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

Posts tagged “Wildflowers

The end of October around home

I’m starting this post on the morning before I begin my new job, which today will be going in for orientation. Tomorrow, they will have some one from the company ride with me to be sure that I understand their procedures, then on Wednesday, I’m on my own.

I must be getting old, I used to change jobs all the time and it never bothered me. This time, I’m nervous, and I don’t even know why. Maybe it’s because I’m hoping that this will be my last job before I retire in a few years.

Well, I’m home from orientation at my new employer, and it went well. I do get the feeling that this will be the last job that I start. I may not get rich there, or even earn as much as I could make at some other trucking companies, but it will be a huge leap up from what I was making. However, there’s more to life, or even a job, than money. I’ll be working a lot of hours over the winter, just to get ahead and to save for a new Canon 7D Mark II, but come next spring, I’ll slack off a little.

Judging from what the management said during my first day, they know how to run a short-haul regional trucking operation. It seems that they have figured out that it costs them a ton of money to hire a new driver, so being flexible and reasonable in the way that they schedule and treat their drivers pays off in the long run.

It will be good to work for a growing company that has a great reputation, rather than a dying one with a horrible reputation as my last employer was.

Anyway, I’m going to start the photos in this post with two of the better fall foliage shots that I got from around home, that I didn’t accidentally delete as I did the other half-dozen images that I had saved.

Fall foliage 1

Fall foliage 1

Fall foliage 2

Fall foliage 2

Keith, the grasshopper hunting heron hung around here until the end of October, and will appear several times in this post.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I haven’t seen him for quite some time now, I think that he’s flown south for the winter. That was a very wise decision on his part, as we’re going to have a long, cold winter this year.

The bird migration this fall was sporadic, and I saw very few migrating birds around home.

Male Eastern towhee

Male Eastern towhee

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Juvenile male red-winged blackbird

Juvenile male red-winged blackbird

Seeing the red-winged blackbird surprised me, as all the locals here left two months ago, and there were only one or two other blackbirds with it. They normally migrate in large flocks.

Here’s a shot that I liked, even though this image isn’t quite what I wanted. I thought that the scene had potential.

The fence 1

The fence 1

So, I tried again.

The fence 2

The fence 2

And a third time.

The fence 3

The fence 3

After that, I gave up and had to admit that what I tried to make that scene look like just wasn’t going to work.

Now, the leaves have almost all fallen from the trees, and about the only colors left are grey and brown. So, I guess that you’ll be seeing a lot of these from me this winter.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Black-capped chickadee take-off

Black-capped chickadee take-off

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Sorry so many of the finch, but I love getting series of photos of birds feeding to see how they go about it. That may sound a bit strange, but I often wonder how they get on so well without hands to hold what they eat, along with the foods that they consume.

Squirrels are both cute and interesting, along with loads of personality.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

In case you hadn’t noticed, there weren’t many sunny days the last month or so, it’s that time of year here. The lake effect clouds formed by cold air crossing the warmer waters of the Great Lakes has kept us socked in under those clouds most days, and it will only get worse this winter. So, when there was some sun, I tried to take advantage of it.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

Two that I like, even though the subjects aren’t spectacular.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

Maple leaves

Maple leaves

Gee, more images of Keith the great blue heron, first, a wide shot…

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…then, zoomed in.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I found a pair of downy woodpeckers within range of good photos.

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

And a female mallard in a pretty setting.

Fall mallard

Fall mallard

On one of the sunny days, I did some lens testing, using British soldier lichens as the test subject. I started at 15 mm…

British soldier lichen

British soldier lichen

….then switched to the Tokina macro lens for a close-up….

British soldier lichen

British soldier lichen

….then, a depth of field shot with the same lens.

British soldier lichen

British soldier lichen

I tried shooting this wasp’s nest at several different focal lengths, here’s the one I like best.

Wasp nest

Wasp nest

One day, there were several young people in the park, and they asked me what I was taking pictures of. So, I pointed out to them that there was Keith the great blue heron….

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…Bertha, the female red-tailed hawk…

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

…and I tried pointing out Bruiser, Bertha’s mate, but being as stubborn as he is, he took off…

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

…but he did pull up for one better photo.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

While I was pointing out the hawks, Keith came running up with something in his mouth…

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…it was a small snake! The snake fought back valiantly!

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

But it lost, and must have wiggled a bit on the way down.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

It didn’t take Keith long to regain his composure though.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

It’s true, great blue herons will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first.

And my last photo for this post, one that I am quite proud of.

Fall Mallards in HDR

Fall Mallards in HDR

If only I could have gotten the mallards to cooperate a bit more to help me out with the composition. However, I walked all around the pond, checking the reflections at different places, and wound up with a very good image, but the colors were a bit dull due to the light. So, I did a cloned HDR version, where I adjusted the exposure of one image both up and down from my original image, then did the HDR merge from those three images.

That was shot with the Tokina 100 mm macro lens, I really need to use that lens for more than macro photos more of the time. Here’s the original non-HDR version.

Fall Mallards

Fall Mallards

Not bad, but I was already losing the deep blue of the reflected sky at that exposure setting, and if I had gone up any more with the exposure, the sky would have been washed out.

Well, that’s about all for this one. I’m getting ready for my second day at my new job as I type this, which consists of drinking copious amounts of coffee, and I’m only on my first cup.

I know that for at least this first winter there, I won’t be able to do my daily walks most days, since the daylight hours are so short. Once spring arrives, with longer days, I should have a set schedule, and be able to work a walk in at some point in the day, we’ll see. However, I will have weekends off for the most part, so I’ll be able to get out and about then. In the meantime, I still have several posts worth of photos left to post, and I’ll revive posting to the My Photo Life List this winter.

I have enough photos saved for that to put me over 200 species of birds, not bad for less than two years of trying since I began that project. But, the first 200 were the easy ones, the remaining 150 species will be harder.

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

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Going short and going crazy Part II

It seems like forever since I did the first post on this subject, learning how to more effectively use my shorter lenses and/or get better landscape photos. To refresh people’s memory, my eyesight runs towards excellent vision at distances, but with less angle of view than the average person’s vision. That, and having never owned very wide-angle lenses in the past, are my excuses for not getting good images while using my shorter lenses. 😉

Anyway, this post will have a few more fall color photos shot from around home here as I tried to get better using those short lenses, along with birds, flowers, etc.

But, before the I get to the photos, a short review of what I’ve been learning. One of those things has been how much going from a wide-angle focal length to even a short telephoto focal length changes the apparent distances between objects in an image. Towards the end of this exercise of using my shorter lenses, I did something that I should have done long ago, and probably should do every now and then as a reminder.

Remember, I’m used to shooting at 420 mm (300 mm prime plus 1.4 X tele-converter) or 500 mm with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) when shooting birds and wildlife.

So, I put the 15-85 mm lens on my camera one day, set at 15 mm, and picked out a brush pile in the woods that looked to be way off in the distance when looking through the viewfinder. I snapped a photo, which I won’t bore you with, then, zoomed to just 35 mm. Wow, that brush pile sure got closer in a hurry! I shot that photo, then went to 50 mm, and the brush pile dominated the scene. At 85 mm, I couldn’t get the entire brush pile in the viewfinder.

Then, I went the other way around, I picked out an object at 85 mm that looked to be off in the distance, then zoomed out step by step, stopping at more focal lengths on the way down. I saved the images that I shot, and look at the often to remind myself just how much a small change in focal length can make big differences in what a scene looks like in an image, lesson learned, I hope. 😉 It isn’t just how close or far an object in a scene is to the camera, it’s also all the distances in the scene. As an example, trees that look to be two feet apart at 85 mm look to be 10 feet apart or more at 15 mm.

I know that a few of the people reading this will think that I’m a complete dope, especially since I have said in the past that I absolutely love the 15-85 mm lens because of the zoom range of that lens makes it the lens that’s the most fun for me to play with. But, I have also said that I need to play with it more, and that still applies.

That said, only a few of the fall color photos in this post were shot with the 15-85 mm lens, I shot far more with each the 10-18 mm lens, to open up small scenes, or the 70-200 mm lens, to get just the foliage that looked the best in an image.

I’m going to start with a HDR image that’s an epic fail, as I tried to get too much in an image.

Epic fall fail

Epic fall fail

I like the yellow off to the left, but the main part of the scene that I liked were these parts, shot a day or two later.

Less of a failure

Less of a failure

Here’s a scene that I shot fairly well at first.

Not bad

Not bad

But, then I messed up by taking a few steps back and zooming out to get a small, brightly colored tree in the foreground.

Another epic fall fail

Another epic fall fail

Just because a tree has good colors doesn’t mean that it should be included in a photo. In fact, I’m learning that smaller trees do not photograph well no matter how beautifully they are colored.

Small tree, bright colors, dud photo 1

Small tree, bright colors, dud photo 1

Small tree, bright colors, dud photo 2

Small tree, bright colors, dud photo 2

Small tree, bright colors, dud photo 3

Small tree, bright colors, dud photo 3

Small tree, bright colors, dud photo 4

Small tree, bright colors, dud photo 4

I do kind of like the first one of those, but the rest were rather disappointing, other than the colors.

Parts of a larger tree seem to make better subjects.

Fall abstract 1

Fall abstract 1

Fall abstract 2

Fall abstract 2

Fall abstract 3

Fall abstract 3

But then, I’m a sucker for backlighting, or any lighting on leaves like these.

Autumn still life

Autumn still life

I’m a bit frustrated right now, for one thing, I’m tired of posting crappy photos, and for another, some of the true landscape photographers whose blogs I follow have been posting images that are true works of art.

It’s no surprise that the scenery in a suburban county park in southern Michigan doesn’t measure up to the Canadian Rockies, but I feel like a fool posting even my best images from around here.

The best of the lot 1

The best of the lot 1

The best of the lot 2

The best of the lot 2

The best of the lot 3

The best of the lot 3

If you’d like to see some truly spectacular photography of one of the most beautiful areas on the face of the Earth, than I would suggest that you check out Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog!

As for me, I’m better sticking to things that I’m half-way good at…

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

…which includes sneaking up on unsuspecting critters….

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

…and catching their reactions…

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel saying “My nut!”

…and finding beauty on a smaller scale.

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

White daisy or aster?

White daisy or aster?

So I have deleted all the “what not to do” photos that I had saved for this post, and I’ll post these instead.

British soldier lichen at 18 mm

British soldier lichen at 18 mm

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

Juvenile herring gull in flight

Juvenile herring gull in flight

Turkey

Turkey

Creekside Park 1

Creekside Park 1

Creekside Park 2

Creekside Park 2

Great blue heron in flight carrying a vole

Great blue heron in flight carrying a vole

Great blue heron in flight carrying a vole

Great blue heron in flight carrying a vole

Creekside Park 3

Creekside Park 3

I wouldn’t normally post this next one, as I have far better photos of hawks in flight, but I wanted to record this, as it is the second of two hawks.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

The first had landed in a tree that was really out of range of what I would normally shoot.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

But when the one in the tree began calling, and the second hawk flew over to respond to the calls of the first one, I had to shoot them both. Then, I shot this scene…

Creekside Park 4

Creekside Park 4

…and the hawk flew over to see what I was up to.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

I’ll still be playing with all my lenses to try different things, here’s a mushroom at 200 mm…

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

…and the same one at 35 mm, and a lower angle.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

All the images of the heron have been of Keith, the grasshopper hunting heron, but as you saw above, he’s not fussy about what he eats. He’s also the only heron I have ever come across that regularly lets me get this close to him.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Maybe I should combine fall foliage images with wildlife images?

Fall fox squirrel

Fall fox squirrel

Fall fox squirrel

Fall fox squirrel

Those were a double test of a sort, seeing if I could resist zooming in on a squirrel, and seeing how the same scene looked here in my blog in both landscape and portrait orientation.

I’ve still much to learn about using my short lenses effectively, but that doesn’t mean that I have to prattle on about it, or post the poor images here. And speaking of short lenses, while the Tokina 100 mm macro lens is a short telephoto, I think that I should begin using it on birds now and then.

Ring-billed gull

Ring-billed gull

So, that about wraps up this post, I’ll have several better posts from Muskegon and Pickerel Lake coming up soon. But, I’ve been busy, I had to do a driving test, drug test, and take a physical for my new job that I start next Monday. I’ve also been visiting the dentist, using up the benefits from the dental insurance I have for now.

Just in case you missed the link I put in this post earlier, here it is again.

I would suggest that you check out Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog! You’ll be glad you did!

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


Pickerel Lake, the long and short of it

First of all, big news! I have accepted a new job, and given notice to my present employer. The pay per hour at the new job isn’t that much more than where I’m working now, but it’s a much better company, and I have the option of working as much overtime as I want, and still be home every night if that’s what I choose. The company tries to keep drivers working 50 to 55 hours a week for the first 90 days, no problem, I can use the money.

With winter coming on, that’s not all bad, for I doubt that I would be shooting many photos over the winter months, and it gives me the chance to work and collect plenty of overtime pay, and get in a better position financially. After I’ve been with the new company 90 days, I can bid on open dedicated runs, which are usually five-day a week runs, with two days off if I choose. If not, I can still work the one extra day for a bigger paycheck. No matter what, I’ll always have one full day off, as the company shuts down on Sundays.

The dedicated runs vary in length, but most are 9 to 10 hours per day, five days a week, and a driver can make extra money by working another run on his “off” day. I’ll also have the option of doing some longer overnight runs if I choose, which pay even more. Maybe the best thing is that I have options. They give all drivers the chance to bid on any open runs every 90 days, so I wouldn’t be stuck doing the exact same run day after day after day. They are also very good at working with drivers who want an occasional day off. Options are good, and even better is the feel that I get from every one that I talk to about the company, whether they work there or not. It’s one of the few trucking companies held in high esteem by both employees, and people who have heard about the company, the exact opposite of the company that I have been working for.

Anyway, I’m not sure how that will affect my hiking, or my blogging. My plan is to work my tail off over the winter, get my bills paid, and save some money. Next spring, I’ll back off a little, by then, I’ll know which runs are open, and I can pick one then.

In the meantime, I’ll be able to get caught up on my blog here, and start posting to the My Photo Lie List again.

So now then, about my day at Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve. This was very early on in my attempts to get more familiar with my wide-angle lenses. As I started out, I fell victim to my old habits, “O0o, pretty colored leaves, and a reflection! Grab the 10-18 mm lens and shoot!” without looking the scene over in detail before shooting.

Pickerel Lake wide

Pickerel Lake wide

Wrong lens! Too much sky, too much uninteresting water, and neither the foliage or the reflection are as dominant as I wished it to be. Well, that was early in the morning, and unfortunately, in the short amount of time it took me to realize my mistake, move closer to the trees, and switch to the 15-85 mm lens, the wind had picked up enough to add some ripples to the lake, spoiling the reflections to a large degree.

Pickerel Lake, not as wide

Pickerel Lake, not as wide

One thing that I’m learning in landscape photography is what to leave in an image, and what to leave out. If the sky and/or lake aren’t interesting, I should leave them out.

Pickerel Lake, long 1

Pickerel Lake, long 1

That was shot with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens), who would have thought that it would be a great landscape lens?

Pickerel Lake, long 2

Pickerel Lake, long 2

However, even at 150 mm, it was not quite the correct lens, I would have been better off at around 120 mm, but silly me, I hadn’t taken the 70-200 mm lens, as I was carrying enough weight already, with two camera bodies, four lenses, and my lighting equipment. I wished that I could have balanced these a little better, as far as the amount of sky and lake to go with the leaves. But, I did the best I could with what I had, here’s most of the rest of the shore of Pickerel Lake in a series of images that I wish I could stitch together in a panorama.

Pickerel Lake, long 2

Pickerel Lake, long 3

Pickerel Lake, long 3

Pickerel Lake, long 4

Pickerel Lake, long 4

Pickerel Lake, long 5

By the time I got to the shoreline farthest from me, I was getting about the right balance.

Pickerel Lake, long 5

Pickerel Lake, long 6

The Beast also shot this one.

Golden brown

Golden brown

Then, I was an almost winner, almost in the right spot at almost the right time, an adult bald eagle flying past the fall foliage.

Bald eagle in the fall

Bald eagle in the fall

I got the eagle at its closest approach to me.

Bald eagle in flight

Bald eagle in flight

I had planned on cropping down on the eagle as I was shooting these, but there’s really no reason to. I get better images of eagles on a regular basis, and these images double as landscapes, I just wish that the eagle had been closer.

Eagle in the fall

Eagle in the fall

Eagle in the fall

Eagle in the fall

I’m impressed by how well the Beast performed for these, here’s a 500 mm landscape as another example of what it can do in good light.

500 mm landscape

500 mm landscape

Having seen the eagle and foliage together, and with flocks of geese returning to the lake, I decided to try geese and foliage shots.

Canada geese in the fall

Canada geese in the fall

The geese gave me photo ops that the eagle hadn’t.

Canada geese in the fall

Canada geese in the fall

 

Canada geese in the fall

Canada geese in the fall

Another case of being an almost winner, if the geese had been a little closer, and the surface of the lake smoother, this would have been a stunner.

