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

What all the talk leads to

At  the end of my last post, I said that I had shot one of the best images that I’ve ever taken, so here it is.

Unidentified dragonfly

Although, some people may prefer this slightly brighter version a little more.

Unidentified dragonfly

Those aren’t the same image with the second one brightened a bit, you can tell that by the background as the cattails in the shade moved in the wind between the images.

Either version is what I’ve been trying to accomplish as far as improving my photography skills to get the best possible images that I can. In truth, all it takes is luck, and shooting 750 photos of dragonflies to this point since I’ve been adding keywords to my photos in Lightroom. I had followed several of this species of dragonfly around on that day, shooting many photos that were okay…

Unidentified dragonfly

…but didn’t have the dramatic lighting of the first two. I knew that I was getting something special as I viewed the dragonfly through the viewfinder, and for once, I didn’t blow my chance. The dragonfly was in a good position, well away from the background vegetation. The late afternoon sun low in the sky raked the dragonfly from the side, but was diffused enough not to cast harsh shadows. The only thing that I would have changed if I could have, is that I wish that it had been facing towards me a little more than it was.

Sorry, this will be the camera talk part of this post.

While using the 7D Mk II, I’ve been exposing to the right, that is, setting the exposure to as bright as I could get it without blowing out the highlights. I’ve had to do that to prevent getting too much noise in the images that I’ve shot with that camera. But, the 5D Mk IV is completely different, even though the first two images were shot at ISO 8000, there wasn’t much noise in them to remove in Lightroom, although I have gone back and cleaned those images up a bit since the versions that you see here.

Using the 7D is like shooting with color print film, I’ve gotten the best results over-exposing slightly, from 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop. Soon after I began using the 5D, I’ve been setting the exposure as I would for color slide film, going 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop lower in exposure to get the color saturation and fine details in the images I shoot with the 5D. Since my favorite film back in the old days was Kodachrome slide film, using the 5D is a natural to me.

I’ve since gone a little lower with the exposure when shooting with the 7D, and that helps a little as far as color saturation and capturing fine details, but that camera still requires a brighter exposure setting than the 5D to prevent excess noise in my images.

The 5D Mk IV is spoiling me, in so many ways. I can use all the focus points while using the 100-400 mm lens and 1.4 X tele-converter, while I’m limited to just the single center focus point with the same lens set-up on the 7D. I’ll try to move the focus point when using the 7D, or wonder why all the focus points don’t become active when I try to set the camera that way, and it takes me a few seconds to remember the differences between the two cameras.

Then there’s the better low-light performance of the 5D…

Whitetail family, sort of

…these were shot at ISO 25600…

Whitetail doe

…with no noise reduction other than what the camera itself does.

I wanted to get all three deer in the frame at once, but I wasn’t able to, as I also wanted to show that the closest fawn to me still has its spots. It was already turning to run off when I shot the first photo, with the other fawn following right behind it. Their mother stuck around for that last photo though, before she took off also. The 7D Mk II won’t even go that high for the ISO setting unless I enable the extended range for the ISO settings, and the amount of noise I’d get would be terrible. These aren’t bad at all considering how low the light was when I shot them.

Anyway, getting the image of the dragonfly that I did came at a good time for me. Since I’ve been expanding the range of subjects that I photograph, such as night photography in town, the Milky Way, and working on better macro images…

Unidentified orange mushroom

 

Violet webcap, Cortinarius violaceus?

…I haven’t been paying as much attention to birds…

Male northern cardinal molting

…or mammals…

Mosquito going after a squirrel that had stolen some one’s cookie

…as I should be.

I’ve been chasing great light…

Monarch butterfly

…or trying to be more artistic…

Damselfly and cattails

…although I think that the way that I framed that last shot to get the colors of the cattails and the composition the way that I did actually works to hide the damselfly. That’s why I continue to plug away with my photography, learning with each photo I shoot.

I was sitting on a bench taking a break, trying to cool down on a hot day, when I saw the damselfly. Rather than jump into action immediately, putting the focus point on the damselfly’s eye and firing away as I’ve done in the past, I sat there for a few minutes looking over the entire scene. I liked the colors of the cattails and the positions of the individual leaves, and the light, so I thought about ways I could incorporate them in my image when I shot it. I may have done too good of a job though, as the cattails distract the eye from the damselfly.

