More signs of spring 2018
If I were to dwell on the negative, I’d say that this day, May 1st, could have been much better. Nice weather, good light, and plenty of birds around. I had the new backpack to try out, and it does what I hoped it would do, allow me to carry everything needed if I ever get around to setting up the portable hide that I have.
No, I didn’t get around to that again this week, despite my plans to do just that. The hide will work best for medium to large size subjects, not the little warblers that I was shooting this week.
That’s because the small birds are always moving, looking for food most of the time…
…sometimes pausing to sing to attract a mate.
Time and time again, I thought of setting up the tripod to use, and is the first step to using the portable hide, but to get the images of the birds that I was seeing, I had to be on the move all the time to get at least a somewhat clear view of them with good lighting, and a background that wasn’t too distracting.
I know how other photographers work around that, they create scenes where they can set-up and wait for the birds to come to them. I have neither the time or inclination to do that, especially since I have such limited time to be outside with my camera. However, when conditions are right, and I’m photographing larger subjects, I will use the hide and my tripod.
Anyway, my day began before sunrise at the Muskegon County wastewater facility…
…and even though I knew that I should have stayed there until the sun actually rose above the horizon, I moved on in hopes of finding a place to test the hide. That was a mistake, for the best part of the sunrise came later, and I was faced with nothing in the foreground to photograph, so I made do with what was at hand at the time.
I shot two different takes of the scene, and I can’t decide which I like better.
With great light, I was hoping to shoot a few male ducks in their breeding plumage before they continue to migrate north, but none of the ducks would cooperate. I made do with two photos of waterfowl in flight, as all of them were even more skittish than usual.
I decided not to waste my time on the ducks, so I moved to the Lane’s Landing portion of the Muskegon State Game Area. I was hoping to see either waterfowl or wading birds there, where I could set-up the hide and take advantage of the great light at the time. I shot this sandhill crane as it flew past me while I was checking out the area for stationary subjects.
I couldn’t see anything in any of the ponds along the way as far as ducks or wading birds, but the willows surrounding the ponds were full of migrating warblers.
I heard the song of a bird that I’ve never heard before, and I was able to spot the bird, but I never did get a photo of it as it moved around in the swamp there at Lane’s Landing, darn.
Also, I was using the 100-400 mm lens and 1.4 X tele-converter, which means that I missed far more birds that I was able to photograph because of how slowly that set-up auto-focuses. Still, to be out there on such a fine day in nothing but a T-shirt was absolutely wonderful! Hearing the birds singing only added to my enjoyment of the day.
I hung out in that spot watching wave after wave of warblers moving through the trees, and I have a lot of bad photos of various species of warblers that I could put in this post at this time, but I won’t.
Instead, I’ll put a bad photo of what I think is a hermit thrush that I tried to get a good photo of, after I had moved to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.
That bird used about every trick in the book, other than taking flight, to avoid having it’s picture taken, that’s the best I could do.
I sat down at the picnic pavilion there at the MLNP, and removed the 1.4 X extender from my lens, to speed up the auto-focus and to shoot what I saw there.
The sparrow paused from looking for seeds to watch two male red-winged blackbirds fighting above it.
The fight was a violent one, but over with too quickly for me to shoot a photo. One of the blackbirds had pulled a large number of feathers out of its opponent, I almost tried for get a shot of the feathers blowing in the wind, but there wasn’t time to switch camera settings for that. Instead, I settled for this red squirrel in action.
I had rested enough by then to continue on, I shot this willow flower…
…and this robin…
…as more signs that spring is finally here.
Without the extender behind the 100-400 mm lens, I was able to shoot fairly good images of larger birds that flew past me as I slowly worked through the brush there at the MLNP.
I was worried about getting close enough to the birds, but I shouldn’t have been.
I didn’t crop that image at all, although I should have cropped slightly for composition.
By then, it was early afternoon, and the light, while good, was casting harsh shadows on the subjects that I tried to shoot, but I did the best that I could.
By then, the light was getting funky from the sun being so high, a lot of dust in the air due to the wind being as strong as it was, and rising humidity levels as well.
That’s not cropped at all, and you can see that it isn’t as sharp as most of the rest of the images in this post are, it’s all because of the junk in the air that disperses the light coming into the camera. But, if I could get even closer to a subject…
…then the light was still good.