Canada geese in the fall

Canada geese in the fall

I couldn’t resist zooming out for this next one, to me, it says fall in Michigan, with geese honking away on a lake ringed with fall color.

Fall in Michigan

Fall in Michigan

My next stop was the small pond that normally produces a few photos for me, on this day, a turtle was all I could come up with.

Painted turtle basking in the autumn sun

Painted turtle basking in the autumn sun

It has been a wet fall here, so I was hoping to find a few mushrooms and such, I wasn’t completely disappointed. Here’s the view that I would have settled for in the past.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

But, with my short lenses, I can get down low now days, and get a better shot.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

The reason that I use a shorter lens is to get the depth of field to get all the mushrooms and some of their surroundings in focus. I also find the vari-angle display of the Canon 60 D body helpful, I don’t have to lay on my belly in the dirt to shoot those shots. 😉

As I was walking along through the fallen, colorful leaves, I looked for opportunities to shoot those scenes.

Along the trail

Along the trail

Along the trail

Along the trail

I’m throwing this next one in as a reminder of what not to do!

Flubbed photo

Flubbed photo

It was a great scene, but I shot it in portrait orientation, missed the composition by a mile, and ended up with way too much uninteresting foreground, with the colors virtually disappearing because I missed the composition.  I cropped that section out of a much larger image. If I had spent a few more minutes analyzing the scene, that could have been my best photo of the day.

I continued on, and found a few interesting things to shoot clustered in a small area. As I was getting ready to shoot them, I decided that this was worthy of a photo.

Mushroom cove 1

Mushroom cove 1

With the Beast set aside in a safe spot, I shot this…

???

???

…these….

Unidentified mushrooms

Unidentified mushrooms

…decided that they would look better with more light, so I broke out my lighting equipment for this one…

Unidentified mushrooms

Unidentified mushrooms

…and this one…

Lichen, mold, fungi, or what the heck is this?

Lichen, mold, fungi, or what the heck is this?

…and this one, which I believe is a slime mold, but I’m probably wrong about that.

Slime mold???

Slime mold???

I was using either the LED light, the flash unit, or both for those, it sure takes a lot of light for macro photos! While the day had started mostly sunny, by then, the clouds had mostly obscured the sun. But, a break in the clouds prompted me to shoot this scene a second time.

Mushroom Cove 2

Mushroom Cove 2

About the mushrooms and other things in the photos above, I hate to ask, but maybe Allen, who does the New Hampshire Garden Solutions blog can ID a few of those things.

So, I continued along the way, still looking for things to photograph, as always.

Along the trail good

Along the trail good

As Tom, (Mr. Tootlepedal) pointed out, there’s a lot to landscape photography as far as getting the composition right so that the elements of an image lead a viewer’s eyes around an image well, this is a fail.

Along the trail, fail

Along the trail, fail

There’s something about the second one there, that confuses my eyes as I view it, I don’t know how else to describe it, or what I did wrong though.

I don’t know what these growths are either.

Odd growths on a maple tree

Odd growths on a maple tree

Odd growths on a maple tree

Odd growths on a maple tree

I do know that these are leaves though. 😉

Leaves

Leaves

Okay, another mystery to me.

Slime mold??

Slime mold??

I don’t know if the orange things were one of these again…

Slime mold???

Slime mold???

…as this was the end of a log right on the trail, and I’m sure that the orange things had been crushed by other hikers, but, I don’t know what they looked like before they were crushed. Anyway, here’s a closer view of one.

Slime mold???

Slime mold???

On a completely different track, there were several species of waterfowl on the lake, but I never got a good shot of any of them other than the geese. However, here’s a bad photo of a pied-billed grebe for the record.

Pied-billed grebe

Pied-billed grebe

My main goal, besides landscapes, was birds of course, but herds of humans had interfered with my photographing birds all day long. I finally got close to a few.

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

That didn’t mean that I got good shots though, I was in too much of a hurry, as I could hear another herd of humans approaching. I did get two of a ruby-crowned kinglet displaying his ruby crown though.

Male ruby-crowned kinglet

Male ruby-crowned kinglet

Male ruby-crowned kinglet

Male ruby-crowned kinglet

Then, the kinglet let me know what it thought of me. 🙂

Male ruby-crowned kinglet's butt

Male ruby-crowned kinglet’s butt

About that time, the herd of humans tramped past me, and that was the end of the birds.

I shot this scene which I really like…

Fall marsh

Fall marsh

…in fact, I like the image more than I thought that I would, however, I should have shot this to process in Photomatix to create a HDR image to control the blown out sky. There’s no definition to the clouds at all since they are so badly blown out. (over-exposed) I’m still learning, but one thing that I need to remember is when in doubt, don’t slack off, set-up and shoot for a HDR image.

Maybe that could be spruced up a bit in Lightroom? I hope to be able to afford a new computer by next spring, and if so, I’ll be adding Lightroom to my software, which right now is limited to what Canon ships with their cameras, and Photomatix. I’d do more HDR landscapes, but it takes my poor 10-year-old computer forever to process each image, I don’t have the patience for it.

Anyway, I do quite well on a single leaf as it is.

Floating leaf

Floating leaf

And to wrap this up, two shots of a female downy woodpecker, since this post is short on birds.

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

As sort of an afterthought, I’m going to throw in a photo of a monarch butterfly from an earlier hike.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Well, it’s time for me to go do my driving test for my new job, so I’ll have to cut this short. Yeah, right, like I ever do a short post. 😉

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


Going short and going crazy Part I

Okay, I’ve been writing short blurbs about learning to use my shorter lenses more effectively, it’s time to go into detail on that subject. I could have titled this post “Learning to see” or “I knew the words, but I didn’t know what they meant”.

First, a little about me, specifically, my eyesight. This is not to brag, it’s an explanation of what I have to work around when I’m trying to photograph landscapes. Every time that I’ve had my eyesight tested, two things stand out. One, I have much better than average eyesight at distances, and two, I have much better than average depth perception. While those attributes are some of the reasons that I’m able to spot wildlife as well as I do, I think that the latter is what causes many of the problems I have when shooting landscapes. I see the world in enhanced 3D when compared to most people. Photography is a two-dimensional art form however. So, it is hard for me to relate what I see in “enhanced three dimensions” when the result is only in two dimensions.

Oops, I forgot the third aspect of my vision that affects my photography, I have poorer than average peripheral vision. I don’t have tunnel vision, but it’s close. When you add up all the aspects of my vision, it’s as if I’m walking around looking through a telephoto lens. That’s probably not good for shooting landscapes, but I wouldn’t know, because this is the only eyesight that I’ve ever had. 😉

A little more background, when I shot film, the shortest lens that I owned was a 28 mm lens, and not a very good one, so I seldom used it. I shot most off my landscape photos with either a 55 mm or 135 mm lens.

So, fast forward to the present, I’ve always wanted a good wide-angle lens, and now I have two, the 10-18 mm and 15-85 mm EF S lenses from Canon. I also have the 70-200 mm lens, which, while it isn’t a wide-angle lens, it’s still shorter than the 300 mm prime or the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) that I use for the majority of my photography, since I shoot birds and wildlife the majority of the time.

I’ve read a great deal about photography, and the way that lenses of varying lengths can change a scene. Telephoto lenses bring things closer, but they also change the apparent distance between objects in an image, “moving” things closer together. Wide-angle lenses do the opposite, they make things appear to be farther away, and also increase the distance between objects in an image. But, since I’ve never really used a wide-angle lens very much, I couldn’t related to what the things that I’ve read apply to the images I was trying to capture. Certainly not to the degree of change that the 10-18 mm lens makes at 10 mm, it’s been a whole new world for me.

My problems begin as soon as I bring the camera up to my eye, my first instinct is to zoom in on a subject, the same way that I would if it was a bird, deer, or other critter. I have to remind myself that I want a wide view. The second problem relates to my tunnel vision, I only look at the center portion of the scene in the viewfinder, and pay little attention to the rest of the scene that I’m about to capture.

However, my biggest problem is not slowing down to think about what I’m trying to capture in a scene. That hit me when I was up north on the color tour earlier in October, and is what has prompted me to spend more time using my shorter lenses. But, even slowing down and thinking about a scene doesn’t help a great deal if I don’t know how the final image is going to look if I don’t know how to relate what I see in the viewfinder when using my shorter lenses to what that final image will look like.

I can be walking along, look over and think “Oooo, pretty trees!” and slap one of the short lenses on the camera and begin composing the shot. I see several brightly colored trees standing together, with several more nearby, and think that I can get them all in one shot, which I can. But, then the two individual stands of trees “get lost” in the overall image. That’s because the wide-angle lenses increase the apparent distance between the stands of trees. Even though it runs counter to the title of this post, I would have been better off shooting each stand of colorful trees separately, so that they are the prominent part of the image, without “dead space” between the trees.

