extender is something many of the professionals use quite often. So, I went ahead and purchased one despite what I was told about how they reduce image quality.

Water strider

Water strider

Well, that image was shot using the 300 mm L series lens with the 2X extender on the 7D Mk II and cropped slightly. I will say that it wasn’t easy to get that set-up to focus on the water strider, especially as it was moving…

Water strider striding

Water strider striding

…as you can see by the patterns in the water as the strider used its middle set of legs to propel it across the surface of the creek. But, with a little help from me manually getting the focus close, I was able to get some reasonably good photos of the strider.

Water strider

Water strider

So, back to the 2X extender. In my limited experience using it, I have the following to say about it to any one considering using one. You have to use it behind a high quality lens, as the extender magnifies any flaws in the images sent to it by the lens ahead of it. Also, I don’t know if emphasize is exactly the correct word to use, but, the extender seems to emphasize the performance characteristics of the lens it is used in conjunction with.

I’ve prattled on about how the 300 mm lens is excellent up close, then it gets a bit soft in the mid-range, then becomes sharp again at longer distances. The 2X extender makes that even more apparent, as the photos of the water strider show. Up close, that combination is excellent as far as sharpness, I see very little drop off in image quality. Here’s another example of what that combination is capable of from a recent post.

Praying mantis, 600 mm

Praying mantis, 600 mm

With the 2X extender, the 300 mm lens becomes a 600 mm near macro lens, with excellent image quality. It does become softer at mid-ranges, even more so than the 300 mm lens alone, but it sharpens back up again at longer ranges. I have a few leftovers all shot at close range to demonstrate that.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

 

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel

 

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

 

Grey catbird

Grey catbird

Those may not be my best photos, but they’re not bad, and they were shot as I was learning to get the best out of the 2X extender which I now consider to be an indispensable part of my arsenal of photo gear. Being able to get near macro shots of subjects 5 to 6 feet (1.5  M) comes in very handy for insects, and it gets me a little closer to other critters as well. That is, if I remember to remove the polarizing filter from the 300 mm lens when I use the 2X extender. That combination doesn’t work well due to losing 2 stops of light from the extender, and another 2 stops from the filter.

That brings me to the next item to babble on about, using a polarizing filter, I’m loving the way that the filter conditions the light for photos like this one…

Male mallard

Male mallard

…or this one!

Male mallard again

Male mallard again

I know, too many mallards recently, but they make such great practice subjects. Shooting the same species, such as mallards and gulls let’s me judge the progress that I’m making in improving my photos by comparing my newer photos to the hundreds of similar photos that I’ve shot in the past.

Those are two more images that I wish that I could display full size and in full resolution here, you can see every fiber in the mallard’s feathers and even “see” the texture of them as well. However, as good as they are, I can do better.

For one thing, the polarizing filter that I have to fit the 300 mm lens is just an off-brand filter that I didn’t pay a lot for, since I didn’t think that it would see much use. It’s funny, I didn’t pay much more for that polarizing filter than I did for the UV filters which I no longer use, but the polarizing filter doesn’t have a negative impact on image quality the way that the UV filters did. But, the main point is that if you’re going to buy any filter, purchase a really good one. I plan on doing just that for the 300 mm lens. Between the high quality neutral density filters I’ve been just getting started with, and the better quality polarizing filters that I bought for the lenses that I use for landscapes, now that I’ve learned how much a polarizing filter can help by conditioning the light entering the lens for subjects other than landscapes, I plan on ordering a higher quality one in the next month or so.

The last word (for now) about filters, when it comes to the quality of a filter, it isn’t just the glass that’s important, it’s also the mounting ring. Lower price filters have aluminum rings which tend to bind in the filter threads of your lenses, making them difficult to remove. Better quality filters have brass rings which don’t bind in the threads, so removing them is much easier.

