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

Here comes the sun

It’s official, West Michigan was the cloudiest place on Earth last week with not a single minute of sunshine for the entire week. This week is shaping up to be very much the same, but with snow showers rather than the mist, drizzle and rain that we had last week because the temperature has dropped below freezing. I could post the statistics to let you know just how gloomy that it’s been around here, but that would only make me more depressed than I am already about the weather.

I shouldn’t be depressed at all, I just ordered the second Canon 7D Mk II and it should arrive later this week. But, with the weather forecast calling for the same old cloudy skies for the next week, it takes most of the thrill out of looking forward to the camera’s arrival. Still, it will give me time to get the new one fully set-up the way that I want it. The one that I already have will be the bird in flight body, and the new one will be used for bird portraits, landscapes, and macros.

I may sell one of the 60D bodies that I have, but I know that I’ll be keeping one of them as a back-up just in case one of the 7D bodies stops functioning. I thought of selling the beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) but it is a good back-up lens in case something happens to one of my newer lenses. I’d hate to be on a trip somewhere and have an equipment malfunction that would curtail the types of photos that I could shoot, and one never knows when that may happen.

I did some shopping this past Saturday, I picked up a copy of Sibley’s guide to birds so I finally have a good field guide to reference while I’m birding. The store where I got that used to carry binoculars and spotting scopes, but they have stopped carrying those items. So, I also stopped at the camera store, they do sell those items, but they only stock them in their Kalamazoo, Michigan branch, so I couldn’t try any of them out, darn.

I did something stupid while I was there as well, I played with the new Canon 5D Mk IV. I shouldn’t have done that. The low light, high ISO performance of that camera is leaps and bounds above what the cropped sensor 7D can do.

In a recent post, I bemoaned the fact that there’s no good way to be sure of the performance of any item of camera gear, but there is one way. As I’ve also said more than a few times recently, I’m following the North American Nature Photographer’s Facebook page. Not every one that posts there spells out the equipment that they used to get the images that they post, but enough do so that you can learn what stuff works well, and what produces just so-so results. I have to say, that the 5D Mk IV camera produces some stunning images, much better than one would assume it is capable of considering the way that critics panned it when it was released. Maybe someday, right now, I’m about set for camera gear.

Anyway, on to the photos, and I’ll start with sunrise a couple of weeks ago, one of the few days that there was any sunshine at all.

Sunrise over the ice

Sunrise over the ice

I purposely included more of the rocks in the foreground, for the patterns on them made by the frost. It was a very chilly start to the day. A few minutes later, the colors in the sky grew more intense.

Fire on ice 1

Fire on ice 1

 

Fire on ice 2

Fire on ice 2

The first image that included the rocks in the foreground was shot with the 60D mounted on my tripod, and is a HDR image of three bracketed images merged together. The second two images were shot with the 7D and 100-400 mm lens because I could tell that the light wasn’t going to stay like that long enough to get set-up for a proper shot. Also, you can see a hint of the haze that formed that day due to how cold it had gotten overnight, and warmer air and sunshine trying to warm things up.

It will be interesting to see how the HDR landscape images produced by the 7D turn out compared to what I get from the 60D. I could be wrong, but I think that the difference will be very small if it’s even noticeable. What I’m really looking forward to is using the 7D for macro photos, I think that there will be more of a difference in image quality then. That’s because of the 7D’s better auto-focusing and high ISO performance over the 60D. I can’t wait until spring when I get to try that combination out.

By the way, I’ve had a new schedule at work for almost a month now, I’m back to working days rather than nights. I’m not sure how long it will last, but it’s a better schedule for now. I have to work more hours, but as bad as the weather has been, that’s not all bad this time of year. In fact, I’m working so many more hours that I don’t have time to do anything other than eat and sleep when I get home. I haven’t had much time to work on my blog, or to leave proper comments on other people’s blog the past few weeks.

Anyway, the second Canon 7D Mk II has arrived, and I was able to take it out for a test yesterday, and should make it out later today. I don’t think that I have all the settings of the new body quite the same as the older body yet, but that will come. It worked out well having one body and long lens set for portraits…

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

…and the second body and lens set-up for birds in flight at all times, whether it was for a single bird…

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

…or a flock of birds.

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

 

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

 

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

I went almost the entire day without switching lenses or tele-converters, although I did put the 100 mm macro lens on the new 7D body for these.

Lichens

Lichens

 

Lichens and ???

Lichens and ???

 

Dried fungi and Lichens

Dried fungi and Lichens

 

Lichens

Lichens

 

Lichens

Lichens

I know very little about lichens, so I don’t know how many different species of them there are in these photos. For example, I don’t know if the black ones are a different species than the orange ones, I believe that they are from their shape and size, but I’m not sure.

