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

The new 100-400 mm lens post 3

I’m loving the new 100-400 mm lens, maybe too much. I’ve already used it to capture the peregrine falcon hopping on the ground, trying to pounce on something that I couldn’t see. Now, I’ve used it to capture a series of photos showing a red-tailed hawk eating a snake.

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

 

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

But before I go on, I see that one of my photos has been published by the statewide that consortium that includes the local Grand Rapids press and other newspapers around the State of Michigan.

http://www.mlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2016/10/spectacular_autumn_overlooks_w.html#2

I have to say that it’s a great ego boost to see one of my photos used in such a way!

I’ve also told you that I’ve been following the North American Nature Photography Association Facebook page as a way to judge my photos against the photos of others, and with all modesty, I have to say that I’ve been improving the quality of my images, but that I still have a way to go to match the very best that I see.

Anyway, I spotted the hawk perched on the fence as you can see in the photos above, and I assumed that the hawk would fly away as soon as it spotted me, so I was setting the camera to shoot birds in flight when the hawk jumped off from the fence and to the ground. Since I was busy setting the camera, I missed that. The hawk soon emerged back out of the tall grass with the poor snake.

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

I should have remembered what this look meant, “Are you ready there Mr. Photographer?”.

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

But, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that look, so I was a bit slow on the shutter.

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

 

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

 

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

 

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

 

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

 

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Red-tailed hawk eating a garter snake

Once the hawk had finished off the snake, I moved closer to shoot a few portrait shots.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

 

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

 

Red-tailed hawk zombie

Red-tailed hawk zombie

 

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

I thought that the hawk would have to come towards me if it took flight, due to the wind direction, but the hawk performed one of the niftiest moves that I’ve ever seen a large bird make to avoid the camera. It did leap up in my direction, but it was already turning in midair as it did so, then it dropped down below and behind the fence to build up speed as it flew away from me. So, my attempts to catch the take off were thwarted. However, the hawk must have felt bad about that, so it flew back towards me for these.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

 

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Okay, you may be wondering why I posted so many photos of the hawk, that’s a fair question. The reason is, that just as when I was photographing the falcon hopping around on the ground, the new 100-400 mm lens on the 7D Mk II didn’t miss a shot! I could have filled several posts with all of the good images that I shot of the hawk, both perched, and in flight. That’s the difference between my new set-up, and any of the others that I have used in the past, almost every image that I shoot is usable.

I’ve had the new lens for two weeks, and already I have supreme confidence in it, it will get me the shots that I want, whether they’re of a hawk, or a small bird like a chickadee.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

While I would love it if I could shoot only photos when there was great light and the birds cooperated…

Savannah sparrow

Savannah sparrow

…that doesn’t always happen.

Many of the birds stay hidden in the brush as much as they can.

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

 

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

I’ve said repeatedly that I want to be able to shoot anything, any time, any place, and the 7D and new lens make that very close to possible, even action shots before dawn.

Wood duck rising before the sun did

Wood duck rising before the sun did

I was on my way to shoot sunrise photos when the wood duck took off. I had trouble seeing the wood duck through the viewfinder, yet I was able to get several shots that I could use if I wanted to. Just after sunrise, this mallard was a piece of cake…

Female mallard taking off

Female mallard taking off

…even though there still wasn’t much light.

There will come a time when I either see a rare species of bird, or I witness the behavior of a critter that I want to record and pass along, when the ability to get those types of shots will be important.

I’ve also tested the new lens out on a few landscape photos…

The yellow of autumn

The yellow of autumn

 

The clay pit 1

The clay pit 1

 

The clay pit 2

The clay pit 2

 

The beginning of the end

The beginning of the end

…as well as a few still life photos.

Dew on the grasses

Dew on the grasses

I don’t want to go into all the details, but the performance of the new lens has me rethinking many of the future purchases that I was planning on making, because I wish all of my lenses were this good. I think that I have come up with a plan B that will work out just fine.

Instead of boring you with what that plan is, I’ll leave you with a few more photos.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

 

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

 

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

 

Juvenile male red-winged blackbird

Juvenile male red-winged blackbird

The forecast for the coming weekend is for much cooler temperatures, lower humidity, and lots of sunshine! I sure hope so, I’d like to see what this new lens can do with conditions better for photography than what I’ve had so far since I got it.

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

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26 responses

  1. fabulous captures!

    October 8, 2016 at 12:11 am

    • Thank you very much Cindy!

      October 9, 2016 at 1:25 am

  2. Your series of pictures on the red tailed hawk is a triumph.

    October 8, 2016 at 3:00 am

    • Thank you very much Susan!

      October 9, 2016 at 1:26 am

  3. The lens obviously suits you. Fine shots.

    October 8, 2016 at 6:16 am

    • Thank you very much Victor!

      October 9, 2016 at 1:26 am

  4. Congratulations on getting one of your photos published! These photos of the red tailed hawk are sensational, and perhaps some organization or publication will also use one of them. Have a great weekend and may it produce more shots for us to enjoy viewing here.