You may think that I would see that when I look through the viewfinder, but I don’t, because I look at each stand of trees independently as I’m looking through the viewfinder. Because of my eyesight, each stand looks great through the viewfinder, not so good in the final image.

The progression this month has been as follows, I went up north, shot many fall foliage images that I’m not completely happy with. That’s even though they are head and shoulders above the images I shot a few years ago, which I shot in the middle of the afternoon, an absolute no-no for landscape photography.

With cooler weather, I began carrying four lenses each day on my walk, a long lens for birding, my macro lens, and the two short lenses. Then came a day when it was raining, so I took only the 300 mm prime lens, which was a huge mistake. It was one of those magical days when the leaves seemed to create light themselves, and practically glow from within. I wasn’t able to take advantage of that, since I had just the long lens with me. For a few days after that, I carried the 70-200 mm lens with the Tamron 1.4 X extender behind it for birding, and at least my two short lenses on my daily walks. I haven’t been able to bring myself to carrying the 70-200 mm lens on weekends, as I may miss shot like this.

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

Okay, with that one out of the way, shot near Muskegon last weekend, back to the subject at hand.

I’ve shot way too many poor images, some of which will end up here as what not to do, unless you like to delete poor photos. 😉 But, I’ve been learning, or at least I hope that I have.

Where do I start?

One of the first things that’s really hitting home is why excellent landscape photographers start before sunrise, quit shooting when the sun gets very high, then shoot in the evening to after sunset. You can shoot at almost any angle when there’s no harsh sunlight, no harsh shadows, and the most even lighting. Cloudy days work well also, I find the darker the clouds, the better they appear in photos.

Related to that, unless there are interesting clouds that add something to an image, there’s no reason to include much, if any of the sky in a photo. Not getting the sky in an image makes getting the exposure correct much easier, especially if there’s a milky white haze overhead, which I find to be the worst possible lighting for landscapes. I’m better off shooting insects….

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

…or flowers on those days.

White aster?

White aster or daisy?

Okay then, I shot this next scene several days in a row, with the camera in both landscape and portrait orientation, and wasn’t happy with any of them. Then, I used the 70-200 mm lens for this one.

Unnamed creek

Unnamed creek

I loved it, except, I didn’t get very much of the leaves above the creek in the image. So, I shot that same scene again and again over several days, but wasn’t happy with any of them, until this one.

Unnamed creek

Unnamed creek

The second one was shot with the 15-85 mm lens, I think it was around 50 mm that I used for that. If I went wider, the leaves in the creek tended to disappear, and the leaves overhead took over the scene. I think that the second one struck the best balance overall. The first image has the better lighting though, that’s what I get for not knowing how to capture a scene when I see it.

Here’s another very important lesson I am learning, I may not be able to move things around within a scene, but there’s nothing stopping me from moving to change a scene.

Sumac

Sumac

Nicely colored sumac, but the wide-angle lens at the angle I shot that one at increased the distance between the fronds of the sumac, resulting in too much blank space. By moving off to the side, zooming in a little, I was able to turn the scene above into this one.

Sumac take two

Sumac take two

These next two show how moving a few feet can change a scene also, but instead of zooming in to decrease the distances between objects, I went wider to increase the distances.

Woodlot

Woodlot

Not bad, I shot that with the 15-85 mm lens at 15 mm. As I started to walk away, I decided to try the 10-18 mm lens for this one.

Woodlot number two

Woodlot number two

Moving just a few feet to the edge of the trail changed the image a lot, and going shorter with the focal length opened up the woods a bit more, or at least I think so. I much prefer the second image.

You may have noticed that there’s little to no sky in any of those. One day I went to Pickerel Lake Nature preserve and I came to a spot that I really wanted to shoot, even though I knew that I’d end up with a blown out sky in the image, and deep shadows in the bottom of the image as well. I did, but, I used Photomatix HDR software to come up with this.

Pickerel Lake, first try

Pickerel Lake, second try

Two things about that one that I liked, I got the exposure correct for one. The second thing was that in the first HDR version, the small branches in the top of the image were severely ghosted because they moved with the wind between the images that I shot to compile into the HDR image. I used the Photomatix selective de-ghosting to get the small branches sharp in the image. But, what I didn’t like is that the image had no “zing” it looks dead. So, I tried again, this time playing with the sliders to edit the image before I saved it.

Pickerel Lake, take three

Pickerel Lake, take three

That’s extremely close to what I saw when I decided to shoot that scene. And it brings up something I’ve been meaning to say about the Photomatix software. It works well, but I need more practice with it. That I’ve said before, however, I have been watching online tutorials about how to get better at using the software, and there are not any good tutorials that really explain the adjustments you can make using the sliders that control various aspects of the image. In every tutorial I’ve watched, the person doing it says to just play with the sliders until you get what you want. That’s not a lot of help! Most of the people doing the tutorials don’t even know what the sliders do, they just slide them back and forth in the trial and error method of editing the images they are working with. Oh well, I’m getting better at playing with Photomatix, I suppose that’s all that counts. 😉

A couple of more things I have to say. I don’t think that any of the images so far, or those to follow are anything great, some aren’t very good at all, but I am seeing improvements in my images. Also, there are no large sweeping vistas around here to photograph, so I’ve been limited to just how much I can play around. That all said, here’s a few more of the results of my playing.

Creekside Park 1

Creekside Park 1

Creekside Park 2

Creekside Park 2

Creekside Park 3

Creekside Park 3

Creekside Park 4

Creekside Park 4

Creekside Park 5

Creekside Park 5

Creekside Park 6

Creekside Park 6

Creekside Park 7

Creekside Park 7

Creekside Park 8

Creekside Park 8

Creekside Park 9

Creekside Park 9

Creekside Park 10

Creekside Park 10

Creekside Park 11

Creekside Park 11

Creekside Park 12

Creekside Park 12

Creekside Park 13

Creekside Park 13

Creekside Park 14

Creekside Park 14

Creekside Park 15

Creekside Park 15

Creekside Park 16

Creekside Park 16

Creekside Park 17

Creekside Park 17

Creekside Park 18

Creekside Park 18

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, I have many more to go, but I’ve prattled on enough for one post, and fall foliage isn’t the only subject that I’ve been shooting. So, here’s a few birds for your viewing enjoyment.

Goofy female northern cardinal

Goofy female northern cardinal

Goofy female northern cardinal being bashful

Goofy female northern cardinal being bashful

Unidentified sparrow

Unidentified sparrow

Male House finch

Male House finch

Male red-bellied woodpecker

Male red-bellied woodpecker

The next two are of a lifer for me, an orange crowned warbler, which don’t have orange crowns. I don’t name them, I just shoot them. 😉

Orange crowned warbler

Orange crowned warbler

Orange crowned warbler

Orange crowned warbler

Finally, one of the last day lilies of the year.

Day lily

Day lily

I’ll have a lot more fall colors in the next few posts, along with more to say about what I’ve been learning while shooting them.

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


Millennium Park, October 11th, 2014

Kent County’s Millennium Park is a unique, ambitious project to reclaim 1,500 acres of heavily used land for public recreation. It is the largest park close to where I live, and a good spot for birding. I’ve been there a couple of times before, so I won’t go into great detail about the park in this post.

I did check the online maps before I went though, and had decided to check out a different section of the park to start my day there. When I arrived, I couldn’t find the parking lot for that section of the park, so I parked along the road to do a quick check of that section.

I had just started down the trail, when I spotted a tiny raptor crossing the sky above me, but I was too slow to get a shot of it. As I was looking around, hoping that the unknown raptor would appear again, I saw this squirrel laying flat on the crossbar of a power pole. I thought it strange for a squirrel to be out there in the open with no food around, and when the squirrel started moving, I found out why it was acting so strangely, it was drunk.

Drunken fox squirrel

Drunken fox squirrel

It must have been eating fermented berries and not feeling very well. 😉

A few feet later, a cedar waxwing that posed for me, but in a shadow.

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

The trail I was on looped around a small pond drained by a small creek. As I was walking near the creek, I heard something crashing through the brush on the other side of the creek. I caught a glimpse of a deer, and managed to get to a relatively open spot before the deer to wait for it.

Young whitetail buck

Young whitetail buck

The was the second of two shots the bucks stood for before he took off back into the thick stuff. But, that was enough to convince me that I needed to spend more time in the area, and that I should find a better place to park than along the road. I paused along the way for this flower.

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object

And, the drunken squirrel had made it to the top of the power pole.