I had some problems shooting those, the wind was very strong yesterday, and the small trees that the lichens grew on were swaying in the wind. I also missed the set-up for the camera slightly for those as well. However, the important thing is that once I’m used to shooting macros with the 7D rather than the 60D, it will be easier, and with better results.

That applies to about everything concerning the new 7D body, I have to remember to set-up Lightroom to make the adjustments to the images automatically from the new body the way that I have it set-up for the other 7D and the 60D bodies also.

I could go on and on about camera and lens settings, but as I’ve said before, every piece of camera equipment has quirks, and one must learn to work around them. That applies to the 7D, and the new 400 mm lens. I will also say that not everything that was true during my indoor tests of that lens holds true when using it in the field.

Anyway, since I don’t have much time, here’s a few more photos from the last three weeks.

Belted kingfisher

Belted kingfisher

 

Belted kingfisher

Belted kingfisher

 

Sunrise on goldenrod

Sunrise on goldenrod

 

Sunrise on teasel

Sunrise on teasel

 

Canada geese in flight

Canada geese in flight

 

Canada geese landing on a very frosty morning

Canada geese landing on a very frosty morning

 

Frosty feather

Frosty feather

 

Male common goldeneyes

Male common goldeneyes

 

Male common goldeneye

Male common goldeneye

 

Male common goldeneye

Male common goldeneye

 

Male common goldeneye

Male common goldeneye

 

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

 

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

 

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

 

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

 

Ice patterns

Ice patterns

 

Oriental bittersweet berries

Oriental bittersweet berries

 

Another frosty morning

Another frosty morning

 

Horned lark singing!

Horned lark singing!

 

Canada geese resting

Canada geese resting

 

Bald eagle at a distance

Bald eagle at a distance

 

Bald eagle surveying the landfill

Bald eagle surveying the landfill

 

Morning dove

Morning dove

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

 

Female ring-necked duck

Female ring-necked duck

 

Female ring-necked duck

Female ring-necked duck

I should apologize for the quality of a few of these, but I don’t have the time to explain what I did wrong for each of the poorer photos. Most of the time it was because the light was wrong, for the rest, it was because I was working on those quirks that I have spoken about before.

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

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25 responses

  1. Jerry, you get some very beautiful sunrises out there, no matter what the season, or what camera you are using! A wonderful assortment of birds and winter scenes from your area!

    February 5, 2017 at 11:27 am

    • Wow. That first photo is quite the attention-grabber. You were right to leave the rocks in – love the texture it adds to the overall smoothness of the photo.

      The first two shots of the mallards in flight are my favorites of the day – love the patterns and colors, and how each one is in its own stage of flight. Makes for a really interesting sight.

      I have this image of you shuffling along a Trail, with three or four camera hanging from your neck. You are very close to needing a full-time photographic gofer, aren’t you?

      Hope the sunshine returns. It’s about this time of year that winter just needs to go away in Michigan. For me, once the first big thaw has happened in January, I’m pretty much done with it. It’s nice being away – we got our snow fix yesterday on a hike, and are getting our sunshine now.

      Have fun with that new camera!

      On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 11:27 AM, Quiet Solo Pursuits wrote:

      > Lavinia Ross commented: “Jerry, you get some very beautiful sunrises out > there, no matter what the season, or what camera you are using! A wonderful > assortment of birds and winter scenes from your area!” >

      February 5, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      • Thank you very much Judy! When I have the time I like to evaluate the entire scene to decide what to show and what to leave out. That’s so much different from the way that I used to shoot landscapes and it shows.

        Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to flocks of birds in flight, I have to shoot as quickly as I can, then sort out the best images from the many that I shoot. I have to train the birds to pose while flying. 😉

        Yes, I could use a gofer already, but if my plans to do more dedicated outings come to fruition, then that will cut down on what I carry on any given day.

        I’m done with winter, to bad it hasn’t decided to be through with me yet. We had a little sun each of the last two days, but the middle of the week is looking cold and snowy again.

        February 5, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! Once the weather warms up a little I hope to get even more varieties of birds in my posts.

      February 5, 2017 at 7:11 pm

  2. Oh, it is very depressing when there is not a single minute of sunshine for a couple of days. I can’t remember now, but last year or two years ago we had a full month without sunshine….

    The amount of details of your photos is unbelievable.

    You know, so many times I look at your photos (and others) and I have no courage to post something for a few days. I am still dreaming to take photos like these, but this moment seems to be so far away.

    On the other hand, I realize I won’t be able to handle so much gear, so heavy lens, so many settings to be done….so, I really appreciate your work.

    February 5, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    • Thank you very much Cornell! I edited the comment to remove the duplicate part, no problem.

