Thursday, August 27, 2020



I hadn’t been to farm country in a few weeks so I headed there after dinner, hoping to find something interesting to photograph.

Right away, I got lucky.  I saw a crane family with a juvenile, also known as a colt.  My first young one of the season!  They were grazing by the roadside in a field of long grasses, behind a farm where I’ve often seen cranes.


The colt was especially interesting to watch.  While it had reached a mature size, typically about five feet in three months, it didn’t yet have the crimson caps or red eyes known to this species.

The parents were nearby but were busy with their own tasks of pecking for seeds and cultivated grains.  Such a unique-looking bird!


Meanwhile, the young bird didn’t appear to be involved in much.  It just stood there vocalizing.  Perhaps, it was calling for its parents to come closer.  Or it didn’t like my presence or Gracie's.  She was hanging out the window quietly watching this strange critter.

The juvenile next began a series of unusual movements.  It stretched out its long tail feathers and lifted its back leg.  Was it going to dance?  Or fly?


Nope, it was just assuming the classic one-legged position that we often see cranes in when they roost.  Typically, they do that to keep the leg warm.  The whole time the colt was getting into position, it was squawking, and both parents were ignoring it.

I decided to continue driving, and would you believe a bit farther down the same road, I saw another pair of cranes next to a cornfield.  They were busy preening, however, and so I again moved on.

 In truth, it was still pretty light out and I wanted to return to the marsh I’d discovered out by Anderson Creek.  I approached the area with great caution because I didn’t want to flush another Great Blue Heron, as I had my last visit.  The east side of the swamp has very dense vegetation but I spotted a Great Blue.  It was hard to grab sharp focus on the bird because it was behind all the thick flora.  It didn’t matter, however, since the heron took flight almost immediately.  These birds are skittish!

 Not finding luck at the marsh, I did one last swing through crane country.  The family had moved a bit further up the road and were still busy pecking for food.

 Even the youngster was getting into the act!  I noticed the sun was getting lower and putting a combination of light and shadow on the colt.

 I drove on to the intersection to turn around and head home, but noticed the two preening cranes had crossed the road and were next to a field of golden grass.
The cranes sure made for a pretty last picture.  The beautiful birds standing in golden grasses, all lit by the low, setting sun.

Thursday, August 20, 2020



When I switched to lighter camera gear a couple years ago, I purchased a fisheye lens.  I'd always wanted this lens for its creative possibilities, but I'd only used it once.  I decided it was time to learn more about how to use my fisheye.



So what exactly is a fisheye lens?  Here's a picture of mine.  It's an ultra wide-angle lens that produces strong visual distortion intended to create a wide panoramic image.  Mine is an 8 mm, which is super wide.  Notice the lens is curved, which is what creates the distortion.

I went out to Old Mission Peninsula, where I thought there would be plenty of opportunities for practice.  Here's my first image.  The curvature is obvious, but I wish I'd been closer to capture more of West Bay. 

I like this shot better because the curvature is not only in the land, but in the trees too, which nicely frame the bay. 

I proceeded to the overlook on Center Road, where I've taken many sunset pictures.  This time I pointed my camera down, which reversed the curvature.


I was heading to the tip and decided to stop off at Bower's Harbor.  I saw this interesting rock garden and the ultra wide lens allowed me to capture the whole thing.

Almost to Lighthouse Park, I pulled over at one of my favorite sunset spots.  I wish there would have been some interesting clouds for this image.  I've learned I need to spot my camera very low with these fisheye shots.

I'd read that fisheye lenses are especially good for photographing architecture, particularly interiors.  Here is my shot of Old Mission Lighthouse.  It was nice to be able to capture the whole building.

With my back to the lighthouse, I shot this image of the beach at the tip.  I like how the fence really accentuates the curvature.

Before leaving Lighthouse Park, I stopped off at one of the many pathways to the beach.  The trees really do a good job of framing the path.

I saw this barn on the Old Mission Quilt Barn Trail and decided to take a picture.  Whoa!  A pregnant barn!  The distortion from a fisheye lens can really get out of hand.

My last shot was of this hollyhock bush in someone's yard.  I didn't take a lot of time to frame the bush because I was trespassing, but I could see the possibilities of shooting flowers too with this lens.  All in all, a great learning experience.

Thursday, August 13, 2020



With the beautiful weather we've been having, people are out doing their favorite summer activities, whatever they may be.  Below are some of my favorite Traverse City summer scenes.


Thursday, August 6, 2020


I learn much from my photography treks.  Over the weekend, I was out in farm country for the first time in a few weeks.  I’m always in search of Sandhill Cranes, but I realized that hunting them in the same places may not always work.

For example, I saw cranes in great numbers in this area last year when it was a corn field.  But because farmers rotate their crops, there will be different crops each year.  Thus, no cranes here, but I did enjoy this beautiful field of hay bales.  Lesson learned.

Then, a few weeks ago, I discovered a large swamp, outside the bounds of where I usually shoot.  At that time, I flushed a great blue heron.  I was hoping to spot another one this evening.

But there were no critters there this time.  I admired the beauty of the marsh, though.  So many types of vegetation.  Lesson learned.  Seeing a critter in a place one time does not make a pattern.  I'll have to try again.

As I returned to my favorite block where I’ve often seen what I think is a pair of “resident” Sandhill Cranes, I came upon a pond with several juvenile Wood Ducks.  They were beginning to bear the white facial markings, but none of the colors yet.

I rounded the corner and there they were…my two resident cranes.  My pattern continued!  I think this couple parented two young cranes last season, now off somewhere on their own to begin their adult lives.

I pulled off to the side of the road and watched them preen.  They didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence or that of Gracie hanging out the window and quietly watching too.  Perhaps, they had learned we'd keep a respectful distance and wouldn't harm them.

What contortionists these cranes are!  Their long necks allow them to clean their feathers at even the farthest reach of their bodies.

Unfortunately, Sandhill Cranes typically come out to feed at dusk.  So, with the sunset imminent and the sky already lavender, I had run out of light.  It was time to let the resident pair live their lives so I moved on and headed home.  An evening full of lessons.