Drunken fox squirrel

Drunken fox squirrel

That seemed like a poor place to sober up, for there was a red-tailed hawk perched near my Subaru when I returned to it.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

And, after I found a parking lot on the other end of that part of the park, as soon as I started down the trail, I found another hawk, this one was hiding.

Red-tailed hawk hiding

Red-tailed hawk hiding

I know, far from my best hawk photos, but I still thought it strange for the drunken squirrel to be on top of the power pole with so many hungry predators all around it.

Next up, a species of bird that I find it very hard to get a good shot of, a brown creeper.

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

Not only are they always on the move…

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

…they stay on the shady side of trees for the most part…

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

…and their color blends in well with tree bark. I must have worn this one out, for it perched behind a few leaves and actually stayed there.

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

I watched for quite a while, waiting for it to come out into the open, but it didn’t move until I tried to get a good angle on it so there wouldn’t be the leaves in the way, then it was gone.

Next up, a monarch butterfly. I shot a few images of it with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens)…

Monarch butterfly on asters

Monarch butterfly on asters

..then, I started to walk away, since I have posted too many photos of monarchs lately. But, I made myself go back, switch to the second camera body with the Tokina macro lens on it, and shoot way too many more photos of the butterfly.

Monarch butterfly on asters

Monarch butterfly on asters

Monarch butterfly on asters

Monarch butterfly on asters

I have many more, but I won’t bore you with all of them now, I’ll dole them out over several posts.

The part of the park I was walking in was a newer addition to the park overall, and the trails didn’t go far. So, I headed over to the core of Millennium Park to check that out.

It wasn’t long before I managed a shot of a white-crowned sparrow.

White-crowned sparrow

White-crowned sparrow

I got to the narrow isthmus of land between two man-made lakes and spent some time watching the double crested cormorants that perch on the far side of one of the lakes.

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Well, that one isn’t perched, but these two were squabbling over a choice perch.

Double crested cormorants

Double crested cormorants

There was a pair of mute swans.

Mute swans

Mute swans

Then, I spotted two small birds flying up into the trees near the cormorants, pausing for a while, then swooping down to catch something.

Merlin

Merlin

They were merlins, a lifer for me, or at least I suspected that they were. This image isn’t great, but it does help me nail down my identification of the pair of falcons as merlin.

Merlin in flight

Merlin in flight

The checkerboard pattern under the wings confirms my hunch, along with their small size. Another lifer on my list!

While I was shooting more photos of the merlin, a cormorant came crashing into a tree.

Double crested cormorant crashing

Double crested cormorant crashing

I am happy to report that the cormorant survived the crash, but it was touch and go there for a few seconds. 😉

Anyway, here’s a wide view of the far end of the lake.

Lake at Milennium Park

Lake at Millennium Park

That one, and the next few photos were all shot with my newer 10-18 mm lens, more for practice than anything else. I say practice, because I’m still not very good at being able to tell what an image shot from my two short lenses will look like when I view them full size on the computer. But, I’ll go into more detail on that in a later post. I thought that this oak tree would be a piece of cake, but other than capturing its color, it really isn’t a good photo.

Early oak colors

Early oak colors

In almost every review that I’ve seen of the 10-18 mm lens, they included an image shot with the lens pointed almost directly at the sun, and I’ve been amazed by the photos. I assumed that they had been doctored, now, I’m not so sure. The blown out area in the top center of this photo is from the sun, but somehow, the rest of the image came out very well as far as the exposure.

Into the sun

Into the sun

Arriving at an old railroad trestle that has been converted into a walking/cycling bridge over the Grand River, I shot this one. There’s very little barrel or other distortion that normally comes with lower cost super wide-angle lenses. I almost wish that the lens had a little distortion, so you could tell that I was using a 10 mm lens. 😉

Old railroad trestle

Old railroad trestle

The subject matter, the Grand River, isn’t great in these next two, but I’m happy with how they turned out, which is better than what the scene looked to the naked eye. The green leaves looked dull and washed out in real life, The lens and camera deepened the colors and added some contrast.

The Grand River looking upstream

The Grand River looking upstream

The Grand River looking  downstream

The Grand River looking downstream

Just a short distance from the bridge, I hit a bird bonanza, all of these were shot as I stood in one place.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse in flight

Tufted titmouse in flight

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

This red squirrel was on the other side of the trail and must have been there in the open the entire time I was shooting birds.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

I decided to take a few steps closer and then crop this image.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

As you can probably tell, it was a fantastic day, I think the red squirrel was sitting there soaking up the autumn sun. It isn’t often that one sits still for very long. Speaking of not sitting still….

Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

…I tried for some time to get a good shot of the sapsucker, but most of them looked like this.

Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The sapsucker would not sit for me to get a good photo. But, a little farther down the trail, I spied a yellow-rumped warbler feeding on berries….

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

…the warbler spotted me…

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

…and struck a pose for me.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

But, the wind moved something around which either change the exposure, or was between myself and the warbler, which is why the last one looks a bit odd. Things worked out okay, the warbler moved to a better spot for this one.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

This next one was another short lens practice shot, but I think that it marks a change in the way that I shoot landscapes, even though it’s a ho-hum photo.

Reflections

Reflections

When I first got to where I shot that one, there were ripples on the water from the wind, and there were reflections of the clouds obscuring the reflections of the trees. That didn’t stop me from shooting several poor photos though. Then, I stopped to think about what I was doing, and what I wanted the scene to look like in an image. I waited for the wind to die down, and for the clouds to move so their reflections weren’t mixed with the reflections of the trees, and I’m actually happy with the way that one came out. The subject isn’t special, but that image is a huge improvement over the first few images I shot there. It could be that there is some hope for me yet. 😉

Next up, a song sparrow that paused for a photo…

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

…before hopping down to the ground to eat.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

I got back to where the cormorants hang out, and decided to get some practice shooting flying birds.

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

This one was directing traffic.

Double crested cormorant

Double crested cormorant

There were a few turtles watching the cormorants.

Turtles

Turtles

Two more flight photos.

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

On my way back to my car, I got this juvenile pied-billed grebe.

Pied-billed grebe

Pied-billed grebe

If its head and bill look too large for its body, it’s because the grebe was already beginning to sink into the water to hide from the big bad photographer. 😉 A grebe’s first choice is to dive away from danger, their second choice is to run across the surface of the water. They only fly when they are forced to because the first two options won’t do.

To wrap this one up, a shot of the other grebes close to where the one above was, but these were on the other side of the lake, frolicking in the late afternoon sun.

Pied-billed grebes

Pied-billed grebes

A great day to be outside, the merlin were a lifer for me, and a good selection of other birds to photograph, what more could I ask for?

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


Where is fall going so fast?

Well, I’m still way behind in my blogging, in fact, I’ve fallen even farther behind. All of the images in this post were shot on my daily walks around home, and I have too many for one post saved. I also have plenty of images from a day in Kent County’s Millenium Park, and two trips to Muskegon to get to as well, and now, a days worth of images from the Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve.

I’ve been busy looking for a new job, along with visiting my dentist, the only reason that I have time to do this post is because I’m skipping my usual daily walk to do this post, so I have time to attend a job interview a little later today. So, this post will be heavy on photos, and short on words. Since I promised these in my last post, I’ll start with two images of milkweed seeds.

Milkweed seeds

Milkweed seeds

Milkweed seeds

Milkweed seeds

If any one is interested, those were shot with the Tokina 100 mm macro lens, not cropped at all, but the small size in which they appear here doesn’t do them justice.

Also in my last post, I rambled on about how some birds will pose for me, even better in some respects is catching them as they are eating. This is a terrible photo, but it is of the last rose-breasted grosbeak that I’ve seen.

Male rose-breasted grosbeak

Male rose-breasted grosbeak

The grosbeak was with a flock of cardinals, this female took a break from eating to strike a pose for me…

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

…before she went back to feeding her face.

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

This male, possibly her mate, was hanging around, I guess he had eaten his fill already.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

But, birds aren’t the only things that I shot the past few weeks, here are a few of the other subjects.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

I don’t recall having seen mushrooms growing from a woodpecker’s nesting hole before.

Autumn skies

Autumn skies

Aster, no extra lighting

Aster, no extra lighting

Aster, with lighting from the LED panel light

Aster, with lighting from the LED panel light

A few days later, the mushrooms from above had grown, but the lighting was poor to say the least, but I managed this shot.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

Since it is fall, I’m seeing quite a few interesting leaves to photograph.

Grape leaf

Grape leaf

The wasps sure do build elaborate nests.

