Another day to play, and a Merry Christmas to all!
I went to the Muskegon County wastewater facility again on Sunday, hoping to track down a snowy owl, a few of which have been seen there recently. I had no luck finding an owl, and it was a relatively boring day there. Yes, there were thousands of geese, but all Canada geese, and thousands of ducks, including the largest flock of northern shovelers that I’ve ever seen. However, I couldn’t get close enough to most of the waterfowl there to get good photos of them. I suppose that this is the best of the lot, only because I seldom get close to canvasbacks.
Since I prattled on at length about my camera and the way that I can set-it up to suit what and how I shoot, I won’t say much about that in this post other than to say that I did have a chance to test those settings…
…but the hawk would come no closer than that…
…my aperture is a touch too wide to get the depth of field needed for a large bird up close as the gull’s wingtip is in focus, but the eye and body is a bit soft in that one…
…I need to train the female mallards not to cut in front of the male that I’m tracking…
…but overall, the settings work well for flocks of birds at a distance…
…whether a mixed flock like that, or all geese like this one…
…and I can see that I’m going to have to fine tune the instant bird in flight settings that I have programmed into the second rear focusing button, also that I really should program one of the three available program modes for the ultimate in bird in flight settings.
I suppose that the really big news from the day was this guy.
It’s a testament to how warm it’s been so far this fall that there’s still a kingfisher around here. I just wish that I had happened upon it where the branches weren’t in the way. I wasn’t going to let the chance to get an up close and personal photo, even with the branches, slip away though. As soon as I moved to the right to get a clear view of the kingfisher, it took off as they always do.
I went back to the same spot later in the day, but couldn’t find him again, which is normal. I snuck up through the woods with the 2X extender behind the 300 mm lens all set if he had been there. Since I was in the woods with that set-up, I shot a few photos of the upland birds that I saw as I returned to my vehicle.
I had seen quite a few brown creepers the last time I was at Duck Lake, but hadn’t gotten any photos of them then. This one isn’t very good, since the creeper insisted on staying on the shady side of the tree.
It was much the same for the nuthatches as well, they stayed in the shade most of the time.
Shooting in low light with the 300 mm lens and 2X extender doesn’t produce great images, but they’re not terrible either. That set-up does need good light for it to produce good images.
I call it playing, but the hour or so that I spent chasing the smaller birds with the combination of the 300 mm lens and the 2X extender was invaluable to me as far as learning how to get the best out of it. By the time I got back to my car, I had that combination tracking birds as they hopped from branch to branch, when from my first tests, I never would have thought it possible to do so. In fact, the brown creeper shot was one of a series of photos shot in burst mode as it hopped its way up the trunk of the tree. It may not be a great photo, but it’s all part of the learning process that never seems to end.
Speaking of the learning process, I returned to shoot the lichens that so many people commented on from an earlier post, this time with some better light. I started out wide, because I like the rock almost as much as the lichens on it.
The 100 mm macro lens I have has three range limiting functions, so I went as close as the first allowed.
Then, it was as close as I could get at 100 mm.
I wanted to get closer, so I put the Tamron 1.4X extender behind the macro lens.
I wanted to show the tiny grey-blue lichens which appear to be just starting to grow on the rock towards the lower left of the image, as well as the other small segments? of the orangish lichens. I tried to go even closer by installing all three of the extension tubes that I have for the purpose of extreme close-up photography, but for some reason, the 60D camera didn’t record a single one of the images that I shot with that set-up, and I’m not sure why that is. I could see an image in the viewfinder, and it sounded as though the camera had shot the photos, but there’s no images and not even a record of my having shot any of the attempts that I made with all three extension tubes. Oh well, another lesson learned. That was a bit ridiculous anyway, as the hood of the lens was almost touching the rock to get the lichen in focus, and I had an extremely difficult time not casting a shadow on what I was trying to photograph.
I probably should have tried a few of the other combinations of lenses, extenders, and extension tubes, but I have limited patience when it comes to shooting the same inanimate subject repeatedly. Perhaps I would have had more patience if the temperature wasn’t just above freezing, and if I hadn’t been kneeling in mud as I shot those. The lichen will be there the next time, so when I take a break from the birds, I can go back and play some more.
The lichens do bring up one other thing though. When I first viewed those photos, I was disappointed in the way that the rock that the lichen was growing on looked in my images. The rock had a slightly pink cast to it, and I could tell that it contained quartz from how sparkly it was when I was shooting the photos. The pink cast and the sparkles weren’t there when I viewed the images, and those are missing from the photos as they appear here.
One of the things that I do in Lightroom is go through my photos and flag all of the ones that I may want to export to use here in my blog. Then, before I export the photos, I view them all full screen to choose the best of very similar photos. So, as I was going through the lichen photos full screen, I could see the pink cast of the rock as well as the sparkles, but when I went back to the regular view in Lightroom, they were gone again. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s something that I notice more often all the time. As my images improve, they now look better viewed full screen than they do in even slightly reduced size within Lightroom, that is, unless the images were cropped quite a bit. Of course you have no way of knowing if that’s true, 😉 but I have to wonder why that is. I’d say that it was a quirk in Lightroom, or if it was just in the images after I exported them in the Jpeg format, then the details were lost in the conversion. Just an observation that probably means nothing.
I have a few other photos from Sunday, starting with a female bufflehead taking flight.
I also shot a few more photos of a crow.
And, these next three photos are nothing special either, other than they demonstrate why it can be hard to identify ducks at times, it’s all the fault of mallards, who aren’t choosy when it comes to mating.
You may have noticed two different colorations of the bills of those ducks, along with a difference in size. They were all hanging out with the mallards.
And, here’s a close-up of the smallest of the ducks in the flock. She’s part mallard, but I have no idea what the other species was that the mallard had mated with to produce her. You can see by the patterns of her feathers along with her size that she’s not a “pure-blood” mallard. I’m reasonably sure that the larger ducks with the bright yellow bills in the first of these photos were black duck/mallard hybrids.
I swear, mallards are going to take over the world eventually. 🙂
Anyway, those are the only photos that I saved for blogging from my trip on Sunday. So, since Christmas is later this week, I’m going to go back in time and post a couple of photos that have a Christmas look to them.
I’ll admit, I’ll be disappointed that we won’t have a white Christmas here this year. However, looking back at those photos from last winter, I’m not missing the cold or snow measured in feet rather than inches!
Also, the next few images will be my Christmas present to all of you who put up with my long-winded posts and poor photos, a few of my better images from this past year.
Also, as the sun is about to rise over a new year, I think that this one is fitting.
And with that, it’s time to say Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good year!
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!