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

Taking a break

I’ve been working on this post for weeks now, during the few moments when I have a chance to do anything with it. My work schedule allows me about an hour to myself in the morning, and that includes eating breakfast and getting dressed for work. On many evenings I have about an hour or a little more to myself, and that includes making supper and doing dishes after I eat. The only part of the week when I have any free time at all is on the weekends and that’s my time to be out shooting photos, editing them when I get home, adding keywords, and all the other things that I need to get done since I have no time during the work week.

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been commenting on your blog posts, it isn’t that I didn’t enjoy the posts, but I simply have no free time for myself the way that my current work schedule is.

So, I am going to take a break from blogging for a while, until my schedule changes so that I have more time for both my blog and all of yours’. My schedule should change late this spring, about the time that I take my vacation in the middle of May, as the parts that I carry won’t be used on the next year’s model of car.

I may whip out a few of the posts on species of birds for the My Photo Life List project that I’m working on, since I’m so far behind doing those posts. If I do publish any of those posts, I’ll turn off the comments and likes, since those posts are rather boring to most people anyway. I know who the readers are who actually appreciate those posts whether they comment or like the post anyway, and that way I won’t feel as obligated to keep up with their posts on their blogs, as I simply don’t have the time right now.

I really don’t want to take a break right now, as with the weather improving and the light getting better, I’m back to shooting some very good images again.

Male Bufflehead duck

So for now, it’s back to the post that I have been working on for a while.

The temperatures have been up and down around here over the past two weeks, with some days feeling like early spring, and others feeling like the middle of winter. It snowed here most of the day on Saturday, but by Sunday afternoon, it was feeling and looking like spring again.

Northern shovelers in flight

Northern shovelers in flight

Other than the dramatic change in the weather between Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the big news was how many species of birds are returning from their winter homes already.

Sandhill crane in flight

Sandhill crane in flight

 

Red-winged blackbird

Red-winged blackbird

 

American robin

American robin

I’m really looking forward to this spring, and trying to improve my photos even more than what I have already. One group of birds that I’m going to focus on early is waterfowl, mainly ducks.

Male common merganser

Male common merganser

 

Female common merganser

Female common merganser

 

Canvasback ducks

Canvasback ducks

 

Redhead ducks in flight

Redhead ducks in flight

 

Male northern shoveler landing

Male northern shoveler landing

 

Male northern shoveler in flight

Male northern shoveler in flight

I can see that I’m going to have a lot of fun shooting the ducks in flight, both for their beauty and to show how different species make it airborne. For example, the male ring-necked duck in these next two photos was able to launch itself into the air without a running start. However, the lesser scaup that it was hanging out with need a running start to build enough speed to get off the water.

Male Ring-necked duck and lesser scaup taking flight

Male Ring-necked duck and lesser scaup taking flight

So, the ring-necked duck was staying low and close to the scaup as you can see better in this photo. You can also see that the two species look similar, but between the way that they take off and the differences in their bills, it’s really quite easy to tell them apart in a good photo.

Male Ring-necked duck and lesser scaup taking flight

Male Ring-necked duck and lesser scaup taking flight

Here’s a for the record photo, a lone trumpeter swan on a frozen farm pond…

Trumpeter swan

Trumpeter swan

…because it’s unusual to see a lone swan since they mate for life, you almost always see at least two together most of the time. This may have been a young male looking for a territory to call its own.

I was afraid that my blog would end up being just gulls…

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

 

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

…and mallards…

Male mallard

Male mallard

 

Male mallard

Male mallard

 

Male mallard

Male mallard

…with an occasional bird of another species once in a while.

Starling in flight

Starling in flight

But with the return of more species of birds every day, that shouldn’t happen.

Great blue herons in flight

Great blue herons in flight

 

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

 

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

 

Dark-eyed junco on the run

Dark-eyed junco on the run

 

Pekin duck

Pekin duck

 

Ruddy ducks

Ruddy ducks

Another week has gone by, and I’ve had very little time to work on this post. My work schedule leaves me with no time for blogging except for on the weekends, and then I’d rather be out shooting photos than writing about shooting photos. This past week was worse because I had that nasty cold which caused me to need more sleep, but it’s been the same since I started this run in January. All that I have time for during the week is to eat, sleep, and work.

My plan for over the winter had been to post a few of the species of birds that I have saved for the My Photo Life List project that I’ve been working on, but I haven’t had the time to do any of those posts along with my regular posts. That’s too bad in a way, for I have been finding a few new to me species of birds this winter, like this lesser black-backed gull that I found on Saturday.

Lesser black-backed gull

Lesser black-backed gull

And, I was able to better images of an adult glaucous gull also…

Glaucous gull

Glaucous gull

…if I remember correctly, my best photos of that species were of a juvenile, so I can update the post for that species with good images of an adult.

