Category: "Midwestern Landscapes"
Last Saturday my wife went to her high school reunion in the small northern Michigan town where she was raised. I agreed to go along, but having been to these class reunions before I decided to just spend the day knocking about the countryside, looking for places to photograph. I didn’t’ know it at the time, but I was in for a real treat…
My wife was attending the reunion with her lifelong friend, and her friend’s father owns a working farm about 20 miles out of town. He offered to show me a more wild area of the farm - an area left for deer hunting in the fall, where beavers have dammed up a small creek and made a little pond in a low place.
I followed him out into the Newaygo County countryside. A ways out he turned onto a small two-track leading back into some fields. The road cut into a small wooded area and then ended at the edge of a hay field, a few weeks past its last mowing. We then drove directly across the field, through one low laying area near the beaver pond, and into a small field, also a few weeks past cutting. That’s where we stopped - and where I stayed for several hours.
Here’s a pano of the field where I spent the afternoon - click here for a much larger view. (This is made from 9 stitched together hand-held shots taken with a Nikon P6000.)
And here is a shot of the beaver pond… The pond straddles the boundary with a neighboring farm, and a barbed wire fence - not really visible in the web-sized image here - runs through the middle of it:
The field inthe pano is visible in this shot of the pond - it is the small area in the upper center of the fram, just above the pond and to the right of the large, dark mass of trees.
The owner of the farm went on his way after leading me back to this place. After a few minutes I spotted lots of dragonflies and other interesting subjects, and decided to start shooting. It has been some time since I found red meadowhawks in abundance, but I found a lot of them here. Here are a couple shots of Whitefaced Meadowhawks:
It is virtually impossible to identify most meadowhawks from photos - or even from casual observation - so I don’t know what this one is, but his bright red face is striking:
Here are two more unidentified red males:
And of course - for every male there is a female, more or less. Here are three females (or immature males) who retain a yellow-brown coloration:
And lastly a close-up of a summer coneflower:
It was a fabulous place to visit and I really enjoyed spending some very quiet hours out in the fields.
Here’s a snapshot of the Chicago skyline in the early morning, as taken from a hotel room last year. I re-worked the photo, previously posted here, in Photomatix. I really like the results on this morning photo, but oddly, Photomatix didn’t help the night shot at all.
I don’t expect that I’ll have much opportunity to photograph wildflowers this spring, so I thought I’d post a some older shots form a few years ago. I recently upgraded my medium format scanner from an Epson v500 flatbed to a dedicated Nikon 8000 ED, and have been rescanning some medium format images. Here are three shots of a spring woods with trillium in bloom. I don’t remember when I took these shots (I guess 2006 or 2007) but they were scanned this year and re-worked.
Just a quick snap shot from the Allegan Forest - a peek at the wildlife refuge, taken from the gate leading near Swan Creek. A while back I added a lensbaby muse to my small slection of Pentax 6x7 lenses - some fun, that lens. Agfa APX 100 in Agfa Rodinal 1:50
My visit to Grand Marais, Michigan almost three months ago feels like ancient history to me now. But I have one more set of snapshots to post before the trip fades from my mind forever.
Here are a few shots of the pictured rock national lakeshore. This first one was taken from the top of the cliff, looking down on Miners Point:
Here are a couple more shots, taken from the pictured rocks boat tour. The boat tour offers a great opportunity to get photos of the rocks, and we took the tour on our last night up north. It was a beautiful, sunny late afternoon with warm temps.
I packed a the Pentax K-7 and 17 – 48 mm lens. I also brought a polarizer and plenty of memory cards. Well, I got most of that right – the polarizer cut the glare of water on the rocks and I wound up shooting tons of images – 20 gigabytes worth – so the memory cards came in handy.
However, I wish I had brought a longer lens – something in the 100 – 200 mm range would have been ideal at times. I thought that the rocks were big and we’d be close to them in the boat, and they were and we were. But there were plenty of times when the light just looked better on a distant feature of the rocks, or the boat was just a bit too far off for the long end of my general purpose zoom. So my advice would be to bring a longer lens.
I was also shooting with the Pentax K-7 with in body shake reduction. That probably helped a lot – I didn’t do any tests – but when you consider that you are in a boat that is bobbing or bouncing on the waves and the whole boat is vibrating with the pulse of the engines, you realize that you need either a fast shutter speed or some form of shake reduction to minimize motion blur. In my case I had both and sharp images were the norm.
Here is a final snap shot of pictured rocks – a several image composite taken as the boat was head back to port. The images were run through Photoshop’s photo merge utility. Click on it for a larger view.
I haven’t had much time to experiment with the infrared converted Pentax K10D, but did manage to take a few snapshots while in central Indiana earlier this week. Here’s a semi driving by a row of trees, as seen from the far end of a soybean field: