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

Neither enough time or money

I have a wish list of camera gear that I’d like to have someday, I doubt if I’ll ever be able to afford it all though.

I also dream of the time when I’m free to go where I want when I want, and not be tied to a work schedule that interferes with my chances to get outside and shoot photographs of the things that I see. Of course if I had more time to devote to photography, I wouldn’t necessarily need all the things that I have on my wish list.

I’m also pondering the question of just how good is good enough for me as far as the quality of the images that I get.

As it is, I have neither the time or the money to get the photos that I would love to shoot.

I have four years to go before I can retire, and I’m so looking forward to that day when the only schedule that I’ll have to conform to is the one that I set for myself. Or, I should say, the schedule that nature sets for me.

That means that you’ll probably be seeing more photos like these when I retire. 😉

Dawn on the ducks

Dawn on the ducks

I said in my last post that my goal is to get at least one memorable image every time that I’m out, I think that I met that quota on Monday.

WOW!

WOW!

If you can believe it, a guy that I see regularly at the wastewater facility stopped to chat while I was shooting the sunrise, and asked me what birds I had seen so far.  My reply was that I hadn’t even looked for birds, I was too busy shooting the sunrise, and the only birds that I had seen were the ruddy ducks that were helping me create a foreground for my landscape photos. He drove off to look for birds, paying slight attention to the gorgeous view to his right, which I found hard to believe. By the way, that’s the same guy that I’ve seen shooting the eagle in the eagle tree for an hour or more at a time. I guess he loves birds more than one of the most awesome displays of color that I have ever seen.

In this instance, the magic light lasted long enough for me to shoot a series of images with both the 60D on the tripod with the 15-85 mm lens on it, and another series with the 7D, using both the 70-200 mm and 100-400 mm lenses on it.

Last week, I had only a few seconds of magic light in which to come up with this image.

Fall coming to an end

Fall coming to an end

I did have enough time to remember to add the polarizing filter to the 15-85 mm lens before I shot that one. I shot three different compositions of that scene before the hole in the clouds that created the spotlight effect on the trees closed for good. I’m not sure where the lens flare came from, I was shooting at 90 degrees from the sun as you can tell by the shadows.

So, with these images in this post so far, the images of the Mandarin duck from my previous posts, and seeing the images that other members of the North American Nature Photographers Association, I have to say with all modesty possible, I’m turning into a good photographer, not great, but good. I’m beginning to understand light.

Diffuse light is usually good light for photography, but not always, sometimes it’s just dead and lifeless.

The clay pit 1

The clay pit 1

Morning light is almost always good, even in full sun, the warmth of the light adds a little more punch to the colors.

The clay pit 2

The clay pit 2

It’s the same scene, shot a few days apart, in different lighting conditions.

I’m having a hard time prioritizing what I want to upgrade next. I’d like the high-resolution Canon 5DS R both for image quality, and because it will auto-focus to f/8. I’d use the 60D body for bird portraits, but that camera won’t auto-focus with a long lens and tele-converter on it. So I’m stuck using the 7D and swapping out tele-converters all the time, and missing some shots because of that. If I went the other way, using the 7D for portraits, then I’d miss action shots if I used the 60D for those, because it doesn’t auto-focus as fast or as accurately as the 7D does.

I’d like to upgrade my wide-angle lenses, after I’ve seen how well the Canon L series lenses do on the 7D, the mid-priced lens that I have are okay, but I can also image how much better my images would be if I shot them with better glass. The wide-angle lenses I have are over achievers, that is, they produce better images than their reasonable price would suggest, but they are not the same as the better lenses on the market.

Recently, I saw a photo of the aspens in full color out west, I won’t say where I saw it to prevent embarrassing the photographer. It would have been a great photo, but there was so much barrel distortion in it that even some one who had no idea what barrel distortion is would have been prompted to ask why the trees on both sides of the image look so weird.

Barrel distortion is called what it is based on the shape of wooden barrels, which are wider in the middle than they are on the ends. You could also say that barrel distortion looks like both parenthesis signs together with what’s in the center of the frame being straight, sort of like this (|).  In the photo that I saw, the trunks of the trees in the middle of the frame were straight, but the trunks of the trees on the left edge of the frame were curved like this ( and the trees on the right side of the frame were curved like this ). I didn’t know that any manufacturer still made a lens with that much distortion in it. I should say that some people like distortion in their wide-angle photos, not me, at least not so much as to make trees look like they’re about to fall over.

I went through that explanation because distortion in extremely wide-angle lenses is one reason that I didn’t want to stick with a crop sensor camera body for landscapes. You may remember that a while back I said that my choices for a second camera body were either the reasonably priced 7D Mk II and a very expensive lens, or the very expensive 5DS R and a reasonably priced lens, and that the total cost worked out to be about the same. That may not be true any longer. Sigma has come out with their third version of a 12-24 mm lens which they claim has no distortion, and is reasonably priced, as in half the cost of the comparable Canon lens.