That image is a great example of why I’m not always able to identify the things in my blog. I saw the color combination of the flowers and the water, and just shot that image without looking at what species of tree produced the flower.
On the other hand, I went through 70 web pages of photos of butterflies hoping to be able to identify this one that I saw.
The reasons that I stopped after viewing 70 web pages of photos of butterflies are that it was late by then and I was tired, and all of the butterflies in the photos were beginning to look-alike.
I thought that these flowers were from a box elder tree when I first saw them…
…but I know what a box elder tree looks like, and the tree that produced those flowers wasn’t a box elder, so I assume that is another species in the same family as maples and box elders.
By the way, that last photo was shot with the 60 D camera and 100 mm macro lens if it makes a difference to any one.
Now then, the big news this week is that I’ll be starting a new schedule for work this weekend, one that gives me two full days off each week, rather than one full day off and two long breaks between runs during the actual work week as I have been doing the past few months. You may find it funny, but I don’t remember the exact details of the new schedule, other than that I do get two full days off, and that the timing of the runs means that I won’t have to put up with rush hour traffic either. It will be nice to have two full days off again, even though I was just starting to get used to taking advantage of the schedule that I have been on. Which days that I have off doesn’t matter to me, other than it’s two days in a row so if I want to go up north, I can. In fact, not having days off on the weekends appeals to me, because there are fewer people out and about during the week.
So, things are looking very good to me right now, the weather has finally gotten nice on a regular basis, and spring is well and truly in full swing here now. I’m liking doing dedicated outings much more than I thought that I would, although it still bothers me a little to pass by subjects that I’d like to photograph because I don’t have all my camera gear with me all the time. On the other hand, not trying to photograph flowers blowing around in the wind and getting frustrated with the poor images that are a result of trying more than makes up for passing a flower that I’d like to photograph. I could have included more photos of more species of birds in this post, but the photos wouldn’t be very good.
With nice weather and good light on most days, I’m not jonesing for the 5D Mk IV like I was when I was shooting in low light most of the time this past winter. Yes, I’d like the expanded dynamic range of the 5D for most of my images, but I can do quite well with what I have, if I do say so myself. Again, doing dedicated outing helps in that respect as well, as I can work around the short comings of the 7D and 60D cameras that I’m using now, and the overall quality of the photos that I’m shooting continues to improve.
And maybe it’s a sign of getting older, but I’m enjoying the slower pace of the dedicated outings that I’ve been doing. It was nice to sit in a field of dandelions waiting for the bee from the last post to show up. I didn’t mind fiddling with the tripod and camera settings to shoot the buildings in downtown Grand Rapids nor the night images that I shot. On the day I shot the photos in this post, I spent quite a bit of time watching the waves of warblers moving through the trees at the swamp at Lane’s Landing. I no longer feel the need to rush ahead to see what’s over the next hill or around the next bend the way that I’ve always felt before.
In a way, it’s almost like fly fishing for trout. One of the first things that I learned when I began fly fishing was that I had to slow down and take my time, not rush from spot to spot in hopes of catching a fish. Also, just as in fly fishing, good gear makes a huge difference in how enjoyable the experience is. There’s nothing worse than trying to cast with a cheap, poorly made fly rod, other than to try to shoot good photos with a camera that doesn’t function as it should.
The level of equipment that I have now may not be the very best, but I’m still extracting more details in my images all the time. In many of my images, you can see the textures of a bird’s feathers, or in the petals of a flower. That helps to make the images look more three-dimensional as in most of the images in this post, especially the sandhill crane, in that image, you can get an idea about the muscle structure of the crane’s breast muscles as it flies.
There I go bragging again, I’m sorry, but I’m really enjoying photography more than ever as the quality of the images that I shoot improves.
Changing the subject, tonight I’m starting a new schedule at work. I’ll have Thursdays and Fridays off from work from now on, woo hoo, two full days off rather than just one! Another item on the positive side is that my Wednesdays will be the shortest workday of the week, which will give me even more time for my “weekends”. The only downside is that my first day back at work each week is my longest scheduled day, around 13 hours long.
That’s my long-winded way of saying that it may take me a day or two to catch up with any comments readers may leave to this post, as I’ll be pressed for sleep the next 36 hours. But, I will get caught up again once I have finished the long day, and I’m into the regular part of my schedule, which is three 9 hour long days in a row.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!