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

Too hot to be outside

Well now, you can call me a wimp if you like, but this past week, it’s been too hot for me to spend much time outside. We’ve had our longest, hottest stretch of weather of 2017, and have set record high temperatures the past five days. There may be two more record highs after I start this post if the forecast is correct.

So, I’ve spent some time this last week in searching for a better job, without any success so far. But, I don’t really want to go off on a long rant about how the trucking industry treats drivers, so I’ll leave it at this, I’ve spent a lot of my job search time chasing down false leads and dealing with the spam that came from what I thought were valid want ads.

I also managed to goof up my new printer, I downloaded and installed the latest version of the driver for the printer, and also had trouble while replacing one of the ink tanks since I made my last good print. I don’t know if it is the driver, or because of the ink tank, that the colors are coming out all wrong, but they are. After trying a few more settings and prints, I believe that it has to be a software problem. I tried deleting the Canon software and starting from the disk again, but that hasn’t helped. The troubleshooting guide that came with the printer is useless, which is all too typical these days.

Anyway, I did make it out to the Muskegon wastewater facility last Sunday for a few hours before the heat drove me away.

Red-tailed hawk

Unlike the eagle from the last post, this hawk gave me plenty of warning that it was about to fly, giving me time to switch cameras and lenses to my flying bird set-up.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

It was also nice enough to fly the path that it did.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Those were the last images of the day, here are the first, other than a very poor sunrise that I shot only as practice.

Ring-billed gull in flight

I was trying to capture the gulls against the colors in the sky at sunrise, this was the best that I could do.

Ring-billed gull in flight

I really like the first one as far as the gull, but the sky is better in the second. They were shot in very low light, you can tell that from the way that the gull’s pupils are dilated to let more of the dim light in, that seems to make their eye really pop out at you.

It turns out that the printer problems that I was having were due to a clogged print head, and then the playing around to the settings that I did before I printed a test pattern. Note to self, from now on, always print a test pattern first, before making wholesale changes to the settings which had been working. I probably would have done that, if I hadn’t downloaded and installed the latest driver in between print jobs, or had trouble installing the ink tank. It wasn’t the ink tank that I installed wrong that was the problem though, it was another color that had clogged the print head. I’ve learned my lesson, I hope.

I will say this, Canon software is the pits! What I had to go through to find the printer utility that allowed me to print the test pattern, then to do the print head cleaning was beyond ridiculous. I finally found the utilities menu by clicking the quiet settings icon from their terrible software. By the way, I added that here so that I’ll be able to find the utilities again when I need them. Who goes looking for troubleshooting help by looking at the quiet settings?

Anyway, this is the image that I worked so hard on to get it to print correctly.

Reflections

I’d like to be able to say that the image was shot with my new 16-35 mm lens, but it wasn’t, I used the 70-200 mm lens at 72 mm for that image. I absolutely love that lens on the 7D, I wish that I had more call to use it more often.

I know that the image appears to be overexposed and washed out as I’ve presented it here, but that’s because my printer tends towards the dark side, so I’ve begun to lighten the images that I think that I may print more than I would otherwise. I should go back to making a copy of each image that I may print, one for printing, the other for displaying here. So, as a bit of a test, plus the way that the image looks when turned sideways, here’s the same image again.

Reflections, version 2

Now the colors look better, but in the small format here, you still can’t see how sharp the full size image is, you can pick out every leaf on every tree in the large print that I made. I also turned the image ninety degrees because I like the way it appears to be a Rorschach test of sorts in this manner of viewing.

In other big news, I may have a new job soon. I have to go in for a quick driving test, and also a physical for the new employer, but I’ve been tentatively approved as a new hire. This new company has a contract with the post office to transport mail between various post office branches. I’ll get my entire week’s schedule in advance, no more last second phone calls as what happened this morning with the employer that I’ve been with. They must think that their drivers sit around at home all ready to come in at a second’s notice when they call.

The pay is about the same, that’s one of the things about truck driving, different ways of calculating pay. Depending on the employer, you could be paid by the hour, by the mile, or by a percentage of the value of the load. I don’t want to go into detail, but on paper, the new job pays four dollars an hour more than the hourly rate at the company that I have been working at, a sizable increase. However, I usually get runs that pay by the mile, and since I keep the truck moving efficiently, I make much more than the standard hourly rate. However, one of my peeves about my current employer is that they will tack on several hourly stops to the mileage run, meaning I do those stops almost for free.

