In a comment discussion with Allen, who writes the New Hampshire Garden Solutions blog, he made a remark that really stuck with me, he doesn’t know why, but lichens seem happy in the winter. And since there’s a lack of other subjects to photograph in Michigan this time of year, I’ve been spending time shooting some of the lichens that I’ve found.
I can’t identify any of these, sorry to say, but I can appreciate seeing their beautiful colors when the rest of the area is decidedly lacking in color.
For those that don’t know what lichen are, here’s a snippet from Wikipedia…A lichen is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria living among filaments of multiple fungi in a mutualistic relationship. The combined lichen has properties different from those of its component organisms. Lichens come in many colors, sizes, and forms. The properties are sometimes plant-like, but lichens are not plants. Lichens may have tiny, leafless branches (fruticose), flat leaf-like structures (foliose), flakes that lie on the surface like peeling paint (crustose), a powder-like appearance (leprose), or other growth forms. Or to put it another way…”Lichens are fungi that have discovered agriculture” —Trevor Goward.
The curious somewhat scientific side of me finds lichens interesting to say the least, but the more often that I get really close to them…
…I often wonder if I’m seeing two versions of the same lichen…
…or many different species growing together…
…and I wonder just how many species there are…
….and how to identify them without a science lab with me…
…or watching the same specimen over time to be able to tell what is going on…
…but I also enjoy seeing the other things that grow with lichens, such as mosses…
…and the closer that I look…
…the more species I find. Looking at this white spot on the bark of a maple tree, what I thought was discolored bark was actually very tiny lichens which gave the tree bark a brown appearance from a distance…
….yet is more of a burnt orange color up close…
…and then I wondered if these are two species competing for the same spot…
…or just what is going on in that last photo.
A pleasant thing about getting set-up for the macro photos so far is that I found other subjects than just lichens to shoot…
But still I wonder, just what it is that I’m seeing in photos such as this one?
The same applies to this one as well, just what is going on here?
I assume that the base “structure” is a fungus, but what about the transition areas that show up as green?
Is this an algae growing on top of an existing fungus?
Even as close as I could get with my macro lens, I can’t tell what it is that I’m seeing.
If it is an algae growing on a fungus, is this the way that lichens first develop?
To make things even harder, is this a mold growing on a lichen?
Or another species of lichen competing for space, or has the photosynthesis stopped in the white parts of the fungi, causing it to lose its green color?
No matter what I was seeing as far as the different forms of life, it was nice to see a color other than brown this time of year as I shot these macro photos.
Still more things to ponder, has something such as a mouse or squirrel eaten the ends of this lichen, or is this something else, possibly related to reproduction?
I’m more familiar with this type of lichen fruiting body, called apothecia.
I got distracted by the brighter colors in this shot…
…I was going for a closer photo of the apothecia…
…and tying to get as close to them as my macro lens is capable of…
…I cropped this one a little to get as close as I could.
One last look at a lichen.
So that this entire post isn’t only lichen, I have a few landscape images to use up.
These next two show how snow and sand blow around equally this time of year.
We get some snow, the wind blows sand over the snow, then it snows again, and the process repeats for most of the winter.
Crepuscular rays are a sight often seen in association with our lake effect clouds during the winter, so I’m trying to learn how to get them to stand out more in my photos.
I suppose that I should throw in one photo of a bird as well. After all the gloomy skies, I thought that this one would be a good choice.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
It’s winter here in West Michigan, and it’s been a blah type of winter so far. It’s been cold and cloudy most of the time, but we haven’t had very much snow so far this year. It’s been cold enough that many of the smaller bodies of water have frozen over, so most of the waterfowl have flown south for the winter. It’s been getting tougher to find subjects to photograph with every passing week, mostly due to the weather.
One constant for over a month has been the large number of bald eagles hanging out in the vicinity of the Muskegon County wastewater facility and the adjacent county landfill. At one point, I counted 13 bald eagles in view at one time, although they were scattered across the frozen surface of the storage lagoon at the wastewater facility. Bald eagles aren’t fussy about what they eat or where they find their food, they’ll scavenge the landfill just as the gulls and crows do. They also are able to pick off an occasional gull or one of the few remaining waterfowl, along with small mammals and other sources of food.
The photos in this post will all be of eagles that I’ve shot the past two months, and many of them aren’t very good, but they do show eagle behavior that many people never get the chance to see. I’m going to start with one of the better images that I’ve shot lately.
Of course it was a juvenile eagle, although this image of an adult is pretty good also.
And, it’s been relatively easy to get two eagles in the frame at once, as in this adult gliding past a juvenile perched on the ice.
When the eagles first showed up, I was shooting them no matter how far away from me they were, and no matter how poor the weather was at the time. I’m going to include this series because it shows a juvenile eagle challenging an adult, even though they were too far away from me, and there was a huge flock of Canada geese between myself and the eagles. But, this shows both the eagles in action, and the large number of geese that remain around here.
I should have known that a week or two later I’d be able to shoot two other eagles going at it a little closer to me.
I can’t say for sure that it was intentional, but it looked as if the eagle that had been perched filled its talons with ice and snow…
…and dropped it on the other eagle’s tail.
These “battles” seem to be all posturing, with no actual physical contact between the two combatants.
By the way, if it matters, all of these were shot with the Canon 7D Mk II and the 400 mm f/5.6 prime lens because of the 7D’s higher frame rate so that I could capture the action takin place.
Now then, on the other end of the behavior scale, I caught the two resident eagles doing a little early season courting. I can tell that they are the resident pair, because the male’s head looks flat and small compared to most eagles, I’ve seen them often enough to recognize the male. And, I can tell that they were courting by their behavior. That includes “billing”, that is they touch their bills together, and them calling to one another as you’ll see here.
I was hoping that when first one of them flew off…
…followed closely by the second one…
…that I’d be able to witness and photograph them mating which is done while they are airborne with their talons locked together in a downward spiral, but that wasn’t to be the case. By the way, eagles mate for life, so this pair was renewing their vows for the upcoming year.
Again if it matters, that last series was shot with the 5D Mk IV, the 100-400 mm lens, and 1.4 X tele-converter because of how dreary it was that day, and because the eagle’s courting action was much slower than when they are fighting or flying. I also used that same set-up for these.
I switched to the 2X tele-converter for added reach for these two, which shows an adult bald eagle with its kill, an unlucky fox squirrel that wasn’t paying enough attention to the dangers lurking above it.
In deciding which photos to include, along with how many of each action sequence, I also asked myself if I should wait until I shoot better ones in better light and when the eagles are closer to me. I’m reasonably certain that I’ll get better images in the future, but I also have to remember that many people who look at my blog have never seen a bald eagle in person, let alone the behaviors that I managed to capture, even if the photos are poor.
I suppose that it’s one of the good things about blogging, if or when I do get better images of the same types of behavior, I can simply do another post using them. I only hope that I don’t bore the readers of my blog too much as I practice for the big day when I get the chance to shoot the images that I’d really like to post.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
A while back, I left a comment to Kerry’s Lightscapes Nature Photography blog to the effect that he must stalk the exact position to shoot his magnificent landscape photos from, just as a hunter stalks his prey. I’ll have to start this by saying that I’m nowhere near as good as what he is, but I’m learning, you do have to stalk a great landscape, or at least that’s the way I have to approach that genre of photography. That’s how I got some of the photos from the last short post, including this one.
