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

The year in photos, Happy New Years!

Happy New Years every one! I thought that I’d take this occasion to look back at the last year as seen in my photos. Of course I’ll start with January 2015, in the middle of one of our coldest winters on record.

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

We had a January thaw, although short-lived…

Grand Haven, Michigan lighthouse HDR

Grand Haven, Michigan lighthouse HDR

…as the waves breaking against the lighthouse soon froze so that it looked like this.

The lighthouse at Grand Haven

The lighthouse at Grand Haven

Moving on to February, the cold and snow continued. I spent a day at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo shooting photos of the warbirds there.

B 25 Mitchell

B 25 Mitchell

Mostly because it was too cold and snowy to spend a lot of time outdoors that month.

Snow fence

Snow fence

I did venture to Muskegon on occasion, since there were several snowy owls there.

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

March saw a little improvement in our weather.

Male redhead duck

Male redhead duck

 

Bald eagle sans twig

Bald eagle sans twig

 

Male wood duck

Male wood duck

 

Sunrise at the Grand Haven breakwater

Sunrise at the Grand Haven breakwater

Spring tried to break through in April.

Daffodil

Daffodil

 

Tree swallow

Tree swallow

 

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

But, spring didn’t really get here until May.

Raccoon, just hanging out

Raccoon, just hanging out

 

Green heron

Green heron

 

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

June was mild, some would call it cool, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Turkey gobbling

Turkey gobbling

 

Muskegon marsh sunrise

Muskegon marsh sunrise

 

Juvenile upland sandpiper

Juvenile upland sandpiper

 

Just hatched spotted sandpiper

Just hatched spotted sandpiper

The cool trend continued through July.

Piping plover, juvenile

Piping plover, juvenile

 

Double day lily

Double day lily

 

Rose pogonia orchid

Rose pogonia orchid

 

Michigan lily

Michigan lily

We didn’t have a heat wave until late in August.

Ruby-throated hummingbird in flight

Ruby-throated hummingbird in flight

 

Juvenile barn swallow

Juvenile barn swallow

 

Day lily

Day lily

The heat lasted through September.

Super sunrise

Super sunrise

 

Cloudscape at 15 mm

Cloudscape at 15 mm

 

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

 

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel

October brought the first signs of fall.

Canopy of color

Canopy of color

 

Glowing maple

Glowing maple

 

Another sunset at Duck Lake

Another sunset at Duck Lake

 

Tree frog

Tree frog

It seems like November was just yesterday.

Male northern shoveler

Male northern shoveler

 

Yet another Duck Lake State Park sunset

Yet another Duck Lake State Park sunset

 

Pekin duck

Pekin duck

 

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Now then, here’s the boring stuff. The weather here took a dramatic turn for the worse the day after Christmas, it’s much more like a normal winter with near constant cloud cover now. I returned to Muskegon on the Sunday after Christmas, and I haven’t decided if I’ll post any photos from that trip, due to the bad lighting that day. Also, since a new year is about to begin, I’m thinking of deleting most, if not all of the photos that I still have leftover from last year that I had saved to blog at a later date.

It’s not that the photos are terrible, some of them are actually good, but they aren’t of anything that I won’t be shooting more photos of this year as the year progresses. I’m still mulling over whether I should do the out with the old, in with the new thing to begin the new year. While some of the photos that I have saved are okay, I’m sure that I’ll do better this coming year.

I do know that I’m going to revive the My Photo Life List series of posts, where I’ll do a post on one species of bird at a time as I attempt to get a photo of every species of bird regularly seen in Michigan, with the photos good enough that the species of bird is recognizable in my photos. I began that project in January of 2013, now, it’s three years later, and I’m well over 200 species of birds photographed. However, I’m still well below 200 posts in the series, since I was doing other posts all summer and fall of this year. Instead of posting crappy photos taken in the poor light of winter here, I’ll do some catching up in that series. Not that the photos that I have saved to use in that series are all great, they’re not, but that’s the way it goes when I’m chasing some of the rarer species that I don’t see very often.

However, as I’ve been saying recently, the average quality of my images continues to improve. Look at the snowy owl photos above, and then compare them to these that I shot on Christmas day, less than a year apart.

Snowy owl in flight

Snowy owl in flight

 

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

And, I throw in one more of the landscape photos from Christmas day to round out this year which also highlights the improvement in my photos.

