The more the merrier
As if getting a good photo of one bird…
…wasn’t tough enough already, on Saturday, I ended up trying for multiple birds…
…at one time. They’re so cute, they deserve another photo of them.
They’re not only North American’s smallest falcon, they have to be the most camera-shy also.
I was having an uncharacteristically slow day at the Muskegon wastewater facility, so with a flock of kestrels around, I thought that I may as well just sit there for a while and hope that one would come closer, since I can’t sneak up on them. It actually worked, one did catch a large grasshopper and perched close to me while it ate the grasshopper.
I really lucked out, not only was the kestrel close enough so that I can see the leg of the grasshopper in its talons, but it did so when I had good light and a good background for the photos, unlike when I shot the pair of them earlier. I inched as close as I dared.
Close enough that I can see the kestrel’s tongue. I don’t know if that means the kestrel liked the taste of the grasshopper, or hated it. Since it was sticking around, I shot a few more images of it.
It turned out to be a slow weekend, not just slow on Saturday. I’ll have more on that later, but I went to the wastewater facility on Saturday because it was raining when I left home, and since Muskegon is west of Grand Rapids, the weather clears there before it does here. As you can see…
…it turned out to be a good day as far as the weather.
I began the day trying to shoot a few shorebirds and their reflections, but something always ruined those images, like the piece of trash floating near the yellowlegs in this one.
A little later, I was trying a similar shot with a couple of the yellowlegs, but as I was shooting, more and more birds entered the frame, so this was the final version.
My intent was to shoot more flying birds, but you have to see flying birds to shoot them. I saw plenty of birds in flight, but none close enough to bother trying to photograph. This is the exception.
That was shot with the 300 mm lens alone, no tele-converter, and the Image Stabilization turned off. Since I’ve already eliminated the tele-converter as the reason for the less than sharp images of birds in flight that I get from the 300 mm lens, it must be the IS that is the cause. However, one series of photos isn’t proof positive of that, it will require more testing.
So, a little later, I noticed that there were several egrets working one of the farm fields at the wastewater facility, when a great blue heron decided to join them. For once, I was in a good spot to capture the moment.
But, there was no way that I could get the depth of field required to get all four birds in focus at once. Not so with this family of sandhill cranes.
All I had to do then was wait for all three to look in the same direction.
I wanted to get closer, but the only way that I could was to circle the cranes, but then, I’d be shooting into the sun. No problem, I waited for a cloud to partially obscure the bright sunshine, and got this close-up with no harsh shadows.
I have to say that having a few of my images printed 16 X 20 inches has spoiled me in a way, just as viewing my images on a 27 inch iMac has. These images of the cranes just don’t cut it here in their small size and lowered resolution., but I don’t know what the answer is to that. I guess that you’ll have to trust me when I say that these images of the cranes are stunning when viewed as I see them on my computer, some of the best images that I’ve ever shot.
Here’s a couple of the other photos from Saturday at the wastewater facility.
I then drove over to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, but I didn’t have much better luck there. On a very nice day such as it was, there’s always a lot of people there, and that keeps the birds back in the extremely thick brush at the preserve, so here’s the few poor images that I was able to shoot.
The Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve has to be the most frustrating place that I go. There’s always plenty of birds there, but getting a clear view of them is close to impossible until the leaves fall from the trees. Of course by then, most of the birds have gone south for the winter.
Sunday dawned bright and almost clear.
But, not long after the sun popped over the horizon, the combination of early morning sunlight, fog, and clouds created some of the most magical light that I’ve ever seen. Of course I wasn’t someplace more suitable for landscapes, so as I’ve learned from the Michael Melford videos that I’ve watched, when I had magic light, I shot whatever it was that I could find.
I didn’t know how long the light would last, so I shot that one, and this one…
…with the 420 mm set-up that I use for birding on the 7D. Then, I drove like a man possessed to get to where I could shoot about the same scenes with a wide-angle lens.
By then, I had lost most of the color from the first rays of sunlight.
Just my luck, I get some incredible light, and I get to shoot a storage lagoon at a wastewater facility and the county landfill in the great light. There’s no way to predict light like that, and I’m sure that the wastewater facility helped to generate that magic light to some degree. I shot this one looking away from the facility…
…and you can see that the fog wasn’t as thick, nor was there the same color to the sky. Oh well, one of these days I will be in the right place at the right time, I hope.
I suppose that you could say that I had magic light for these as well, although it was more or less just early morning sunlight backlighting the subjects.
Going back to the multiple bird theme, I shot a few photos of a flock of sanderlings that couldn’t make up their minds’ where they wanted to land.
Sanderlings are fun to watch, they seem to do everything as a flock. While many of the shorebirds will join together in a flock while flying, the sanderlings feed together in a flock. They run to and fro to catch their prey as if in unison. I tried to shoot some photos of them in action, but the photos were junk, I couldn’t keep the entire flock in focus as they scurried along the beach. Also, because they stay so close together, I had lumps of birds in my images, you couldn’t make out the individual birds. I’ll have to work on that.
At the same time as I was watching the sanderlings, I shot a few photos of other birds in the area, and here they are.
Well, that wraps up another one. I have many more photos from Sunday, most of them aren’t very good. I tried to shoot some of the small woodland birds, but I could never catch them in good light, no matter what I tried. Either I was in the bright sunshine looking at birds in deep shade, or I was in deep shade looking at birds in bright sunshine. Because it takes my eyes a few seconds to adjust to the changes in light, I had a difficult time getting the birds in the viewfinder. But, I’ll have more on that in my next post.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!