Now then, a few words about what the mallard was doing and why his bill is dirty. Just before I shot the first photo of him, he was using his bill to plow up the moss along the edge of the pond, I assume to find insects in the roots of the moss. Because of the shape of the bill, he was very efficient at plowing the moss. I really wanted to get a photo of it, but the mallard dropped too far down the bank for me to capture it. Still, it was something to see, the mallard thrust his bill under the moss, then walked along ripping it out of the ground and turning it over just as a man-made plow would do. I’ve seen mallards digging through leaf litter to find worms in the leaves before, but I’ve never seen one plowing up moss before.

Time to do a little more snacking on the leftovers.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

 

Dew covered spider web

Dew covered spider web

 

JVIS2900

Spotted jewelweed

Here’s a few of a goldfinch, the first one as he realized that I had snuck up on him.

American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

Then, he eyeballed me to see if I posed a threat…

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

…mulled the issue over…

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

…then returned to eating.

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

I see and post many photos of catbirds, but here’s a bit of a rarity, a young one. They typically stay well hidden.

Juvenile grey catbird

Juvenile grey catbird

I must have gotten too close to this wren’s nest, for it spent some time scolding me.

House wren

House wren

 

House wren

House wren

 

House wren

House wren

 

House wren

House wren

Flickers typically stay out of camera range for a good photo, but every once in a while, one will surprise me by posing for me.

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

 

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

Other than monarchs, I didn’t see many of the larger species of butterflies this past summer, here’s one.

Swallowtail butterfly

Swallowtail butterfly

Let’s see here, what other treats do I have left, how about another eagle?

Wind blown bald eagle

Wind blown bald eagle

Or, perhaps some pokeweed in its various stages, going backwards in order?

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

 

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

 

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

 

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

The plant itself may not be very photogenic, but its flowers and berries certainly are, I love the colors.

I’m making progress in cleaning out my archives, here’s a few more that I thought were too good to delete.

We had a good crop of Canada geese this year.

Canada geese

Canada geese

But unlike other crops, this one can fly, and it only takes one…

Canada geese

Canada geese

…to make up the mind of the entire flock.

Canada geese

Canada geese

 

The beginning of fall

The beginning of fall

 

Grey catbird hiding

Grey catbird hiding

 

Magnolia warbler stretching

Magnolia warbler stretching

 

Magnolia warbler

Magnolia warbler not stretching

That cleaned out another “shelf” in the archives, I have room for two more photos in this post, so here they are.

Pine sap landscape

Pine sap landscape

The weather forecast is calling for 6 inches (15 cm) of snow on Saturday, with more lake effect snow to follow on Sunday and Monday, so this may be the last aster that I saw this fall.

The last aster of the year?

The last aster of the year?

Well, I’ve made a good sized dent in the photos that I have left from this summer, but there’s still many more hidden away for me to use up.

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

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22 responses

  1. Loved your pictures of the pokeweed and am always pleased to see chipmunks and squirrels on your posts.

    November 21, 2015 at 4:31 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! I aim to please.

      November 21, 2015 at 11:10 am

  2. An entertaining gallery. After seeing the Preying Mantis, I took note of the eyes in your subjects, enlightening 🙂

    November 21, 2015 at 6:23 am

    • Thank you very much! I always try to get the eyes of my subjects sharp and in focus, it’s one of the basics of good wildlife photography.

      November 21, 2015 at 11:12 am

  3. Wonderful photos, wonderful post.

    November 21, 2015 at 6:37 am

    • Thank you very much Victor!

      November 21, 2015 at 11:12 am

  4. Excellent shot of the water strider. I’d say from looking at your shots the 2X is working out quite well for you. Love the “Crop of Canada Geese”!

    November 21, 2015 at 7:03 am

    • Thank you very much Bob! The secret to the 2X is knowing not only how to use it, but when. It’s not very effective at increasing the range of a lens, but getting even closer to what you’re already close to.