Muskegon State Park dunes

Muskegon State Park dunes

By the way, I failed to mention in my last post that all the landscapes images, including the moonrise, were shot with the 7D Mk II, not the 60D that I normally use. I really don’t see very much difference between those two cameras for that purpose, so I see no reason to take the time to change all the settings on the 7D to use it for landscapes.

You know, I’m certainly an odd duck, as much as my photos have improved, it only drives me to try harder to continue improving them even more, and I can still see plenty of room for improvement.

So, then the question is as it always is, do I wait until I get an excellent photo to post, post just the better ones that I get, or continue on as I have, which has included some really crappy shots at times. The photo of the raccoon in this post is a good example of that. It’s a cute photo, of the raccoon taking over a nesting box to stay dry on a day when there was a light misty rain falling. In a recent post, I added photos of mallards flying in the fog, and while fog may make many landscape photos more interesting, it doesn’t work well when shooting birds in flight.

There’s my quandary, one of these days, the birds may not be mallards but something special, and I have to be ready that chance if it comes. Shooting those types of images require as much or more practice and learning than do photos taken in good light. The question remains, do I continue to post a few of my practice shots, or, do I take advantage of good lighting such as what there was on Christmas day, and post just those photos?

That question becomes harder to answer, as a couple of commenters here also have a Canon 7D Mk II, and have noted that they appreciate my passing along what I learn about it. I was talking to a fellow birder/photographer on Sunday, who asked me what camera I was using. When I told him the 7D, he replied that he was thinking of purchasing one himself. So, I explained a few of the things that I like most about it, including having the two rear buttons give me completely different settings instantly, and let him play with it for a while as we chatted. I think that Canon will be selling another 7D very soon. 😉

Even if some one isn’t using the same camera that I am, I hope that I’m able to pass on what I learn as I learn it.

Okay, who am I trying to kid? It dawned on me today while I was out for my walk that I’m not going to change, not very much any way. When I envisioned this post, it was going to be of my very best images of the past year, but as soon as I began selecting the actual photos that I’ve used, I often reverted back to using my favorites, even if they weren’t the best technically. I may as well come to grips with that and stop worrying about it, because as soon as I see a bird eating something that I’ve never seen them eat before, I’m going to shoot photos of that. Then, I’m probably going to use that photo here…

American goldfinch eating sycamore tree seeds

American goldfinch eating sycamore tree seeds

…even if the photo isn’t very good technically. That’s because what drives my photography is my interest in nature in the first place. It’s my love of nature that’s behind my desire to improve my images, to learn what I can through photographing birds and other critters, capturing moments like that which show me what and how a particular species of bird eats what it does. Then, there’s my desire to share what I learn with others, both in what I learn about nature, and the technical side of photography.

Now that I think of it, there’s a lot to be learned from that photo. One, to get close to birds, learn what they eat, and hang out where you find the foods that they prefer, and photograph them while they are preoccupied as they are filling their stomachs. That’s the nature side of it. The photography side is to learn Photoshop, so that you could change the dull, grey, overcast sky to a more pleasing blue sky, and also to remove the out of focus branches behind the bird. 😉

With all that said, there’s nothing else to say other than Happy New Years every one, and may 2016 be the best year ever for all of you!

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

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33 responses

  1. What a wonderful set of images, impossible to choose a favourite they are all so striking. Happy New Year to you too and have lots of fun with all your fancy gear.

    December 30, 2015 at 3:26 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! I’m looking forward to more of your wonderful tours of places in London over the coming year.

      December 30, 2015 at 10:27 am

  2. Looks like you had a very successful year in photographing what you do best. Happy New Year!

    December 30, 2015 at 3:46 am

    • Thank you very much Michael!

      December 30, 2015 at 10:27 am

  3. Fabulous photos, Jerry, even those you deem not technically good. I agree with your sentiments, except the one about learning Photoshop. A lot of people spend too much time with Photoshop, and its myriads of byproduct software, correcting or inserting into their images things that do not really occur in nature. Doing so, they spend less and less time outside watching nature and capturing its moments. That is surely not a good thing.

    December 30, 2015 at 6:44 am

    • Thank you very much for your kind words and for your observations on software. I agree, too many people spend far too much time editing their images, which is why I haven’t joined that crowd. I do think that I could “fix” the goldfinch photo easily enough that it would go from an okay image to a good one. Or, I could hope to catch one of the goldfinches on one of those very rare sunny days here in Michigan. I don’t want to start down the road of deviating from what I see in nature though.