Sigma may be stretching the truth when they say no distortion, but I’ve seen photos shot with that lens, and there’s very little distortion in them, at least very little that I can see. Those images are about the same as those taken with a slightly longer lens on a full frame camera body, which I could easily live with.

The new Sigma lens has just been released, it will be interesting to see more photos taken with that lens, and to read more reviews of it. The reviews so far have been very good.

The reason that it’s important to me is because I may not need the 5DS R body after all, a second 7D Mk II may be more than enough for me.

The 5DS R is the only camera that Canon currently produces that has higher resolution than the 7D which I have, and that’s only because the low-pass filter is turned off to create sharper images. Since Canon has just finished upgrading their entire line of high-end cameras, it’s doubtful that they’ll introduce something that I’d be interested in purchasing for the next four to five years.When they do begin the upgrade cycle again, the 7D will likely be the first one upgraded, as it was during this last cycle. So, as far as a second body, I may be better to hold off at this time, and wait to see what the future holds in store.

As it is, I think that the new Sigma 12-24 mm lens should be on my wish list as my extreme wide-angle lens of the future.

Also on my wish list is a gimbal head for my tripod.

The three-way head that I have on my tripod is almost perfect for landscapes and the occasional macro photos, but it doesn’t work for action photos or videos when I have to move the camera.

Okay, I made a decision about the second camera body. If the 7D Mk II can shoot photos like this…

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

…and it obviously can, then there’s no reason to plunk down an extra $2,000 for a 5DS R body for a slight increase in resolution. That $2,000 will cover almost all the cost of upgrading my wide-angle lenses.

That photo was shot with the new 100-400 mm lens and 1.4 X tele-converter and cropped slightly. I shot it during a walk around home, after working this morning. Here’s a couple that I shot at 400 mm and didn’t crop.

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

 

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

I knew it was going to be a good day when this was one of the first photos that I shot today.

Blue jay in flight

Blue jay in flight

This one isn’t quite as sharp, but the blue jay was scolding me as it flew.

Blue jay in flight

Blue jay in flight

I’ve only had the 100-400 mm lens for just over a month, and the 7D for a year and a half. If I continue to improve the quality of my images  as I have been, it won’t be long and I’ll be very close to what the 5DS R and produce anyway, so there’s no point in spending the money on one.

But, I’ve been babbling long enough, here are the rest of the photos from today.

Fall colors

Fall colors

 

More fall colors

More fall colors

 

A vividly red maple

A vividly red maple

 

Same tree shot from the opposite side

Same tree shot from the opposite side

 

Even more fall color

Even more fall color

 

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

 

Chained

Chained

Last weekend around home, I didn’t have as good of light as today, but I saw a lot more birds.

Blue jay

Blue jay

 

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

 

Male Hairy woodpecker

Male Hairy woodpecker

 

Male Hairy woodpecker

Male Hairy woodpecker

 

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

 

American robin

American robin

 

American robin Stretching

American robin stretching

 

Black-capped chickadee eating a snack

Black-capped chickadee eating a snack

 

Black-capped chickadee eating a snack

Black-capped chickadee eating a snack

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Blue-headed vireo

Blue-headed vireo

I also spotted a couple of red-squirrels taking it easy.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

 

Red squirrel chilling

Red squirrel chilling

I’ve got room for two more, so one will be this praying mantis that would not pose for me.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

And, the other will be this flower. I’m terrible at identifying flowers, I don’t know if this is an aster, or a daisy that decided to bloom again since the weather has been so warm this fall.

Daisy or aster?

Daisy or aster?

To me, while I would like to be able to ID flowers, seeing them, especially this time of the year as winter approaches, is absolutely delightful!

While it has been warm enough for so plants to form buds, about the time that the buds are about to open we get a frost that kills the flowers, or results in stunted, partially open flowers. But, I’m not complaining, we haven’t seen any snow here yet, and it’s getting close to the middle of November. This weekend is forecast to be bright and sunny, with temperatures much closer to what I’d expect in the middle of October, so I’m hoping to spend as much time outside as I can, enjoying it while it lasts!

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

Advertisements

24 responses

  1. I am lost for words, every picture a winner. I loved the landscapes and that squirrel in partricular.

    November 6, 2016 at 3:38 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! I try to include a squirrel or two in every post, but many times I forget to.

      November 6, 2016 at 3:48 am

  2. Great words, a super Sunday morning reading 🙂 And so many beautiful images! Thanks for sharing!

    November 6, 2016 at 4:03 am

    • Thank you very much!