The story on that image is that I had finished birding for the day, and was driving towards Duck Lake to shoot the sunset if a good one materialized. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the red leaves of the maple trees through a small gap in the trees, and knew that I had to investigate the scene to see if I could get a good photo. I turned around, found a place nearby to park, then grabbed the camera with the 15-85 mm lens on it, along with my tripod. The lens already had the polarizing filter on it, I’m finding that it does wonders for the fall colors as it cuts down on the glare and reflections coming off from the leaves.
Anyway, as I walked along, I began setting up my tripod in at least half a dozen spots, until I chose this one.
Not bad, but I knew that I could do better. I zoomed in a little, lowered the tripod, and shot this one.
Better, but then you can’t see much of the beautiful blue-green water of Lake Michigan, which I thought was a big part of the scene, at least to me.
So, I moved down to the beach, looking for something to put in the foreground of the photo to give the photo some depth, and found a piece of driftwood in the sand. That led to the photo that I began this post with, but I still could have done better. I should have moved a little closer to the piece of driftwood, and lowered my tripod a lot more, to make the driftwood more prominent in the frame. Darn, why didn’t I think of that then?
Even the photo that pleased me the most is a chamber of commerce, picture postcard style of photo, sorry about that. 😉 However, we’re supposed to photograph what we love, and there are few things that I love more than warm sunny fall day as you see in the photos so far, so I don’t care what the experts say. I only missed the golden hour of sunset by a little bit, as you can tell from the long shadow cast by the driftwood in the first image. Oh, that reminds me, I did consider moving closer and lower to make the piece of driftwood more prominent at the time, but I was worried that the shadow would also become much more prominent as well as the driftwood. I suppose that I should have hung around a little longer for perfect light. But, I was off to shoot the sunset at Duck Lake.
Two posts ago, I said that I could get a much better photo of the Duck Lake channel leading to Lake Michigan, yes and no. My composition was much better this time….
…but I missed the exposure or something. The color saturation is way too high as the image came out of Photomatix, but when I tried to reduce it, the photo looked bad, really bad, so you get to see the over-saturated version, sorry. Not only can I get the color better, but I believe that there’s still a better position to shoot from. However, I was running late for the sunset, as I got distracted by the antics of a pileated woodpecker on my way to the beach.
And when the woodpecker started snacking on grapes, well, you know me, I just had to shoot away.
I think that I should have cropped those for my blog, I’m getting so used to seeing the large display on my computer that I forget how small the images and subjects in the images appear here.
As it was, I made it to the beach just as the sun was going down.
Wouldn’t you know, there was a gap in the clouds right in the direction that really wanted to shoot towards, so I had to make do with those.
An interesting side note, you may have noticed that the channel had been blocked by sand, it had been very windy that day and the day before. The wind was actually blowing the water draining from Duck Lake back into the lake itself, and the drifting sand took advantage of that to create a temporary dam, blocking the channel completely. That causes the water level in Duck Lake to rise, but eventually, it will break through the sand dam and drain into Lake Michigan again, until the next very windy period comes along. This happens over and over again to the smaller streams that empty into Lake Michigan. Each time the stream gets blocked, it cuts a new path to the big lake, so the scene is often very different from the last time you saw it.
Anyway, I stuck around until it was almost dark to shoot the image that you saw in the last post…
…as well as this one.
Because of the very long shutter openings needed to get enough light to the camera sensor, the clouds moved during the times that the shutter was open while shooting the three images I used to create those HDR images. I kind of like that effect, and I don’t think that I overdid it the way some people do. I wish that the wind had wiped out the footprints in the sand that people had left behind though, in this photo as well as the earlier one from the beach, but you can’t have everything. At least not in Michigan, where you’ll find people walking the beach no matter what the weather is, any time of the year.
Gee, I started at the end of the first day of this past weekend, a bad place to start, so I may as well throw in the photos that I shot with the 300 mm lens while at Duck Lake now.
In that last shot, I forgot to extend the lens hood after having adjusted the polarizing filter, so I got some lens flare in that one. Oh well, there’ll be other chances in the future.
In my quest for good landscape photos featuring the fall colors around here, this is the typical view of the fall colors that we have in southern lower Michigan.
While the colors may be great, the photo is the pits. The farm field in the foreground is boring, even a bit ugly, and there’s nothing there to add interest or depth to that image. The area is flat, and if there isn’t water or the hand of man to break up the woods, then this is what you see.
There are no steep hills, rock outcroppings, or anything else to prevent vegetation from growing, so that’s what you see in the woods. These next two will show that as well, they were shot on the trail to Lost Lake.
I really wanted to set-up my tripod and do that one right, but I got run over by a mountain biker on that trail earlier this year. The trail is very narrow, with the planks laid down to prevent you from sinking into the mud, as the ground is very wet there. But, I think that you can see how the vegetation grows so thick around here that it’s hard to find an opening to shoot photographs through. The rest of the trail is even more enclosed by the vegetation…
…it isn’t until you get to Lost Lake itself that you can see through the trees.
By picking one of the few larger openings, you can get a photo like this one.
It’s not that I’m complaining about how well things grow around here, but you can see that across the lake, the vegetation grows dense around here, and even in the parking lot for the trail, I had to shoot tight shots of the trees.
So, I’ve been looking for bodies of water to break up the woods, but most of the time, that’s only substituting an uninteresting body of water for a farm field in the foreground.
If there had been less wind, and I could have gotten reflections of those colors off from the water, then that would have been much better, but the story here this fall has been the wind. You can see that by the flag in this next photo.
By the way, you’re looking across Muskegon Lake at the city of Muskegon itself in that last photo, and what do you see, trees and one or two large buildings. That’s Michigan, where not only can’t you see the forests for the trees, but you can’t see the cities either. 😉
So, when you see a scene like this…
…you know that there are more trees nearby.
It’s true, great weather makes for boring skies, but I’ll take a day like that every once in a while. 😉 I should also note that I wanted to isolate the brightly colored tree in the first photo, and easily could have if I had moved to my right so that the colored tree would have blocked your view of the green one as I did in the second photo. However, you may have noticed that the brightly colored tree looks brighter in the first photo than it does in the second. I’m finding that moving a few feet one way or the other can make a big difference in how the colors of fall look in my photos. If it’s sunny and I can, I prefer to shoot from a spot where I get a combination of side lighting and back lighting where the sun really lights up the leaves of the trees as in this photo.
However, that’s a difficult direction to shoot, so it requires making a HDR image to kill the shadows that I get on sunny days, and we’ve had a lot of them the past two weeks as you can see.
You can also see that those last 4 are rather plain snapshots, even though I was able to get some great color. Color alone doesn’t make a great photo, you need to seek out a good scene, then stalk it to get the light just right. Remember to clean the front of the filter before you start shooting though. 😉
Luckily, I shot a few more photos of that scene from different angles after cleaning the filter, along with a couple from Creekside Park.
I do believe that I’m starting to get the hang of getting a sense of depth to my photos, when the scene allows it. When I get it right, it looks as though you could walk right into them, when I really get it right, they look as though you’d want to walk into the scene.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
In my last post I said that I hoped to go up north for this past weekend, to shoot landscapes with the fall colors in the Jordan River Valley. I didn’t make it, work and the weather conspired against me. I worked very late on what is my Friday, not getting home until after 3 AM Saturday, which meant that I didn’t get to bed until around 5 AM. When I woke up, I decided that after the three and a half hour drive to get there, then setting up my campsite, that Saturday was shot, and that would leave me only part of Sunday. The weather forecast was too good in some ways, not a cloud in the sky on Sunday, possibly the worst conditions for landscape photos. Beside that, the wind was very strong, with gusts over 30 MPH, meaning I’d be fighting foliage moving in the wind, which meant that the photos wouldn’t be as sharp as I wanted, if I shot with the ISO as low as I wanted to shoot at.