      December 30, 2015 at 10:41 am

  4. great collection of photos. if your “crappy” photos tell a story…keep. sometimes the imperfect is perfect. happy new year.

    December 30, 2015 at 11:17 am

    • Thank you very much!

      December 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm

  5. A beautiful and impressive collection of photos, Jerry, all of them. I think the “Sunrise at the Grand Haven breakwater” is still one of my all time favorites. It is hauntingly beautiful.

    December 30, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I wish that there wasn’t the snow fence on the beach in that photo, but it can’t be helped. Without that fencing, the entire Grand Haven State Park would get buried in sand every winter.

      December 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm

  6. A great year for your readers with interesting pictures interspersed with sage advice and the promise of even better pictures to come. Keep shooting and keep thinking.

    December 30, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! I have a few ideas floating around my head right now, I’m going to try them this weekend.

      December 31, 2015 at 4:24 am

      • I await the results with keen anticipation.

        December 31, 2015 at 6:27 pm

  7. I like the snow fence in that shot! It adds something to that photo that raises it above the average beach or sunrise photo, in my opinion.
    It was good to see these again, especially since I never see snowy owls or sunrises like these. The super sunrise really is!
    I also love that shot of the glowing maple and the light on the grass in that shot of the dunes is really magical. I’d call that one close to perfect if it were mine.
    I’ll say the same thing I always say; just keep shooting and showing what you love and the rest of us will happily come along for the ride!

    December 30, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    • Thank you Allen! I did try to incorporate the snow fence as much as I could as far as composing the photo, still, I wish that it hadn’t been there. As much as you like the light on the dune grass, it’s still far more impressive in real life, I need to keep working until I catch the same glow from the grass that I can see with my eyes when the light hits it just right.

      I think that this weekend, I’m going to take my tripod, a short lens, and my macro lens, and see what I can do with some lichens and fungi that I’ve found. That is, if the fungi aren’t covered in snow. 😉

      December 31, 2015 at 4:42 am

  8. You have a lot of really fantastic shots here! We are all our own worst critics. Thank you for brightening my day. I always love stopping by here.

    December 30, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    • Thank you very much Anita! I like to think that I’m my own best critic, if I were satisfied with poor photos, I’d never improve.

      December 31, 2015 at 4:35 am

  9. Jerry, great shots! It’s been great celebrating your love of nature and travelling with you on your photographic journey over the past year.

    December 31, 2015 at 7:47 am

    • Thank you very much Bob!

      December 31, 2015 at 11:23 am

  10. I think they are a great selection of wonderful photos which I have largely missed recently. Thank you for sharing and for your sage advice. I wish you a very Happy, Healthy 2016 and much success in your never-ending quest for quality. Inspiring.

    December 31, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    • Thank you very much Brandy! I’d like to wish you a Happy New Years as well!

      December 31, 2015 at 9:50 pm

  11. I love this post so much! All those images are beautiful in different ways because you see and look for a variety of things when you take your shots. It’s that variety which really appeals to me. I wish you all the best for 2016 Jerry.

    December 31, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I do love all of nature, which is why I photograph the variety of things that I do.

      December 31, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      • 🙂

        January 1, 2016 at 1:51 pm

  12. Beautiful photos, Jerry! Happy New Year!

    December 31, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    • Thank you very much Sheila!

      December 31, 2015 at 9:50 pm

  13. Stunning captures from 2015, Jerry. You’re doing everything right, what you think might not be so great, one of us bloggers will tell you different. 🙂 It is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t that what they say? Happy New Year shooting!

    January 2, 2016 at 8:12 am

    • Thank you very much Donna! I suppose that you’re right, but I still see ways that I can improve my photos to give every one an even better view of the things that I see.

      January 2, 2016 at 8:44 am

      • I know what you mean, I think I am my own worst enemy when it comes to critiquing my own photos.

        January 2, 2016 at 3:43 pm

  14. Gorgeous!

    January 7, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      January 8, 2016 at 2:48 am

  15. An outstanding bit of photography! Excellent landscapes.

    January 8, 2016 at 10:35 am

    • Thank you very much Jaques!

      January 8, 2016 at 11:06 am