I did too much of the opposite on the previous day while at Lost Lake working on macro photos, as I walked to the observation deck to drop my un-needed photo gear, and after a quick stroll around the area, I found many of the subjects that I wanted to photograph. Then, I returned to the observation deck, got the macro set-up ready, and practically raced from subject to subject, checking them off from the mental list that I had made. That’s why many of the photos aren’t what I wanted…

Jelly fungus?

 

Unidentified fungal object

…I was in too much of a hurry to “complete a task”, rather than take the time to think about each image…

Puffball

…and get the best possible image of each subject.

I didn’t have to hurry, these things weren’t going anywhere, but I did. I only slowed down when I saw something that interested me that I hadn’t noticed before when I did my walk around the area.

Unidentified orange fungi

When I saw these, I noticed that the tips of them seemed to be different…

Unidentified orange fungi

…so I shot many photos of them.

Unidentified orange fungi

I thought that these were a species of coral fungi just beginning to grow, but now I don’t think so. In researching one of the subjects in another of my photos, I came across a website that may have provided me with the proper species name for these, but as I was researching something else at the time, I didn’t note the species or website that I found these on, silly me, again.

There are times when I see something that interest me, and after I’ve photographed it, I almost wish that I hadn’t. This has to be one of the ugliest, most menacing insects I’ve ever seen…

Ugly, menacing insect

…no matter what angle I shot it at.

Ugly, menacing insect

I’d hate to be bitten by that thing, whatever it was!

Anyway, even as I was rushing around shooting the macros and close-ups during my time at Lost Lake…

Partridge berry and plant?

…I was telling myself to slow down to get the best photo I could…

Unidentified fungal object

…but at the same time…

Unidentified fungal objects

….I had noted so many things that I wanted to shoot…

Unidentified fungal object

….that I wanted to make sure that I got to them…

Unidentified fungal object

…before I’d forgotten where they were.

Unidentified fungal object

Now it occurs to me that I should make use of a notebook that I purchased, but seldom use. I should have drawn a rough sketch of the area, and marked on the sketch where the things were that I wanted to shoot. That way, I wouldn’t have had to rely on my sometimes faulty memory to locate those things once I’m ready to begin shooting them. And, I know better than to carry the camera with me as I look for small subjects to photograph, as I would have missed most of these things if I had done that.

Most of the macros from my excursion to Lost Lake were shot in a very small area, perhaps 50 feet in diameter around the observation deck at the lake. In a way, I was overwhelmed by the possibilities, as some of the things I saw I did shoot photos of, but I’m not going to post them. I have a feeling that when it comes to macro photography, that this won’t be the only time that there are more subjects to photograph than I can remember if I scout first, and shoot later.

In my defense, I was also experimenting with the macro lighting set-up that I showed in my last post, some of the time that I should have been thinking about the best way to shoot some of these subjects was taken up by my thinking of how I could improve the lighting rig for in the future.

After the macro excursion on Thursday, I didn’t take my macro lens with me as I walked the local park on Friday, but I should have. I meant the Friday trip as a day of birding, staying in practice chasing small birds in the brush.

Red-bellied woodpecker

 

Great crested flycatcher

 

Eastern bluebird

 

Black-capped chickadee calling

 

Nashville warbler

I missed more birds than I was able to get, because it has been a while since I’ve chased them around to any degree. What I actually mean by chasing the birds around is usually standing in one spot waiting until I see a bird, then moving as little as possible to get a clear view of them. Most of the time on Friday, the birds had moved before I could get them in the viewfinder and in focus to shoot a photo of them. It didn’t help that my movements were limited because I was on the newly rebuilt boardwalk over the marsh at the park I was at.

For the record, I went to Huff Park in northeast Grand Rapids, very close to where I grew up as a kid. I’ve been there a couple of times in the past, but I quit going there because the boardwalk was falling apart, and if I remember right, part of it was closed during my last visit. The entire boardwalk has been replaced now, so I think that I’ll be going there one or two days a month this fall. It’s much closer to home than Muskegon, and it does attract a wide variety of migrating birds.