      November 6, 2016 at 5:22 am

  3. zoe2600

    Beautiful pictures

    November 6, 2016 at 4:14 am

    • Thank you very much!

      November 6, 2016 at 5:22 am

  4. Vicki

    beautiful landscape photos..

    November 6, 2016 at 9:29 am

    • Thank you very much Vicki!

      November 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm

  5. Wonderful photo of nuthatch. May I link back to you and use it along with a poem. I have been waiting to find just the right shot…perfect. I also have a poem for your dragonfly, the one that shows the eye with all the lenses. Is that alright?

    November 6, 2016 at 9:49 am

    • Thank you very much Maria! Yes, you may link to my blog and/or use the dragonfly photo.

      November 6, 2016 at 5:59 pm

  6. So many oohs, aaahs and wows reading through your post! All such beautiful photos especially the sunrise, the birds and the squirrel- the colours are vibrant and the images clear. The American robin sits prettily in its surroundings and the grasshopper obviously likes having his photo taken! Top class post!

    November 6, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! It was a good weekend, and I was able to shoot many memorable photos. I’d like all my posts to have all the photos be that good.

      November 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm

  7. That Sigma lens sounds interesting. I will have to see if there is one for a Nikon. You are getting a great deal out of your present equipment so I wonder if you need new stuff as much as you think that you do. A wonderful set of pictures today.

    November 6, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! Yes, Sigma makes that lens in a Nikon mount, but I think that you’ll bulk at the price. For around home, I’m pretty much set as far as camera gear, but once I retire, I’d like to travel. Then, better wide-angle lenses would be nice to have to photograph the spectacular scenery of the Canadian Rockies and some of our National Parks out west.

      November 6, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      • I had a look at the price and you are right.

        November 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm

  8. You weren’t kidding when you said your maples still had leaves. Wow, what beautiful colors!
    I can’t understand how anyone wouldn’t stand with their jaw dropping at a sight like that sunrise. The colors are amazing. You’re lucky to have that place and the time to get there. I wonder if you’re having a lot of storms though, if the old saying “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning” is true.
    The landscapes are really beautiful. If I shot more landscapes I’d probably buy much the same gear, because I can’t see a thing wrong with these shots.
    That looks like an aster to me, but it might be a fleabane. Asters are notoriously hard to identify, even when you’re standing right beside them with a guide book.
    I like that lazy squirrel. I know just how he feels!

    November 6, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! That maple is one of the first to completely turn color, others are just starting, and a few are still completely green yet.

      We’ve had plenty of storms move through, we had over 7 inches of rain in October. But, there were no storms for a day or two after that sunrise, it was all just happenstance due to the few high clouds at the time. A star as the guy ignoring it, there’s no accounting for taste, or lack of it. 😉

      My landscapes are good when I shoot three images and blend them in Photomatix software, but they’re definitely lacking if I don’t. A big part of that is the lenses I’m using. Besides, the lenses that I have aren’t good enough for Yellowstone or the Canadian Rockies. 😉

      Whether an aster or a daisy, it was beautiful, especially when flowers are becoming hard to find.

      I don’t think that I’ve ever had a red squirrel stay stretched out like that before, they’re usually more wary than that, but I knew just how it felt, it was over 70 degrees that day.

      November 6, 2016 at 6:14 pm

  9. I love the sunrise shots so much! The first American Robin shot and the chilling squirrel are other favourites out of an excellent selection of photographs.

    November 6, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I try to include something for everybody.

      November 6, 2016 at 6:34 pm

  10. Just outstanding pictures, Jerry!

    November 7, 2016 at 8:25 am

  11. Superb captures, Jerry! Your know your equipment and do an outstanding job each and every week. Love that sunrise! And Michigan is in full-force fall foilage, your captures are beautiful. 🙂

    November 7, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    • Thank you very much Donna! It’s taking me a while, but I am finally getting a handle on digital photography. Film was so much easier.

      November 7, 2016 at 11:35 pm

  12. Magical light is the way to describe those first shots, for sure. You know when it’s there, and you know it will be brief. It’s better than post processing. I love the glow in the third shot.

    I wish that you were unshackled from the demands and constraints of having to work, as I look forward to the time when you can wander around, finding new locales and birds new to you.

    Until then, I love the shots of the juvenile hawk. He’s a beauty.

    November 8, 2016 at 8:41 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! It’s funny in a way, I see so many photos where people have boosted the colors so much that it is obvious that they did that, and I get better colors, and think about toning them down because I’m worried that people will think that it was all done with software.

      I think that it’s time for me to try a few new locations, I was holding off until the fall migration was over because I didn’t want to miss any new species of birds.

      If you noticed, I’m starting to get a few head shots from time to time as you suggested a while back. Let me tell you though, getting that close to a bird of any species is tough!

      November 8, 2016 at 12:22 pm