At the new job, I’ll get paid by the hour no matter what, get time and a half for anything over 40 hours, rather than 50 hours where I currently work, and the insurance is all paid for by the company, I don’t have to pay the insurance out of my check as I do now. In addition, I’ll be unloading and loading the truck myself at the post offices, so the waiting at those stops won’t be as boring as just sitting in the truck waiting for some one else to do that. Plus, it means that I’ll get more exercise, which I could use, since I’ve been gaining weight again while just sitting in the truck at my current employer.

All of that adds to the list of things getting in the way of my getting outside to shoot more photos. I have to renew the lease on my apartment, do everything required to get the new job, fit in doctor and dentist appointments along with prescription refills under my old insurance before I leave the old job, and more.

At least the heat wave that set record high temperatures here for an entire week has ended, and it’s comfortable to be outside again. I should be able to get out to shoot some photos on Sunday, but I think that Monday is booked solid doing the errands that I listed before.

It seems like forever since I shot these, but it’s been less than a week, hard to believe. Also hard to believe is that even more waterfowl have returned to the Muskegon County wastewater facility.

Northern shovelers at sunrise

I’ve been trying to show just how many birds that there are there, with little success. During the summer, there were hundreds of waterfowl there at the wastewater facility, now, it’s thousands of them. That’s part of one flock, and there were several other flocks of northern shovelers as large or larger than that one. I tried for a few photos with the light behind me…

Northern shovelers in flight

…but I’ll have to wait until the males regrow their breeding plumage for a truly good image of one.

Male northern shoveler in flight

One of these days I’ll be in exactly the right position for this type of photo, showing how much water some waterfowl move as the run across the surface of the water to gain speed for take-off. It takes a great deal of effort on the part of the geese to get airborne, they must have very strong legs in addition to their flight muscles to move that much water with each stride.

Canada goose taking off

The only redeeming quality to this one is the fact that I caught the goose with both feet in the air.

Canada goose taking off

I don’t know why I find it humorous to see a goose with its feet in the positions they are, but I do. It’s the same with this one.

Canada goose and great blue heron

I wasn’t going to press the shutter release until the geese behind the heron moved on, but when the one goose spread its wings behind the heron, my mind said shoot. This is the shot that I was going for as waiting for the geese to move from behind the heron for a slightly better background.

Great blue heron at sunrise

The first rays of sunrise were hitting the heron, but it was a dull, lifeless sunrise, so the image isn’t what I hoped it would be.

I also hung around a flock of mute swans for a while, hoping to get the perfect image of one stretching or drying its wings, this was the best that I could do.

Mute swan

I’ve decided that the species of bird isn’t as important as I’ve been making it out to be the last few years, a great image is a great image, even if the subject is a mute swan. Besides, the average person doesn’t know that they are an introduced/invasive species, they think that a swan is a swan, and most people love them even if they are displacing our native trumpeter swans as the trumpeters try to make a come back.

I suppose that you could say that I’m selling out in order to sell a few more prints now and then by going for subjects that are relatively easy to photograph, and that people may purchase prints of. The mute swans fall into that category, as some one is much more likely to want to purchase a print of a swan than even the best image of an American pipit…

American pipit

…or a Lincoln’s sparrow.

Lincoln’s sparrow

There’s still a lot of luck involved in the photos that I do shoot, here’s a perfect example.

Misty morning

That was shot just after I arrived at the wastewater facility this morning. I saw the light, mist, and ducks, and I actually put some thought into how to go about getting the image that I wanted. I would have preferred to have used the 100-400 mm lens and zoomed out a tad, but I had the tele-converter behind that lens in case I had seen a bird or other subject that I wanted to get close to. I’m limited to just the single center focus point with that set-up, which I knew wouldn’t give me the image that I had in mind. I didn’t know how long the light would last, or how long the ducks would stay there, so I thought that I should work quickly. So, I grabbed the bird in flight set-up with the 400 mm prime lens on it. That way, I could move the focus point to the bottom of the frame to be sure to get the closest ducks in focus. I used aperture mode at f/16 to get as much of the scene in focus as I could.Then, I began shooting, and just as I did, the heron took flight to add a little more interest to the scene. I think that it all worked out well.

More luck, I saw a bird flying towards me, which is really a full-time thing there at the wastewater facility, between the thousands of gulls and waterfowl, vultures, starlings, and other species of birds, there’s seldom a time when one looks up and doesn’t see a bird in flight. But, this one was flapping its wings in a pattern that didn’t fit a gull or waterfowl, so I got ready with the bird in flight set-up.

Peregrine falcon in flight

I never expected to see a peregrine where I shot that photo, I was actually looking for a golden eagle that I had seen earlier but lost track of. I suppose that everything worked out for the best, I missed the eagle, but got good images of the peregrine in flight.