So, I changed my plans, spending a very productive two days birding at the Muskegon Wastewater facility, the weather was close to perfect for flying bird photos.
With very few clouds in the sky to turn it into a milky white background, and a strong wind meaning that the larger birds, especially the ones that soar, would be heading into the wind most of the time. They do that because the wind blowing across their wings provides lift, just as an airplane wings do as they move through the air. As I was saying, since they were generally moving into the wind, it made it much easier to know where to be, and what setting to use, along with a predictable flight path making it a piece of cake to keep them in focus.
I also used my polarizing filter all day, although I didn’t always have the time to get it dialed in, as the harrier photo shows. In addition, I was using some new settings for the 7D Mk II that I learned from some of the online videos from the Canon learning center that I found.
I’ll have at least another post on the birds, along with the fall color shots that I took on both Saturday and Sunday.
The rest of this post will deal with the short period of time around sunset on Saturday. I thought that there could be a great sunset that evening, given the weather forecast, and there was. However, I missed the best of it by giving up too soon due to the cold wind chilling me to the bone. More on that later as well.
My original plan was to photograph the sunset over the Muskegon Lake channel leading to Lake Michigan. As I was driving towards my intended destination I realized that where I planned to shoot from would have yielded some bland, uninteresting photos as the sun would have been too far to the north of the channel. I would have ended up with all my sunset photos looking like this.
Since the shoreline this far south is almost perfectly straight, that’s what you normally see unless you’re someplace where there’s something to add some interest to the foreground.
So, I decided to chance going to Duck Lake State Park, where there’s a channel from Duck Lake feeding into Lake Michigan. It’s about ten miles north of Muskegon State Park, where I had planned to shoot from. I used to go there a lot when I was younger, and before it became a state park. Once the state did make it a state park, it’s typically jammed with people elbow to elbow. But, since it’s fall now, I decided to risk it.
Here’s a wide shot looking east, up the channel towards Duck Lake.
And for practice, I shot this tighter shot.
Those are far from the best that I could do if I had taken more time shooting in that direction, but the sun was already beginning to set, and I had many other things to photograph.
I was afraid that the sunset was going to be a bust.
The last five images were shot with a 60D body and the EF-S 15-85 mm lens on it. I could see some possibly very good images if I shot at a much longer focal length, so I used the 7D Mk II and the 300 mm lens to shoot many of these types of photos.
I went crazy, running back and forth between the wide-angle set-up, and back closer to the beach to shoot these.
I tried different exposures…
…and different angles.
I stopped to chat with this older gent for a few minutes.
Then, I went back to shooting just the water and waves…
I love the texture of the water that I got by using the polarizing filter and a high shutter speed, along with the warm glow from the setting sun. It got better though.
Seeing the gulls, I just had to shoot a few of these.
Then, I went back to shooting just the lake and sunset with the long set-up again.
By then, I was chilled to the bone by the cold, stiff wind coming across the cold waters of Lake Michigan. I shot one more wide shot…
…actually, I shot many wider shots, but just as when I had tried some sunrise photos when there were waves on Lake Michigan, all the other images are junk due to the movement of the waves. If I’d have boosted the ISO settings, I could have frozen the waves, but then I would have had to deal with noise. I’m going to have to get some neutral density filers so I can slow the shutter speed down even more, and smooth out the waves completely, or wait until the one or two days per year when Lake Michigan is smooth as glass. 😉
As it was, I packed it in for the day, way too early as it turns out. It looked as if the colors of the sunset were fading as I left, but I should know better than that. The best sunset photos are usually shot about 30 minutes after the actual sunset. As I was driving home, I could see a brilliant sunset taking shape in my rearview mirror, but there wasn’t a suitable place to shoot from where I was at the time. If I had tried to shoot out over the lake, I think that the wave action would have ruined the images, I would have liked to have tried though. I should know enough by now to always pack a heavy coat for sunset photos, especially near any of the Great Lakes, even though it had been a pleasantly warm day.
I did find a good place to shoot both sunsets and sunrises from though, and I’ll certainly keep Duck Lake State Park in mind for those times when I’m near Muskegon, and looking for a place to photograph. It is ten miles further north from Muskegon, so I did make it “up north” this weekend after all.
As it was, I didn’t get THE shot that I wanted, in either the tight or the wide-angle photos, but I did learn a great deal shooting these, which I hope to put to use soon.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
So, in my last post I had photos of two of the three bald eagles I saw that day, and also two species of falcons, the merlin and peregrine falcon. What I didn’t get a photo of, and it really bothered me, was of one of three kestrels that I saw that same day. Then, there were at least eight red-tailed hawks, the sandhill cranes, several species of shorebirds, a quite a few ducks around also. I was thinking about that when it hit me just how spoiled I have become.
There are only three species of falcons seen regularly in Michigan, the peregrine…
…and kestrels, which I wasn’t able to get a usable photo of that day, even though I have in the past.
There are five species of falcons that have been seen in Michigan in total, the three mentioned above, along with the Gyrfalcon, which is an occasional winter visitor to Michigan when some of them migrate south from their usual home on the Arctic tundra. Also, one report of a juvenile Prairie Falcon seen four years ago about 100 miles northwest of where I live. That one may have been blown here in a storm, or being a juvenile, it may have wandered several hundred miles outside of that specie’s normal range looking for a territory of its own.
Most people have never seen one species of falcons, I see three in one day, and get bummed out because I didn’t get a good photo of one of the three, just how spoiled am I? Of course the one that I missed is the cutest of the three.
I haven’t been posting any photos of ducks lately, it’s molting season for them, and they all look like female mallards right now, even the males.
I did a cropped version of that photo, but I like the full size version better, with the mallard on the tan rocks and the green water behind him.
Even the male wood ducks are looking a little drab this time of year, although you can see that this one is beginning to grow new brightly colored feathers.
But when he saw me shooting his picture, he hid the bright feathers and kicked it up to top gear.
I caught this blue winged teal showing some color as well.
What I haven’t posted many photos of from my trips along the lakeshore, including Muskegon, Grand Haven, and other spots, has been the more common songbirds. I have shot a few photos of them, but I usually tell myself not to bother, I can get photos of them around home. That hasn’t been true this year. For one thing, I don’t have time to walk everyday like I used to, but there’s something else going on as well.
This spring, all the usual songbirds that nest in the park where I walk showed up right on cue. However, very few of them remained to nest here, and I don’t know why that is. Last year, several pairs of Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, eastern kingbirds, and other songbirds nested and raised their young here. This year, they all moved on other than one pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks, which I was able to shoot photos of. As soon as the young fledged, they left also. I don’t know if it’s because of predators, particularly house cats running free, or some other reason the birds didn’t stick around.
Oh, while looking through my recent photos to see what to post, I found some of a kestrel from August 13th of this year.
Since I’m back to the falcons, here’s a photo from back during the Memorial Day weekend, shot at Grand Haven, Michigan.