Wasp nest

Wasp nest

Okay, back to a few more birds.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Juvenile female turkeys

Juvenile female turkeys

Juvenile male turkey

Juvenile male turkey

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Female American goldfinch

Female American goldfinch

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

My interesting leaf of the day on one particular day just happened to define the season quite well.

Falling fall

Falling fall

I see many blue jays, but getting a good photo of one is usually harder than this one made it.

Blue jay

Blue jay

They typically are much too wary for me to get so close to one while it’s on the ground, and they do not photograph well against a blue sky. Speaking of being on the ground, and birds looking for food, I had just sprawled out on the ground to shoot a caterpillar, when this vulture flew over me.

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

I shot that with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) then set it down, grabbed the second body with the Tokina lens on it for these.

Unidentified caterpillar

Unidentified caterpillar

Unidentified caterpillar

Unidentified caterpillar

I was still on the ground when a second vulture flew over, so I grabbed the Beast again…

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

…I didn’t like the way that the vultures were eyeing me as they flew overhead while I was laying on the ground. By the way, do you know how hard it is to shoot a bird directly overhead while laying on your back?

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

I really didn’t like the way that one was looking me over! That wasn’t cropped at all, I guess the way to bring the vultures in close is to lay down like something dead, and wait for the vultures to swoop down to look you over. 😉

Another seasonal shot.

Goldenrod going to seed

Goldenrod going to seed

And, another.

Leaves

Leaves

It’s that time of year, and I’m a sucker for leaves.

Leaves

Leaves

Lots of leaves

Lots of leaves

I’m not sure what you’d call that color, but I liked it. I’ve deleted most of the fall foliage shots from this time frame, even though some were shot on sunny days. The colors grew more intense as time went on, and I’ll have plenty of images of fall foliage from later, when the colors were more intense. However, here’s a couple for the record.

Maple tree

Maple tree

Maple tree

Maple tree

I’ve gotten to the point where I prefer to photograph fall foliage on cloudy days, it’s even better if it is raining lightly. That’s a good thing, since it has been cloudy with off and on rain for the past week. I have plenty of images from around here that are much better than the ones from earlier, when there was sunshine, so those two will do for now. Besides, it’s time to get back to the birds.

House finch

House finch

I spotted a male bluebird, but it would not come out of the shade for me to get a good photo of it.

Male bluebird

Male bluebird

This female did though.

Female bluebird

Female bluebird

I love sneaking up on turkeys!

Male Turkey

Male Turkey

I love it even more when they stop running so that I get a good photo!

Male Turkey

Male Turkey

In a recent post, I had images of a great blue heron that I named Keith, for Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones due to the way it had the feathers on its head raised. Well, this isn’t Keith…

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…this is Keith, eyeing a flock of crows.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

The crows must have known about herons eating anything that doesn’t eat them first, for the crows took off.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

And, I got a shot of Keith, which for some reason looks fuzzy here in my blog, when it doesn’t when I look at it on my computer.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I haven’t gotten any more photos of Keith with the feathers on his head standing up, but he’s been in the fields of the park almost every day lately, so I have plenty of images of him for later posts, when I get to them. Good old Keith is getting quite used to me photographing him, so I’m getting lots of images of him. It’s kind of weird having a heron around that let’s me walk up to it so close that I can fill the frame of the camera without cropping. What’s even weirder is that there have been days when I wasn’t going to shoot any more photos of the heron, as I have more than enough, and the heron walks over towards me so close that I don’t have to crop the images at all.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

That’s all that I have time for today, sorry for the rushed nature of this post, but I’ve been busy.

I’m sure that my next few posts will be of photos that I’ve shot at places other than around home, but here’s a hint of what’s to come. On my trip up north to photograph the colors there, I wasn’t happy with the way that I shot most of the landscapes. I’m not used to “seeing” through my shorter lenses, and knowing what the image that I shoot while using the short lenses will look like when I view them on my computer. On top of that, it was raining one day around home, so I took only the 300 mm prime lens with me, and the colors of the trees that day were almost magical because of the lighting that day. But, I couldn’t get photos of the colors that day because I had only the long lens with me.

So, for the next few days, I took the 70-200 mm lens, and my short lenses with me to learn how to use the short lenses more effectively. That has carried over while I’ve been on my longer hikes away from home on the weekends. Not only that, but I’ve also been learning how to use my longer lenses for better landscapes. For example, many of the landscape shots that I took at Pickerel Lake last weekend were shot with the Beast set at 150 mm.

But, I’ll get into the details when I have the time to work on the posts that include those images, for right now, it’s time for me to go see about a new job.

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


I see you, now what do I do?

A couple of posts ago, I speculated that I could do an entire post or two on playing peek-a-boo with birds, where they spot me trying to photograph them, they attempt to hide behind whatever is handy, and when they find that I still keep shooting, the birds take off.

On the other hand, there are some birds that when they see me shooting their photo will pose for me instead of moving on. As I speculated in the past, it may be the bird equivalent of a selfie.

Well, I’m going to continue that theme for this post, and probably the next one that I do about my daily walks around home, which is the focus of this post by the way. I’m still way behind in my blogging, so it may be a while before I get around to another post from around home.

Anyway, I’ll start with a tufted titmouse, mostly because it surprised me to find it where it was. They spend most of their time in wooded areas, and towards the tops of trees. Every once in a while I’ll see them lower, even on the ground, but seldom out in an open field like this.

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Well, fairly open field, there are a few bushes in the field, but no real trees. I took a few steps closer for this one, which I composed as I did as a bit of an artsy image.

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

I got serious about getting an image to crop, but the 300 mm prime lens began acting up, and would not focus on the titmouse, even though it was posing nicely for me.

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Eventually, it grew tired of my fooling around, and shot me that impatient bird look, letting me know that he was tired of posing when I couldn’t take advantage of it.

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Next up, a white-breasted nuthatch. They typically pay no attention to me when I’m trying to shot a photo of them, they continue to go on about their business of looking for food.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

When they do pose, it’s either like this….

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

…or this.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Most robins are more than willing to pose.

Juvenile American robin

Juvenile American robin

We’ll take a little break from the birds for a while for a few flowers.

Asters

Asters

Asters

Asters

Aster

Aster

Picking up on another theme, a couple of the last summer flowers of the year.

Spotted knapweed

Spotted knapweed

Woodland sunflower?

Woodland sunflower?

Now then, back to the birds, and a rotten little bugger at that. I spotted a ruby-crowned kinglet out in the open, but I could tell that it was going to take off on me, so I shot too quickly to get a good photo.

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Sure enough, it was gone before I could shoot a better one. I tracked the kinglet down in a pine tree…

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

…but the light was horrible there, so I got ahead of the kinglet to wait for it to come to me, I shot too quickly again…

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

…I got the focus right, and the camera and lens steady, the kinglet ducked….

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

…and then decided to move on…

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

…I was too quick yet again…

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

…the kinglet spotted me…

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

…and was off again…

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

…I have another set of photos much like these, but I won’t bore you with them. Sometimes though, a bird not wanting to be photographed can get me a good photo if I try hard enough.

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

We’ll take another short break from the birds for a few other things, like these milkweed seeds.

Milkweed seeds

Milkweed seeds

I almost hate to post that one, because a week or two later, I got some real winners of milkweed seeds, but you’ll have to wait for them. 😉

I used the new EX 320 flash unit for this next one, totally on a lark, but it worked better than I expected.

Sumac

Sumac

I don’t remember why I decided to try the flash, there must have been a reason that I did, but I can’t put my finger on it.

I deleted the image of the sumac without the flash, there’s no reason to post it other than to show how much the flash did improve that image, so, you’ll have to take my word for it. Instead, here’s another image of sumac.

Sumac

Sumac

This red squirrel was barking away at something, I tried to catch it with its mouth open, but missed.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

In the low light at the time, the squirrel’s barking was enough movement to make that image less sharp than I would have liked. On the other hand, there was no movement from this grasshopper at all.

Grasshopper just hanging out

Grasshopper just hanging out

Back to the birds, this time, a common yellowthroat that saw me sneaking up on him…

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

…turned….

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

…and struck a pose.

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

Here’s a white-throated sparrow…

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

…when it noticed me taking its picture…

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

..it struck a pose to show every one how it got its name.

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Here’s a song sparrow that was posing for me…

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

…until it spotted some food…

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

…then, it was off!

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

Speaking of food, when birds slow down to eat, it’s a good time to get a good photo of them, like this Nashville warbler eating an insect…

Nashville warbler

Nashville warbler

…I swear, this was a burp…

Nashville warbler

Nashville warbler

…at least the warbler had the manners to say “Excuse me”.

Nashville warbler

Nashville warbler

I’ll have more on birds eating in my next post from around home, for right now, I’m going to end this one with an image of a palm warbler, just because I can.

