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

It’s a winner

I have another post started that will probably never finish, as it’s another of my long-winded discussions on photography.

For the most part, it all boils down into this, the new 24-70 mm lens is a winner!

Hemlock grove

Especially when on the 5D Mk IV with its extended dynamic range.

Lost Lake in Muskegon State Park

And, it works well up close also.

Mushroom and moss

The macro function of the lens isn’t quite what I hoped it would be…

Wasp gall from an oak tree

…but it does fill in a small void between photos such as this one…

Cardinal flowers

…and when I switch to the 100 mm macro lens for images like this.

Sweet pea

It’s funny, the image above shows how one typically sees a sweet pea flower, but I rotated the image 90 degrees, because the flower really looked like this as I shot it…

Sweet pea

….but the image looks odd, I suppose it’s because that’s not the way that I see sweet peas in my mind’s eye. However, the odd version does do a better job of showing the true shape of the flower, which makes these two doubly odd in some ways. But, that’s what happens when showing three-dimensional objects in only two dimensions. Still, it’s the same flower in the same light shown in the same two dimensions, so I can’t explain why these two images look so different to me. Maybe it’s just me and the way that I see things.

When I found the cardinal flowers, I hung around for a while, trying to find one plant out in the open and hoping that a hummingbird would come along to drink the nectar from any of them…

Cardinal flowers

…but the colony of cardinal flowers were growing in amongst a thick tangle of various grasses, sedges, and cattails, and I never found a single cardinal flower plant standing alone, and only tattered butterflies…

Unidentified fluttering object on a cardinal flower

…showed up at any of the cardinal flowers. I tried for other shots of the butterflies, as there were many of them, but I couldn’t get a clear view of any but the one above. I did attempt to identify the butterflies, there were several species drinking the cardinal flower nectar, but all of the butterflies that I saw had very tattered wings, so much so that I couldn’t be sure of any ID I may have tried to make. I think that there were red-spotted purples and also one of the swallowtail species there, but as I said, their wings were in extremely bad shape.

As I write this, I wonder if the butterflies were tearing their wings up by flying through the thick vegetation to get to the cardinal flowers. The damage to their wings was so severe in many cases that I wondered how the butterfly could still fly. I should have shot a few photos to illustrate the damage, but I was looking for beautiful butterflies to photograph, and not thinking about why so many of them looked as bad as they did. Anyway, no hummers showed up there while I waited, only this dragonfly…

Dragonfly

…and a female track team out training for the coming season, although I shot no photos of the girls as they ran past me on the very narrow Lost Lake trail at Muskegon State Park.

I really blew it in my planning of where to go and when to go there, as when I got to Lost Lake, the shore that I was on was in deep shade yet. I was using the short hike to Lost Lake and back as a test to see how it would work to carry the 7D camera with the 100-400 mm lens on it for birds, and the 5D with the 24-70 mm lens on it for landscapes and wide-angle close-ups. Overall, it worked well enough, although I never got close enough to any of the birds I heard to shoot photos of them. I saw only a few small birds in the tree tops, out of camera range, and one larger bird that I think was an owl. However, I got only short glimpses of the larger bird as it flew into a tree above me, them flew away again as I attempted to get a clear view of whatever it was.

The reason that I said I blew it is because I should never go to Lost Lake without my macro lens, and probably my flash unit. I see flowers blooming there that I see nowhere else that I go, and many of them are quite small.

Tiny purple flower

I should have swapped lenses between the two bodies, as there’s far too much noise in these from the 7D, but I’m hoping to go back with my macro lens and shoot these same flowers again…

Tiny white flowers

…when the light is better and I have the proper equipment with me. The entire cluster of flowers in this next photo was only 3/8 to 1/2 an inch across…

Very tiny white flowers

…but at least the light was better when I shot that.

I did better with the larger flowers…

Water lily opening

…after waiting patiently for the sun to hit them. When it did, I had to check out each flower through the viewfinder of the camera to see how the flowers appeared to the camera…

Water lily

…because the low sun angle and the effects of the surface tension of the water made for some interesting images.

Water lily and bee

So the day wasn’t a total waste, because that one image made the day worthwhile to me. I wish that you could all see that last one full size and the way that it appears on my computer, the bee is a nice addition, but the blue rings around the lily pads because of the refraction of the reflection of the bright blue sky above really make that image something special to me.

I chased a couple of other subjects around trying to get good photos of them, like this toad…

American toad

…and this beetle…

Six spotted tiger beetle

…which moved just as I had the light as I wanted it every time, so I had to settle for this.

Six spotted tiger beetle

I should also say that techniques that I’ve begun using with the 5D Mk IV body also work with the 7D body, as the images of the beetle show. I didn’t think that the 7D was capable of that level of fine detail, but I was wrong, it was me, not the camera.

That’s why I continue to take test shots such as this one…

Prehistoric stump monster in color

…with the 24-70 mm lens as a test, knowing that I planned to convert it to B&W…

Prehistoric stump monster in B&W

…and that I probably wouldn’t be able to decide which version that I preferred.