I know that it isn’t a good photo, but it shows one reason that peregrine falcons are increasing in numbers. There are man-made nesting boxes like that built for them in several towns and cities, including Grand haven, Muskegon, and even Grand Rapids.
And yes, I have photos from all the way back in May that I haven’t gotten around to posting yet. Now is as good of time as any to begin catching up, so here goes.
Sorry about the poor quality of the towhee photos, it was the only time this year that I saw one in the open, and it was raining at the time. I had the wipe the lens several times just to get those photos.
That reminds me to say that you should always try to get the best possible image in the camera that you possibly can. But, it’s not always easy to do so. One thing that I have learned is that with digital photography, if you’re going to miss on the exposure settings, it is better to over-expose the image than to under-expose it. That’s the exact opposite of what I learned when shooting slide film, you never over-exposed an image, there was no way to save an over-exposed slide. In fact, with Kodachrome, it was recommended that you under-expose what your light meter called for by one-third to one-half stop.
Under-exposing a digital image and trying to brighten it in any software introduces noise that I can’t remove no matter how I try to remove it. On the other hand, software is able to bring down the exposure quite a bit without any adverse effects showing up in the images.
Adding these photos will put me over my self-imposed limit, but what the heck, I’m trying to get caught up here.
All birds, I’m sorry about that. No flowers, insects, or cute squirrels in this post, I’ll have to make up for it in my next one. That will be hard to do though, fall migration has begun in earnest. The red-winged blackbirds that spent the summer here are already gone, as one example. There will be more through here later on, as the ones that spent the summer farther north move through. It’s the same with some of the shorebirds also, more are being reported all the time.
Fall is coming, sooner than what I want, but you can’t change the progression of seasons. There are hints of color in the leaves of some trees already, and fall flowers are beginning to bloom. I’m going to try to pack in as many photos this fall as I can, because after fall comes winter, and the endless dreary days under lake effect clouds here. I have been making a few plans for the fall, but so much depends on my work schedule that I’m never sure if those plans will come to fruition or not, we’ll see.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
On the second day of my three days off from work for the 4th of July, I went to the Muskegon area once again. I set-up to shoot photos of the sunrise over my favorite marsh in the Muskegon County wastewater facility. But, it turned out to be a rather boring one for wider shots, so I was limited to a few tighter shots of various subjects. If only the water didn’t have the sickly color that it does in these photos, it would be great!
I was playing around, waiting for it to become light enough to shoot other types of photos, when the thought occurred to me to try this one.
I couldn’t resist trying to make a HDR image of the same thing.
The sandhill cranes were there after having spent the night in the marsh.
And this time, two deer came along to look the scene over. I was not able to get both the cranes and the deer in the same photo, not like the last time I was there.
I’m probably a bit off my rocker, trying to shoot wildlife photos before the sun has even risen above the horizon, but pushing the limits of my camera and my own skills may pay off one of these days. Besides, it gives me something to do while I’m waiting for better light.
A short sidebar here, the Canon 7D Mk II may not be the low light camera that some people claimed that it was when it was first introduced, but I’m learning that it is better than I gave it credit for. Yes, there’s still a lot of noise in my photos shot at high ISO settings, almost as much as in photos shot with the 60D. However, I’m finding that after cleaning up the photos in Lightroom, those shot with the 7D are much better than what I could ever hope to get with the 60D.
So, I keep working at getting better images all the time, and here’s a couple of examples of what the 7D can do even at ISO 6400.
It helps when the birds let me get as close as this to them.
That wasn’t cropped at all, which helps a great deal to produce a good image, that and having used the 300 mm L series lens on the 7D. Those aren’t my best photos of a catbird, but they’re pretty darned good for having been shot when there was just enough light to see well.
Anyway, it turned out to be a good thing that I had made a stop at the wastewater facility, I was able to get better photos of a short billed dowitcher than what I’ve gotten in the past.
I even found one of the dowitchers posing with the American Avocet to show you size comparison.
And, I got my best photos of the avocet to date.
I found a few other things to shoot while at the wastewater facility, like a great blue heron and its reflection.
I caught a deer looking over one of the man-made dykes to see if I was on the other side, but I had fooled the deer, and was behind her instead.
I also found a patch of rabbit’s foot clover…
…and tried a macro shot of one of the flower heads, but there wasn’t enough light yet for this to be good.
Then, it was on to my main destination for the day, Lost Lake in the Muskegon State Park.
It was a warm weekend, not hot, but I’m one of those who prefers cool weather to hot weather. Lost Lake is about the perfect place to beat the heat on a summer day. The wind coming over the waters of Lake Michigan, which is still only around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C), and the shade from the forest provide natural air conditioning on a hot day.
That reminds me, another benefit of getting out at dawn is that it’s cooler in the summer, along with less wind, and more critters.
Anyway, on my way back to Lost lake, I stopped to shoot this scene.
That’s a HDR image, here’s the best my camera could do in one image.
It’s really nothing special, just a small clearing in the forest, but I just love those places where the light makes it all the way to the ground, and new growth is occurring. It can be nearly as dark as night in the thickest parts of a swamp forest like that. It will be there in just a few short years as the new growth eventually blocks out the sun in this spot also. But, other clearings will open up as trees are blown over by the wind, as their roots don’t go very deep in the wet soil of a swamp like this.
That’s one thing about nature that many people forget, nothing is permanent, nothing is forever. It was over 100 years ago that the fires in northern Michigan left the area a virtual wasteland, but nature can heal itself if given the chance. The places that I remember as a kid, which was 50 years ago, have changed a great deal over time, they no longer look the way that I remember that they looked back then. Even the worst of areas that were burned have some new growth now, and will eventually become forests again if allowed to. But, I should have a few photos to illustrate what I’m talking about before I go too far down that trail, so instead, I’ll return to the things that I saw along the trail to Lost Lake.
The hummingbirds were enjoying the early morning sun as they warmed themselves and looked for insects at the same time.
Meanwhile, I found these growing on the first floor.
And, there were squirrels everywhere, here’s just one that there was enough light to photograph.
I caught this chipmunk as it was gathering food.
And it decided that if it had to sit still and pose for a few photos that it may as well enjoy a little snack while doing so.
This raccoon was on its way up a tree to spend the day sleeping in the shade.
Arriving at Lost Lake, I was greeted by this scene.
I made my way around the lake to the observation platform, and spent the rest of my time there photographing the flowers…
…and fungi that I found.
One of the many reasons that I had to gone to Lost Lake was to try out the new Canon 100 mm macro lens, which I used to shoot the rest of these.
The pink Pogonia orchids were past their prime, but I shot this one to try out the new lens.
I found this little yellow flower, but I have no idea what it is.
I know that these are Atlantic blue-eyed grass flowers.
And, I also know that these are bladderworts.
I believe that the is a cranberry flower, but I could be wrong.
I found this plant or moss growing in the very shallow water along the lake.
The sundew photos came out well!
I found this grass or sedge also growing in the shallow water of the lake.
It had an odd growth pattern down lower on the stem, which I found interesting.
While I was shooting those photos, this came flying past me, but all I had with me at the time was the 100 mm lens, so this is cropped severely.
Finally, to end this one, a dragonfly…
…and a damselfly.
I’ll be returning to the shores of Lake Michigan this weekend, since the weather forecast is calling for the warmest temperatures we’ve had in nearly two years. Since we had such a cold winter, and cool spring and early summer, the waters of the Great Lakes are still quite cool. I’ll use nature’s air conditioning, rather than running the AC at my apartment. If I didn’t have an appointment early Monday morning, I would have gone camping somewhere this weekend, but that’s the way that it goes sometimes.
