Happy belated Thanksgiving!
I had already begun working on this post before hand, but since it’s now Thanksgiving Day here, I’d like to begin by wishing every one a Happy Thanksgiving! I should also start out with a couple of photos to fit the holiday.
Continuing on from my last post, when it comes to winter, it isn’t the snow and cold that I mind as much as the fact that there are fewer things to photograph, so I can’t shoot photos like these.
However, I will attempt to refrain from whining about winter anymore, at least until the true winter weather arrives here. 😉
We had a warm, wet Thanksgiving day here, and I had the day off from work, so I tried to take advantage of it. However, I was the last driver to return to the terminal in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning, so after getting some sleep and then eating breakfast at around noon, I was late getting started on my walk for the day. There was an off and on rain falling, more on than off, so the day was quite gloomy to begin with. By 3 PM, it was too dark to shot any photos at all, but I did thoroughly enjoy spending most of the day outdoors. I spotted a splash of color in these lichen earlier though.
I also played a few games with this hawk, it may be Bruiser, but I haven’t seen much of him or his mate, Bertha, this past year, so I’m no longer able to identify the individual hawks around home. However, this hawk…
…acted a lot like Bruiser, looking in one direction, then taking off…
…in the other direction.
I was a bit slow with the camera there. 😦 I may have gotten too close to the hawk as well, since it more than filled the frame as it took flight, as you can see. That’s always a problem with larger birds, I hadn’t quite gotten close enough for a good portrait shot of the hawk, but when it took off, I was too close to it to get good photos of the action.
Speaking of action, it was so gloomy yesterday that when I found an American tree sparrow taking a bath…
…the shutter speed was down to 1/100 second…
…so even at ISO 6400…
… I wasn’t able to freeze the motion of the sparrow as it splashed around playing in the water.
By the way, before I forget, as I was photographing the hawk, I also spotted this fox squirrel hiding motionless nearby, keeping its eye on the hawk.
Since that’s not a very good photo of the squirrel, here’s a slightly better one from earlier this fall.
That brings us to the portion of this post where I talk about how I’m working to get better images, and some of the things that I’m doing.
One thing is that I no longer shoot photos of every critter that’s even close to camera range, I wait until I’m close enough to something so that I have a reasonable expectation of getting a food image. Then, instead of snapping a photo or two of it, I shoot more photos of same critter. The squirrel above is an example of why. There’s a shadow on the squirrel, just below its eye, but of the 6 or 7 photos that I shot of that squirrel, the shadow is the least objectionable in the one that I posted, because the wind was blowing the branch that cast the shadow around so that it landed on the squirrel in different places at different times. It works much the same way with birds, as they are always moving.
What I used to do was try to time when the best moment to press the shutter release was as the birds twitched and turned as they looked around.
What I do now is shoot in low-speed continuous mode for a short burst of photos, then pick out the best photo of the lot. So, instead of the photo of above, which is okay, I get one like this…
…which is a bit better because the finch turned its head towards me a little more. I shoot more photos of fewer subjects, but I get better images as a result. I should also thank the finch for having moved to a more photogenic spot, as this is one of the first photos of him that I shot.
Another tip that I’d like to pass along came from one of the videos that I watched, even though I haven’t figured out why it helps as much as it does yet. The tip is to get your eye really close to the glass of the viewfinder, or as the presenter in the video said, you have to stick your eyeball right into the viewfinder. It works, maybe by pressing the camera tighter to your face to get your eye closer to the viewfinder helps you steady the camera better? Like I said, I don’t know why it works, but it does, doing that has helped me get sharper images.
Of course, that tip won’t help you if you’re using a camera that doesn’t have a viewfinder. 😉
Since the folder that the finch photos were in is now almost empty, here’s the rest of images from that folder.
I went for a walk around home on the day after Thanksgiving, it was another wet, gloomy day, and I ended up saving just three photos, so here they are.
The only thing noteworthy about the last two is that I moved some dead leaves and other things out of the frame so that the view of the colored leaves wasn’t obstructed as much. Usually when I move things around, the results aren’t that good, I end up making the scene worse instead of better. Maybe that’s all in my head.
Anyway, I have plenty of leftovers from this summer left to be posted, so it’s time to get on with those photos. These were all shot at various locations in the Muskegon area. I’ll start with one as I was starting to use the polarizing filter for waterfowl photos.
As I’ve written in the past few posts, the filter really makes an improvement in my images most of the time by cutting the glare from the water, even for shorebirds.
I wasn’t sure if that was a white-rumped sandpiper at the time I shot it, but I was sure that these were whitetail deer, it’s easy to see how they got their name.
I always try to keep my ducks in a row, I had to speed up the last female some to get her in line. 😉
Despite their name, ravens aren’t common this far south in Michigan, so seeing one is always special. You can tell them apart from crows by the raven’s oversized bill.
It isn’t often that you see a vulture swooping this low to the ground either.
Laughing mallards are always fun to listen to.
I’ve posted better photos of greater yellowlegs in the past, but this one was one of the few that I saw this fall, so I think that I should include it.
This was one of the first lesser scaup to show up this fall, now there are hundreds of them, and I usually don’t bother to shoot any of them.
This next one is an “if only” shot. I had great light, and the phoebe landed close to me, if only there hadn’t been the branches in the way.
I tried to get a good photo of two dragonflies at one time…
…but it didn’t work, so I shot this one to make up for it.
This next one is of the reflections of the leaves and sky in one of the ponds at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.
I haven’t posted many photos of mute swans lately, so here’s three, starting with the male…
…who was joined by his mate…
…but their youngster wouldn’t join in for a family portrait.
I was able to get a little closer to another pie-billed grebe at a later date, but it didn’t give me enough time to get the polarizing filter dialed in.
Finally, a juvenile white-crowned sparrow, even though I’ve posted a few of them lately. They’re only around for a few weeks in the spring and fall as they migrate through the area, so it will be several months before I see any of them again.
Well, it’s now Saturday, almost Sunday in fact, as I put the finishing touches on this post. I spent the day in the Muskegon area again today, and I shot nearly 400 photos. Of those, I’ll probably end up posting only 20 to 30 of them at the most. Most of the birds seemed to be extra wary today, so I wasn’t able to get close to most of them, including eagles, several species of hawks, and of course, thousands of ducks. But, I learned a lot today, both about bird behavior, and what my photo gear is capable of. But, I’ll save that for when I get around to posting the photos.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!