I wasn’t going to post this, it was a test of the new 24-70 mm lens, but it does show the marsh there at Huff Park.

The marsh at Huff Park, Grand Rapids, MI.

The birds are generally found around the edges of the marsh, and there’s a trail all the way around the marsh. Much of the trail is the raised boardwalk which does limit my ability to move around to get the best view of the birds, but I think that it will be worth it, time will tell.

 

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

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26 responses

  1. I love those first two dragonfly photos! You should enter them in some contest. Your fungi and bird photos are superb as usual, but that mean looking insect, a fly maybe, is in a special class by itself. I emjoyed reading this post and admiring all the photos in it. Jerry, you are the best!

    September 7, 2018 at 7:30 am

    • Thank you very much Hien! I’ve never had any luck entering photo contests, as there are some awesome photographers out there willing to spend hours getting the shot, then more hours refining it in Photoshop and/or other software, such as for focus stacking. I don’t have the time or desire to spend the time required to produce an image that may win a contest. I’m content to be a hobbyist that loves to shoot a variety of subjects reasonably well.

      That fly, or whatever it was, makes me glad that insects no longer grow to the large sizes that they did in the distant past, when some insects were as large as humans. I’d hate to run into something like that if it were even close to being as large as a human.

      September 7, 2018 at 8:08 am

  2. The purple mushroom caught my eye. I’ve never seen one of those before.

    September 7, 2018 at 10:46 am

    • Thank you very much! It isn’t often that I see one of the purple mushrooms, they are quite small in reality, about the size of a prescription pill bottle.

      September 7, 2018 at 9:09 pm

  3. What a variety of great images you posted here, among them those stunning dragonflies. You must be pleased.

    September 7, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! Yes, I am proud of the dragonfly photos, and these days, proud of most of the photos that I shoot.

      September 7, 2018 at 9:15 pm

  4. No wonder you are pleased with your dragon fly photos they are really brilliant. Such an interesting variety of photos to enjoy too- even though that fly/insect looks fearsome it’s a good photo and an excellent record to look at if you find out what it is! The monarch butterfly photo is really lovely. It was interesting to see a photo of your camera in your last post. I’ve often wondered what it looked like and its size. Lost Lake looks like a great place to return to with so many different things to see and photograph.

    September 7, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! I have to say that I’m more pleased all the time with all the photos that I’ve been shooting, even if that sounds as if I’m bragging. You’re correct about the image of the ugly fly, it will be a good place to start from if I try to identify the fly. But, I’ll take a pretty butterfly like the monarch over an ugly fly any day. 😉 The photo of my camera was with just the 100 mm macro lens on it, the lens I use for photographing birds is much larger, and heavier.

      Lost Lake is really more of a large pond between sand dunes along Lake Michigan. It has about everything but birds, and I’ve never been able to figure out why because it looks like a good spot for birds. It will be a week or two before I can return there though, the trails leading to the lake are under water from all the rain that’s fallen the past two weeks, almost a foot of rain in fact.

      September 7, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      • No wonder proper photographers like you get back ache if they are hoisting heavy cameras around all the time! Hope the rain clears up for you soon. The weather has really been at the forefront of all our activities this year…hope we have a dry and sunny autumn so we can enjoy the golden colours before winter sets in.

        September 8, 2018 at 11:22 am

      • I haven’t had any back issues from the weight of my camera gear, but I do get arm weary after a day of shooting on some days.

        I hope that we both have nice weather for the coming autumn, with lots of color in the leaves on both sides of the pond.

        September 9, 2018 at 3:04 pm

  5. Those are great shots of the dragonfly, and the deer too.
    I think that’s a crust fungus rather than a jelly fungus and the orange ones are finger corals. I’ve never seen orange ones. They were a good find!
    I’m not sure about the Cortinarius violaceus. It looks like a purple cort (Cortinarius iodes) to me but I’d have to see the gills to be sure.
    That is a partridge berry. I haven’t seen any ripe ones yet.
    That fly or whatever it is, is very strange!

    September 7, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! I hate to brag, but I’m quite pleased with the results that I’m getting out of my cameras these days.