This time when I go to the lake, I hope to shoot a few photos along the beach, where ever I decide to go, for the newer readers of my blog who may not have seen my earlier photos of the beaches. We do have some great sandy beaches here in Michigan, but I find that they become a bit boring after a while, they are miles and miles of water, sand, and sand dunes. To some one who hasn’t seen them, they look spectacular at first, but I suppose that I take them for granted, having grown up here.
That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
Doing this second post about my trip to Muskegon on the 26th, which actually covers the first half of my day, seems weird to me. I should do them in order from now on. Anyway, after reading reports that an American avocet and American wigeon had both been seen at the Muskegon County wastewater treatment facility over the past week, caused me to break my vow not to return there until fall. I have photos of an American wigeon, but they’re not great, and I’d never seen an avocet before, so I needed photos of that species for the My Photo Life List project I’m working on.
With my new work schedule, it’s easy to get to Muskegon well before sunrise, so that’s what I did. There weren’t many clouds in the sky to add color to the sunrise, but I still set-up one of my 60D bodies with the EF-S 15-85 mm lens attached, mounted on my tripod, to see what would develop. It was still dark as I was setting up, but I could hear sandhill cranes nearby, so I was hoping for photos of them once the sun rose high enough for wildlife photography.
I began shooting series of photos to turn into HDR images as the sun began to rise, but it did look as if the sunrise was going to be rather boring, as you can see.
But, I hung around with the camera still set-up just in case, besides, it was still far too dark for a photo of the cranes. That didn’t stop me from trying though.
I even removed the landscape set-up from the tripod, and attached the 7D Mk II with the 300 mm lens on it to the tripod, and tried my very first wildlife HDR image, although the results were not as good as I hoped that they would be.
Then, things got really interesting! As the first rays of the sun hit the dew covered grasses, a mist began to form to create a thin layer of fog near the ground, which the sun’s early rays turned to a bright orange color!
This was enough to keep me hanging around to see what developed next, the sunrise got better.
Then, a whitetail deer came wandering along.
This is when I got so lucky I couldn’t believe it, I only wish that my skills as a photographer would have been up for this shot. The deer decided to look down into the marsh, right behind the flock of cranes, with the orange-pink glow of the sunrise as a background.
Not good, I kept trying though, and finally got this one, the best of the lot.
I didn’t stop shooting with the landscape set-up though, here’s what I think is my best shot of just the sunrise.
I paused from time to time to shoot more photos of the cranes.
A short break from the sunrise photos for a second or two. Sandhill cranes and herons are relatives, but their behaviors are very different. Herons will perch somewhere in an elevated place, such as a tree, stump…
(Taken on an earlier trip to Muskegon)
…or man-made object…
…to stay safe from predators.
The sandhill cranes on the other hand, look for marshes or other bodies of water of the right depth so that they can stand in the water away from shore to stay safe from predators, as they are doing in the previous photos.
At sunrise, the herons fly to the water to hunt for fish, frogs, or other things.
Whereas at sunrise, the sandhill cranes fly to dry ground where they forage for insects and the other things that they eat.
As you can see, I blew a great opportunity there when the flock of cranes that I had been watching decided that it was breakfast time. I didn’t do any better when the next crane flew off either.
The cranes didn’t have to go far for food, so they never got very high above the ground, all they had to do was fly above the dike that had created the marsh, so I had to shoot fast.
So, if you see sandhill cranes in the water, they are there primarily to rest, although they may eat a snack or two while they stand in the water. They spend most of the daylight hours in open fields looking for food.
Now then, back to the sunrise. I tried a few more HDR images, but for some reason, the later ones look as if I faked them. I don’t know why the dark halo around the sun showed up, it must have something to do with how the camera sensor reacts to very bright sunlight.
So, instead of using the wide set-up, I used the 300 mm lens for these.
I probably should have experimented more with other lenses and set-ups, but I was shooting other things with that set-up in between the sunrise photos, and was too busy to play. The 300 mm lens let me keep just the parts of the horizon that were turned the brilliant orange color in the frame for those photos. I didn’t do that in Lightroom. In fact, I played with the color balance in an attempt to tone down the orange a little, but switching to the cloudy or shady setting only made the orange even more pronounced. That’s about what I saw, and it is what the camera saw.
That’s it for the sunrise.
The Muskegon County wastewater facility has been recognized for the efforts that management puts into making the facility a wildlife friendly place.
Which is the reason that I’m able to get the photos there that I do, like the American avocet, seen here with a lesser yellowlegs for size comparison.
And here’s the avocet by itself.
I also tracked down the American Wigeon, but it absolutely refused to turn to face me so that I could get a photo that showed its light stripe on its forehead.
Here’s a few of the other ducks that are still around.
And, if you didn’t get enough of the upland sandpipers in the earlier post from a few weeks before, here’s two more.
I could have spent yet another entire day there, but I had orchids to photograph that day at Lost Lake.
I’m sorry for the rather disjointed writing of this post, but I’m getting ready to leave on a trip north to the only national wildflower sanctuary in the United States, Loda Lake to see what I can find there.
That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
I’m jumping ahead again, and while I have a few good shots from previous trips to the Muskegon area, most of them were shot on gloomy days. This past weekend, there was sunshine for a change, and my original plan was to hike in Muskegon State Park, and spend some time at Lost Lake there, to photograph the flowers and dragonflies. Even though I said that I wouldn’t be going back to the Muskegon County wastewater facility for a while, that was my first stop on this day, to shoot photos of two species of rare birds that had been seen there. I did manage to get them both, but I’m doing the posts on this trip in reverse order, so my next post will include the rare birds.
The Lost Lake area in Muskegon State Park is a great place to find some rare plants and flowers this time of the year, and I had one in mind that I really wanted to shoot photos of, the rose pogonia orchids. So, I set out with all my photo gear, finding a few things to photograph along the trail leading back to the lake. Those photos will appear a bit later in this post, as I want to start out with the star of the show, the wild orchids.
I got back to Lost Lake, and was happy to see that I had timed this trip just right, the orchids were in full bloom. But, this is when my Tokina macro lens died on me. It wouldn’t do anything, so I sat down for a few minutes to weigh my options. I decided to use my EF-S 15-85 mm lens with the middle length extension tube behind it so as to be able to fill the frame with the orchids. It worked out well enough.
I had set-up my LED light on the Gorillapod tripod to add the extra light that I needed to get those photos, that’s a great set-up for macro photos. The extension tubes work well enough, but they limit the range over which a short lens will focus to such a degree as to make it necessary to play with the tubes to get the right one(s) behind the lens for the exact distance from the subject that you want to be to fill the frame with the subject. That didn’t bother me too much on this day, as I had planned to spend most of the day there.
However, many of the flowers that I hoped to shoot are either done for the year, or haven’t begun to bloom yet. I found one pathetic Atlantic blue-eyed grass flower, not worth taking a photo of, the same with the bladderworts, they were few and far between, and not very good specimens for photography. I couldn’t find the large colony of pitcher plants that used to be there, but the sundew are spreading like crazy as the water level of Lost Lake rises, and makes the soil around the lake even wetter than it has been in recent years.
So, I went looking for other things to photograph.
That was good, this one is even better.
I was very pleased with the way that the 15-85 mm lens performed while using it with the extension tubes.