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

I still have three posts to do on my weekend trips, and 150 images from around home to get around to posting one of these days, not all at once though. 😉 It would be rather slow as far as the number of photos that I’m shooting, except for the foliage right now. It’s near peak color time, so I’ve been busy. You may be seeing fall foliage images into December, not that it would be all bad. 😉

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


Where did the summer go II?

Well, once again I find myself way behind in my blogging, the photos in this post were shot back in September. All of the images in this post were shot on my daily walks around home, and I have too many for one post saved. I also have plenty of images from a day in Kent County’s Millenium Park, and two trips to Muskegon to get to as well.

This summer, I suspended doing any posts in the My Photo Life List series, I’d like to get back to doing those posts, but it will have to wait until I get caught up. That may be a while. However, once November rolls around, subjects to photograph will become fewer and farther between as winter sets in. I hope to get back to one post per week of a general nature, and do one post per week in the My Photo Life List series.

For the past month, I’ve had migrating birds, fall foliage, the year’s last flowers, along with the resident wildlife to photograph, meaning lots of photo, some of them are even good. 😉

I could do an entire post or two on playing peek-a-boo with birds, where they spot me trying to photograph them, they attempt to hide behind whatever is handy, and when they find that I still keep shooting, the birds take off. Those of you who photograph birds already know this quite well, but I’ll throw in a few for the heck of it.

On the other hand, there are some birds that when they see me shooting their photo will pose for me instead of moving on. As  I speculated in the past, it may be the bird equivalent of a selfie.

The bird’s willingness to pose doesn’t seem to go by species, it seems as if it has more to do with the bird’s mood that day. Case in point, I’ve been closer to this red-tailed hawk in the past, it’s even remained perched in clear view long enough for me to change lenses. But, on this day, when it saw me…

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

…it tried to hide behind the only leaf nearby…

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

…and when it heard the shutter still going….

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

…it said “I’m out of here”, and off it went.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Here’s an example of a bird selfie. I was sneaking up on a cedar waxwing…

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

…it spotted me…

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

…and struck a pose for me.

Juvenile cedar waxwing

Juvenile cedar waxwing

About the same thing happened with this chipping sparrow, but I’ll leave out all but the two posed images.

Chipping sparrow

Chipping sparrow

Chipping sparrow

Chipping sparrow

Some birds pose for me, but become impatient with how long it takes me to get the shot that I want, like this juvenile white-crowned sparrow. I got this image, but thought that I could do better by getting a little closer, and better lighting…

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

…as I was getting lined up for a better shot, the sparrow shot me the “Hurry up, I’m not going to pose all day” look…

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

…and so I shot this one as it struck a pose.

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow

Then, there are the birds that don’t seem to care if I’m close to them or not, they continue to go about their business foraging for food whether I’m shooting photos of them or not.

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

On a different subject, I often see Cooper’s hawks when I’m on my daily walks, usually flying at a high rate of speed below treetop level. One day, I spotted a flock of vultures soaring high above me, but one of the birds in the flock was much smaller than the vultures, it was a Cooper’s hawk.

Cooper's hawk in flight

Cooper’s hawk in flight

I wonder if the hawk was soaring with the vultures as a way to hide from possible prey? Most wildlife ignore vultures, since vultures seldom kill their own prey, so by remaining close to the vultures, the hawk may not have been noticed by squirrels or other birds that the hawks prey on. I would have missed the hawk if I hadn’t noticed that one of the “vultures” looked so small.

Back to the birds that pose for me, some prefer to spruce themselves up a bit…

House finch preening

House finch preening

…before they pose.

House finch

House finch

Then, there are birds that are often difficult subjects to work with, they go out of their way to avoid having a good photo of them taken most of the time, such as great blue herons. However, every once in a while, one will do something strange for them, like land in a tree right in front of me.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

This one even allowed me to walk all the way around it for a little better lighting.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Fall foliage

Fall foliage

That’s not a heron, how did that get in here? It was a practice shot of the fall colors before I went on my trip up north.

Back to the heron, which doesn’t seem to mind having its picture taken.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

It doesn’t like dogs though, for as a dog walker went past, the heron took off.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

But, it didn’t go far, not as far as I thought that it would, so I missed the landing photo.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Birds aren’t the only thing I shot.

Hairy or cow vetch?

Hairy or cow vetch?

Unidentified caterpillar

Unidentified caterpillar

Fallen color

Fallen color

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Woolly bear caterpillar

Woolly bear caterpillar

Woolly bear caterpillar

Woolly bear caterpillar

Back to the birds, these next three were shot on a very dark and gloomy day.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

How dark and gloomy? Here’s a downy woodpecker in action.

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

I used the flash for that last image, and the highest shutter speed I can use is 1/250 second, which wasn’t fast enough to freeze the woodpecker’s head as it probed for food. Luckily, the light was better when I shot these.

Turkey

Turkey

Another turkey was taking life easy.

Turkey

Turkey

Now then, back to the heron that doesn’t mind having its picture taken.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

That heron seems to have developed a taste for grasshoppers, but it wasn’t having much luck finding any. It thought that if it disguised itself as Keith Richards that the grasshoppers wouldn’t pay attention to him.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

But, the disguise didn’t work, so the heron went back to looking like a heron.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Sorry for so many heron photos, but after a summer of seeing very few of them, having one close enough to shoot images that don’t need to be cropped at all is too much for me to resist.

I’ve reached my quota, so it’s time to wrap this one up. I still have lots of images from around home, and from several excursions on weekends, so it may be November before I’m fully caught up again. Oh well, I’m sure that things will slow down by then.

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


Palmer Park, September 27th, 2014

Last Saturday, I went looking for a black-crowned night heron that has been seen often just a few miles from where I live. I didn’t find the heron, it was probably too late in the morning by the time I arrived where it has been reported. Since I was starting out close to home, I decided that after looking for the heron that I’d wander around Palmer Park to see what I could find there, as it is also close to where I live.

I also went there because it was a warm day for the end of September, and Palmer Park is heavily wooded, so I could stay cool in the shade, along with shooting a few practice photos of fall colors.

The day started out well, I noticed this feather in the grass outside of my apartment as I was loading my camera gear into my Subaru.

Dew on feather

Dew on feather

I arrived at the pond where the black-crowned night heron has been seen, but instead of it, I found this great blue heron moving to a different spot to hunt.

Great blue heron in flight over a marsh

Great blue heron in flight over a marsh

That’s far from my best shot of a heron, but I liked the background, the heron is just an excuse to post that image. 😉

So, I’m being all stealthy, standing in tall weeds and brush looking for the other species of heron, when a kingfisher lands in a tree closer than I have ever been to a kingfisher before.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Of course the sun was behind the kingfisher, so the images I shot are junk, but I had to shoot another to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Isn’t that the way it goes? I have dozens of photos of them shot in good light, but at distances too far for a great photo. Then, when I have one right next to me so close that I don’t have to crop the images, the light couldn’t be much worse.

I shot this photo of a pair of unidentified ducks at the same pond.

Unidentified ducks

Unidentified ducks

I only shot that because the ducks weren’t mallards, so this will help me to remember that this little pond is worth checking from time to time, not only for the night herons, but species of waterfowl as well. It’s remarkable how some of the small ponds in the middle of a very developed area attract so many species of birds these days. This little pond was very similar to the one where I found the least bitterns, trumpeter swans, and other waterfowl this spring.

Anyway, it was off to Palmer Park after that, and as I was getting my camera gear strapped to myself, I spotted this pair of mourning doves.

Mourning doves

Mourning doves

I had just started my walk when I spotted a number of very small mushrooms and other fungi, but I managed to botch every photo of them that I shot one way or another. They were in very deep shade, so I needed extra light, and if I got the light and exposure correct, I missed the focus, or vice versa. I couldn’t even get this shot right.

Berries

Berries

I’ve noticed that I have a difficult time switching gears when it comes to the range of subjects that I attempt to photograph. I had started the day in “bird mode”, and trying to shoot macros was more than my feeble brain could handle at that time. It has worked the opposite way other times, when I start the day shooting macros, I often blow my chances at birds, until I’ve shot a few. Oh well, I think that more practice will help.

I even needed to warm up on other kinds of photos.

Virginia creeper and trees

Virginia creeper and trees

Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper

Sycamore tree

Sycamore tree

I’m loving the 10-18 mm lens, I can stand almost under a tree and get the entire tree in the frame.

Sycamore tree

Sycamore tree

Or, get really close to something, and use that lens’ depth of field to get everything in the frame in focus.