As with most things, I jumped into that project without thinking through everything that it entails, such as looking at thousands of gulls…

Ring-billed gull in breeding plumage

Ring-billed gull in breeding plumage

…to find the two odd individuals from within that huge flock of mostly ring-billed and herring gulls. On the other hand, I’ve been learning so much from taking on that project about birds, photography, and myself, that I’m extremely happy that I decided to tackle it. Who knew that common gulls like the ring-billed go through a breeding plumage phase?

And, getting good photos of a bird in question makes it easier to properly identify which species it is. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a greater black-backed gull, so I assumed that the lesser black-backed from above was also a greater, until I got good photos. Then, I saw that the gull in question has yellow legs, making it a lesser black-backed gull, since greater black-backed gulls have pink legs. If I had been working from just my memories of the bird in question, I wouldn’t have been able to make a positive ID.

 

Okay, the only way that I wrote the introduction to this post where I explained that I’ll be taking a break from blogging for a while is by bringing my Macbook Pro with me while working, and typing while the trailer is being unloaded and then reloaded again.

I’m going to throw in a few more of my most recent photos to finish this off.

American kestrel

 

Killdeer

 

Male red-winged blackbird

 

Tufted titmouse

 

Red squirrel

 

Grey squirrel

 

male northern cardinal

 

Female northern cardinal

 

By the way, I shot another video of northern shovelers in a feeding frenzy, and it’s the best video that I’ve shot to date.

I should have, but didn’t, use my newest acquisitions to shoot that video. With all that I’ve been working lately, I’ve been able to afford a very sturdy but simple tripod and a gimbal head to go on the tripod. After much soul-searching, I went with a cheap off brand of gimbal head, only after having tested it out in the store with my birding set-up mounted on the gimbal head. While I’m sure that the head that I purchased wouldn’t be good enough for one of the monster long lenses that I’ll never be able to afford, it seems to be adequate for the medium length lenses that I have.

Ring-billed gull in flight

I also shot this image of a goose after it had fallen through thin ice and was on its way to catch up with the rest of the flock that had flown across the ice.

Canada goose in flight

I was surprised how easy it is to follow a moving subject the very first time that I used the gimbal head, it will only get better in the future. In some ways, it’s easier to follow the motion of a subject with the tripod and gimbal head supporting the camera, allowing me to concentrate on tracking the subject in a nice smooth manner. That’s because  I’m not dealing with my own wobbling around, the camera and lens are steady on the gimbal head making it easier to pan with the subject’s motion.

The gimbal head on the tripod will also come in very handy once I begin doing more of my photography from a blind or hide. That’s because the camera/lens can be balanced on the gimbal head so that the lens stays pointed where ever I want it pointed. So, I can leave everything set-up pointed in the general direction that I plan to shoot in, rather than having to set the camera down all the time because it’s too heavy to hold up all the time.

I didn’t use a hide or the new gimbal head, but I did sit stationary waiting for many of the small songbirds in this post, including these.

Black-capped chickadee

 

Common grackle

 

American tree sparrow

While these are good, I’m sure that if I were in a hide and had the camera all set-up on the gimbal head/tripod that I’d be able to do even better.

Like I said, I should have used the tripod for the video, but I had gulls flying overhead all the time, doing what gulls are known to do, as in pooping in flight so often that I had to wash my car on my way home, so I decided not to risk getting pooped on myself, since I can’t use the tripod and gimbal head inside of my Subaru.

You can be sure that I’ll continue to play with the new tripod/head set-up, just as I continue to play with lenses and settings.

A while back, I wrote that I had come up with new bird in flight settings based on using the manual mode, those settings worked so well that I’ve been using the manual mode more often lately for both flying and perched birds.

Herring gull shot in manual mode using 70-200 mm lens at 70 mm

Shooting in manual works best if I’m shooting the same or very similarly colored species of birds multiple times, so that I can get the exposure perfect for the birds. Then, it doesn’t matter if the background changes from light to dark or vice versa, the bird is exposed correctly most of the time.

I also used that photo to make another point, since I shot it with the 70-200 mm lens, you can see much more of the background due to the use of the wider lens. Most of the time a longer lens works better to reduce distractions in the background, but there are times when I like the wider view better. What I should have done is to have used the 100 mm f/2.8 macro lens for that shot, not that I needed the added focal length, but so that I could have used a smaller aperture to blur the background more. But, I’m not used to getting that close to my subjects.

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

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30 responses

  1. I love the photos of the Chickadee.

    March 20, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    • Thank you very much Maria!

      March 21, 2017 at 7:12 am

  2. I have enjoyed viewing every one of these photos as they are so outstanding. I wish you had more time for posting, but understand why you don’t. I am somewhat in the same situation.

    March 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    • Thank you very much Hien! Even if you don’t have time to post, I hope that you have time to get out and shoot photos.

      March 21, 2017 at 7:13 am

  3. Great to see your post again with such an amazing range of photos and all so beautiful- all my favourites! I’ll really miss seeing your posts pop into my inbox but understand your time restraints. Take care.

