I can only be some what serious
I had a little spare time one day this week, so I spent that time with the manual for my 7D Mk II camera. In several of the videos from Canon about how to set the camera, it was mentioned that you can have two completely different auto-focus set-ups available by how you program the customizable buttons on the rear of the camera. So, it was that section of the manual that I went looking for. In my search, I stumbled across a few of the other amazing things that this camera is capable of, such as being able to set the exposure bracketing to take 2, 3, 5 or 7 shots, with the added ability of being able to set the spacing of the exposure adjustments. Wow! That would be perfect for creating HDR images, if I could ever bring myself to use the 7D for landscapes, when it is so good for wildlife.
Anyway, after shooting the gulls in flight at the Bear Lake channel last Sunday…
…and seeing how well that the 7D can do when set properly for flying birds, I really wanted to get the camera set-up so that one of the buttons was for portrait shots…
…and the other for birds in flight. I was successful at doing what I set out to accomplish. One button will now activate the auto-focus in the single auto-focus point mode with the tracking set for the twitchy little birds that I have trouble getting in focus otherwise, and the second button activates the auto-focus in the area mode with the tracking set to stick with birds as they fly.
I should also apologize again for posting so many photos of the gulls and mallards lately…
…especially when I shot the last photo in dense fog. However, as I’ve said so many times, they make great practice subjects because they are so common. I can concentrate on camera settings and my technique as I shoot more photos of the gulls and mallards in a few minutes than I could in a month of shooting other subjects and therefore, learn a great deal more about what works and what doesn’t in a shorter period of time.
Besides, I’m a complete idiot anyway. Who goes out birding in a dense fog and expects to get good bird in flight photos, even if the birds are just mallards?
In my defense, I didn’t know that it was going to be that foggy. There was some sunshine early in the day, but as soon as the temperature climbed above the freezing point, the water from the evaporating frost turned into fog…
…and less than half an hour later, the fog was so thick that you could cut it with a knife…
…but not with a camera lens.
I’ve never been that close to an adult male bufflehead before, and the fog was too thick for a good photo of it. I did a little better with a female or juvenile bufflehead that I got even closer to.
But, that’s the way it goes at times, I can’t control the weather or the wildlife, so I have to learn how to shoot in any conditions, just in case. The weather can change on a dime here, it’s hard to believe that I shot this photo…
…less than an hour before the fog began forming. The fog became so thick that I didn’t want to drive in it, so I was more or less stuck at the wastewater facility until it began to lift at least a little.
However, back to the fog. As I was shooting the photos above, I could hear gulls and geese flying overhead, and I wondered how they could navigate in the thick fog. How birds are able to navigate during migration is a question that the answer to still eludes scientists, but I think that Allen who does the New Hampshire Garden Solutions blog had the answer to how the birds navigated in the fog, they flew above it. While I was stuck in the thick fog hugging the ground, and with my limited point of view, I could see only a few hundred feet, but I’m sure that birds could easily fly above the fog and still find enough landmarks for them to know where they were.
I spent a little time checking out the lichens that grow on the rocks used to stabilize the banks of the man-made ponds there at the wastewater facility while waiting for the fog to lift.
One of the things I’ve been doing this week is looking back at many of the photos that I’ve shot this past year. As you may know, Lightroom allows you to rate each image with a star rating of one to five stars. As I said in my last post, the average quality of my images has improved a great deal over this past year. Many of the photos that I gave a high rating to right after I shot them earlier this year are now just average, or even below average. That, and I often assigned a high rating to an image just because I had mastered a new technique or set-up, when the image itself wasn’t all that good.
One of the things that makes it easy to review just the images that I think are my best is the ability to create “Smart collections” in Lightroom. I have created a few, like Raptors, Waterfowl, Landscapes, etc. The images that appear in the smart collections the way that I set them up are added automatically, based on keywords, the star rating that I give the images, and the cropped image size. So, let’s say that I shoot a photo of an eagle, I didn’t crop it, and I gave it a four star rating, it automatically goes into the raptor smart collection. Lightroom doesn’t move the image or copy it, it stores the information in the database so that the image appears in both the folder where I originally put it and the smart collection, which conserves disk space. You can always go back and change the rating that you give to an image, as well as edit the criteria used to create the smart collections, making it easy to find the photos that you’re looking for.
So, back to the photos from last weekend. After the fog lifted, I headed up to Duck Lake State Park to hike the trail system there, and I found a few things other than critters to photograph.
