A few hours of sunshine
I’m going to start this post with three slightly different versions of the same scene for two reasons. The first is that I amazed myself by seeing a hint of what was to come, and I waited for it to happen as the sun rose higher in the sky.
That image is made from three bracketed images blended together using Photomatix to create the HDR image above. That’s the second reason for posting three versions of the same scene, to show how much dynamic range the 5D Mk IV has, and how different software produces different results.
Here’s another version, which is a single image that I used only Lightroom to produce.
Finally, another HDR image that I made using the HDR function in Lightroom.
I like all three versions for different reasons, but I think that the last version is the one that comes closest to matching what I saw. The biggest take-away from these three versions is that I can get by with a single image from the 5D if I have to, and also that I need to only bracket my exposure one stop with the 5D rather than the two stops that I used to do when using one of my crop sensor cameras.
It’s probably a lot more important that I saw the first hints of the sun hitting the goldenrod seed heads as I was turning around at the end of a dead-end road and waited until the sun rose high enough to cast its golden light on just a portion of the foreground. I did wait a little longer for the sun to light up more of the foreground, but by then, it had lost the golden glow that you can see in these images.
Before I get to any more photos, I’m going to whine about the weather. We just had our tenth coldest November (temp: -5.4 degrees) ever, and with gloomy skies most of the time. We had just 8.9% of possible sunshine, and 21 of 30 totally overcast days. In addition, snowfall was 7.6″ above average.
To go with the foul weather this past month, Christmas is approaching, and since I work for a company contracted to carry the mail for the US postal service, I’ve been working a few more hours per week because of the heavier volume of mail this time of year. The Christmas rush hasn’t affected my days off, at least not yet, but my days at work have become longer, mostly because the postal service can’t meet its own schedule, and the weather hasn’t helped either.
I have a good number of images that I shot on that one sunny morning before the clouds rolled back in shortly after noon that day, but they are mostly of northern shovelers.
With such good light and the pretty background, I couldn’t resist just shooting away…
…although I couldn’t get a male that was showing his finest plumage in the same light.
When I did find the male that I wanted to shoot, the light wasn’t quite as good, and the background isn’t as good, because the other shovelers are a distraction.
But, that image does show the beautiful markings of the shoveler’s feathers, especially on his flank, along with how his feathers grow on his back, and the hints of color here and there as well.
I also have two images of a small group of shovelers whose nap I interrupted.
All those yellow eyes staring at me was kind of creepy.
I did get a few poor photos of common redpolls while the sun was out…
I have other photos left from that sunny day, but this past Friday, I had the chance to watch and photograph over a dozen bald eagles in action, even though weather conditions were poor, and much of the action was really out of the range of my camera gear.
Not only was it cloudy that day, with a few sprinkles of rain now and then, it was a bit foggy as well, so you’ll have to forgive the poor quality of these photos.
I don’t know what killed the shoveler, but it was stuck in the ice, and this eagle wasn’t strong enough to pull the body out of the ice.
I had been watching the eagles going after what turned out to be the dead shoveler, including a juvenile eagle trying to land on the ice, but breaking through, and giving up on the not so easy meal. Not wanting to fill the buffer of the 7D, I made a mistake right after that last photo. I knew that there were other eagles waiting for their chance to try to pluck the duck from the ice, so I let off not only the shutter release, but the button that activates the auto-focus as well. When the next eagle swooped in…
…the eagle was so low and close to the ice, while being too far away from me for the auto-focus to lock in on it…
…that it took a few frames for the camera to find the eagle.
But, I was able to capture the moment that the eagle grabbed the duck…
…and a few more frames before I did fill the buffer…
…and the auto-focus did eventually lock onto the eagle, even if a little late.
Of course I wish that the eagle had been closer, the weather better, and that the eagle had been coming towards me rather than going away from me, but at least I achieved one goal in this series, capturing an eagle in flight grabbing its next meal, even if that meal was a dead duck rather than a fish or other prey.