In fact, seeing these photos contributed to my having decided not to try to have the dead Tokina lens repaired, but to purchase a new Canon 100 mm L series macro lens instead, especially since the Canon is weather sealed, which is important to an all-weather photographer such as myself. If I can get photos as good as this one with the new Canon lens, I’ll be a happy camper for sure!
I went the other way for this photo, I dug out the 10-18 mm lens to put its large depth of field and close focusing abilities to use for this photo.
Those were all shot with one of the 60D bodies, but it didn’t seem to matter which body I used, these were with the 15-85 mm lens and extension tube on the 7D Mk II.
I have to say, having all my camera gear, well, most of it, sure made photography fun and interesting! I used the LED light for some of those images, my flash unit with either the LED light that is has, or the flash itself as a slave removed from the camera, to get those photos.
I picked up a Canon 100 mm L series macro lens today (Thursday) after work. The Tokina may have had good optics, but the 15-85 mm lens with the extension tube was close, and much easier to use than the Tokina. The new Canon macro lens is even easier, I took a few test photos with it outside my apartment, and didn’t get a single bad photo, despite poor light for all but one image, and a slight breeze blowing the flowers around. It will auto-focus all the way down to at least close to one to one…
…the small yellow flower was about 1/4 inch across and the image wasn’t cropped at all. The faster auto-focus kept up when the flowers moved in the breeze, 25 shots and not one out of focus. The IS is the same, not one blurry because of camera shake either. It’s even much lighter than the Tokina. The topper, it performed equally as well on one of the 60D bodies as it did on the 7D body! How I wish now that I had saved for the Canon lens in the first place, but it never would have been in my budget while I worked at my old job. Oh well, live and learn.
Wait a minute here, I’m not being totally fair to the Tokina. What I learned while using that lens for the last year and a half I put into use today while trying out the new Canon, without even thinking about it. If I had been starting from scratch with the Canon, my results wouldn’t have been close to as good. Still, the new Canon is a much easier lens to use, so it will be worth it in the long run.
It just so happens that I stumbled onto something about Loda Lake, a Federal Wildflower Sanctuary about 70 miles north of where I live. I’ve heard about it before, and I’ve seen the signs for it, and always meant to stop and check it out, but never have. That’s the reason that I picked up the new Canon, I have plans to go there this weekend if the weather forecast is correct. It will be good to get up north again, and check out a new place that I’ve never been to before.
Back to our regularly scheduled post.
When I wasn’t shooting true macros, I stayed busy shooting dragonflies with the 300 mm lens.
It’s always good to have a long lens set-up and close by at all times, for I never know what’s going to show up.
Their parents were around also, but wouldn’t pose for me. I could see them moving around through the trees, but stayed well hidden.
I also heard a veery singing, but I wasn’t able to track it down for a photo. I did find a few birds though.
Since we’ve had so much rain this year, I kept an eye out for fungi…
…but that’s the only good one that I saw. I do believe that I found two different slime molds though.
I took off my backpack that holds my camera gear, grabbed the camera set-up for macros, but in that short of time, the sun had moved enough so that the leaf canopy blocked almost all the sunlight, and it was nearly pitch black on the log where I found those were. I tried to get a better close-up, but even with extra lighting, the images were too poor to share.
After I had been at Lost Lake for a while, the water-lily opened up, as they close at night.
I didn’t think about it at the time, but it would have been a good time to test out the 7D Mk II’s ability to take time-lapse photos and shoot a series capturing one lily opening over time. There wasn’t much wind, so it would have been great. Maybe next time. Besides, I was using the 7D to shoot rodents.
So, you’ll have to make do with this one photo of a fully open water-lily.
My most unusual photos of the day came as I hiked back to the parking lot to leave, a robber fly eating a ladybug.
But, I hate to end a post on that note, so I’ll add one photo from the first part of my trip, while I was at the wastewater facility at sunrise.
Yes, I went crazy shooting more HDR images of yet another sunrise, although that wasn’t one of them. That photo was shot with the 7D and 300 mm lens, and is just as it came out of the camera. In my next post, I’ll cover the foggy sunrise, the rare birds that I found that morning, and a few surprises as well.
That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
Even though I still have many photos from previous trips to the Muskegon and Grand Haven areas, I’m going to jump ahead and do a post with photos from just my last trip. That’s because I learned some new things, and other things that I knew were really driven home to me. So, be prepared for some of my babbling on about photography as I start this post, and here’s the reason why. And by the way, you can click on any photo for a larger view.
It had rained overnight, but for once, the weather forecast was correct, and the skies were just beginning to clear when I arrive at the Muskegon County wastewater treatment facility. I like to make that my first stop when I’m getting there at sunrise, because it’s open there, and enough light to shoot wildlife just after sunrise, since there’s no trees or hills to cast shadows.
Seeing that there could be a good sunrise, I shot a couple of test photos handheld to check exposures and which lens to use, then set-up my tripod with one of the 60D bodies and the EF-S 15-85 mm lens on it. I actually remembered to get everything set correctly, I got the focus where I wanted it, then switched off the auto-focus so that there’d be no changes as I shot series of photos to create a HDR image, which is what you see above. I shut off the image stabilization, since the camera was on the tripod. I set the mirror lock-up to reduce camera shake, and even got out my flash unit, which doubles as a remote shutter release, so that I wouldn’t have to touch the camera to fire the shutter. I even remembered to use the camera’s electronic level to make sure that my horizon would be straight.
However, that still wasn’t enough to get that image, for I messed up the composition at first.
That’s an earlier shot, and you can see that I got one of the buildings in the frame, which I didn’t want. In my defense, it was rather dark yet, as you can tell, and the viewfinder of the 60D doesn’t show 100% of what will end up in the photo. Canon claims that it shows 96%, I think that they are pushing it. The difference has burned me before, both in macros, when I think that I have filled the frame with the subject, and in landscapes, when things that I thought were just outside the frame ended up in my photos. This is what I see when I look through the viewfinder…
….but, this is what I get in the final image.
Okay, enough of that, back to the sunrise photos. The second one isn’t a HDR image, it’s one that I processed in Lightroom just to see if I could get the desired results. Since the building being in the frame ruined the photo, it was time to play. Yes, Lightroom certainly made a big difference, but at a cost. You can’t see it in the smaller size as it appears here, but there’s tons of noise in the shadows, too much to be removed. If I were to print that second photo, it would look horrible because of the noise. You can only raise the shadow detail so much in Lightroom before that happens.
The next step was to load the images into Photomatix to create a HDR image, I tried tone mapping…
…but that looks fake, as the shadows are almost completely gone, the green of the grass is over saturated, and tone mapping destroyed the special lighting that only occurs around sunrises and sunsets. They are called the golden hours for a reason, because of the way the light is bent as it passes through the atmosphere, it takes on a golden glow, which is gone in the tone mapped version.
Here’s the exposure fusion version of the same image as above.
Much better, the golden glow is there, but the building is also still there. I finally noticed that, but I got sidetracked for a little bit, when a cedar waxwing flew out in front of me, and perched in front of the sunrise. I cautiously grabbed the 7D with the 300 mm L series lens on it for this shot.
There’s some real advantages to having more than one camera, and there’s one of them! Also, the 300 mm lens is much better than the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) in low light, so I had even prepared in advance, and had the right lens on the camera for the time of day that I’d be starting out at. I was lucky, the waxwing stuck around long enough for me to select the right focus points to get that shot. Even more amazing, it hung around, giving me time to move slightly, change the camera position to portrait, and select the correct focus points, to get this shot.