      On the crust fungi, that’s what I get for changing my mind. I never thought it to be a jelly fungus until I looked at the photo, then decided that because it looked wet and pliable in the photo, I forgot that it didn’t look that way in real life.

      As far as the purple cort, that’s what I get for not going to your blog, but relying on a quite google search. As soon as I saw “purple cort” in your comment, I remembered that’s what you had shown a photo of not long ago.

      At least I remembered the partridge berry from your blog posts.

      That fly makes me glad that insects no longer reach the same sizes that they did in prehistoric times, when some insects were as large as humans. 🙂

      September 7, 2018 at 9:46 pm

      • Me too!

        September 8, 2018 at 4:15 am

  6. I don’t know but I think that you are getting the hang of taking photographs. That Violet webcap, Cortinarius or iodes was sensational.

    September 7, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! I would hope that I’m finally getting the hang of photography with as much as I’ve done the past few years, the effort I’ve put into becoming better, not to mention the money that I’ve spent. 😉

      September 7, 2018 at 9:26 pm

  7. Your first images of the dragonfly are spectacular, Jerry! I also enjoyed all the fungi shots, so much color and artsy shapes. Between you and Tootlepedal, I’ve learned and loved their offer of beauty not noticed before. Loved the Monarch capture and Black-capped Chickadee too, both gorgeous!

    September 8, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    • Thank you very much Donna! I’d say that I don’t enjoy crawling around in the mud on my knees or belly to get the photos of some of the fungi, but I must, for I’m more than willing to do it when I see such brightly colored and interesting life forms. Birds are much easier most of the time though. 😉

      September 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm

  8. The dragonfly images are fantastic!

    September 9, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    • Thank you very much Sue!

      September 10, 2018 at 5:30 am

  9. Great job with the fungi!

    September 10, 2018 at 5:51 am

  10. Jerry, you should have titled this post Visual Delights. Such fun stuff here!

    I hope I never see that insect with all those nasty mouth parts. Ugly is an understatement. For contrast, I loved the dark green moss with the orange fungi sprouting out of it. Such rich colors.

    Sorry if I haven’t commented on your most recent posts. We are camping in Canada, and access has been challenging. I’m very surprised that I could get enough signal to actually see all your great photos. Tried to start a post of my own yesterday, but faded access quashed that project qui kly. Heading back into New York (from Montreal) today, so I hope that will change.

    Keep up the great work

    September 10, 2018 at 7:35 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I can usually find something about most species of insects that is interesting in at least a scientific way, and I suppose that applies to the mouth of the fly, but it’s also scary in many ways also.

      The color reproduction of the new camera is something that I hadn’t counted on when I upgraded, but that alone would have been reason enough for me to have spent the money for it. My images now look exactly as I saw the subjects as I pressed the shutter release.

      I hope that you’ve been enjoying your camping trip, I so want to get away for at least a weekend, but haven’t purchased the new camera and lens, it will have to wait until next year.

      September 10, 2018 at 3:16 pm

  11. Oh wow, Jerry! These shots are gorgeous! The dragonfly photos, the fungi ( what fabulous colours!), the chickadee and the horrible insect are my favourites. I love the one of the damselfly and cattails but I do see what you mean about the delicately-coloured damselfly being overwhelmed by the bright-coloured leaves.

    September 11, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I owe the fabulous colors to the new camera, it’s amazing in the way that it captures the true colors of the things that I photograph with it. It’s something that I’ll have to get used to, the damselfly would have been more prominent if I had shot that same shot with the older camera. Still, I like that image because I did put some thought into it, and didn’t just fire away as I used to do without thinking about the results.

      September 11, 2018 at 5:13 pm

  12. Of course your dragonfly shot is magnificent with its vivid body and gossamer wings, but I was struck by your photos of mushrooms. You’ve spied quite a number of wonderful color and shape variations during your wilderness forays.

    September 14, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    • Thank you very much! Actually, all the photos of mushrooms and other fungi were all from one day when I went looking for them specifically after heavy rains in the area. I also brought extra lighting with me so that I could shoot the photos that I did in the deep shade where most were found.

      September 14, 2018 at 6:12 pm