I know that I’ve been posting too many images of great blue herons lately, but that’s because there are so many of them this year. Over the last two years I didn’t see that many, yesterday at the wastewater facility, I saw at least 10 individuals. With so many of them around, I can use them to practice on, both for portraits…

Great blue heron

 

Great blue heron

…and bird in flight photos, although the 400 mm prime lens got me too close to this heron as it took off.

Great blue heron in flight

That lens was just right as the heron flew away from me.

Great blue heron in flight

I did crop this next one slightly, not to get closer, but because the heron had lowered its head and I didn’t like the way the image looked, so I rotated the image as much as I could to raise the heron’s head.

Great blue heron in flight

Later in the day, I saw what turned out to be a Cooper’s hawk perched in a tree near me. As I was getting the hawk in focus using the set-up for portraits, the hawk took off. That meant that I had to use the 100-400 mm lens with extender behind it, using just the center focus point, and the lens image stabilization turned on for these three images.

Cooper’s hawk in flight

As you can see, the sharpness of these three photos isn’t up to my new standards for birds in flight.

Cooper’s hawk in flight

Using a slower shutter speed is part of the reason, but I still insist that the image stabilization is the main reason for the loss of sharpness.

Cooper’s hawk in flight

That’s every other image of the series that I shot, the images between those three showed the severe “ghosting” that I see in the images of birds in flight when I use any mode of image stabilization available on any of the lenses that I have that have IS. Both the 70-200 mm and 400 mm prime lens are without IS, and neither of those lenses has ever produced the ghosting that I see in the images that I shoot with lenses that do have IS. I should say, with the IS turned on, as I’ve gotten good, sharp images of birds in flight with the 100-400 mm lens if I have the time to turn the IS off. The same was true of the 300 mm lens and the Beast, if I had the time to turn the IS off, then they were okay for moving subjects, but still not as good as my two non-IS lenses are for some reason. But then, the two non-IS lenses are my sharpest lenses anyway, if I can keep the shutter speed fast enough, or use a tripod as I did with the reflection landscape that I put in this post earlier. I still stay that the extra layers of glass that make up the image stabilization system reduce the sharpness of a lens to some degree. I do turn the IS off when I’m using a lens equipped with it on a tripod, and that seems to work out better than leaving it on.

But, the image stabilization is a life saver when I’m shooting in low light, unless I can use a tripod, as always, there are trade-off to everything in photography.

I’m going to finish this post with a very poor photo of a kestrel…

American kestrel

…because that one wasn’t perched on a wire somewhere as most of the kestrels that I’ve posted have been. There were two kestrels hunting together, and that was the best photo of either of them that I could come up with. They are about the size of a dove, but as wary as any bird that I try to photograph, so getting a good image of one is still something that I’m working on.

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

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23 responses

  1. Reblogged this on All About Writing and more.

    October 2, 2017 at 6:48 am

  2. Sorry about the terrible heat and the problems you are having with your printer. All the same the pictures you posted were stunning, I especially liked the ones of birds in flight.

    October 2, 2017 at 7:06 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! The printer problems have been solved, it took me a while though. I should do another post of only birds in flight, maybe I will soon.

      October 2, 2017 at 7:11 am

  3. Hi Jerry. Congratulations on the new job. It will be an improvement, I’m sure, to have a set schedule, and paid health insurance must be a huge bonus. I’m with you in the fact that you’d rather load your own truck – that dead time would drive me nuts. Hope this turns out to be all that you hope it is.

    Your Misty Morning photo stopped my scrolling fingers. Wow! My first reaction was that it looked like a book cover (for me, that’s hign praise). Crazy colors. I think, other than that one, my favorite was the first Canada goose taking off photo. I always enjoy those little water splashes from running feet, as they try to launch themselves off the water.

    Is there really that much color there already (the yellow tree photo)? Amazing. Haven’t seen anything but an isolated red or yellow leaf around here yet.

    Do your rain dance, please. I can hear my lawn crisping up from all these miles away. Hope the cooldown comes quickly.

    October 2, 2017 at 8:44 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I hope that the new job is a winner too, but more than anything, I need a change or I’m going to go crazy. I sat for 6 hours waiting for a load last week, that’s beyond ridiculous.

      As I wrote, I took the time to do everything as correctly as I could for the Misty Morning shot in a limited amount of time. I would have liked to have gone with a slightly wider lens, but then I would have missed the heron, which I think adds to the image. No matter how I try, I can’t be ready for everything at the same time.