      November 21, 2015 at 11:14 am

  5. I found that I couldn’t get much use out of an extender back in the film days because I had a slow lens. I think it was f4.5 or something like that. I can see by your photos though that they work fine with a faster lens. The macros are excellent!
    I’ve never seen a mallard doing much more that swimming, and that’s usually away from me as I’m trying to get a shot. They’re very wary of people here and leave immediately when they spot you. You got some great shots of this one.
    I like the crop of geese. They must have had quite a time walking through that much vegetation!
    Maybe they’re wrong about your snow, but I doubt it. I hope we’ll hold off for a while longer but it’s coming. I’ll look forward to seeing your winter wonderland photos!

    November 21, 2015 at 8:59 am

    • Thanks Allen! Yes, the extender would work better on a faster lens, but my 300 mm lens is just f/4. I forgot to add that it takes a camera like the 7D to take advantage of the 2X, it wouldn’t be as useful on the 60D.

      You need to find a park or somewhere else where mallards lose some of their fear of people, they are hilarious to watch, also to listen to. I may need to do another mallard post one of these days, and throw in some videos.

      Funny, I almost didn’t post the crop of geese, since they are just geese, but seeing their heads sticking up like periscopes above the soybean plants was funny to me. I imagine that it was goose heaven, unlimited food.

      It’s snowing, but it’s still warm enough that we may get 6 inches, but most of it will melt as it falls.

      November 21, 2015 at 11:27 am

  6. Love that praying mantis! And all insect photos, for that matter – perhaps because I dislike getting close enough to examine them myself. Thanks for mentioning the movement of the water strider, I probably wouldn’t have really thought about that. Spiderwebs and goldfinch photos are all top notch.

    Hope you are out frolicking in the first snow this morning as I write this. Hope you get an extra day or two off next week, or take in the big bucks if you do have to work.

    November 21, 2015 at 9:22 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! You’ve given me another reason to shoot more insects, most of them don’t bother me, but there are other people who never see them up close. Unfortunately, those photos, along with dew covered spider webs, will have to wait until next spring. Because of the snow, and horrible scheduling by the company I work for, I didn’t get home until 3 AM, so I won’t get out to play until this afternoon.

      November 21, 2015 at 11:31 am

  7. So many great photos! I love the insect ones and your observations on the mallard’s behaviour are very interesting. I hope the snow isn’t too bad today – we don’t have snow at the moment though other parts of the country do; we have only had gales and freezing rain! 😦

    November 21, 2015 at 10:48 am

    • Thank you very much Clare! It’s snowing as I type this, but it’s been warm enough that most of the snow is melting as it reaches the ground. I’d rather have snow than freezing rain driven by gales, stay safe!

      November 21, 2015 at 11:33 am

      • Thank-you Jerry! We are fine, though regretting we have to go out to the theatre tonight! Keep safe yourself and have a good weekend.

        November 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

  8. Another great selection. It was well worth searching your archive for these. I once again stand in awe of your steady hand.

    November 21, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! The steady hand comes from years of target practice with rifles, who knew that a skill like that would come in handy.

      November 21, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      • I am glad that you have changed your method of shooting to our great benefit.

        November 22, 2015 at 6:02 pm

  9. I haven’t seen pokeweed or jewelweed since I lived back east!

    Your praying mantis appears to be smiling for the camera.

    November 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    • Thank you Lavinia!

      November 21, 2015 at 10:04 pm

  10. Thanks for the information about polarisers as I am considering getting one. The light is so harsh here in summer. I’ve just put a Hoya UV filter lens protector on my camera and has noticed it cuts out some glare and seems to sharpen the image. I’ve been told a polariser will make a big difference to my sky shots and when water reflection is high too. Another beautiful collection of shots. My favourite this time was the spiderweb, but really they are all wonderful, Jerry! 🙂

    November 21, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane! A polarizing filter will do a lot more for you than the UV filter. The good thing is that you can leave it on your lens and by turning it, adjust whether it has any effect or not.

      November 21, 2015 at 10:09 pm