      It was hard enough to go a week without sunshine, I don’t know how any one there made it through an entire month with no sunshine.

      If I were you, I wouldn’t hold back on posting photos, as I’ve said, you have a great eye for what makes a great image, much better than I do. I have to go for details in my photos because my skills are finding and getting close to birds, I’m not a very good photographer naturally as you are. You’re still young, you have the rest of your life to work on your photography also.

      February 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      • This is very encouraging for me. Thank you.

        February 6, 2017 at 5:54 am

  3. I don’t know what went wrong and my comment was doubled. You may delete half of it. And this comment, too. I am sorry.

    February 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm

  4. It must be so depressing to be in a zero sunshine period but you must be heartened when you get out and see those wonderful sunrises and then capture the scenes so beautifully with your photos. The first sunrise photo is quite wonderful and surreal. Love the photos of the American tree sparrow, the belted kingfisher and the chickadee- they are such cute birds! Love the teasels- I grow them in the garden as the goldfinches love them but my favourite photos are the mallards in flight and the Canada geese having a slippery landing. Let’s hope the sun shines for you this week so you can take more amazing photos.

    February 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! Once the weather begins to warm up and our really cute and pretty birds return, I hope to be able to fill my posts with all different birds and not rely on just a few species as I have to now. I know that our goldfinches love teasel seeds, they eat them in favor of the native thistles whenever they get the chance.

      February 5, 2017 at 7:29 pm

  5. A veritable feast of excellent photographs, I agree with the previous commenter, the sunrise pictures and the birds in flight are wonderful.

    February 5, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! There may not be any sunrise photos for a while with my new work schedule, but I hope to shoot sunsets instead, which are almost as pretty.

      February 5, 2017 at 7:31 pm

  6. I love the sunrise shots and wish I’d see some like it on my way to work but I never do.
    I think you’ve got at least three different lichens there. The first one looks like fringed candle flame lichen (Candelaria fibrosa) and the 4th from the top looks like poplar sunburst lichen (Xanthomendoza hasseana) which I showed in my last post. I’m not sure what the darker one is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.
    The tail on the kingfisher looks like someone has sewn the two sides together.
    Great shots of the flying ducks!
    I hope we both see some sunshine soon. We had a sunny day yesterday but today it was right back to the clouds. It makes it hard on a photographer!

    February 5, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! I think that the great sunrises around here are due to the Great Lakes and the cloud cover that they produce.

      I thought that there were more than one species of lichen there because of the differences in color and growth habits. I’m glad that I took the time to check them out more closely than what I usually do. I’ll have to go back when the weather is better to inspect the same trees again.

      I’m hoping that the groundhog was wrong and that we both get an early spring with some good light for a change.

      February 6, 2017 at 12:16 am

  7. You have done very well to put together such an interesting post in such dubious weather. The ducks in flight were wodnerful

    February 5, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! When spring gets here I hope to have lots of ducks in flight photos, and a few surprises as well.

      February 5, 2017 at 7:32 pm

  8. Beautiful capture variety, Jerry, love the sunrises!

    February 5, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    • Thank you very much Donna!

      February 5, 2017 at 7:33 pm

  9. Some of the photos in this post are truly outstanding! I especially like those sunrise ones and the Belted Kingfisher.

    I am curious about something you mentioned: you tried out the Canon 5D IV and had commented favorably on it. Why didn’t you get it instead of a second 7D II?

    February 5, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    • Thank you very much Hien! The kingfisher images are better than my previous efforts, but he still won’t let me get close or perch in full sunlight for me. I hope to wear him down soon. 😉

      I chose a second 7D because it’s less than half the price of the 5D Mk IV. Also, a crop sensor camera is better in some ways for wildlife, other than low light performance. Someday I’ll add one of the full frame sensor bodies to my kit, but it will be at least a year, probably several years.

      February 5, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      • You may be interested in a new 6D II coming out this year. I am using the previous version and it is a good camera. Maybe the newer version is a worthy competitor to the 5D IV, at a lower price.

        February 12, 2017 at 10:04 am

      • Thanks for the tip Hien! I will definitely check out the new model once it’s available.

        February 12, 2017 at 8:09 pm

  10. The sunrise at the top of the post is beautiful. I loved the mallards and Canada geese in flight and the belted kingfisher. The plants are good too, especially the bittersweet berries and the frosty goldenrod. I love scrolling through all your wonderful shots Jerry and really look forward to your posts.

    February 5, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! Once spring finally arrives, I hope to get more variety in my posts than what I’ve been able to over the winter.

      February 6, 2017 at 12:41 am

      • Winter is such a difficult season for wildlife photography bloggers!

        February 6, 2017 at 4:43 pm