It was a nice day, although clouds rolled in less than an hour after the fog lifted, so I stopped to play a little, first shooting these mushrooms with a short lens…
…then with the birding set-up, to see which I prefer, as I was traveling light and hadn’t brought the macro lens with me.
After all, it’s December, and I didn’t expect to be shooting fungi this time of the year.
Sidenote, it’s early Sunday morning as I type this, and there’s a thunderstorm passing over here, in the middle of December. It’s warm but with the rain and fog, outside, I think that I’ll be staying inside for a while yet today.
Anyway, I also spotted these, and couldn’t tell if some one had trimmed branches or possibly burls off from the tree, or if there had been fungi growing on the tree.
I moved much closer to shoot this.
I’m certainly not an expert on fungi, but it looks to me as if some one cut what were very large growths of fungi from the side of the tree. I’m more of the fungi as art sort of person, as this next photo shows.
The land that makes up Duck Lake State Park used to be a Boy Scout camp before the state purchased it, I guess that the troop that sold the land to the state was a bit despondent to lose their camp, but I still think that a gravestone to mark the passing of the camp is a bit strange.
I’m a bit strange myself, I’m fascinated by the patterns left in wood as it decays, as well as the decaying process itself.
I am easily amused as well, I thought that the colors on this old stump were worth a photo as well.
And, I like the way that light plays on the needles of a pine tree.
One of the many questions to which I have no answer is what this type of moss is, and why wildlife would tear tufts of it out of the ground.
All along the trail, I could see where something had been digging in clumps of the moss as shown above, but whatever it was that dug the moss up, left the moss it dug up, there must be something in the roots that the critter(s) like to get to.
As I said, I didn’t take the macro lens with me, as I didn’t think that I’d be shooting flowers in December, but I was wrong, so I had to make do as best I could when I spotted some witch hazel in bloom. At least I think that it’s witch hazel?
The same holds true in a way for this next photo as well, it never occurred to me that I’d be shooting macro photos this time of year.
My intentions where to shoot photos of birds, which I did find in abundance there at Duck Lake, very large numbers of all of our winter resident upland bird species, I just wish that I could have gotten better photos than these.
However, all the birds were actively foraging for food, and didn’t sit still long enough for me to shoot any good photos of them.
In a way, it’s strange how the species of birds that I shoot the most photos of runs in streaks. I may try for photos of a particular species all year round, and fail most of the time. Then, for a few weeks, it seems that the only species that I can get good photos of is one of them that normally eludes me. Case in point, the only species of bird that I was able to photograph well during my time at Duck Lake was a tufted titmouse, as seen in my last post. Well, this past week around home, it was another tufted titmouse that posed for me.
That’s the last of a series of it that I shot, here are a couple of the other earlier photos.
I tried to catch it in flight as it flitted from branch to branch…
…but I need to take some lessons from Mr. Tootlepedal on how to get good photos of small birds in flight.
As I said, I’ve been reviewing the photos that I’ve shot over the past year, and I’m happy to see that the overall average quality of my photos is improving. The shots of the birds in this post shot in the thick fog won’t win any awards, that’s for sure, but by the same token, they are far better than I would have come up with last year. And, since I never know what I’ll see or when I’ll see it, those photos are a good indication of what I can come up with in some of the worst possible weather for photography. Some of the most dramatic wildlife photos that I’ve seen were shot during periods of inclement weather. As one of my goals is to be able to photograph anything in any type of weather, the fact that you can tell that the mallards are mallards and the bufflehead are bufflehead is important to me.
Given some great light, as when I shot the gulls in this post, I hate to brag, but I’ve seen very few images that are much better than mine. Up until the past few months, I never would have said that, for I always found my images lacking in one way or another. I still shoot plenty of crappy “for the record” photos though, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. It goes with the territory, as you don’t get great light all day every day.
My landscape photos have shown the most improvement, as I’m learning how to compose the images to get the depth in them that a good landscape photos require.
However, I need to stop relying on the sky as a major element in my landscapes, that will come with more practice, I hope.
I also need to work on my macro photography as well.
Shooting good macro photos is the most time-consuming of all the different types of photos that I shoot. Getting the tripod set takes some time, as well as setting up the additional lighting many macro photos require. You’d think that since I spend almost the entire day outside shooting photos when I have a day off from work that time wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it always seems to be. The sunflower photo isn’t even a true macro, but it still benefitted from an extra light source, even though the sun was shining almost straight at the flower.
The number of gadgets, gizmos, and widgets that they sell for use in macro photography is beyond my wallet’s ability to pay for them, and my back’s ability to carry any more than it does already, so I suppose that I’m not as serious as I claim to be about trying to improve my photos. 😉
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!