    October 8, 2016 at 6:22 am

    • Thank you very much Hien! If nothing else, I’m accumulating a large catalog of images of various species of birds, so I suppose that it’s possible that a few may sell some day.

      October 9, 2016 at 1:29 am

  5. I must admit to feeling a little strange watching the hawk swallow the snake. I think I’d get zombie eyes if I tried that! They are fantastic shots though, Jerry! Congratulations on getting one of your shots published – it is a beauty, with lovely autumn colour and that ray of sunshine too! Your new lens seems capable of dealing with any situation.

    October 8, 2016 at 8:05 am

    • Thank you very much Clare! I felt sorry for the poor snake, but that’s nature, it isn’t always pretty

      It was an ego boost to see my name credited to a photo that is running all across Michigan, it makes me want to try even harder for better photos.

      October 9, 2016 at 1:32 am

      • You are right – nature isn’t always pretty. I hate to see the duck/moorhen chicks and the goslings in my garden being taken by bigger birds and other creatures but they have to eat too.

        October 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      • Unfortunately, in nature, the cute die young, which is very sad.

        October 9, 2016 at 5:48 pm

  6. Congratulations on getting your photo published. Really enjoyed looking through all your wonderful photos today. Look forward to finding about your Plan B!

    October 8, 2016 at 9:27 am

    • Thank you very much Marianne! I’m sure that you’ll hear more about plan B, and possibly a plan C soon enough.;)

      October 9, 2016 at 1:34 am

  7. Awesome pictures, Jerry! I especially like the ones of the hawk.

    October 8, 2016 at 9:54 am

    • Thank you very much Sue!

      October 9, 2016 at 1:34 am

  8. Those are great shots of the hawk, so I’d worry about maybe not having enough rather than too many!
    I love that shot of the field full of what looks like foxtail grass. The colors are beautiful.
    Speaking of colors I thought our fall seasons were pretty much even but we seem to have a lot more color already, and the trees are changing fast. Of course, my being colorblind might mean that there are colors in your shots that I can’t even see, especially red.
    I think my favorite shot in this post is the last one. I like how all the red winged blackbird’s feathers look like they’ve been dipped in gold.
    Congrats on being published too!

    October 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! Since the 7D will fire off ten frames per second, it doesn’t take many short bursts to result in dozens of photos to sort through. It used to be that I’d have to find the sharpest from among them, now I’m searching for the best pose, since they’re all sharp enough to use.

      Our colors are coming late this year, the photo that was published was shot the first weekend of October two years ago. This year, the trees are just beginning to turn now, about two weeks later than usual.

      I almost didn’t post the photo of the blackbird, I’m not a fan of the high-key look of images, but the bird itself was too good not to post, so I’m glad that you liked it.

      Being published means that I have to keep my ego in check, it helps when I remember that they chose my photo because it was free. 😉

      October 9, 2016 at 1:44 am

  9. The first chickadee shot was my favourite. They are not easy birds to photograph with such brilliant detail.

    October 8, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! I hate to rub it in, but better photo gear make those shots much easier.

      October 9, 2016 at 1:36 am

  10. Love the photo of the Savannah sparrow. All the crazy patterns from the fence and the barbed wire provide a size and dimension that is unique. Think my second-favorite is the last one. Your lens + the lighting really give a lot of dimension to the feathers.

    Seeing your photo in print must be a real (well-deserved) boost. Hope you are able to open this channel to additional postings of your work.

    Great job.

    October 9, 2016 at 10:31 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! Since I had already put photos of Savannah sparrows in recent posts, I almost left the one on the fence out. However, because of the geometric symmetry of the twisted ends of the fence, the way the sparrow was almost exactly halfway between the barbs, I loved it too much to leave it out.

      Yes, seeing that I’ve been published somewhere other than a brochure for a non-profit is an ego boost. The real ego boost was the email from the reporter asking my permission to use it, since it was the best one that they could find of that view.

      October 9, 2016 at 5:53 pm

  11. Congratulations on the photos being used, Jerry!

    A beautiful series of photos here, as always. My favorites are the black capped chickadees, especially the second one. That bird has some real personality.

    October 11, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    • Thanks again Lavinia! I’m sure that one of the considerations that the press had when choosing my photo was the fact that they were able to use it for free.

      I love chickadees, they all have tons of personality.

      October 12, 2016 at 12:09 am

  12. Congratulations on having your shot published. That is great news and I agree, certainly a confidence boost. Your autumn colours are glorious. Michigan can be very pretty! You have such distinct seasons. As you know, here in Brisbane we really don’t see much change and in fact, many of our native trees and shrubs flower in winter. I am also pleased when you share close-ups of grass flowers. I may have said before that I find their soft heads very appealing. Another top gallery. 🙂

    October 17, 2016 at 12:01 am

    • Thanks again Jane! Having a photo published was a nice thing, but I can’t let it go to my head. I’m not that good yet, I still have lots of work to do as far as improving my skills.

      October 17, 2016 at 3:12 am