Falling for fall all over again
After a warmer than average summer, we’ve finally had a bit of a cool down here, the temperature yesterday was about average for this time of year, and it was very refreshing for a change. The trees are just beginning to put on their fabulous fall display of color, with just a hint of what’s to come. I do love fall here in west Michigan, it’s a delightful time of the year.
It’s especially delightful when I can shoot a series of images like these!
None of these are cropped, I thought that the heron may fly through the windows of my Subaru for a few seconds.
These were shot with the Image Stabilization on the lens turned off, which I found gives me much sharper images of birds in flight when I can keep the shutter speed fast enough.
I think that I have the camera settings dialed in pretty well now, from the auto-focus tracking settings, to the exposure settings.
Now that I know what settings to use, I played around learning which angles and distances from the subjects worked the best. I shot over 650 photos on Sunday, and most of them were birds in flight, mostly ducks and geese. The biggest problem that I encountered was finding times when there was enough separation between the birds so that they didn’t end up being a jumbled mess.
That was true of birds overhead as well.
I found it difficult to fill the frame with birds if they were in flocks, without cutting off parts of several birds.
It doesn’t help when a male stands on the shoulders of a female to launch himself out of the frame…
…or when birds are going in different directions…
…but I persevered and decided that those were good enough to post.
It would be better if I could have cropped the partial duck out of the frame of this one, or if I had gotten the third duck’s head in the frame.
It would also be better if the ducks were in full breeding plumage as well, as you’ll see later on. But first, this is the way that the day started.
You can see a flock of ducks frolicking there in the marsh, here’s a closer look at the ducks.
Here’s two more images that I shot just after dawn.
Snow geese are known for their habit of forming in huge flocks, but I found one lone snow goose hanging out with the Canada geese.
Snow geese have two color variations, this one is known as the blue goose.
I went back later to shoot better photos when there was more light, but the snow goose had moved to places unknown by then.
This next series of photos are the camera torture test, trying to shoot a crow perched almost in front of the rising sun.
Luck was with me, for some reason the crow allowed me to get very close to it, that image wasn’t cropped at all. I was even luckier, the crow sat there while I circled it to get these next two images as well.
I learned that not even the 7D Mk II will auto-focus on the chest of an all black bird, so I had to manually focus for these. It may have helped if I had been using more than just the center focusing point so that the camera could have seen more than all black, but I didn’t think of that at the time.
Getting the exposure correct was also tricky, I was checking to make sure that I had it right when the crow finally decided that it had posed long enough and took off, so I missed those shots.
This next photo is to show the relative sizes of the waterfowl that I see at Muskegon. It’s easy to see the largest, a mute swan. Then, there’s the Canada geese, with a mallard in front of the mute swan. Above the swan, there’s a ruddy duck, which are tiny little things compared to the rest of the waterfowl in this photo.
Once again, I saw all three of the falcons that are common near Muskegon, but I was only able to photograph two again.
I missed the peregrine falcon that I saw, it was too far away to even bother trying to shoot a photo of it. Oh well, one of these days I’ll get all three on the same day.
I went looking for smaller birds that may have been migrating through the woodlots, but all I found were these turkeys.
I saw quite a few sandhill cranes scattered around the grassy cells.
I was able to get a little closer to the one with a feather stuck to its beak.
Those photos look like most of the others that I have shot of the cranes, I just realized how I can change that, hopefully the next time that I see them. I suppose that I could have pushed the cranes until they took flight, but I left them there to feed for their journey south.
Next up, a pair of more artistic photos…
…and, here’s the cropped version to show every one the relative sizes of the two species better.
Before I run out of room, I had better get these photos in here, they are of northern shovelers in flight. As you can see, they still have their eclipse plumage…
…I can hardly wait until spring…
…so that I can get the same quality of photo, but with the shovelers in breeding plumage.
By spring, I will have worked out the best angles and distances to shoot flocks of waterfowl at to produce better images. In the meantime, for the last photo in this post, a dragonfly that I almost didn’t bother to shoot.
I’m a bit surprised that it turned out as well as it did, I thought that the light was wrong, but what do I know?
I know that I may be offline for a while, I have water seeping into the room where I have my computer located. I’ll have to move everything out of this room, and into another part of my apartment until they get the water leak fixed and the carpet cleaned and dried. That’s not going to be an easy task, since I have no room to spare in my apartment, and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to find a spot to get the computer set-up and hooked to the internet while they repair the water leak.
This is the third time that I’ve had water leaking into my apartment, and since there’s no plumbing in the room where I have the computer, I have no idea where the water could be coming from, but the carpet is damp, and getting a little worse every day, so something is leaking.
I’m back after a very busy day. I took my Subaru in for its scheduled maintenance, then it took me to the dentist for mine. I went home and moved everything out of the computer room, then notified maintenance here. I moved everything before calling them, because they weren’t very careful with my things during the previous floods. It looks like there’s a crack in the foundation that’s letting the water seep in, but they want to get the carpet dry before they investigate further. That way, the water that’s still seeping in can get the carpet wet again. Don’t ask, I have no idea why they’d do that.
I jury-rigged an internet connection for the time being, but I’m not sure how well it will work over time. Oh, and by the way, I took delivery of the new 100-400 mm lens today, and even had time to shoot a photo or two around here. I’m dying to really test it on flying birds, but the ducks were all napping this afternoon.
All I can say is WOW! The color, clarity, sharpness, and details are as much better than the 300 mm lens and tele-converter as the 300 mm lens is over the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens). I also shot a squirrel, with similar results. Now I’m really looking forward to getting to know that lens!
It will take me a while to get used to zooming in and out again, but I’m already loving the zoom range of the lens. I’m sure that I’ll have a lot more to say about in the future, so I think that it’s time to finish this post and get ready for work.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!