Insect tunnels on a tree

Insect tunnels on a tree

A little later, I tried the Tokina macro lens again, first on this very uncooperative katydid…

Katydid

Katydid

…that kept turning away from me as I attempted to get a photo, and then for this one that posed nicely for me.

Katydid

Katydid

Those were taken on the boardwalk, at the far northern end of the park, and I had started out at the southern end of the park. I saw very few birds, as you can tell from my photos, I don’t know why, but that’s the way that Palmer Park has been for some time now, very few birds. I may have to cross this park off from my list of places to go, as not only have I seen few birds there, the boardwalk is getting to the point where it is tricky to walk along. The boardwalk has been technically closed for over a year, but I didn’t think that it was in that bad of shape. It is now, as there have been no repairs to it at all.

Anyway, having reached the far end of the park, I sat down for a break, and shot this leaf floating down Buck Creek.

Floating leaf

Floating leaf

And then, these two, trying to get the reflections.

Reflections 1

Reflections 1

Reflections 2

Reflections 2

On my way again, I found this doe that wanted to play peek-a-boo with me.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

I zoomed all the way to 500 mm for this one.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

As long as there was a blade of grass or two between us, the doe seemed fine with my being there. So, I mounted the flash unit to my camera for this one.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

Even with the flash unit dialed way down, you can still see it in the deer’s eyes.

Then a rather odd thing occurred, I could hear a small plane flying overhead, and I was quite surprised to see that the doe seemed very interested in the plane.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

I found it interesting to watch the deer watch the plane, as they aren’t supposed to pay any attention to things above them, which is why people hunt deer from tree stands.

I checked the ponds on the north end of the park to see if I could find any wood ducks, but no ducks at all, not even a mallard. But, I did shoot a 500 mm landscape.

Yellow

Yellow

Then, found another deer to play peek-a-boo with.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

I didn’t try the flash again.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

In the same dark area, I found a downy woodpecker.

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

And, crossing over Buck Creek, I saw these bubbles on the bottom of the creek.

Bubbles

Bubbles

I spent the rest of my time there practicing shots of the fall colors which are just getting going around here.

Fall colors

Fall colors

Fall colors

Fall colors

I met another photographer who was out shooting photos of fungi, so I shot this one to remember our conversation.

Coral fungi

Coral fungi

I shot that using live view with the camera just off the ground. The shutter speed sounded very slow, so I fired up the LED panel light, and tried again.

Coral fungi

Coral fungi

I posted the second one to remind myself that I need to replace the reading glasses that I lost so that I can see what I’m doing. 😉

Speaking of seeing, I’m still learning how to see through the 10-18 mm lens.

Palmer Park

Palmer Park

Palmer Park

Palmer Park

I’ve never had a lens this wide before, so it’s been a real learning experience using it. I was hoping to really practice with it at this pond, which in past years has produced some good images for me. But, this year, mats of floating vegetation are covering the surface of the pond, limiting the reflections on the surface of it.

Palmer Park pond

Palmer Park pond

At least there was a heron at the pond, on the far bank, can you see it at 10 mm? How about at 500 mm and cropped?

Great blue heron at Palmer Park pond

Great blue heron at Palmer Park pond

It was a grand day to be outside, even if the photos of the day turned out to be rather ho-hum, like another downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves.

Downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves

Downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves

Downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves

Downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves

As you can see in the second image, the woodpecker was eating the berries produced by the Virginia creeper.

Like I said, the weather was what most people would consider perfect, a far cry from what I’m expecting this weekend. I have a post to do on another trip to the Muskegon area, lots of images from around home that I could fill two posts with, but rather than stay home and blog, I’m heading up north this weekend.

There are gale warnings posted for northern Lake Michigan for tonight into tomorrow, with on and off rain, possibly mixed with snow, in store for me when I get up north. I’m heading to the Petoskey, Michigan area tomorrow, and I hope to shoot photos along the Lake Michigan shore. Then on Sunday, I plan to photograph the Jordan River valley, which is in my opinion, one of the prettiest places in lower Michigan in the fall.

If I were to delay my trip by a week, there would be few leaves left on the trees as rapidly as fall is progressing this year. Last year, I went to the UP the last week of September, and I was too early as far as fall color, this year, the places I went last year have already hit their peak color for the year.

So, I’m going to travel light and sleep in the back of my Forester, as I don’t want to deal with either my tent or tent/cot in the type of weather that I’m expecting. Besides, sometimes bad weather produces better photos than good weather.

And, speaking of my Forester, right now, I’m off to have the 20,000 mile service done on it, so I’m out of here!

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


Where did the summer go?

It’s the first week of autumn, but you wouldn’t know it by our weather here. We had a few cool days to give us a taste of fall, then it has warmed up to summer like temperatures during the day. We have had cool nights, great sleeping weather.

I’m running out of things to photograph, at least without putting several images that look quite alike in the same post. There are days when I don’t even see any robins, and there will be a few around all winter long. Even the flock of goldfinches has thinned out. With fall arriving, I’ve seen no new flowers starting to bloom. But, Mother Nature provides, for a few early summer flowers are producing a few flowers, like this sulphur cinquefoil.

Sulphur cinquefoil

Sulphur cinquefoil

And, there’s always a few squirrels around to practice on.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a photo of a woodchuck, so this seems like a good time for one.

Woodchuck

Woodchuck

There’s still asters blooming, and they are attracting bees.

IMG_9149

Bee on an aster

But to tell you the truth, I’ve shot too many bees already this summer, my heart just wasn’t in it as I tried for a better shot.

Bee on an aster

Bee on an aster

I found this bug on the railing of the bridge over the creek, and thought that it was kind of cute, it reminded me of Gonzo the Great from the Muppet Show.

Unidentified beetle

Unidentified beetle

I found a few apples growing in front of asters, and liked the color combination…

Apples and asters

Apples and asters

…but couldn’t get the type of shot I wanted.

Asters and apples

Asters and apples

Earlier this summer, I decided not to photograph subjects on the pavement unless I had to. For one thing, it doesn’t look natural, and for another, it makes it hard to get the exposure correct. But, for a praying mantis, I decided to make an exception.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

The mantis spotted me, as you can see, and moved into the grass, which I thought was going to be a good thing.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

I chased the mantis around for a good ten minutes, trying to get a good photo.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

The mantis didn’t move very fast, but it was well aware of me and did all that it could to thwart me, so I gave up.

Flowers are easier.

???

???

Until there’s an insect on them.

Katydid

Katydid

I’m going to try not to shoot anymore upside down spiders from now on.

Unidentified spider

Unidentified spider

There’s still plenty of these around, ever since most of the summer resident birds left the area.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

A few more summer flowers are getting their second wind.

Sweet pea

Sweet pea

Sweet pea

Sweet pea

Crown vetch

Crown vetch

I’ve been shooting a few fall color photos as practice for my trip up north this coming weekend.

Sumac

Sumac

Sumac

Sumac

Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper

Maple tree

Maple tree

As if I haven’t been posting enough images of hawks lately, one morning Bruiser the red-tailed hawk decided to have some fun with me.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

That’s from his second pass over my head, at about twenty feet. For his first pass, he came out of nowhere, and I didn’t have time to make any adjustments to the camera, so those images were terrible. He was turning directly over me, making it extremely hard to keep him in the viewfinder.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

These were all shot with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) at 150 mm, he was that close to me.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

He finally gained some altitude on his third pass.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

There for a moment, I thought that he was going to snatch my hat.

The heron that has taken up residence is still around, but the kids whose fishing poles the heron stole, stole them back from the heron, so now it has to fish like a normal heron.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

The woolly bear caterpillars are predicting a mild wither, I hope that they’re right.

Woolly bear caterpillar

Woolly bear caterpillar

Woolly bear caterpillar

Woolly bear caterpillar

And, I hope to get a better photo of one before the snow flies. 😉

The dragon and damselflies are fewer and farther between.

Damselfly

Damselfly

As are the butterflies.

Butterfly

Butterfly

To wrap this one up, a few images of pink asters that I tried out both the LED panel light and the EX 320 flash unit on, as the asters are severely backlit at the time when I walk each morning.

Pink asters

Pink asters

It’s much easier to get one right at a time.

Pink asters

Pink asters

But I kept trying for all of them.

Pink asters

Pink asters

However, I settled on this one as the best of the lot.

Pink asters

Pink asters

I’m doing this post after a day in the Muskegon area, so I’m sorry if it isn’t up to my usual standards. I have a lot of stuff to do this week, so I zipped through this post in a hurry. I have to have my Subaru serviced, and I’d like to put in a few job applications this week, and that’s on top of everything else I normally do each week. I also have photos from yesterday at Palmer Park, and today from Muskegon to finish sorting.

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