If I would have had to remove the camera from the tripod, switch lenses, and change almost every camera setting, I would have missed that photo. I suppose that I could try to remove the insects that look like spots in the lower part of the frame, maybe when I have more time, I’ll give it a try. And, I wish that the upper branch didn’t obstruct the view of the waxwing’s crest, but it would be a miracle if things went perfectly for me. 😉
Anyway, back to the sunrise. I repositioned the camera and tripod, and shot this.
I captioned that “wrong workflow, for not only do you need the right camera equipment, set correctly, and the right software to process digital images, you need to do the processing of images in the correct order to get the best results.
The very first image in this post, and that last one, are the HDR versions of the same three images, the difference between the two is the difference in the order that I did things. In that last photo, actually done first, I did the exposure fusion in Photomatix first, then went in and removed chromatic aberration, allowed the lens profile correction in Lightroom, and adjusted the color balance, to name a few things. Then, I remembered that you’re supposed to do all those things to the RAW images first, before loading them into Photomatix. So, that’s what I did, I cleaned up the RAW images in Lightroom first, then did the exposure fusion in Photomatix, and finally, did a bit of tweaking to the resulting image in Lightroom to get the best results, which I will add here again so that the difference is more apparent.
The differences may be subtle, but they’re enough to make a big difference in the overall appearance of the image. And that reminds me, a few months ago I said that the HDR images I produced looked better since I was loading the RAW images from Lightroom into Photomatix (The HDR software) in 16 bit Tiff format, rather than sending the RAW images directly to Photomatix. It turns out that I wasn’t imagining things, Kerry Mark Leibowitz, who shoots some of the best landscape photos I have ever seen, confirmed that while Photomatix can handle RAW images, it can’t handle them well. The only way to get really good HDR images in Photomatix is to use other software to do the RAW conversion first, as I’m doing now with Lightroom, then let Photomatix create the HDR images.
Maybe the most amazing thing about the sunrise photos is how proud of them I am, for what they are. A sunrise over a man-made marsh designed to remove contaminants from water at a wastewater treatment facility. 😉
One of these days though, it will be of something really special, and I think that I’m much better prepared for when that happens. I’m getting very close to having the camera settings down for those types of photos, and I’m learning the software end of it by shooting these types of photos.
Being prepared is everything, for as I said earlier, I had the 300 mm lens on the 7D and all set to go when this great blue heron decided that I had gotten too close to it.
I continued to shoot photos of the heron…
…the auto-focusing of the 7D had locked onto the heron, which gave me this as the heron circled me.
Since I purchased the 7D Mk II, I’ve had lots of good things to say about it, and it’s difficult not to fill every post with praise for the 7D. I said some time ago that I wanted to begin exploring more artistic photos, and the 7D is the camera to do that with. Not only is the auto-focus great for birding, but the other features of the camera lend themselves to the more artistic images, as I hope that you’ll see in later posts.
However, the rare birds on this trip were shot with my “old standbys”, one of the 60D bodies with the Beast attached.
I don’t get to count those in the My Photo Life List project, as they’re not on the list from the Audubon Society, they’re probably escapees from some one’s farm, or some one’s pets that got away, and are taking up residence at the wastewater plant.
One of the 60D bodies was also responsible for these, shot with the macro lens.
Whether you find these cute or not is a matter of personal taste I suppose, but they are newly hatched birds, in this case, gulls.
This was the first nice, sunny day when I’ve gotten out in some time, and between how late in the year it is already, and the nice weather, finding wildlife was harder than usual. I’ve always said that bad weather is the best time to see wildlife, up to a point, and it held true on this day.
I did find an assortment of sparrows to photograph.
And, I almost found a dickcissel singing, but he chose to stay mostly hidden on this day.
I didn’t have the same problem with this guy!
He hopped over to another branch and did some wing and leg stretches to warm up…
…then started belting out his favorite song again.
I’m going to post this one, just because I can.
One of his kids was hoping that dad would do less singing, and more looking for food.
It tried its best to convince dad that it was hungry.
I think dad thought that the youngster was old enough to find some of its own food, for while dad did feed the youngster, dad ignored the young bird for much of the time that I watched the two of them together.
This year is flying past me, there’s already plenty of young birds around, and some of the birds are beginning to molt into their fall colors, or I should say, lack of colors. I had plenty of chances to shoot mallards, but didn’t bother, as they are already molting, as is this guy.
He was really too far away for a good photo, and on that note, I’ll add a few more not so good photos, just for the record of what I saw this day, starting with three different juvenile bald eagles that I found on the northern edge of the wastewater property. I spotted the first as it perched on one of the irrigation sprayers…
…I tried sneaking up on it to get closer, that didn’t work…
…and as I was walking back to my car, eagle two took off from somewhere in the woods for this bad photo…
…to top it off, as I was getting back in my car, eagle three took off from even closer to where I had parked.
It looks as though it has been a great year for a bumper crop of eagles! I still can’t believe that I didn’t spot the other two eagles earlier though, they’re huge and hard to miss.
A couple of more for the record shots, I don’t remember why I had pointed the camera at these, a female mallard and her brood, along with a gadwall.
Maybe it was because I thought it odd that the gadwall was hanging out with the mallards, but the gadwall was a rude one, for I guess it thought that the mallards weren’t moving quickly enough, it nipped the female mallard in the butt to get her to move faster.
There are jerks in the bird world too, for how could the gadwall nip a poor mallard mother positioning herself to protect her young? It’s not as if the gadwall moved any quicker once the mallards were out of its way.
Another slightly unusual occurrence, a wood duck in the east storage lagoon, which is like a man-made lake nearly one mile square.
I do see wood ducks there at the wastewater facility, but never out in open water like that, they typically stick to the smaller ponds and canals, closer to cover. In the wild, I never see them in the open, they are always close to, or in cover.
I’m not sure about this next photo, I don’t think that I took enough time to get it right when I shot it. I was going for a spotted sandpiper, but as I was looking for it through the camera, I saw this, and shot the photo.
Then shot the spotted sandpiper.
One thing that I haven’t learned how to do is sneak up on birds that live in open fields, like this bobolink.
That’s as close as I could get using the Beast and cropping quite a bit.
I’m much better at sneaking up on birds in the woods…
…and getting a quick photo or two before they spot me.
Then, there are the birds that don’t seem to mind that I’m close when I shoot their portraits.
Even though I’m over my self-imposed limit for photos, I have one more left to share.
I probably won’t be returning to the wastewater facility until the fall bird migration begins in August, which isn’t that far away. There are too many other places that I like that I haven’t visited this year, one of them being Lost Lake in Muskegon State Park. If we get a few hours of good light this weekend, Lost Lake, and the plants, flowers, and insects there, may be my destination.
I’m sorry for so many of the sunrise/landscapes in the beginning, but I’m still coming to grips with the idea that $200 worth of software, and using it correctly, is as important as any piece of actual photo gear to getting good landscape images. Now, if I could convince the birds to hold perfectly still long enough to get three shots of them, I’d try a HDR image of a bird. 😉
That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!
Where do I start? I’m attempting to reduce the photos that I shot while on several trips to the Lake Michigan shore down to just one post, and it’s tough deciding what photos to use, and which ones to delete.