    March 20, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! I hope that I’ll be back in about two months time, better than ever.

      March 21, 2017 at 7:14 am

  4. Thrilled to get another post from you filled to the brim with wonderful pictures, a real treat! Sorry your work schedule is so punishing, hope you get a break soon.

    March 20, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! I’ll be back to posting soon, and better than ever, I hope. 😉

      March 21, 2017 at 7:20 am

  5. I had been wondering where you were as I hadn’t seen a post from you in my inbox in a while. I’m sorry you have so little free time and are having to have a rest from blogging for a while. I’ll miss your posts and look forward to late spring when you return. This post is full of exceptional shots – all so very beautiful!

    March 20, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    • Thank you much Clare! I hope that the break is a short one, and when I return, I’ll have flowers and insects to shoot along with birds.

      March 21, 2017 at 7:22 am

      • I really look forward to that! Take care of yourself, Jerry.

        March 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm

  6. I once worked 12 hour days 7 days per week and I found that, though the money was great I was too tired all the time to even care. I changed that after a while and you should too!
    At least you’re getting a little free time. And putting it to good use too!
    I’m glad you’re over that cold. I though maybe that was why you went quiet and I’m glad I was wrong.

    March 20, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! The money is nice, but I have no time for anything but work during the week. At least I have weekends off. The cold did kick my butt for the better part of a week, which put me behind, and got me thinking about taking this break.

      March 21, 2017 at 7:25 am

      • I don’t blame you. There’s nothing worse than rushing around trying to keep up. Enjoy the break!

        March 21, 2017 at 5:02 pm

  7. Beautiful work! Thanks for sharing.

    March 20, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      March 21, 2017 at 7:25 am

  8. Have a good break. It will be even harder than ever to choose pictures from your portfolio when you do get back to blogging but the most important thing to remember is that we readers will miss you and your wonderful pictures if you don’t return before too long.

    March 20, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    • Thank you very much! I’ll be back before you or any one else really misses me or my photos. I’m hoping that a break will make it easier to fill my posts with just good images, and not quite so many so-so ones.

      March 21, 2017 at 7:28 am

  9. Hi Jerry. Hope things ease up for you – I’ll miss you until you’re fully back online. At least your weather should be clearing upna bit, so maybe you’ll be able to gain a bit of speed to help you through your day.

    As always, I really enjoy your close-ups. Love seeing the tiny marking around eyes and wingtips that would be easy to miss otherwise.

    Hope you have something planned for vacation.

    March 20, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    • Thank you very much Judy! The break should be a short one, but there’s no speeding up my work days. We haven’t had much snow this winter, what slows me down is how long I have to wait in line to be unloaded and reloaded again on the other side of the state.

      One thing that I plan to do during this break is to work on hiding better for even better close-ups in the future. I have a few tricks up my sleeve for that yet to try. My vacation plans are a week near Alpena chasing birds not found on this side of the state, and whatever else I find to shoot.

      March 21, 2017 at 7:36 am

  10. Wonderful photos.

    March 20, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      March 21, 2017 at 7:28 am

  11. Love the photos and will miss them and with that being said I understand the need to take a break and daunting work schedules. Take care of yourself and get proper rest.

    March 21, 2017 at 7:26 am

    • Thank you very much! I hope that this break will only be for two months, and after it’s over, I’ll be back better than ever.

      March 21, 2017 at 8:32 am

  12. These are all beautifully detailed photos, Jerry! My favorites are the cardinals.

    Enjoy your time off, and I do understand. Spring is underway here, with all the work associated with it. We’ll all be here when you return! 🙂

    March 21, 2017 at 11:19 am

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I wish that spring would make up its mind if it’s going to stick around here, we get a few nice days during the week, then near winter on the weekends.

      March 21, 2017 at 11:03 pm

  13. Don’t you just hate it when life gets in the way of your hobby??!!!! 😉 I am pretty much in the same boat of trying to find time to bird, to post, and to keep up with other blogs I enjoy so much. I was involved in an accident (not my fault!) and will be forced to take a long break come May when I get me knee replaced….oh boy. I just loved every image you posted here, Jerry. I hope you’ll find the time to keep shooting and post on occasion when possible. Enjoy the blog break best you can (I know you’ll miss it), and know we’ll all be here when you get back!

    March 21, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    • Thank you very much Donna! My break won’t be that long, just a month or two. I hope that your surgery goes well and that you’ll be back on your feet again soon.

      March 21, 2017 at 11:05 pm

  14. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them all, Jerry! Beautiful, my favorite are the Northern Shovelers. So peculiar, they are! Good luck at work, I know the feeling all too well. Between working 3 PT jobs and taking care of my daughter, I don’t get any time anymore either. Enjoy your break! I will miss your beautiful photos! Sheila

    March 22, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    • Thank you very much Sheila! I’ve been missing your posts as well. Hopefully, we’ll both have more time to do what we love soon.

      March 23, 2017 at 7:28 am