I suppose that I should throw in a bird photo, since I’m having difficult times shooting any good images of birds presently.

Sandhill crane in flight

There are reasons why I haven’t shot many photos of birds recently, some species have already migrated south for the year, and when it comes to ducks, they all look like female mallards at this time of year. I found out on Friday that the lack of birds may be caused by the weather this summer, but more on that later.

For Friday, I had planned on returning to Lost Lake, but in the afternoon so that I’d have better light to photograph the tiny flowers in. So, I let myself sleep in, then went to the local camera store to look for a backpack that will hold my full-frame camera with the grip on it, and the lenses required for it. I’ll keep my current backpack to hold my EF-S lenses, to use as back-ups, or if the time ever comes that I set-up a camera for time-lapse photography or something similar.

I checked every backpack in the store that looked deep enough to old either the 5D or 7D cameras with the grip attached, and there was something about every one of them that made me cross them of the list of possibilities. It seems that the manufacturers are going for gimmicks, when all that I want is a simple backpack that will hold a pro-level camera and 3 or 4 lenses, a few filters, my flash unit, and tripod. I won’t go into further detail though.

After playing with the flash for macro photography, and trying to shoot holding the camera in one hand and the flash in the other hand, I also checked in the store to see if they carried a simple bracket that would attach to the camera and hold the flash where I wanted it. They had nothing in the store that did what I wanted, but I did find a simple flexible rod, and after thinking about what I wanted, and the things that I already have, I picked up one of the flexible rods.

I didn’t have time to assemble it before I left for Muskegon, but last night after I got back, I did play with it and made it work. It’s a bit on the ugly side, and a bit cheesy, but it works, and that’s all that matters to me right now. I’ll show a photo of it the next time I mount it to the camera to show all of you what it looks like, and how it works.

Now then, weather and the birds. Even though the weather forecast had predicted mostly cloudy skies but no rain for the afternoon, by the time I got to Muskegon, the skies were such that I didn’t want to risk being too far from shelter, as it looked as if it would rain at any time. So, I changed my plans and stopped at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, rather than continuing on to Muskegon State Park, and Lost Lake there. That proved to be a wise decision.

It wasn’t long after I arrived there at the nature preserve that it began to rain, or I should say, sprinkle, as the rain was very light for some time before I was forced to take shelter.

I spent most of my time there in one very small area, shooting various species of birds that were in a mixed flock, I think that some of them were migrating south already.

Juvenile Tennessee warbler

 

Warbling vireo

 

Eastern wood-pewee

Other’s were local year round residents.

Female downy woodpecker

 

Male downy woodpecker

So far, the small birds were all shot with the 7D and 100-400 mm lens and 1.4 X extender. But as the clouds thickened, and the rain increased in intensity, I could see that the ISO setting was going higher all the time. So, I swapped to the 5D with the same lens and extender for the rest of these. It was a good thing that I did.

Black-capped chickadee

You can see how wet the chickadee was by then, apparently, they don’t shed water as well as other species of birds.

Juvenile Tennessee warbler finding its lunch

 

Juvenile Tennessee warbler finding its lunch

It amazes me the way that birds are able to find insects that are doing their best to remain out of sight. But, the birds learn where insects are prone to hide, and they have to learn that to survive.

Juvenile Tennessee warbler finding its lunch

I like the way the warbler has a look as if saying “What caterpillar?”.

Juvenile Tennessee warbler finding its lunch

Right after I shot that series, the rain picked up enough that I went back to the shelter there at the preserve, and waited for the rain to let up. I amused myself by shooting water drops hitting a small pool of water on the ground at the edge of the shelter, but I know that I can do better, so I won’t bore you with the poor images from this day. It was another learning experience though.

Even though I’ve exceeded the number of photos in this post that I attempt to limit myself to, I have two more to share.

Grey squirrel, black morph

There are two reasons I’m including these, one is that I haven’t photographed many squirrels lately…

Grey squirrel, black morph

…and also to show how well the 5D Mk IV does in very low light when photographing a black subject. I could ramble on about that, but I won’t.

I’ve said it many times, but wildlife seems to be more active, or at least easier to approach, when the weather is less than what we humans consider ideal. I’ve sort of given up trying to photograph wildlife on days such as this one, but now that I have a camera that can produce good images in low light, I’ll go back to the way I used to do things as far as not letting the weather stop me, because I was more concerned with the quality of images that I’d come back with than in getting any images at all.

Anyway, for the rest of the day, the rain continued, sometimes only sprinkles, at other times it was heavy enough for me to stay either in my vehicle, or some other man-made shelter. I didn’t shoot many photos, but I didn’t let the rain stop me either. I’ll have the rest of the photos from the day in my next post.

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

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18 responses

  1. They are all beautiful photos, Jerry. I especially like the cardinal flowers and black squirrel.

    August 25, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia!