For example, I’ve posted quite a few photos of northern shovelers lately, but does that mean that I shouldn’t post one of my best of one of the shovelers in flight?
What about ruddy ducks, I’ve posted a lot of images of them lately as well, but if I catch one napping on the rocks and get very close to it before it notices me, I think that I should add it here.
Or, if I catch one flying near a mallard, I think that I shot post it to help out those who are learning how to identify birds. Not only is the mallard much larger, it’s long and lean compared to the ruddy duck. Its short, wide wings are really pronounced when viewed next to a mallard.
Even without a mallard near it, you can still see that the ruddy ducks have a completely different profile while they are flying, along with a completely different pattern of flapping their wings.
Not to mention those oversized feet!
Should I leave out my sunrise photos, even if the sunrise was less than I had hoped that it would be?
What if there’s a rare bird in the sunrise photo, such as a pelican?
Should I delete the photo where I zoomed in on the pelican, and cropped it severely also?
It isn’t every day that one sees a pelican, or an angry sun, just after sunrise.
What about the zoomed in version, where the sun looks even angrier?
Then, there’s this photo, shot before any of the sunrise photos.
I didn’t add any effects from Lightroom, other than basic exposure correction. The killdeer would stand perfectly still, until a wave broke over the rock it was standing on. Then, the killdeer would pluck any goodies the wave had brought, and then return to standing perfectly still again. The shutter speed was 1/3 of a second, long enough to blur the motion of the water, but other than the one feather blowing in the wind, the bird was still enough for a reasonably sharp photo. It also shows the effectiveness of image stabilization, for that was shot with me bracing the camera against the door of my car. Other than a great blue heron stalking its prey, I’ve never seen a bird stand as motionless as that killdeer, which I found quite interesting.
I go to the lakeshore for the birds, but I see other things, should I leave them out?
And if I do include subjects other than birds, how many should I use? Take deer for example, one good shot of a doe and last year’s fawn?
Should I stop there, or include one that shows the graceful power of a deer as it runs?
Or, should I include this portrait…
…as she stopped to check me out, and to remember a moment, which I missed…
…because I thought that I had enough photos of the deer and was zooming the lens out in preparation of putting it away, until I saw the blackbird smack the deer in the butt, sending the deer on its way.
What about this one of a buck just starting to grow what look like they will be a good set of antlers?
He’d better hide better than that come hunting season!
I’ve been telling myself that I shouldn’t go to the lakeshore as often, but that’s the area that works best when the weather won’t cooperate. As you can see, most of these photos were shot in low light, but they weren’t all shot at sunrise. The weather pattern here remains the same, with some rain almost every day. Continuing a trend, we’ve had rain 10 of the last 11 days. No complete washout, when it rains all day, but scattered on and off showers every now and then. Along the lakeshore, I can stay in my vehicle while it’s raining, then take short walks in between the showers, rather than be out in the rain. The funny thing is that I don’t usually mind walking in the rain, but not when it’s an everyday thing, this is getting ridiculous!
The places that I go along the lakeshore are relatively close together, so if I time it right, I can move from one place to the next while it’s raining, and once the rain let’s up, wander around a bit to see what I can find.
I have to throw in a short segment about my project to photograph every species of bird regularly seen in Michigan. I have photos that would put me to the two-thirds mark as far as species photographed, which is quite an achievement, not that I’m bragging. 😉 That’s in just over two years since the idea to do a photo life list hit me. I haven’t posted anything towards that series in a while, since I don’t have the time to do so right now. Besides, with all the flowers, wildlife, and other subjects to shoot, I’m still way behind on my posting anyway. I’ll resume that series this winter, when I don’t have many other photos to share.
But, I have to say a few things about taking on a project like that, and what I’m learning from it. One thing is how to shoot better photos, of course. But, it’s been so much more than that. Learning the behaviors of the different species of birds that allows me to get as close to them as I do. Learning new places to go, and coming to appreciate different types of habitat much more.
I grew up in the woods, and I’ve always leaned towards hiking in heavily wooded areas, such as the Pigeon River Country. I avoided swamps and marshes, especially in the summer when the skeeters, deer flies, and black flies can make you wish that you had never set foot outdoors. Well, in the spring and fall, before or after the bugs, those are beautiful places in their own right, and home to many species of birds that I never knew existed.
Before starting the My Photo Life List project, I avoided open fields, as I thought that they were boring, hardly, for I’m finding just the opposite to be true, if I take the time to learn what there is to see in an open field.
Those were shot on two different days, obviously, the reason that I included the second one is that after that male finished his song, he’d look high and low to see if any females were responding, which I found to be very humorous.
Another thing that I’ve learned from taking on the My Photo Life List project is to appreciate “my” part of the state of Michigan even more than I did. When I first thought of that project, I thought that I’d be traveling to different parts of Michigan much more to get as far as what I have. Yes, I’ve gotten a few species of birds on my trips north, but most have come within 45 miles of home. Really surprising has been the number of species that I’ve gotten while doing my daily walks from my apartment, when I’m never more than two miles from the door of my apartment.
I thought that I was observant before, but since starting this project, my eyes have been truly opened to just what there is to see close to home, if one takes the time to look. It also begs the question, why didn’t I see these species of birds before? Well, some of them I probably had seen before, but never took the time to look them up in a field guide to positively identify them. To me, any small brown bird that hopped on the ground most of the time was a sparrow, the exact species didn’t matter to me. There was also a time when I was hiking at Muskegon State Park when I saw what I thought looked like a flock of pelicans flying high overhead, but I had no idea at the time that pelicans were ever seen in Michigan, so I assumed that my eyes were tricking me. Little did I know at the time that pelicans do visit my neck of the woods regularly.
Another thing that I’m learning is that you have to be careful driving, or even walking around this time of year, for there are lot’s of these around.
The only way that I know that it’s a spotted sandpiper is because mom was nearby, having a fit. That little thing was so small that any gust of wind would blow it over, so I shot one more photo…
…and then turned around.
I’m also happy to report that there seems to be a bumper crop of these this year.
Their dad would fly around me, at one moment looking as if he were going to attack…
…and the next, he would pretend that he was injured and flutter to the ground, a good distance away from his young.
Mom, on the other hand, placed herself between her young and the big bad photographer, ready to take him on if he approached to close.
Once she thought that her young were safely hidden in the grass, she changed tactics, and performed the “broken wing” act, to lead me away from the young.
Once I had moved far enough away, she’d give one last look to make sure that I was leaving, then rejoin her young in the tall grass.
On the opposite end of the cuteness scale from the young sandpipers are these birds.
But, I can’t end on that note, so here’s one more photo, just to brighten up your day.
Yes, that’s how far behind I am, that photo shows the leaves just beginning to emerge, and the Juncos were still around before heading north to their summer homes. As it’s now getting towards the end of June, some of the birds have already begun to molt into their fall plumage. This year is racing past me at a blinding speed, but it’s my own fault, for working as much as I have this year, because I’m greedy. However, there’s a reason for that right now.
I returned to the Muskegon area again yesterday, and while I didn’t find many birds to photograph, the subjects that I did find to shoot really drove home the need to have the correct equipment for the subject at hand. Luckily, for what I found to photograph, I did have the right stuff with me, for I used more of my camera gear yesterday than I have in a very long time. I have one more lens that I want to purchase, and a few more accessories, so I’m willing to work long hours right now to complete my kit, then, I’ll back off from work, and spend more time enjoying life.
That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!