      There’s really not much color here at all, many trees are dropping green leaves with no color change at all, or the leaves are going straight to brown. That’s why I worked so hard on the reflection shot that you mentioned. I’m going to try to make it up north for a day next weekend, as the colors should be slightly better there.

      It has cooled off now, and there’s even rain in the forecast towards the end of the week. So, your lawn will survive.

      October 2, 2017 at 8:53 am

  4. Best of luck on landing the new job, Jerry!

    Beautiful photos here as always, and I do love that American Pipit. 🙂

    October 2, 2017 at 11:15 am

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I love the photo of the pipit also, but I thought that few other people would, because they are rather plain.

      October 2, 2017 at 8:10 pm

  5. Good news about that new job, Jerry! I hope you will get it!

    Very nice shots in this post, but what stood out for me was the Misty Morning. It is a winner inb every sense: composition, colors, subject matter! Those in-flight shots are outstanding as usual, and I keep being amazed at how you manage to get them so perfectly.

    October 2, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    • Thank you very much Hien! I’ve gotten the new job, how it works out is yet to be seen. But, I needed a change no matter what.

      The birds in flight are mostly the product of the right equipment and a devotion on my part to perfect my skills. The Misty Morning has quickly become one of my favorite images, I’ll have more about it in my next post.

      October 2, 2017 at 8:14 pm

  6. Congratulations on the new job also well done for sorting out your printer! Amazing colours in your Misty Morning photo and love the composition too. All the flying bird photos are beautiful especially the Cooper’s hawk ones- he looks so determined!

    October 2, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! If the software for the printer had been better, I wouldn’t have had to work so hard to sorting the printer problem out sooner. The Misty Morning was as much luck, being in the right place at the right time as anything. However, I have worked hard at perfecting my bird in flight photos, it’s nice to see that work is appreciated.

      October 2, 2017 at 8:21 pm

  7. We had record breaking temps here too for 3 or 4 days in a row so I know how you feel. Working in it was miserable with tropical humidity as well.

    You’re lucky you found another job so quickly. It took ten months to find the one I have. The older we get the harder it is, and I can’t wait for the next 4 years to pass so I can finally retire. I hope you’ll have more time to yourself with the new one. It sounds a lot better.

    I like that shot of the fall colors. I haven’t seen much of anything like it here. The early morning gull shots are excellent too!

    I love the shot of the misty morning. What great colors, and how nice of the heron to do a fly over!

    October 2, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! The heat is over here for a while, it was a miserable week with the heat and humidity though.

      If you want to find a job quickly, become a truck driver. There’s a severe shortage of drivers, mostly because they treat drivers so poorly. But, it is easy to find a job.

      Good fall colors are hard to find this year, so I’m thankful for the one that I got. The morning gull images look as if I used the flash, but it was all the early morning sun.

      Just about everything from the light to the heron fly over in the Misty Morning image was luck, but I’ll take it. 🙂

      October 2, 2017 at 8:44 pm

  8. I agree about the Canon software most of it seems directed at trying to get you to buy more cartridges rather than solving any problems. I hope that you get you new job and it works out well. The sequence of flying heron pictures was very good but the misty morning shot was absolutely excellent.

    October 2, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! I agree with you about the Canon software, I printed far too many prints figuring out what the problem was. I have the new job, I’ll start it soon.

      The Misty Morning was mostly luck, just being in the right place at the right time for a change.

      October 2, 2017 at 8:24 pm

  9. Congratulations on the new job! Wonderful pictures.

    October 2, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    • Thank you very much! On both counts.

      October 2, 2017 at 9:29 pm

  10. Congratulatons on getting the new job, Jerry! I think the misty morning shot is my favourite – it is beautiful! I also liked the heron and geese shots – the muted colours and the heron lit gently by the sun is glorious!

    October 3, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I’m not sure that I’ll like the new job, that remains to be seen, but I do know that I need a change from the company that I have been working for.

      Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of being in the right place at the right time, and get the Misty Morning shot that I did. Early morning light is almost always good, I wish that it lasted just a wee bit longer than it does.

      October 3, 2017 at 9:49 pm

  11. Love the misty morning shot! Hope the new job works out for you.

    October 9, 2017 at 5:50 am

    • Thank you very much Bob! Any job I get will be an improvement over my current one.

      October 9, 2017 at 6:20 am

  12. Love the rosy tint behind your sunrise gull photos, but your “Misty Morning” stole the show in this post. Will be coming back to this post to soak in those marvelous colors and strong silhouettes. Best wishes in your new work.

    October 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    • Thank you very much! Photography is a good excuse to get up early to be out there when there’s good light.

      October 9, 2017 at 3:29 pm