      August 26, 2018 at 6:45 am

  2. Stunning photographs, I too loved the cardinal flowers and very much enjoyed your shots of the water lilies, you are such a good photographer in so many genres.

    August 25, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! I keep plugging away at all the different subjects that I see, doing the best that I can.

      August 26, 2018 at 6:45 am

  3. I see many winners here, not just your new 24-70 mm lens! All your bird photos are excellent as usual, but so are the macros, the insects, and that black squirrel.

    Since you mentioned sweet peas, I looked back at a post of mine from four years ago where I used a very old 100 mm lens, the first version which did not have image stabilization. Here’s the link if you are interested: https://neihtn.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/wild-sweet-pea-turtle/

    August 25, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    • Thank you very much Hien! I can’t say as I remember the sweet peas from that post, as you post so many excellent images of flowers. I’ve always had the idea that the extra elements in the Image Stabilization reduced a lens’s sharpness at least slightly. Along the same lines, the sharpest of the Canon line of lenses are to ones that don’t have IS, such as the 24-70 mm f/2.8 versus the f/4 version that I purchased. But, IS is a life saver in low light at slow shutter speeds, like everything else in photography, there are always trade offs.

      August 26, 2018 at 6:24 am

  4. I am with you as far as the beauty of the final water lily shot goes. What a cracking image it is.

    August 25, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! That’s one of the few times when waiting around for exactly the right light paid off for a change.

      August 26, 2018 at 6:15 am

  5. I love the shots of the trail. It looks just like here. I’ve never seen a gall like that one here though. It’s amazing!
    Flowers have a best side just as people, as you found out with the sweet pea. You certainly found the cardinal flower’s best side. That’s a great shot.
    That’s an excellent shot of the dragonfly too. Yes, that lens is a winner!
    I think the purple flower below the dragonfly is a gerardia, possibly slender gerardia (Agalinis tenuifolia.)
    The white flower below that is an orchid, but I’m not sure which one. it might be one of the ladies tresses. I think there are a few different ones.
    Next is smartweed. Probably heartleaf tear thumb. They are very small!
    The waterlily shot is definitely a good one but my favorites are the cardinal flowers and the black squirrel. Two things I’ve seen, but very rarely.

    August 25, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! I wouldn’t have known what the gall was if I hadn’t heard about them on a local gardening show on the radio. Too bad I didn’t remember the name of the wasp that causes the galls by laying their eggs in oak trees.

      I love cardinal flowers, but I wish that I could have found a hummingbird at the same time. Maybe next week.

      I also hope to return to Lost Lake next week and shoot better photos of the flowers that you have identified, and I’ll try to remember to photograph their leaves also. I thought that the white one may have been an orchid, but I need a better image if I’m going to ID it myself.

      August 26, 2018 at 7:06 am

      • Yes, leaf size, shape and placement is especially important when trying to identify orchids. There are many that look similar.

        August 26, 2018 at 8:17 am

      • I’ll try to remember to do that, I’m trying to slow down and get things right. But, when I shot the photos in this last post, I knew that I wouldn’t like them, they were to remind me to return when the light was better. Also, as you probably know quite well, the plants that the flowers grew on were quite short in relation to the other plants around them. There are so many rare plants growing in the small area around the shore of Lost Lake that I try to be cautious about where I step, not to mention kneel, sit, or lay on the ground to get photos, or to remove other plants blocking my view of the flowers I’m attempting to photograph. The exception was the smartweed, it grows in profusion and stands up above the rest of the vegetation. I just had a thought while typing this, I’ll give it a try next week I hope. I’ll take one of my old neutral colored T shirts along, and try to work the plant that I’m trying to shoot up through the opening for the neck in the T shirt. This should help to hold the other plants down and away from the plant I’m after without damaging the other plants, and give me a clean background for the photos at the same time. I’ll let you know if it works.

        August 26, 2018 at 1:38 pm

  6. Beautiful captures throughout! The opening water lily is stunning, Jerry!

    August 29, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    • Thank you very much Donna! I hope to do even better today.

      August 30, 2018 at 6:21 am

  7. I love this post – so many fantastic shots and such a variety of subjects! I think the waterlily shot is fabulous; with those blue rings and clear reflections it is outstanding! I also liked seeing the black squirrel and that first image of the hemlock grove.

    August 30, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! The motto for Michigan, the state that I live in, is “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” I’m hoping that I’ll be able to show that better than ever from now on, without the photography babbling on my part.

      August 30, 2018 at 8:54 pm

      • I like the photography babbling! 😀 Don’t apologise for it; this is your blog after all. I find writing stuff down helps with decision making and getting ideas clear in my head.

        September 1, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      • Thank you very much Clare! You’re right, writing things down even once helps to jog my memory when I’m out shooting the photos for my blog. It is also nice to be able to go back and see how my images are progressing as I try things and work to master them.

        September 2, 2018 at 5:30 am