I should also note that this series was better suited to my last post about pushing the limits of my photography gear, as these photos would have been impossible for me to capture just a few years ago. And, I hope now that I have “broken the ice” in getting this series, that I’ll get chances for better images in the future. I did learn from this experience, and that’s what matters.
Now then, back to the photos that I shot on the sunny morning, even though most of them are of northern shovelers.
I used to have the silly notion that there was such a thing as the perfect image of a single species of bird, I have given up on that idea.
Instead, I’ve learned that there are opportunities for great images no matter what angle they’re shot from, especially if there’s any action taking place in the image.
I like the frozen water drops in that image, along with the details in the feathers on the shoveler’s back…
…while this one was showing off more of his colors.
This female swam so close to me that I had to photograph her…
…and attempt to show the comb like projections (called lamellae) along the edge of her bill. You can almost see them in this cropped in image.
Here are the rest of the photos I shot that day.
Shooting gulls in action has been great practice that I put to use to catch the eagle in action earlier in this post.
I haven’t been doing any long hikes this fall, but even on my short hikes, I’ve been testing the idea of carrying only one camera, the 100-400 mm lens, and the 24-70 mm lens to attempt to cover all my needs while lugging less gear with me all the time. The 24-70 mm lens has a near macro function…
…but sometimes I fail miserably when I use it…
…while other times, it seems to perform well. Other than that, I’ve found that carrying just that limited amount of gear works out well enough for my needs unless I’m after specific types of images, such as landscapes. Then, I carry more of my lenses, and if I know that I’ll be shooting mostly macros, then I bring the 100 mm macro lens along with the 24-70 mm lens.
A bit of color is always nice this time of year, even if it is the terribly invasive oriental bittersweet. Actually, Brian Johnson has eliminated most of it at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, but he has done so slowly over time, as he is doing with other invasive species of plants. We talked about that recently, and he could go around and cut the vines of the oriental bittersweet where ever it appears, but he doesn’t want to remove all of it at once, since the birds there have come to depend on it for food. He keeps whittling it back, and letting other food sources grow to take its place before he kills off more of it.
So in a few more years, there won’t be any of it left there at the MLNP.
Well, that’s it as far as photos shot in the sun for a while, I still have several day’s worth of photos shot in poor conditions, most of which I’ll probably not bother to post here. That’s because they’re not very good, and also because they are of the same species of birds that I’ve been featuring lately.
I should note that a few snowy owls have been showing up around the area, I saw two recently, but didn’t bother to shoot any photos of them. They were way out on the ice too far away for a good photo, and the zoo that follows them around has already formed as soon as they were first reported in the area. It’s kind of funny in a way, on the day when I was watching the eagles, several people stopped to ask if I was watching a snowy owl, or if I had seen any. One of those times, I replied that I was watching the flock of eagles out on the ice, the people who stopped to ask about the owls hadn’t even noticed a dozen bald eagles in the flock. I probably should have shot a photo of all twelve of them together, but I was actually after snow buntings at the time, and not in position to shoot the eagles together at the time. It was at that point when all twelve eagles took flight for some reason, breaking up the flock into smaller ones. I never did get the shot of a snow bunting that I was after either.
Anyway, since many of the photos that I have saved, and those that I’ll shoot this weekend will all be very similar due to the weather, my next post will likely be one of the ones that I have saved for the My Photo Life List project that I’m working on.
Also, I think that my next regular post will be one looking back over this past year, since it’s getting to be about that time of year. I need to point out one last thing in this post, as I began thinking about a year in review post and I looked back at a few of my recent images, a new feeling came over me, one of contentment, I’m very happy with the gear that I have now, and how much my skill level has increased of late. I no longer worry whether or not I’ll be able to capture things that I see, but now I know that I will get the shots I want eventually. For example, I shot this today…
…still too far away, but you can see the lovebirds doing a little bonding in preparation for the coming year.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!